We go through life cramming it as full as we possibly can. Much of what we fill it with is clutter. This need to fill time can easily become an impulse- we don’t know why we do it. But when we experience “the silence of these infinite spaces” which we have left uncluttered it fills us with dread. If you are a boy we have either named you “Pascal” or strongly considered it, because it was he who first revealed to me these traps that so easily ensnare us. You see, we fill up every moment of our lives because there is a fear deep within us of that dreadful silence, that impossible loneliness that lies behind all the noise. I carry this dread with me in this life, and there is a fear that has never left me that beyond the noise is only silence. This is the fear that has kept me longing, hoping, and striving my whole life to discover (receive) the Divine. What I can say is that if there is a God he is beyond our ordinary senses. We may see the mark of our Creator infused in our everyday reality, but spending too much time hunting these marks of a Creator can easily lead us down a path of trying to prove God is there. Such a path will only lead you astray, for God is not known in the intellect through our rational faculties, these ways of knowing will only bring you to the point of their eventual stumbling . . . and silence. It is in this silence, this dark unknowing where genuine religion lies, where mystical reality is experienced. This darkening of the intellect cleanses our spiritual senses and prepares them for the transfiguring light of their Creator.

I wish I could say that I am more familiar with this mystical reality than I truly am. Part of what I am beginning to see is that this path is much closer to that of an athlete than that of a scientist. Research and study may guide us, but it is training and discipline that open up this other realm. I used to read passages from the Fathers on gluttony, lust, sloth, pride, and other vices as moralistic and disconnected from the mystical life, but what I am coming to see is that the vices of this life are that clutter I spoke of earlier, and until we have removed that clutter there will be no silence, and no space to awaken our deeper senses. The language of the Fathers may at times seem foreign, but if we can translate them into our lives and see that that they are speaking just as much of our everyday clutter, whether entertainment or social media, we can begin to see that the wisdom of the Fathers was not moralistic and disconnected from their understanding of the mystical life, but a necessary condition for it.