“I, A Happy Woman?”

“I, A Happy Woman?”

Every morning I begin the day with a few moments – as long as seems required – for meditation. This is a Two Step process. First, I try to get as much of me as I can into a focus centered in my heart. This is not a questioning process. It’s more like what a runner might do to get entirely inside the body that must run the race. She can pause to tie her shoe laces. She can’t pause to ask the Great Questions like, who am I, really? or what do I look like, viewed from the cosmic standpoint? I just notice how it is with me so that I can get on to the Second Step.

In the Second Step, I ask for divine input. Where today is concerned, what does God want me to know? When I get a sense of the answer (as clear an answer as comes through to me) I try to plug into it, when I can remember to, in the course of the day. Revisitings are intermittent. Hours can pass without any recollection of what I was told in the quiet of the morning.

How do I know it’s God and not just “me”? I don’t over-worry that question. If it wasn’t God – only me in some lower sense of me – there will generally be a flower pot to fall on my head and advise me that I am stepping where I shouldn’t step. Anyway, one does one’s best in the day. We all do what we can to keep significance alive in our day. Missteps will happen.

So what message did I get this morning? What came to me was merely this:

I am happy.

Ugh! you might say. How shallow! How yucky. How unworthy of a soul with inner depth in it, much less awareness of the world we live in!

Jerry and I were at an American Academy of Religion conference at Boston University this weekend. Jerry chaired a panel on Theology Without Walls, a subfield within theology that he has founded, which is drawing considerable interest from talented people in the religion field. We also attended one other panel that we had time for. The presenter talked about Martin Luther and Paul Tillich, two theologians of world consequence. Both men were so preoccupied with sin and death that I got scared just hearing about them. But if either theologian had just written about his happiness, nobody would have heard of him or wanted to.

What did it mean, my morning’s message? After all, the day held its usual buffetings. I’m a pretty high anxiety person, so any discord is amplified in my sensorium. I won’t iterate the discordant notes, struck from within and without, in the course of the day. Nor will I try to communicate how loud they sounded in my inward ears of the spirit. Nevertheless, reviewing the day, reviewing the week leading up to the day when I received this message, I do have a sense of what was meant.

Don’t hate me but … I feel that I understand what role I play in the script whose most telling contributors are this writer plus the Great Author. To be able to say that, with sincerity, is to be happy in the sense that counts. It’s not a static condition. It’s not a state that comes with guarantees. I don’t even know that I feel particularly safe in feeling or in saying this.

It’s a way of moving through one’s time.

About Abigail

Abigail Rosenthal is Professor Emerita of Philosophy, Brooklyn College of CUNY. She is the author of A Good Look at Evil, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, soon to appear in a revised second edition. Its thesis is that good people try to live out their stories while evil people aim to mess up good people’s stories. Her next book, Confessions of a Young Philosopher, forthcoming, provides multiple illustrations from her own life. She writes a weekly column for her blog, “Dear Abbie: The Non-Advice Column” (www.dearabbie-nonadvice.com) where she explains why women's lives are highly interesting. She’s the editor of the posthumously published Consolations of Philosophy: Hobbes’s Secret; Spinoza’s Way by her father, Henry M. Rosenthal. Her next book project will be Conversations with My Father. Some of her articles can be accessed at https://brooklyn-cuny.academia.edu/AbigailMartin . She is married to Jerry L. Martin, also a philosopher. They live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
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2 Responses to “I, A Happy Woman?”

  1. Abigail says:

    Hey, I’m YOUR serious fan, Judy dear. I can’t tell you how glad I am to get your supportive remarks!

    Like

  2. M&JD says:

    Aaah, dear girlfriend. To be able to feel this, in spite of buffetings and disorders and turmoils and many years of changes and growing and everything that being a human involves….soooo beautiful to feel this. Fulfilled partnership with, as you say, the Great Author. Love you, A serious fan

    Like

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