Thursday, November 04, 2010
...go to an empty church (they’re not hard to find), one preferably a little old and outdated, with cool tiles and deep shadows, and stained glass windows that filter the light. Go find your place within it, standing or sitting, and close your eyes and breath; all are welcome. Let yourself be present to the place, let it be present to you. The hopeful and joyous prayers, the agonized and despairing prayers, the angriest and most humble prayers of thousands who passed through before you were uttered there, or whispered, or shouted, or wept–released upon the air, through which the Holy Spirit moves. They have left something of themselves, behind; a soulful patina. You can sense all of it. You can enjoin your prayers to them, and breathe deeply, and then simply be still, and know.Then I thought of how hard such a place is to find in the United States. I have found many such places in Europe and environs - even many practically empty shrines to eastern religions in Asian nations, but in America, particularly in the suburbs, such places are practically impossible to find.
We are quick to tear down our churches and replace them something "better." WE seek the new and the shiny - we erase the past as if it had no meaning - as if we must discover all for ourselves now.
And that last sentence is the real issue - our presumption that the past is meaningless - that only the now matters - as if the invention of television changed everything so completely and utterly that nothing that came before is comparable.
What is so sad about that view is that it denies our essential humanity - as if our externalities change that which makes us. So little changes about people, yet we take fashion and technology so seriously.
It's as if God has to shout to be heard over our din.