Minute Meditations

At Home with Angels and Beasts

We humans belong to both realms, the realm of the senses and a realm that goes beyond them. This stretches us. To avoid the tension of this stretching process we are apt to settle for half of our rightful inheritance. Still, our human birth gives us a dual citizenship. Only by claiming both realms as home can we avoid the polarization of our human consciousness. Our noblest task is to make the most of this creative tension. If we neglect what goes beyond our senses, we sink below animals. But if we deny being animals and neglect or reject our senses, we clip the very wings on which we are meant to rise to higher spheres. Unless we claim our dual citizenship and are at home with both angels and beasts we become alienated from both, alienated from what is truly human; we become—in Christopher Fry’s apt image, “Like a half-wit angel strapped to the back of a mule.”

— from the book The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Everyday Life, by Brother David Steindl-Rast

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