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Thu March 19, 2009
"This I Believe" Essay Contest Winner Gregory Waldrop
By Gregory Waldrop
Murray, KY – I believe angels dance on the heads of pins I really do. Throughout this mysterious world of ours, angels regularly can be trusted to dance on heads of pins. I don't know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, though I believe most often it is more than one. Nor do I know how many heads of pins support angels. The classical question never has been about how many anyway only we western materialists obsess over how many or how much. Quantity makes little difference here. The medieval question instead was always about the place of unseen mystery in life about spirit and its forceful imprint on the physical world. To believe angels dance on the heads of pins is to believe in reality beyond space and time, to believe in life experiences that are more than the sum of chemical or electrical parts; it is to believe in a cosmic alchemy that powerfully catalyzes existence into life, filling respiration with inspiration, and making the mechanical meaningful. Neither minutes nor miles can adequately measure the deepest moments of life. So I believe angels dance on the heads of pins.
I do not believe the spiritual is more important than the physical. There has to be a material pinhead for angels to dance. I appreciate deeply the sensual. Many times in my life physicality has ascended and reigned in importance for a season. I thrill to the splendor of athletic excellence at the Olympics and in my daughters' dance recitals. I value highly the work of scientists and engineers who materially improve our world. Rather, I believe in a dedicated marriage between the equal partners of physicality and spirituality as the highest way to live. Such wedded wonder means I take equally seriously responding to a hungry or homeless neighbor clearly physical needs as well as respecting the faith out of which my neighbor lives. The spiritual veracities all major religions identify with all their symbols do not eclipse the world of sense and season they merge on the deepest levels and offer a complete encounter with the fullness of life. Religion and science are not opponents they join to help us know our life and its many relationships most comprehensively. Right religion and true science do not spar for supremacy; instead they serve as accompaniment in the harmony that is life. I agree with my friend who claims we, at our best, live sensually religious and religiously sensual.
One deepest insight that life has taught when I dare to live as if angels dance on heads of pins at the highest points where spirituality and physicality intersect, joy is found; when spirit and flesh are rightly connected and fully coupled, joy abounds; indeed, joy infuses the heart of human reality rightly lived;
That joy is why the angels are dancing!