“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive … so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
– Joseph Campbell
If Campbell is right – and he spent a half a century studying the religions, myths, rites of passage, art, and traditions of cultures throughout the world – then the meaning of life isn’t really about meaning at all. We aren’t here to discover our special vocation or mission. Instead, what we desire most are rich, vibrant experiences that capture the feeling of being alive.
It may seem that living for rapture is a selfish existence, but I don’t think it is. Rapture isn’t a selfish emotion; it’s more akin to gratitude or wonder. Experiences of rapture are more than just feel-good moments – they open us up, they invite vulnerability, and they make us more freely available to others. We are more able to approach life with a wide open heart, and whether our current circumstance is one of joy or sorrow, we can love the world with all its imperfection and beauty. We can serve our community or our God without being so uptight about it.
And here’s where it gets even better. We don’t need to climb a mountain or be cast in a movie to experience rapture. Wondrous moments are all around us every day. From the soft murmur of a creek to an electrifying rock concert to a perfect scoop of ice cream, all we need is to be open.
But that’s also the challenge, isn’t it. To maintain a soft and open heart amidst the chaffing of life’s harshness. To hold a spirit of childish wonder while maturely confronting injustice and pain. This is the work of a lifetime, but the payoff goes way beyond our own personal feelings of being alive – it’s the possibility of sharing rapture with others.
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