>”Our tendency to see data that confirm our prejudices more vividly than data that contradict them; our tendency to overvalue recent events when anticipating future possibilities; our tendency to spin concurring facts into a single causal narrative; our tendency to applaud our own supposed skill in circumstances when we’ve actually benefited from dumb luck.” (from NY Times)
Perhaps the most critical component of monastic training is the development of simple seeing, simple hearing.
It is also one of the more difficult skills to develop and teach. Actually, that is not totally true – it is remarkably easy to teach, “just listen”, “just look”. But somehow such instructions are not as easy to follow as they are to give.
But why do we make it difficult?
At first I sought the ‘fireworks’ – you the the type of experiences which are overwhelming, something like the Holy Ghost 2×4 hitting you in the face. unmissable. And they do come! And it is amazing. And I walked around googly-eyed, mumbling and bumbling. There is a reason that the Church sent the recently converted Paul off to the Arabian deserts for a while (around 3 years). He needed time to work through some of the fireworks.
Later, as I cooled off, I spent time looking for the fireworks. Experiences which were unmissable. The irony, of course, is that I was missing out on experiences. All of them. Looking for something else. Looking perhaps for cosmic visions, and all the while missing out on Immanuel.
I have come to see that the “it” I am looking for is as subtle as a whisper. It is right here in conversations over the dinner table. Right here waiting at the traffic light. Right here in a cup of tea in the morning before the kids get up. Right here in the sunset this afternoon. Or in the memory of some event in primary school, the kind words of a teacher.
Immanuel. God with us.