A surfeit of stimulation

Some weeks offer such a surfeit of stimulation, no single matter will settle down for sustained reflection. Or for writing a blog post about.

There was the fine Brian McLaren lecture at Canadian Mennonite University, on “perplexity.” There was a wonderful evening as guest of a book club, discussing This Hidden Thing. There were three fascinating, draining days with friends at the trial of Mark Edward Grant, charged with the murder of Candace Derksen. Then a wrenching play, “The December Man,” at Prairie Theatre Exchange. The next night it was Saint Augustine’s Confessions at the “Take and Read” series. And Egypt, running as a stream of hopes and fears throughout all of these days — in addition to the usual work of the household, my current writing project, and my mother’s move.

So the point of listing these? Not to impress, I hope, as if my life is particularly busy or varied or interesting. Not necessarily as an excuse, either, though that might be closer to the point. The question I’m mulling, as I’m trying to honor the regular discipline of this blog, and struggling to focus is: how do we give what we experience its due? When there’s so much? When everything swarms and nothing stops? How do we integrate one day or event with the next? How do we choose, we who are eager for experience but too small in mind and heart and time to process everything well? Is it enough to be in the moment, as they say, and leave it at that?

While drying my hair Sunday morning, I read the day’s lectionary texts, one each from Deuteronomy, Psalms, Matthew and I Corinthians, and they too, each one rich on its own, gave way to the next. And then at the end, they sat there, jostling as it were, and they wouldn’t come together either as something that might be called “a word for the day.”

I don’t want my experiences, whether at a play, in a book, in a courtroom, or in the news, to be simply a series of curiosities, of “entertainments.” But, for now, the past days are lined up, like the Lectionary texts, gone through once but insufficiently probed. For now I acknowledge them gratefully. I’m asking the Spirit to pull forward and merge what’s required. And I’m hoping that the next week will be a little duller.

8 thoughts on “A surfeit of stimulation

  1. Dora, you say so well what many of us feel–at least those of us privileged to have a university close by and many intellectually and spiritually gifted friends. Do we think too much? And are we dangerous as a result?

    David Brooks’ column in the NYTimes speaks to your point from the perspective of economics. It so happens that I read his essay right before I read yours. Here it is in case you missed it. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/15/opinion/15brooks.html?src=twrhp

    Of course, I am adding to the problem by giving you more to think about when all you want is a little dullness.🙂

    May you use the dullness for reflection, as I’m sure you will!

    Shalom. I’m off to do my meditation.

    • This article was fascinating and brought up all kinds of thoughts, if in a tangential way. I agree with Brooks’ description of a shift in values; I certainly see it in our kids’ generation. I feel myself somewhere between the Sams and the Jareds… But for sure, that sense of wanting what we do to have meaning. He speaks of living beyond our means… by piling up deeply stimulating experiences without time to process, we may be living beyond our means psychically. — I think there’s a tiny answer in your last sentence: meditation. Focussing away from all that other stimulation in order to return better able to deal with the surfeit of contemporary life. — Thanks, as always!

  2. Thanks, Dora, your post captures some of my thoughts about the recent TEDx Manitoba conference as well. 18 speakers, one after another, who share innovative ideas in 18 minutes each about how they are changing their community for the common good. I heard myself describing the event as the closest thing I’ve experienced to the kingdom of God that doesn’t have God as the acknowledged center.

    I say with you: The memories of their ideas and actions are lined up, gone through once but insufficiently probed. For now I acknowledge them gratefully. I’m asking the Spirit to pull forward and merge what’s required.

    • Mary Anne, that’s quite a statement “the closest thing to the kingdom of God…etc.” and I ‘d love you to explain. Do you mean that idea of change for the common good? — Someone reminded me of TEDx Manitoba yesterday and I remembered you were there. I briefly connected to the live stream of it, but not for long, for, as you know, it was all getting too much in my head.🙂 — One of the TEDx notions, as I understand it, is that you who attend will engage with the presentations in particular and somehow give them “forward.” I’m not quite sure how it works, but with 18 speakers, quite a challenge! But what a gift — and opportunity! I suppose you can also send us to your favourites when they land on the TED talks site.

  3. I understand your sentiment well, Dora! “When everything swarms and nothing stops…” … how well that does capture it! To be “in the moment” and flowing with it all often goes hand in hand with a deep sense of joy and well-being. There is never enough time these days for reflection and processing it seems … it does take discipline and a lot of it! I constantly have a “list” of things to blog about and some of them make it to the page and others just morph into something completely new and unexpected as God leads and shapes it … interesting!

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