This is the time of year when many of us ask ourselves the big questions we neglect to ask the rest of the year…
Questions such as the basic modicum of life…
Am I happy?
Or the ever so popular and mythical quest of modern era…
What is my purpose?
Is my life working for me?
Or the more pedestrian and pedantic…
How can I make this year better than the last?
And we have been accustomed to the mundane New Year’s resolutions, and the New Year’s goals and we shine the light on the grievously humble aspirations for our careers, for our families, for our relationships, and for our health.
Never mind the hoi-poloi who wish for more wealth and more material goods, always falsely believing these things when attained will make us happy.
Because in that pursuit of false dreams, we tend to forget to ask what makes us truly happy…
Could it be that living our lives with a more spiritual orientation could help us achieve our goals and bring us a modicum of authentic happiness?
Could it be that we really have to focus on one area of our life, or can we fully integrate all aspects of our lives because that is the only way to find true happiness?
Could it be that we need to join a different kind of conversation?
Perhaps that is the one answer that welcomes every perspective in a search for the truths that unite us all – as we discuss the spiritual perspective offered on the meaning of true happiness.
Let us now keep in mind the old poem that spells out conclusively that “No man is an island.”
This is a classic that I have drawn much inspiration from during my darkest hours. “No Man Is An Island” is a book of Thomas Merton, whose title is inspired by John Donne (1572-1631) as it appears in “Devotions upon emergent occasions and seuerall steps in my sicknes” – Meditation XVII, 1624, where we read that: “All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness … No man is an island, entire of itself … any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls — it tolls for thee.”
The meaning of this treatise above is surely that human beings do not thrive, nor do they exist happily, when they are isolated from all other humans.
Yet we all live as if we are all in an archipelago of single man islands…
And that is our gulag.
Archipelago Gulag, like Alexander Solzenytsin told in his Siberian exile, a tale of human sorrow, of our fragility and yet also of the resilience of the Human Spirit.
Thus we need to remember that story of Archipelago during our current winter of discontent, because that is the present reality of our lives that we need to endure.
And also because the “Real Man” is not affected by it all, because what has always been true is that we all are spiritual beings.
As for choosing to be happy in the midst of the carnage all around us — it is evident that only when one lives in the life of the “Spirit” one is truly happy.
And since during these days of the pandemic, our bodies are separated from the spirit as we all live in our own “private islands” forming a giant archipelago — we need not also unnecessarily endure in the silence of the Spirit.
Also, since all of us — man, woman, child, we are all first & foremost Spirit beings, and lest we remember that, and act like it — we will all be forsaken.
Therefore it behooves us to bear up, be patient, and know full well, that this too shall pass.
Please keep hoping…
As a matter of fact, we ought to keep hoping strongly, working stoutly, and praying devoutly.
Because if we always keep walking towards the sun, hoping for many healthy tomorrows in the green and brightly lit uplands, believing that better days are ahead — only then we will find ourselves in the City of God.