I find myself watching social media and being really jealous of other people's adventures. Trever and I aren't going on vacation until late August so my entitled little soul feels left out at home in July. People go on some wicked trips and via social media I covet them. I mean that in the Biblical sense, I want them not to have it so I can have it. I have a running wish list that includes Iceland, Costa Rica, Panama and Japan and I feel bad about myself for being so selfish and small minded. I don't think I'm unique in this though, it seems there is a new wave of interest in my generation, and it’s the quest for experience.
For the most part we have become very disenchanted by possessions attained and scoff at the Malibu life of luxury and beige. The cleanliness of Western culture has made us bored and we are now looking for authenticity and a bit of grit wherever we can find it. A hidden Thai restaurant full of recent immigrants and a little grime is much preferred to a glossy chain restaurant draped in white linens. Even more so, we now spend untold amounts of money on leaving. Looking to experience new, particularly a longing for an encounter with the outdoors. Social media has a hierarchy of hip, and at the top of the list is a trip to some unknown region of trees, mountains and beaches, or a secret hike leading to beauty untold.
In studying the Desert Monks I have grown to admire their great escape from the confines of society. They were searching for a way of life that reversed all the norms of the day to find God and find life beyond the complacency of our world. John Chryssavgis points out in his book, In the Heart of the Desert, that the monk’s lives and values were seen as radical, and it must then be remembered that the word radical has Latin meaning implying a searching for roots.
I think that’s what we’re doing. We’ve grown up in cities that have taken from us any true connection to this earth. Our appetites are for food from the dirt, individuals making products with their hands, plant medicine, mountains unclimbed, remote sea air, an insatiable lust for the primitive. Technology has penetrated our world and it’s all we have known, yet as Olivier Clement says, “we are impelled to embark on a quest for the ancient original roots of being”. We are searching for the ground below us, to sink deep into something that for once is not abstract and when we find it, the rush of a waterfall becomes our temple.
I am part of this millennial generation and I feel the pull back from some of our parent’s western norms, and just like my neighbor I am infatuated with our mutual ambition, flawed as it may be. I wonder if unlike the desert fathers we have created a form spirituality through a connection to this earth, but it's a spirituality without deity and thus it might never appease our longing. The harder we run towards it we might find that it is yet another fad that won’t give us ground. We worship the mountains as there is much to be celebrated in them, yet I suspect we might find in all our exploration that the finite satisfaction still pales, because beauty is a way by which we know God, it is not God himself. We worship the essence of God in creation and a lifestyle a little closer to the way it should be, but God with us and us with God is meant to be where it all leads, and in missing that we’ve actually missed the lavish beauty itself. We can’t seem to find the true glory in the very essence of divine artistry, and so we’re just another generation scraping at stones and arrogantly assuming we’ll be the first to find a place to plant our roots.