26 July 2011

Spiritual Anorexia

"Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward." was the advice given poor Job from one of his miserable comforters. Belief in God is not necessary to believe life is full of struggle, pain and woes. For many it is also full of work and achievemnt, pleaure, minor and major, and of variety.
I will identify myself as one of those people. Still, as full as life can be, and as painful, as it is, I marvel at the vacuous nature of satisying the creature within while ignoring the spiritual needs.
Like a muscle we naturally have, our disuse, our neglect of our spiritual needs turns us into spiritual anorexics. In some cases people live out their entire lives this way, calculating how to eat, sleep and live well. In reality, they are "running down the meter" and eventually, if they remain fortunate, simply peter out physically until the oblivion called death overtakes.
I think often of the writer G K Chesterton, for he was a man of our time, not quite our contemporary, but certainly a man of considerable stature in his own circles at his time.
He wrote a simple poem called "The Convert" which tells me that Chesterton had the fortitude and honesty to respond to Christ's simple injunction in Matthew 6:33: "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else..."
The Convert

After one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white.
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead

The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.

 G. K. Chesterton