Part of this journey for me is finding the right concepts, the proper words to correctly zero in on what we are doing here. It’s all about achieving a certain amount of precision – because, I think, precision can be an integral component that leads to clarity, a clarity is (as always) the goal.
There are key concepts that if well-described and well-defined get us a long way down the road of finding our way. And there’s one cornerstone concept in particular that I have been having difficulty encapsulating in language.
Let’s go back for a moment. Let’s consider again the world of facts, the objective “it’s really real” world. That is the world that exists. We can reasonably debate about what the real, factual world contains, but the fact remains that there is a real factual world, and when we make factual statements, those statements are either correct and accurate representations of the factual truth, or they are inaccurate, incorrect, and basically wrong.
Then there’s our subjective feelings of the world. A pencil is a pencil is a pencil, but showing a #2 yellow pencil to an academic star and to someone who flunked out may yield very different visceral reactions to the same fact. Put another way, the world of feelings is unique to everyone. And feelings are not bound by fact, though they are often influenced by them, of course. There’s nothing about a sunny day that mandates being happy, and a rainy day doesn’t require anybody to be bummed. Some folks in fact dislike sunny days and enjoy the rainy ones – and that’s fine.
Somewhere between fleeting and ephemeral feelings and solid, dependable facts lies a hazy middle ground. Sometimes we have feelings that seem more profound, more significant, or more compelling. Sometimes we have an experience that seems more than just ordinary, that seems especially fulfilling, deep, or engaging.
It is this extra aspect to an experience that I am calling resonance. When you are deeply moved by a film, you’re experiencing resonance. When a sermon seems to speak to your heart or soul, that’s resonance. When you look at your beloved and feel an undeniable transcendent love, that’s resonance too.
Plenty of experiences and feelings can be extraordinary without having resonance, however. You can feel a rush as your sports team wins without feeling any special meaning about it. You can have a scrumptious dinner without that experience touching you all that deeply. And you can be genuinely happy about a good day you are having without it being particularly profound. All these feelings are normal, day-by-day happenings.
But when a piece of you begins to think “this means something” or “this is important”, when you feel deeply, when you are consumed by the experience, even if only for a moment, that is resonance.
A phrase came to me, that itself exhibited resonance to me, causing a feeling of something worth noting: “The intersection of fact and feeling is meaning.”
Feeling is emotion, and facts are, well, facts. But where feelings become more than just emotion is where our facts gain context and dimension – where their meaning to us unfolds. And though plain facts are dry and mundane, where they begin to take on purpose and heft is where they speak to our hopes and needs.
The intersection of fact and feeling is meaning. And resonance is the built-in “radar” we have for early detection of these vital spiritual truths.
I think the key to spirituality that fulfills us is keying into the idea and reality of resonance.