Friday, July 29


Two books I read recently resonated deeply with me--almost too deeply for comfort. Here are a few quotes:

"Restlessness is another type of loneliness. It refers not so directly to the experience of alienation or estrangement from others, but to the constant dissatisfaction and restlessness within us that perpetually keeps us frustrated and in a state of unrest. . . . this type of loneliness is not caused directly by our alienation from others, but from the very way our hearts are built, from our structure as persons." --Ronald Rolheiser, The Restless Heart, p. 48.

Boy, do I feel this. I think he's right--this loneliness, this restlessness, is a universal experience for human beings.

"The essence of Christian spirituality is following Christ on a journey of personal transformation. The distant land to which we are called is not heaven. Nor is it some external, physical place. The distant land is the new creature into which Christ wishes to fashion us--the whole and holy person that finds his or her uniqueness, identity, and calling in Christ." --David Benner, Sacred Companions, p.26.

Whoa--not heaven?!? Hmm. . . . yes, I think that's right. That is true. Especially if that new creature is a person fully united with God in an eternal embrace of love.

"We find ourselves on this earth as pilgrims, possessing some astoundingly deep capacities, sensitivities, and cravings. We go through life hungering and thirsting for both the infinite and the finite. Our hearts desire not just the infinite, that which is beyond the persons and things we know, but also the finite, the persons and things we know. We want both.

"But what can ever quench that loneliness? Union, communion, consummation. Our loneliness will be fully satisfied by our coming together in radical union with God, others, and physical creation itself; in a union in which we will not be swallowed up, as a drop in the ocean, but in which we will each still have our own self-identity." --Ronald Rolheiser, The Restless Heart, p. 102.

Yes! But wait, wait, wait--radical union with physical creation itself? What does he mean? Hmm. I will have to ponder this. Anyone have ideas? It does sound a little like something C.S. Lewis might have said, but I can't remember where . . . I shall have to re-read The Weight of Glory which I do almost annually. I really would like to understand this more.

Speaking of Lewis, he says, “What does not satisfy when we find it, was not the thing we were desiring.”

I think my feelings about this are best captured by one of my favorite African philosophers, Augustine of Hippo, who cried, “Oh, Lord, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in you.” --Confessions

I find myself restless a lot, if I pay attention to my body and feelings. Now if I could remember to channel that restlessness by crying the plea of Augustine whenever I feel it, or of this great quote from one of John Donne's Holy Sonnets: "Batter my heart, three-personed God . . . bend thy force to break, blow, burn and make me new."

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