In the Meantime
So, we went out and looked at the convergence. It was fun. But honestly, it was not a big deal. Sure, it was 800 years since they last lined up like that, but that’s only from an earth perspective. And to be totally blunt, even then only humans noticed. What is notable is not the convergence but that humans noticed.
I have just finished a 30 year old book, “The Good Society” which nailed many of the issues we are dealing with today. Anytime an old book is pertinent I notice. Coincidentally, the authors think ‘noticing’ is something we need to do more of. The authors attribute the decline of democracy and civility to distraction – entertainment, career, even politics – at the cost of family and friends and community. They also say that it is ‘intermediate institutions, those between family and state, that are best situated to help people notice what most matters. Yes, that means us.
The Christmas story is a great illustration. The world’s largest religion dates itself from any event no one noticed. As the poet U. A. Fanthorpe observed,
“This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.
This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.”
While the world was changing, the people in charge did not notice, the story is saying. What we notice is what we do, but what matters may not be what we notice. When we notice what doesn’t matter, what we do doesn’t matter. That’s distraction. Bringing what we notice into alignment with what matters is the very definition of spirituality, morality, religion. Communities like ours exist to help us do that. They help us notice what matters and live lives that matter. Now there’s a great gift!