Longing and caring--two ways to seek the divine. Each has its own attractions, each its struggles. Neither fits easily with the other. Circumstances that promote one make the other more difficult; those that allow the second make the first all but impossible.
The edges and rhythms spoken of last month, the spiritualities of the desert and the family, are like two parts of a wheel. Longing is the edge of the wheel. The life it offers is one of exhilaration and speed, but one at times also grinding, hard, and bitter. To give full expression to longing is to seek a life one way or another lived on the edge and so risk the destruction that can come when reaching to the very border of human existence in the hope of touching the truly magnificent, God all powerful.
Caring is the wheel's center. Slower and duller, it is also close to the core of things. To choose a life of caring is to accept the monotony of small demands that can take up a lifetime as easily as they take up a day, in order to become part of the steady rhythm of the eternal.
The spirituality of life on the edge is an answer to the longing for transformation, the hunger for the presence of God. It is a craving for the transcendent which considers everything else-comfort, companionship, peace of mind--unimportant. A harsh, uncompromising, solitary life, it willingly accepts all God asks in order to know all of who God is.
The spirituality of community, and its most intense form, family, is one that answers the human need to love and care fop others. It is cautious, careful, protective. It seeks a continuity and rhythm at the heart of all that is lifegiving, a continuity which shows itself in a daily form as routine, in a communal form as tradition, and in a transcendent form as the eternal.
Each way of life grows from equally strong spiritual needs, and each is just as capable of drawing a person to God. Each way of life is also equally hard to fit with the other.