“…The great value of spiritual reading is that it helps to give meaning to our lives. Without meaning, human’s life quickly degenerates. The human person not only wants to live, but also wants to know why to live. Victor Frankl, the psychiatrist who wrote about his experiences in the German concentration camp during the Second World War, shows convincingly that without meaning in our lives we can't survive long. It is possible to live through many hardships when we believe that there still is someone or something worth living for. Food, drink, shelter, rest, friendship, and many other things are essential for life. But meaning is too!
It is remarkable how much of our life is lived without reflection on its meaning. It is not surprising that so many are busy but bored! They have many things to do and are always running to get them done, but beneath the hectic activity they often wonder if anything is truly happening. A life that is not reflected upon eventually loses its meaning and becomes boring. Spiritual reading is a discipline to keep us reflecting on our lives as we live them.
When a child is born, friends get married, a parent dies, people revolt, or a nation starves, its' not enough just to know about these things and to celebrate, grieve, or respond as best we can. We have to keep asking ourselves: 'What does it all mean? What is God trying to tell us? How are we called to live in the midst of all this?' Without such questions our lives become numb and flat. But are there any answers? There are, but we will never find them unless we are willing to live the questions first and trust that, as Rilke says, we will, without even noticing it, grow into the answer. When we keep the Bible and our spiritual books in one hand and the newspaper in the other, we will always discover new questions, but we also will discover a way to live them faithfully, trusting that gradually the answer will be revealed to us."
Henri Nouwen - The Dance of Life. Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame. 2005. 46 – 47.