Carol Stout had been an adult college student and teaching assistant of mine and a long-time friend when she reviewed the manuscript of Our Place Among the Stars in early 2016. She had found it absorbing and was going through it a second time, Googling some of the many thinkers and their works that Steven and I had alluded to. That process is on-going. She is having her own dialogue with all of them – such a dialogue as the spirit yearns for but seldom finds at the office or indeed in most day to day comings and goings.
You need a punchline.
But when I met with Carol to go over her experience of the book, she said we hadn’t come up with a punch line, something that pulled it all together, a point of it all. By the time the words were out of her mouth, though, she realized, Ah!, there isn’t any point. From their outset, dialogues of this sort aren’t for breaking new ground. That’s not their purpose. Like meditation, they start up in the middle of things. Like life, they don’t have a beginning or an end.
What they did for Steven and me was to freshen up our experience of our lives, to intensify the moment we live in, to disrobe ordinary reality and fall into extraordinary naked reality, which of course is where all life is. So to follow us along, as the dialogues warm up, is to examine sunlight reflecting off a coffee cup, to allow it time to become extra-ordinary, to experience cornflakes and milk and sugar as phenomenal. So dialogues as carried on here are indeed exercises for the spirit.
In the heart of the great mysteryOur place among the stars?