I’ve struggled through this past week—as I’m sure you have—trying to maintain a grasp on spiritual Truth in a world that seems progressively more insane. I recognize, of course, that the source of the insanity lies in my own consciousness, but that doesn’t really seem to help sometimes. How to make sense of it all?
As it happens, I’ve been reading a wonderful new book by Krista Tippett called Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living. She is the host of the NPR program On Being, and I have long admired her gifts of both asking and listening. She is probably responsible for more of my aha! moments than anyone else around. “I’m a person who listens for a living,” she writes. “I listen for wisdom, and beauty, and for voices not shouting to be heard.” And we need to hear from those voices!
I could go on and on, but let me just share a brief ‘awareness’ that I found very helpful in trying to make sense of a dark and challenging week.
“We are in the adolescence of our species,” she writes, “not by any measure in full possession of our powers. The twenty-first century globe resembles the understanding we now have of the teenage brain: dramatically uneven; immensely powerful and creative at times and in places, reckless and destructive in others.” She goes on to describe how our collective teenage consciousness functions: “We reduce great questions of meaning and morality to ‘issues’ and simplify them to two sides, allowing pundits and partisans to frame them in irreconcilable extremes. But most of us don’t see the world this way, and it’s not the way the world actually works.”
I find that a bit scary—I’m stuck in a teenage brain!—and also reassuring. Like teenagers, we think we know pretty much everything. But we really don’t. What we most need, it seems to me, are a few loving grown-ups to guide us and work with us as we struggle to create the ‘more perfect union’ that is our stated goal. I think President Obama has always been the adult in the room, which is not an easy role to play. Let’s affirm that another adult consciousness is stepping forward as we continue this amazing, confounding journey.