“We have to contact the center of our being because there we have contact with the center of the universe. Because we are cut off from our center and the center of the universe we feel, and are, exiles imprisoned in the world of multiplicity and mere existence, longing to awake and journey back to the center which is our heart and our home...the truth is that the secret desire of our heart is for (this) lost paradise.”
Cecil Collins (The Vision of the Fool and Other Writings, p. 90)
About six blocks from where I live is the hip new club area of gentrified Avondale. Once upon a time, it was a mill-village that grew up around a textile industry. The Avondale Mills provided employment for generations of Alabamians from 1897 until 2006. It sits right on the main east-west railroad lines and until recently had fallen into decline and even blight. Now, it's the scene of a bustling night life with a brewery, several restaurants, a couple of antiques boutiques and coffee shops, and at least five nightclubs with lots of loud music, louder voices and flowing beverages. Now that summer is here, the outdoor venues are open, and the party has moved to the patios and sidewalks. From my house, I hear everything from rock to mariachi, and as the night goes late they grow louder, interspersed with trains whistling across the road right in the middle of the action. It's quite the scene. Needless to say, I'm not part of it except as a passive listener.
As I listen from my bedroom late at night, I am reminded of the Prodigal Son—of the years that he was away spending his inheritance on pleasure. I'm not judging the boy, mind you—I did the very same thing in my youth. It's a passage, and believe it or not, it's a necessary passage. The young folks at the brewery and other clubs are searching for the center of the universe—they just don't know it yet. You can't know it until you end up for the hundredth time sick and hung-over, and weary of the debauched life that's getting you nothing but poor health and high credit card bills you can't pay. Remember that old song by Burt Bacharach from the 1960's:
“What's it all about, Alfie
Is it just for the moment we live...
As sure as I believe there's a heaven above, Alfie
I know there's something much more
Something even non-believers can believe in
I believe in love, Alfie...”
The center of the universe, the center of our being, is what we're all looking for. They are the same, eternally one, and available at all times in all circumstances. Like the Prodigal, all we need to do is turn our faces toward home.
In the Spirit,