How can one accept — let alone enjoy — aging in a culture where God is twenty-five; where advertisements are filled with twenty-somethings in halter tops and tight t-shirts, unless the ad is for a drug to treat incontinence, high blood pressure, or elevated cholesterol? What about the wisdom of age? What about endurance? What about the beauty of a face etched by years that were not always easy?
God is not a continent, like Antarctica, lying off somewhere, inert, without relation to human life till some Scott or Amundsen or Byrd finds him. God is not a mountain peak to which travelers must go and which they climb step by step. God is like the air we breathe or the earth beneath our feet. To discover God is simply to awaken to reality. It is like a plant discovering the sun and the rain that drew it from the earth or like children discovering the parents who gave them birth and love and nurture.
In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. . . . This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being a member of a race in which God became incarnate. . . . There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.
There are plenty of good reasons for fighting . . . but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too. Where's evil? It's that large part of every man that wants to hate without limit, that wants to hate with God on its side.
God has . . . ordered things that we may learn to bear one another's burdens; for there is no man without his faults, none without his burden. None is sufficient unto himself; none is wise in himself; therefore, we must support one another, comfort, help, teach, and advise one another.
Once, perhaps, the God-intoxicated few could abscond to the wild frontiers, the forests, the desert places to keep alive the perennial wisdom that they harbored. But no longer. They must now become a political force or their tradition perishes. Soon enough, there will be no solitude left for the saints to roam but its air will shudder with a noise of great engines that drowns out all prayers.