“When you look at the world what do you see?” I encountered this question a short while ago when I was browsing the internet for interesting things to read, and I came upon a blog written by an old schoolmate. Needless to say, the article (and the blog itself) is wonderful, and this question has been on the back of my mind since then. It’s come up so many times, and is always nagging at me. When I look at the world, what do I see?
This used to be such a difficult question for me to answer because it seemed like one that had too simple of an answer, and I was frustrated because I knew that there had to be more than just ‘I see what’s in front of me’. I was right, in that there is something more than just the facade of our surroundings, but it took three-and-a-half years and a study session with my favorite professor for me to really be able to answer that question.
My junior year of high school, I was fortunate enough to be able to lead a retreat that my home diocese puts on for juniors and seniors, called SEARCH. While this retreat helped facilitate a major turning point in my faith, it also helped plant the seed of what reality is, because I had to give a talk about reality and had no idea what to say. When I was brainstorming, our youth director came up to me and gave this simple little nugget of advice, saying, “Essentially, when sh*t hits the fan and you’re trying to find something to hold on to, if you’re not looking straight at Christ then you need to readjust your priorities”. At first I thought this was way too simple of an answer, but three-and-a-half years later of struggling to learn what real life is like, it makes so much sense in so many ways.
My favorite professor touched on our culture’s view of reality, as well. He took about ten to fifteen minutes to explain that, contrary to the ideals in our culture of skepticism, everything — every blade of grass on the ground, every raindrop that falls, every grain of sand beneath the sea, every hair on our heads, every inch between us and the sun, every atom that makes up every cell of our bodies, etc — everything is for a reason, and is for us. And so, it is good.
Now I could go into the philosophical arguments from contingency and divine attributes to prove it, but I’ll spare y’all the time (#philosophymajorproblems). Essentially though, because God is sheer Goodness, and sheer Beauty, and sheer Truth, and sheer Being, and sheer Love, everything that he creates is good. And everything that he creates is created and given to us by Love. Which means that when we’re looking at this massive masterpiece that is the world that he’s given us to live in, we aren’t just looking at grass. We aren’t just looking at the sky. We aren’t just looking at some buildings or plants or rocks or hills or roads. We aren’t just looking at other human beings. We’re looking at gifts. We’re looking at other beings and things that are good in their very nature and essence, and are being held in existence by Love. And that is what is real.
My tagline for this blog is “coming from Love and running towards Love”, not because I’m shamelessly obsessed with all of the different kinds of love and how love manifests itself throughout our lives, but because I am — we are — created by and coming from Love, and we are called to run towards it every day.
I recently fell in love with a music group called Mandolin Orange (whose most recent album this blog is named for), and one of their songs on this album is called “Little Worlds”. It has beautiful language about watching the world (and possibly the destruction of it?) with “fire lit eyes”, and that phrase resonated with me. Not because I’m watching the world go up in flames before me (ha!), but because I see the world and its intrinsic beauty that’s laced within the very being of my surroundings.
I see the magical qualities in something as simple as a smile or the leaves changing in the fall. I see and experience the love that is the ultimate cause and author of these beautiful things and people that surround me. I see all as gift, and I feel it spark the burning desire in the depth of my being to run towards that love for as long as I have legs to carry me.
“And little worlds hung on fire lit eyes
Tryin’ to come a little closer now
Cause you alone steal every heart
And you alone shall be
Just a world I never knew
And the only one I see”
Little Worlds by Mandolin Orange.