If We Only Knew

“Can you use a Roomba on wood floors?” That’s one deeply important topic I considered Googling tonight.

In the story “A Visit from the Buddha” by Theophane the Monk, the Buddha comes to visit a monastery and while the monks are sleeping he scrawls, “Trivia” all over the walls. When the monk narrating the story first sees the graffiti, he’s offended, but then he realizes it’s true.

This existence is difficult. We will all experience loss and mental, emotional, and physical suffering. The degree will differ, but no one is exempt from these realities. Yet when these times pass, we tend to return to Roombas, to the trivial.

There’s nothing wrong with robotic vacuum cleaners. We all need clean floors and great cat videos, both effective antidotes to suffering. But the daily details and decisions, important as they are, will never lead us to the depths of our lives where God waits, hoping to meet us, hoping to open up the fullness of our being.

“If people only knew the love and joy they hold in their hands,” a friend said to me this week, speaking about the often unrealized potential of relationships.

“To be is to be in relationship,” Fr. Cyprian Consiglio once said in a talk. Unless we recognize and live into our interconnectedness by loving one another, we are denying our very existence.

God is relationship, multiple spiritual teachers have said in various ways. For us to encounter the reality of ourselves, we must enter into relationship—with other people, with other beings, with the Earth.

May we choose, as the monk in the story finally does, the heart of Jesus, a path of radical self-giving with the power to transform the world. If we only knew the love and joy we hold in our hands.

 

2 thoughts on “If We Only Knew

  1. The Roomba’s been designed to clean many surfaces effectively.
    Alas, it only has the capacity to do, not be. That’s where we still hold the upper hand over the robots coming our way.
    “If people only knew the love and joy they hold in their hands”, and “To be is to be in relationship”, refer to this rich capacity. Still, we live in a society that barely acknowledges the value of this essential reality. The trivia holds sway because the promise of being seems too good to be true. It is like the message of the Gospels, that, as Jim Finley says, God’s love is the only thing that names and defines us. Too good to take seriously. And so it often is with being. Its elusiveness and unfamiliarity designate it to the status of an afterthought.

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