The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) often shows between programs a photo of Earth from space with its swirling clouds and blue oceans. Then there appears this tagline:
Find your way
I love that sentiment. It speaks of belonging. It affirms all humanity. It challenges us to discover where we fit in. It asks us to make our individual contribution to the world.
Finding our way is a colossal human quest. The question, “Why am I here?” has universal implications. What does my life mean in the whole scope of things? That’s what we all want to know.
How do we find our way in the world?
We find it through education. I want to say that education should never be something we fear. Some people are simply afraid to know more. It feels safe knowing what we know. But life expands into astonishment and wonder when we allow ourselves to learn new things and to accept new ideas. It takes us to new places of self discovery. It helps us understand others. It deepens our reverence for all of life. Knowing things enables us to see what our own gifts are and learn how to use them for some greater good. Albert Einstein was once asked about his genius. He replied, “It is not that I’m so smart. I just stay with the questions much longer.” That is what education wants to get us to do. It is how we learn.
We find our way through religion or some realm of the spiritual. The search for God is a human hunger we all seek to fulfill. Some conclude there is no One or Nothing to be found and that is perfectly fine. Religious belief is not a requirement for being human. But I do believe we are all pulled by spiritual forces within each of us toward beauty, silence, mystery, the unknown, grace, kindness, and love. The classic religions—Christianity, Judaism, Islam—and even Buddhism, Hinduism, and other Eastern/World religions, all guide us into experiences of the sacred. We seem today to have lost this powerful urge for spirituality. Perhaps that is why so many of us feel out of place in the world. Lost. Bewildered. Unsure. There are so many tangible distractions. There exist in our time too many petty aggravations, unresolved differences, and endless arguments that wound and often deaden our spirit. We do not seek the heart of Christ. We avoid the wisdom of Buddha. We are indifferent to the ancient Rabbis’ thoughtful and intelligent teachings. We can find our way if we stay open to our mystical impulses, to the inspiration of all things sacred, and to honoring the immense beauty of life’s gifts of human relationships, of music and art, of poetry and writing, of individual dignity and common brotherhood and sisterhood.
We can find our way through service to others. When did we dismiss this basic human need? The emphasis today seems to be clearly on ourselves entirely. Greed too often replaces generosity. We are asked by our culture to kneel at the altar of self-worship. This creates an inhospitable approach to people. We then become anchored in resentment and that keeps us self-bound and uncaring. Being a member of the world community carries with it an obligation to help. We do not exist for ourselves only. Let it be said here that there are no self-made people. No one grows into their humanity alone. There has never been a person who found their way by themselves. We are all extensions of the investment of others in us. And the human response to that is to give back. It is to extend ourselves into the care of all people wherever and however we find it within ourselves to do that.
In his book, “Cat’s Cradle,” Kurt Vonnegut has this exchange:
“In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in his cosmic loneliness.
And God said, ‘Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done.’ And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close to mud as man sat, looked around, and spoke. "What is the purpose of all this?" he asked politely.
"Everything must have a purpose?" asked God.
"Certainly," said man.
"Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this," said God.
And He went away.”
That question remains for all of us to answer on our own.
The World. Find your way.
© 2012 Timothy Moody