Original Post: August 18, 2009
First, thanks to Elaine Seuss for setting up the original Bellarmine Chapel page, “Shared Reflections.” I found it to be an opportunity to be gift to one another, perhaps on a deeper, more personal level: an electronic ficelle that can encourage a deeper personal exploration that can sometimes be difficult to convey in person.
I have set up Woods Walking to explore Humanity, Spirit and God and to dive into the deeply personal, intimate experience of our participation in this temporal reality into which we all were born and awaken to everyday. While honoring our rich human history of faith traditions, this blog page and these posts will explore the “organic” experience of living and explore the synthesis of our faith traditions with the astounding empirical learning of the past five hundred years.
As humanity expands its vision of the reality in which we participate and live, from geocentric and heliocentric to flat earth perspectives and the very recent comprehension of the vastness of our universe, these posts will explore the synthesis of this new knowledge with the faith traditions experienced and celebrated since the beginning of recorded history.
The “organic” experience of our being is the immediate environment before us and in these posts I want to “smell the roses” and communicate the depth of meaning that can be gleaned from our physical senses, our reflective knowledge and our innate, transcendent, spiritual sensibility.
So, Woods Walking.
My evening dog walks through Ault Park have become a rather peripatetic exercise. My wife Barb and I have lived near Ault Park for 27 years, and only this year — this Spring — have I begun to take advantage of the wonderful trails through the woods in the park.
Of course, after giving thought to the events of the day, I let the quiet of the woods take over. Then the contemplative philosopher in me percolates to the surface. I am disposed, thanks to my Jesuit teachers, to consider things through the metaphysical lens cut and polished by St. Thomas Aquinas, “The Angelic Doctor.”
One of the key tools for contemplation of “things” is “the analogy of being.” Given that all things share the raw act of existence — to be– how do things before me express themselves, communicate themselves through their being? From the sameness of the shared core “act of existence,” how do things differentiate themselves? From the rocks and soil under foot, to the plants and animals. And of course, the other people taking in the evening — with or without pets.
As I add to this over time, I’ll link or refer to influential writers and thinkers who have been important to me in the course of my journey. The first link for this installment is W. Norris Clarke, S.J. I didn’t personally study under Fr. Clarke, but I studied at Xavier (BA Philosophy, 1978) under contemporaries of his; men educated early in the 20th Century, some of whom barely escaped WWII as they left their studies in France ahead of the rapidly advancing German blitzkrieg. The late Robert Schmidt, S.J. directed my Philosophy Senior Comprehensive Review in preparation for our comprehensive oral and written exams. Like Clarke, Fr. Schmidt was classically trained.
The first link is to an interview with Fr. Clarke by James Arraj, publisher of www.innerexplorations.com. I leave it in my Internet trail as “my” website linked on message boards, etc. Appropriately, it is titled “A Taste of Existence.” To me, this interview is sort of the Cliffs Notes to “the meaning of life.” Well, at least from a Thomistic perspective. It is a wonderful distillation of Fr. Clarke’s faith, thinking and experience of God.
In these notes, we will “taste existence” and roll it around in our mouths, so to speak, like a fine wine noting its hints and nuances. In keeping with the original intent of Shared Reflections, the most important nuances are those of faith, spirituality and the immediate, intimate experience of the transcendent.
I hope you enjoy these reflections. I look forward to your observations, perspectives — and personal experiences.
Walk along: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2fLXjkR9eo
Copyright © 2009 Rudolph Siegel