Inspired to Be Living, Living to Be Inspired

by Catherine Bordeau on November 23

Living an intentional lifeThe creation of the present moment – of our time and place in history – started long ago. Today, I want to write about the story of us. The archive of humanity. Imagine our whole human history as a room full of file cabinets. Every single human attempt at the search for truth, meaning and explanation is contained within this room. Pages and pages of recorded feelings, stories and thoughts are piled away in the most disorganized system in the universe. It is chaos.

There is a file cabinet called compassion. Another is called pity, and another is called forgiveness. The list of topics is endless: survival, tools, fire, rain gods, superstitions, evil, salvation, Apartheid, morality, physics, ethics, science, feminism, and neoliberal capitalism. On and on, we have sought understanding, and every thought is contained in this room.

But the file cabinets are empty, the files blanket the floor, and attempts at organization have a dreadful history. Entire collections of thought have been lost among cobwebs, burned at the stake, interrogated out of existence, or sometimes stifled into submission.

Competition for relevancy is FIERCE.

The room we are imagining is full of pyramids of paper; hoards of conclusions struggling for significance at the top of the pyramid. Thought built upon thought. There is never ending conflict as squabbles for relevancy are ignited each moment humanity adds new thoughts to the mounds.

As each era of human existence worships a different set of capstones to explain and organize the universe…. As each culture shapes its theology, philosophy, and mythology…. As each religion and philosophy hones its perspectives on where we come from, why we are here, why we exist, what happens after death and what we should do about it all during life….

It is chaos, and this is the realm of ideas in which our consciousness and worldview are shaped. If we stay with the metaphor, this room is a persistent illusion of shape shifting pyramids of thought that form as we humans try to make sense of the world around us. This is the story of us – as individuals, as humanity, as historical and future peoples. In our present moment, “we exist in a bizarre combination of Stone Age emotions, medieval beliefs and godlike technology many people can reach.” (lyrics)

Giving Life Meaning

In this context, I ask us to consider the matters of meaning, morality and living an intentional life. We are embarking on a genealogical investigation into philosophical and theological thought on the nature of being. This is an invitation to dig through your own piles of thought.

When we are born, the people who raise us – parents, teachers and role models – each share with us what they think is important from their own piles of thought. As individuals, each of us spend our lifetime plucking and picking at the piles in our unique attempts to understand, to shape our own perspectives of the meaning of life, to figure out our morality, and to mold our existence on this planet.

Sometimes we get caught up with the details: paying the electric bill, changing diapers, walking the dog. The details are important too. The details make up much of what we do. But today I want to remind us of the big picture, the big questions.

Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything (42)Each day that unfolds in our lives is an opportunity to make meaning in life. In my everyday life, I am lucky enough to have conversations with people – colleagues, family and friends – about some of the most relevant questions anyone can ask in a lifetime. From everything you’ve experienced and learned in your lifetime thus far, I wonder what your conclusions are. What do you believe? Is there a meaning to life? It there a purpose to the universe? Where does morality come from? Why do you do what you do?

Most importantly: What do your answers to these questions mean for the way you live your life before we all inevitably die someday?

If you just choked on the coffee you haven’t yet digested yet, I don’t blame you. I just threw out some of the biggest philosophical and theological questions that humans have been asking for thousands of years. Volumes have been written. Wars have been fought over whose answers were correct. I don’t expect you to share your final answers this morning or even next week, but I imagine you have bubbling thoughts.

Find Your Truth

This post is about encouraging us to share those thoughts with each other – with our loved ones – not only our questions but also our attempts at answers. This post is about reminding you to ask the so-called ultimate questions that stretch our hearts and minds. Ask the questions. Seek your answers. Find your truth.

I promise not to sit here selling some version of what I consider as ultimate truth because I’m not a fan of promoting an ultimate truth. This is an invitation to become an ultimate cross-examiner, and to leave behind the comfort of being an ultimate truth definer and defender. This post is about how our search for truth and meaning shapes the intentions we have in life.

Consider this your living invitation to the continual review, investigation, and consideration of what meaning you ascribe to life. Steer yourself into these waters as you search for a community that meets your need to ask endless questions.

We are here to grow and to sort through the pyramids of thought that have been handed down to us.

The problem, though, with living without a set creed is that there is no concrete formula of answers passed down to us. Many of us aren’t given a standard set of responses to questions about whether or not there is a god, what life after death consists of or even what books or truths we should behold ourselves to and why the others are wrong.

Instead, I encourage you to form your own personal creeds, and this is no easy task. Each of us is given the responsibility to ask the questions, to solve the problems, and to shape the world around us.

This allows us the gift of living with intention. We are encouraged to return to the world with something new to think about. We live ethically not out of fear of hell or for want of eternal paradise. Instead, we strive to live ethically because life is most meaningful when lived ethically. We strive to live ethically because we place a central value on our relationships with other human beings. We strive to live ethically because we want to bring out our best.

Spiraling up is a place where we live the search for our own understandings of what it means to live with intention. The answers to ultimate questions will continue to change as the next generations learns from our mistakes and our successes. We will continue to add to the pyramids of thought that spill over into that metaphorical room from our earlier thought experiment.

Our work in this lifetime is to add to that story and to ensure the freedom of future generations to continue to ask questions.

The Gift of Intention

Each day we live our lives, we are writing our stories. Every person you pass in the streets has a story. Contained within those stories are heartbreaks and passionate love, playful tenderness and secret fears. That is what being human is about. Each of us is a needle in a haystack, and we come to a community like this in order to be found. To find ourselves. To find our paths. To find a community to love us, to celebrate our life’s joys, and to join us in our life’s sorrows. Our relationships with each other are what give us meaning. Our growth as we seek the answers is what gives us fulfillment.

The creation of the present moment – of our time and place in history – started long ago. It will start again as you walk out our door in the next minutes or hours. If you have joined us for the first time today or if you’ve stopped by a few times before, welcome home. Welcome to our community of seekers. We have no truth to defend because we recognize that truth is fluid, like poetry. It starts, it stops. Sometimes it rhymes, has obvious rhythm. Other times, it’s a collection of words spread across a page that simply evoke a feeling, a memory that we can’t entirely put into words.

Today I encourage you to go out and talk about the story of you. Talk about it in poetry or song. Talk about it without words, just in reflection. Ask yourself the big questions, and then come back and join us again. Invite a friend if you’d like. Come back and bring your questions. Bring your answers. Your joys. Your sorrows. Your history. All parts of you are welcome here. Grow with us.

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Catherine Bordeau

A teacher and a lifelong student, Catherine has always been interested in epistemology, the study of how we know what we know. History, philosophy, and religion are her favored fields because she believes that if you look closely enough, you learn empathy, perspective, causation, and connection. Humans have been working to create meaning and understanding since forever. That’s the puzzle Catherine works to understand, to explore, and has studied during her B.A. in History, her Master of Divinity program, and her Master in Educational Leadership.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandra November 24, 2015 at 11:52 am

I never get how people can say that they are bored, when there are still so many questions to think about 🙂


Annalize November 27, 2015 at 1:04 am

Life is full of variety, that’s for sure! For me I keep it as simple as possible, living each day as if it is my last; completed!


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