Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Nature of Your Needs

Giotto, Flight into Egypt, Scrovegni Chapel

So then, what happens when you engage with all the factors of life, with all of life? The more you live, the more the nature of your needs appears before your eyes. The more we discover our needs, the more we realize that we cannot resolve them by ourselves, nor can others,–people like us, wretches like us. “A sense of powerlessness accompanies every serious experience in our lives. This sense of powerlessness generates solitude. True solitude does not come from being physically alone but from the discovery that a fundamental problem of ours cannot find its solution in us or in others. We can well say that the sense of solitude is borne in the very heart of every serious commitment to our own humanity.” What needs to be answered is precisely this sense of powerlessness, which ultimately generates the solitude that each of us experiences in life. Without this answer, all the rest is distraction.  Spiritual Exercises of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, Fr. Julián Carrón
All of the activity I undertake has to do with striving to find an answer to my need, which grows larger and more intense with every passing year: organizing the fundraiser for the GS, organizing the pilgrimage, going to make copies of the reading for School of Community, preparing for my meeting tomorrow in order to try to figure out where the Good Shepherd atria will be re-located, even writing here... and then also all the smaller things - picking Serena up from band practice, reminding Sylvie to practice piano, making a date to meet with friends - are all, if I look closely at them, attempts to respond to this great need I have for Life, for Life to the Full. If I were to undertake these tasks with the idea that their end results would answer my need, I would fail at them and then I would be bitter and full of resentment. If we don't raise any money at all for the GS, if no one accompanies me on the pilgrimage, if everyone stays home on Thursday morning so that I am alone at School of Community, if we have to shut down the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, if I forget to pick up Serena, if Sylvie gives up playing the piano, or if the calendar yields not one date to get together with friends, then what? I don't know, but I won't be disappointed. Because everything I do or attempt is a response to One who had the first word. I know I'm poor and little and fragile, and possibly these responses of mine are inappropriate in front of that first word. But this doesn't matter because He will continue to speak me into the wonder of existence and speak this Love that reaches me from so many unexpected directions each day.  I know that my poor attempts are not what will conjure His word of Love for me, because it has already been spoken.  But I also can't not respond.

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Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."