Friday, August 1, 2008

A question in search of an answer

Today I was at lunch by myself, which represents for me the only moment alone in a people-intensive day. While at table I was reading the June issue of Traces ( Vol. 10- No. 6- 2008). After finishing "Darkness and the Lighter" about Fr. Carrón’s assembly with teachers, to which I turned at the beginning of a day when I had to rush out the door without much time for prayer and reflection, I turned to John Waters’ response to the last words of Nuala O’Faolain, a well-known Irish journalist, who died on 9 May, entitled "The Utopia of a Hope Uprooted from Tradition" (pgs. 32-3). O'Faoalin's last public words were given in an interview with Marian Finucane, which aired on 12 April. The part of the interview to which Waters, who is also Irish and who describes himself as a former colleague and more recently an "ideological" opponent of O’Faolain’s, took up was this exchange from her interview:

M(arian) F(inucane): Do you believe in an afterlife.
N(uala) O'F(aolain): No, I do not.
MF: Or a God.
NO'F: Well that's a different matter somehow. I actually don't know how we all get away with our unthikingness. Often last thing at night I walk the dog down the lane and you look up at the sky illuminated by the moon and behind the moon the Milky Way and, you know, you are nothing on the edge of one planet compared to this universe unimaginably vast up there and unimaginably mysterious. And I have done that for years, looked up at it and given it a wink and thought 'I don't know what's going on' and I still don't know what's going on, but I can't be consoled by mention of God. I can't.
I will not do Waters, who created a controversy in an interview by saying that blogs and bloggers are “stupid” (who can blame him, have you read some of their stuff?), the injustice of trying to paraphrase his beautiful reflection, which moved me deeply as I sat at lunch. I am not a publicly demonstrative person, but I was really quite overcome in that moment by these words: "As human beings, we have within us a question, a need, a longing, a plea–about our lives, our origins, and our destinies.

"This question demands an answer. Indeed, we are this question and, like all questions, we have an answer. We do not know what, ultimately, we desire, but we know that, like Nuala, we are filled by a desire that life go on, that our loved ones not be lost or forgotten, that love, beauty, knowledge go on and never die. We know in the deepest part of our hearts that we cannot be redeemed by science or ideology."

What became clearer to me through Waters' words is that by understanding myself as “this question,” to which Christ is the answer, I see precisely how I am a direct relationship with the Mystery.

You can read "The Utopia of a Hope Uprooted from Tradition" in its entirety by going to the Traces webpage and going to the archives link, taking it from there.

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