major, but unsettling truth: YOUR FEELINGS ARE LARGELY
IRRELEVANT TO OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE.
how we feel, God loves us, wants to share his life
with us, has plans for our eternal life and, to some
extent, for this life, too. It is we who get all concerned
about being happy or sad, mad or glad, or any of the
myriad of variations on that basic four (how many
feelings one can identify depends in large part on
feelings fall under that indication of life that biologists
call irritability - reacting to stimuli. People flinch
when stabbed, smile when pleased, lick their lips
when something tastes good, frown when bothered by
something. Depending on whether a stimulus is 'pleasant'
or not, most people will want more or less of same
feeling and the stimulus that caused it. It is the
wanting, that God cares about and that has a direct
bearing on our spiritual life, because it is what
we want that largely shapes our doing.
we don't want God, we will never act to know him better,
to seek his will for us. If we want God less than
we want some created good thing - money, fame, popularity,
etc. - we will more likely choose the creature rather
than the Creator. But those who have come to love
God with all their mind, heart, soul and strength
will always choose him and his plans even if it means
sacrificing some other cause of good feelings.
we are creatures with bodies and know our world mostly
through our senses, our feelings are almost always
stronger about the things that our senses perceive
than about the invisible and silent being we call
God. To know God we must study; to love him we must
recognize him as the only absolute; to serve God we
must set our immediate wants aside in order to live
in the sphere of the absolute. When we know, love
and serve God in this world, we will be happy with
him forever in the world to come (sound familiar?).
said that "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation".
A believer in God will explain that this is so because
most men live to achieve some feeling or other that
comes from some transitory stimulus. Living in the
light of the absolute and for the possession of the
absolute provides a security and firmness that do
not come and go. Because a certain pleasing stimulus
habituation and boredom set in, we must have bigger
and bigger stimuli to bring the same feeling. The
name of this syndrome is addiction and its prevalence
is signaled by the frequency with which we add -oholic
to more and more pleasurable behaviors. Addiction
is the other name for Thoreau's 'quiet desperation'.
topics to be pursued as we go: Why is the absolute
not more obvious? How do we cultivate knowledge and
love of it? How do we live on two planes at once?
Really and truly and desperately yours,