We crave radical ruptures

Re-reading Christian Wiman’s reflections on faith and doubt, My Bright Abyss. The fragments of the book are dense and worthy of much pondering. One could spend a year on it.

If our inner lives are always in transition, then our goal should be to acquire and refine a consciousness that is capable of registering the most minute changes in sensation, feeling, faith, self. Unless we become aware of the transitions that are occurring all the time within us, unless we learn to let experience play upon our inner lives as on a finely tuned instrument, we will try to manufacture inner intensity from the outside, we will bang our very bones to roust our own souls. We crave radical ruptures when we have allowed the nerves of our inner lives to go numb. But after those ruptures – the mind returns to what it was, the soul quicksilvers off from the piece of experience, and the kingdom of boredom, which could be the kingdom of God, begins the clock-tick toward its next collapse. (27)

Part of the quest for meaning – and perhaps faith – is not in seeking louder, more extreme experiences, but to fully know what it is we already have, what we are already experiencing. And rather than a “finely-tuned instrument,” I’m aware my inner life is an out of tune piano upon which experience plays discordantly. I can’t tell; I’m tone-deaf.

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