Guest blogger, Ali Fusi, is a second year student on the BA (Hons) Theology, Religion, and Ethics programme within the St Mary's Institute of Theology.
Sitting on this bench, on a typically beautiful and cloudless autumnal morning, I can’t help but notice the peace that radiates this place. The old sturdy church stands tall and majestic. The sun escapes through every small break in the trees and glistens each silver thread of hair from the men and women that pass by. The squirrels scurry and scamper through bushes. The crisp dead leaves crackle in the wind along the pavement. And the gentle pluck of acoustic guitar strings softens the sound of distant traffic.
It makes me contemplate the fundamental need for stillness in our lives. The fragility of life together with our constant psychological conflicts and ability to retreat into dark holes of doubt and despair can often seem too overwhelmingly difficult to escape from. Life’s inevitable chain of unexpected events can cause us to simply forget about our true purpose, meaning and direction.
I am by no means an expert in the subject, but it is obvious to me that life does contain purpose. From the death of a friend, to the birth of my niece and all the things in between, I have learnt the need for stillness through appreciation and faith. Appreciation for life is undoubtedly a complex idea because it requires real thought and evaluation, on a theological and psychological level, but also on a personal one too.
Theologically, life is sacred and incredibly mysterious as human beings are so complex they are fundamentally beyond our full comprehension, more than anything in the cosmos. And so, our desire to evaluate the significance of our lives is a hugely great task, but one that I believe is necessary. Alternatively, nihilists may argue that we look towards moral and religious values in order to fill our meaningless lives. However, I would argue that the simple act of getting out of bed in the morning rebukes the idea of futility because it suggests we have reason to believe we have purpose. We are constantly living and acting as though there is something meaningful about the lives we live and our ultimate destination.
It is through my faith that the pieces of the puzzle seem to create an idea of the bigger, transcendent picture. Through faith and reason together, my understanding of life and my theological convictions have grown considerably. I have only recently come to understand how the doctrines of the Church are united with the psychology and philosophy of life. For example, the Bible is rooted with psychological significance through archetypal narratives such as Adam and Eve. From these stories, we can begin to analyze the validity and importance that these words have when attempting to unpack the riddle of life’s meaning.
Though doubt is a common element of life, it is these quiet moments that allow me to attempt to organize my thoughts in a way that is healthy and reasonable. In times when the world is littered with confusion and devastation, I believe it is crucial to look towards our purpose, theologically or morally, so that we can continue towards a direction of true hope and satisfaction.