Every Superman epic included some reference to it; even the old grainy D.C. comics noted its existence. Typically portrayed in light and borne out of crystals sent from his home planet of Krypton, this person of near invincibility needed to go somewhere to clear his head, walk in silence, contemplate life and his role in the world or an-other world.
Even Superman had a Fortress of Solitude.
Earlier this year, I blogged about the Academy Award nominated movie, Gravity, and what I considered to be the substance of its message; that of a world-class scientist struggling with her humanity and spirituality in the face of extreme-adverse conditions. While few of us will ever experience complete weightlessness in space, or literally be faced with the possibility of being pelted by extra-atmospheric detritus and smashed or sent into oblivion, we do appear to live in a world where things happen to and around us at a much faster and hectic pace than ever before. And when I think of this, I also consider the coping mechanisms with which we have been endowed to assist us in navigating these increasingly (real or perceived) difficult-to-manage situations.
The cover of the February 3rd edition of TIME Magazine shows a young lady front and center, with hair gently blown back and her eyes closed, appearance relaxed and at peace. The headline reads: The MINDFUL REVOLUTION: The Science of finding focus in a stressed-out, multi-tasking culture;” and the article which followed was entitled “The Art of Being Mindful: Finding peace in a stressed-out, digitally dependent culture may just be a matter of thinking differently.” As I whipped through the article (notice the reference to speedJ), I thought to myself, “It’s Déjà-vu, all over again.”
While I get that we live in a hyper-ventilated world, with unrealistic expectations and hyperbolic reactions, I guess I am a bit surprised that this appears to be viewed as a revolution of sorts. Perhaps it is with the current culture, but the educational philosophy in our School community embraces and exercises taking spiritual, contemplative, prayerful, indeed-mindful timeouts from “the stuff” each day brings. The article references how important this “balance” is to better processing, thinking, indeed, formulating much better outcomes for individuals and society. It happens to be in line with the very model we practice every day.
Daily gatherings in our Chapel and weekly Eucharist services call us to step away from whatever it is that we are “doing” to become more present and reflective regarding something much bigger and, sometimes, much more mysterious and generous than ourselves. Consider the words of Christ from His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, “’Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for today (6:34).’”
Of course, we know how the limitations of our humanity muck this up on a regular basis, but the fact remains: we take time to contemplate the substance of this, other readings, prayers, songs, and, yes, silence; all in the face of remarkable distractions because we know it is important in developing us more fully as human beings.
Consider the substance of being mindful, of being intentional about the cadence of our days. I believe it is an art. And an art cannot be brought into full beauty or recognition unless it is practiced well. Even Superman needed a walkabout in a special place to sort things out.