Thursday, March 16, 2017

Meister Eckhart and The Joshua Tree

There was a flurry of news last week celebrating the 30th anniversary of U2's The Joshua Tree, and it brought back a fond memory I've always associated with the album. I hope you'll indulge this onion-on-my-belt moment...

The weekend after the album was released, I caught a flight to spend a weekend with my brother. I had copied a few albums to cassette, one of which was The Joshua Tree, to play during my flights. I ended up being the last person to board a full Southwest flight, so the only place open was a center seat near the back. The aisle seat was occupied by a bearded man I would guess to have been in his mid-30s. As he stands up to let me in to my seat, I notice he's reading a book about Meister Eckhart. After I get settled but before he had a chance to resume reading, I took a guess and asked, "Are you taking a course on mysticism?"

The look of disbelief on his face was priceless. He turned the book over so I could see the cover and replied, "Yes I am. Are you familiar with Eckhart?" I had to admit that I had only tried to read some of his work when I was in high school and didn't get very far. It turned out he was working on his doctorate at Southern Methodist University (another coincidence...from my office I had a beautiful view of the campus) and was doing some research. He was very gracious and patiently answered some questions I had and we had a brief discussion on other books he had to read for the class. I could tell he wanted to get back to his book, so I thanked him and put my headphones back on to listen to U2. Later, as we're getting off the plane, he laughed and shook my hand. "The guys in my class aren't going to believe this," he said, gesturing with his book toward me.

While it was an inconsequential episode, it has obviously stuck with me for some reason along with the association.


Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

A twist ending! I was so sure that guy was going to turn out to be Larry Mullen.

Dwight said...

Unfortunately I wasn't that lucky. I seem to have a draw on the seminary when on a plane. There was the time I was reading the Aeneid and it tuns out I had a priest sitting next to me. I got so much insight from him on it as we flew from Tucson to L.A.

Dwight said...

I remembered (after posting this) why I even knew about Eckhart while in high school in the first place... I remember reading an interview with Van Morrison and the discussion he and the interviewer had about mysticism. Eckhart's name was dropped. I was impressionable. So I read. And failed to understand.

Probably worth a re-visit.