“One of the most important–and most neglected–elements in the beginnings of the interior life is the ability to respond to reality, to see the value and the beauty in ordinary things, to come alive to the splendor that is all around us in the creatures of God.” (No Man is an Island, by Thomas Merton, p.33)
The interior life is that which makes us and defines us, thus a lack of an interior life defines us as a person living for exterior things: wealth, power, fame, sex, drugs, alcohol, entertainment, sports, and the list goes on. These things are NOT inherently bad, yet the life that is centered on the accumulation of these things and/or experiences remain shallow and often miss the value of Truth, and importance of the people, places, and things too, that are in their lives everyday.
I recently wrote a blog called A Beautiful Day, and in it I described the wonder I see in the Sun and the Moon and the chorus of the birds in the Love affair before me in nature and the World around us. I have spent many years in meditation and the emotional, psychological, and spiritual pursuits of learning to understand who I am, the value I have as a person and as a human being, and the purpose I serve both in this world and to God, as I understand God to be. In the process of this, the things around me became more alive, the moments of life became more vibrant, and the value of things I once observed but never fully appreciated slowly appeared in my view and I took notice of the WONDER of ALL that is, will be and has been.
The development of the interior life is not just an ascetic rejection of the modern world, for along the journey inside one will discover the value and appreciation of all things, without the NEED to possess them in order to find the Beauty & Pleasure in them. In the beginning, it is an effort not to find an answer within oneself or to meditate and expect to find illumination, but rather the pursuit of listening to silence and finding the value in the whisper of a quiet soul. This enables one to seperate from the constant bombardment of the commercial world and stresses that come along with the never ending demand upon our individual attention to everything around us while blocking our view of the value of everything around us. Illumination of the real and the unreal, or Truth and Untruth, of our needs and desires, will come after we find the value and perfection of the soul within ourselves, which begins with silence. Once silence is understood then the music within the noise around us becomes ALIVE AND POWERFUL! Then the hairs of our arms stand on end as we begin to grasp the significance of the little things that seemed so inconsequential before.