Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In Secret

Sometimes when people ask me about my research, I think they hear more than they desired. It is like a dam broke and they are soon bombarded with terms and analogies I have created to explain it. I try to reign it in to digestible chunks and generalizations, but sometimes still I get a look that suggests they may be sorry that they asked.
It seems that this may happen for a few reasons. The main one might be that I spend so much time thinking about my research. Sometimes I will be riding my bicycle, in the shower, or waking up in the morning thinking about it. It seems all of those mental gymnastics eventually lead to many expressible thoughts. Sometimes the hardest part for me is to transform all of that thinking in to a coherent paper or presentation. However, usually by the time the transformation has occurred, all of the time spent in thought bears fruit.
In Matthew 6:1 - 8, Jesus talks to his followers about what they do in secret. He discusses how their giving and prayer should often happen in times when no one else sees. One obvious implication for what Jesus said suggests that the point of our prayer and giving should not be just about looking good in front of other people. However, I would like to suggest an additional option. 
I think that what we do in secret transforms us. In the quiet times when we are alone, the true longings of our broken souls come to the surface. We also tend to attribute that which we do in secret solely to the desires that are within us. 
When it comes to my research, no one would want to hear all of the thoughts I have in secret. Without those thoughts, the public ones would be just as nonsensical to others. In our spiritual lives, experiencing and engaging with God in secret may also help us to live coherent lives of faith in the real world outside of our own minds.

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