Empiricism

10 06 2010

I enjoyed walking home tonight.  It was colder than it had been lately, and I wished I had found an excuse to walk farther from home than I did.

I started to look at my cell phone, checking something or other, and I stopped.  I think it was the intense pleasure the weather and darkening sky held for me, but it felt so terribly stupid to stare at a little screen when I could be relishing such a nice evening of whatever it is the senses have to offer.

I wondered if it was God’s pleasure to create nights like this.  Of course it is.  But I realized that what I really wanted to thank God for was more than just the cool (not cold) air on my skin, or the sweet smell of the pavement and the brisk air.  It wasn’t just the rushing of my blood as I walked faster, or the lingering taste of fruit I’d eaten a little while ago.  It was in one sense the sum of these things, but I suspect I was really experiencing just the faintest shadow of real pleasure, or perhaps just willing myself to imagine it.  I’m sure it would be an insult to think that our dull mortal senses could really detect the Eternal in the temporal things that share this world with us.  But I’m also sure that it would be a great mistake to ignore what they’re hinting at.  Can our souls sense things, per se?  I’m not sure.  Maybe their “senses” grow more acute over time, if we practice with them.  Maybe they’re directly connected to and influenced (as I think they are, in some sense) by our senses and actions. While something eternal, like our souls, can’t really be changed or broken by the passing, it can surely be better framed or obscured by what we choose to do with our mortal existence.

If we use our senses to encompass and push towards what they can’t directly experience, I think it becomes a lot easier to imagine what could be in the actual center of the image itself.

This isn’t meant to be some apologetic for divine realities, as such, but an expression of what I think I’m experiencing.  Perhaps it’s just the delight at experiencing some real bliss this week after all the stress, and I want to make the excitement into something greater than it is…but I’d prefer to think I’ve stumbled onto (and past, unfortunately, as the “sensation” itself is already diminished — though not in an emotional trough and peak sort of way) what we’d be far better served to trip over more often.

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