by Andrea Elizabeth
“I’m just a passin’ through”, as the song goes.
I’ve been thinking (“a dangerous past time, ‘I know'”, as another song goes, [from Beauty and the Beast.]) about the relationship between matter and consciousness. Since I don’t really know the relationship, I’ll just list some observations in the order I remember or think of them.
Imagination and dreams are very compelling. Who can live without literature and now movies?
Stories draw from knowledge of material things.
Death separates us from material things. Resurrection will some day reunite us with an altered form of them.
Meanwhile, we are to strive for a healthy detachment from passions associated with material things. The attachment itself is at first immaterial, but it usually seeks a material consummation.
The Church consecrates material and immaterial things that we can properly attach to. Monastics commit to these being their only attachments. People in the world may attach to a broader number of things, which St. Paul says leads to inevitably being burdened by worldly cares.
Even monastics are encouraged to read stories, like those of Charles Dickens, which are mostly about people in the world. But since they are fiction, Dickens can achieve an immaterial relationship with them. Our relationships with immaterial concepts so depicted undoubtedly influence our relationships with material beings and things in our physical circle. If there is conflict between our conceptualized desires and our immediate circumstance, we seek escape from the latter. Perhaps this is not bad in itself. Perhaps our unfulfilled (meaning not yet materialized) desires are valid, and worthy of being dwelt upon in a desire for harmonic perfection of our inner and outer states. But we should stay open to the process required to bring about such harmony. Our circumstances, and our selves, are rough hewn rocks that require much chiseling. Actual escape is usually a premature burial of what could have been. But I will say that some stones are too unwieldy, and should be scrapped.
What happens if our culture, by becoming less human, makes it more difficult to achieve inner and outer harmony? Isolation occurs, but perhaps it always has. One is never alone who doesn’t seek to be, however.