Time’s up. My time, I mean. The 30 days I devoted to finding a measure of hope in these trying times. That I would even attempt such a thing is evidence that my mind is limping along like my heart. I focused on two books: Jon Meacham’s The Soul of America (I wrote about this last time) and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s The Divine Milieu.
I am still processing de Chardin’s book. There is much in it that I like, and much that I don’t quite understand. I want to share his faith that our experience as Christians involves us in the upward movement of the universe toward God. He says it so eloquently:
“The doctrine of the Cross,” he writes, “is that to which all men adhere who believe that the vast movement and agitation of human life opens on to a road which leads somewhere, and that that road climbs upward. Life has a term: therefore it imposes a particular direction, orientated, in fact, towards the highest possible spiritualisation by means of the greatest possible effort.”
He writes about “communion through diminishment,” which is what I am beginning to feel now that I am growing older, in body, mind and spirit. He composed this prayer:
“When the signs of age begin to mark my body (and still more when they touch my mind); when the ill that is to diminish me or carry me off strikes from without or is born within me; when the painful moment comes in which I suddenly awaken to the fact that I am ill or growing old; and above all at that last moment when I feel I am losing hold of myself and am absolutely passive within the hands of the great unknown forces that have formed me; in all those dark moments, O God, grant that I may understand that it is you (provided my faith is strong enough) who are painfully parting the fibres of my being in order to penetrate to the very marrow of my substance and bear me away within yourself.”
Both of these books -- and the hope that I long for -- come down to faith. Which is great and, at the same time, grating. It is hard to have faith without hope, and hope without faith. It may be that my self-defined crisis of hope is one of faith. I am getting ready to go on pilgrimage and I certainly have a lot to think about as I start this particular journey.
I had this ridiculous notion that I could find some answers in 30 days, the period of time that one yoga program, advertised on television, assured me would increase my strength and flexibity. The ad claims are probably true; the crucial factor would be me -- would I practice faithfully? And, as it turns out, that may be the crucial factor in my search for hope -- will I practice faithfully? We’ll see.