I feel the urge to write, but I have nothing to say.
I took Tuesday and Wednesday off, so I haven’t been to work in almost a week. It’s been a fairly relaxing break. I took the kids to the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore on Wednesday, which was a lot of fun. Sometimes I think we get along best when it’s just me and them, without avivahg or anyone else along. I’m not sure why that is. Anyway, they had a great time, and I enjoyed getting to see what had become of one of my favorite childhood haunts. We saw most of the museum, watched “Forces of Nature” in the IMAX theatre, caught a liquid nitrogen demo, and watched a silly but relaxing planetarium show, featuring photos taken by the Hubble set to really awful poetry by some high-school poetry class.
I finally finished The Varieties of Religious Experience. Good book, although it took me an embarrassingly long time to finish. Now I’m getting started on The Sacred and Profane and The Baghavad Gita.
William James describes the internal process of religious conversion as a sudden shift in a person’s mental center of energy, albeit one that may be preceded by a lengthy build-up, either conscious or subconscious. The center of energy is the central point about which all of one’s thought’s orbit. It sets the general course of a person’s life, the focus of their thoughts; and by it every occupation of their time is measured and found either worthwhile or wanting. It occurred to me in the shower this morning that the reason I feel directionless and at sea is that I no longer have any center of energy to speak of anymore. For someone accustomed to having a very definite center of energy, this loss cannot go on indefinitely without being keenly felt. When you get right down to it, I’m not very good at existing for existance’s sake.
James is right, I think, to place prayer front-and-center of the religious life, as the foremost pragmatic measure of a faith’s practical worth or lack thereof. In prayer, if nowhere else, the reality of the spiritual world is translated into mundane reality, in the form of noticeable changes in either the world itself, or in our perception of the world. When I reflect on my prayer life during the years I remained faithful, I realize that I never found a mode of prayer remotely conducive to my constitution. Prayer was, I think, more a discouragment than a transfusion of heavenly perspective and solace. As much as I tried, I don’t think I ever approached that opening of the self, that communion with the divine which characterizes effective prayer. The closest I have come has been in dance, but that was unfocused and fleeting; and perhaps on a few occasions when I prayed on someone else’s behalf rather than my own. It strikes me that faith without a restorative prayer life is a thirsty man in a very dry desert.