Already the "processing" of the TOB experience has begun, thanks in part to a project I was engaged in between the sessions. I had brought a voice recorder to get some interviews from my fellow participants, in case I had another opportunity to host a radio show. Guess what? There in my mail box was a message asking me to ... host a radio show on October 24. I had a few technical issues with the recorder (not the least was failing batteries--and all the spares I had brought seemed to be just as weak as the old one), but I did get a few "TOB voices" on issues around Theology of the Body and the rhetoric of the "war on women." One of the most distinctive voices came from a young woman who runs an orphanage in Sierra Leone. When I get back to my office, I will be busily putting those interviews together in a usable form--I hope!
Among the insights I got from the presentations by Christopher West was the not-exactly-news that people are all, always, looking for love. Peter Kreeft speaks of this in terms of the "God-shaped hole" in the human heart. It's a search that testifies to our ultimate destination, but we keep expecting proxies to meet that need. Some people, West said, become "addicts" whose lives are consumed by the search for the next "hit" whether it is in the form of serial relationships or some less-than-human filler. Theirs is the path of idolatry: putting a human being or an earthly good (like pleasure or achievement) in God's place. But not even in the best of all marriages can the spouses really complete one another to that degree!
Others try the "stoic" route and simply try to repress the desires of the heart, the way the "iconoclasts" of old went around trying to destroy the icons of Jesus and the saints that were supposed to be windows into eternity. For the stoics, there's no place to go anyway. Until this afternoon, I had kind of pegged myself as the "stoic" type. After all, my hero in 4th grade was Mr. Spock from Star Trek, the half-man, half-Vulcan who didn't have any pesky feelings complicating his life! Nope. I just have a kind of subtle "addiction" that I pursue with all the doggedness of our more aggressive panhandlers back in Chicago.
Only the "mystics" get it right. They aren't afraid of intense desires, knowing that these are a message system from God telling us that life on earth is lived in the tension of the "already" and the "not yet" of communion with God: already lived now in the sacramental language of the body, in view of the full experience of what it means to be the image of God (which is too big a reality for any place but heaven).