" 'The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.' This is the gospel according to Hemingway. Finding a secular spirituality, one that does not need to posit a God out there in order to find faith, has everything to do with the mystery of paying attention to the blessed broken stuff in your own life and in the world.
"Some glorious mystery resides on the edges, hovers over the brokenness, hangs out at the bottoms of things. This is why worldly mystics such as St. Francis of Assisi or Gandhi or Dorothy Day or Mother Teresa, have always stayed close to the marginalized, les miserables, the anawim in Hebrew, the least of these, where Messiah is to be found.
"This mysterious underground grace can take raw abuse and half-repressed shame and transform it into life-giving resiliency. Often it is subliminal, just beneath the threshold (limen in Latin) of awareness. Such half-submerged inklings of grace may contain hidden monsters as well as stars of light. 'These resurrected gems are bridgeheads into alien territory,' wrote R.D. Laing in The Politics of Experience. They call us back to our true home while on the journey. Falling and rising at the margins of life, we come to the center.
"A Beautiful Mind portrays the real-life mystery of Princeton mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr., whose brilliant career is persistently invaded by acute schizophrenia. The off-the-wall professor teaches us to pay attention to marginal people. Treat mental illness with respect, Nash would remind us, because the voices he hears come from the same mysterious place as the insights for his Nobel Prize-winning gaming theory. Nash's astounding craziness is a reminder to notice my attitude toward persons I might quickly write off."