In March of 2001, in my role then as Associate Director of the Louisville Institute, I was able to convene a consultation in Missoula, Montana with Albert Borgmann and about two dozen pastors and scholars on the technological character of contemporary life. For two days we sat around a large table and had an extended conversation with Albert about his constructive critique of contemporary life. For most of the individuals there, it was their first exposure to Albert's work. It was probably one of the most important events I was able to fund and convene in those years. Several books and essays were inspired by those conversations.
As we came to the conclusion of those two days, there was a moment when I turned to Albert and asked him to share a final thought with us. He relayed to us what he calls his "four focal affirmations." He said, "you know you are in the midst of a focal experience when you can make the following four affirmations:
There is no place I would rather be.
There is nothing I would rather do.
There is no one I would rather be with.
This I will remember well."
He affirmed our gathering as a focal experience. He said it was, "a moment of grace where things are properly centered in a way we don't have to unsay them or surpass them at a later moment."
When such moments arise in our lives they command our attention in a way that awakens us to the fullness of life. Often, they take us by surprise which makes them all the more arresting.
It reminds me of the story from Genesis 28 when Jacob awoke after a night of sleep in a wilderness place with a rock for his pillow. He had dreamed of a ladder reaching from that place to heaven and felt the Lord beside him saying, "...know that I will be with you..." Upon waking he said, "Surely the Lord is in this place--and I did not know it."