Sunday, March 2, 2008

Finding the Right Place

Title suggested by R. in California. Thanks, friend.

Someone once said to me on a dark day, "We are the only creatures who can worship God while we suffer. Not even the angels have such a privilege."

I don't know whether angels suffer, but I know that we do. Perhaps the most central thing about being human is not just that we feel pain, but that we treble our anguish with the existential roar of, "Why?"

It is too much to take on its own. We spend our lives diluting it with what lies in our grasp: sleep, food, loves, addictions, creeds, enigmas, causes, tasks, obsessions, vacations. We are like people half-asleep on a camping trip, trying to find the one contorted pose that avoids all the rocks.

I have seen something in myself, in my own generation - a tendency to hop between jobs, schools, churches, cities and friends in search of the one ideal combination that will feel all right at last. These searches are not bad in themselves, but they may be symptomatic of a chronic restlessness that says all is not well. (I say "may be," not "are", because I won't presume to see into another's life.)

The newness of a new place, a new company, a new anything, may for a time divert our attention from the Thing that stays back in some shadow of the mind. One can, with remarkable success, string together a bunch of new things like a talisman against ever asking one's soul a single honest question.

Unless it falls away. In that one dark moment, unable to look out at the bright carnival swirl of your life anymore, you look in. That moment is so awful that I pray you experience it, because out of that moment, though not all at once, comes everything that's worth anything.

From that place, you can call and He will find you. He will speak, and you will have enough silence about you to hear it. From that place, you can stop even for an hour from craving and hedging and fixing. You can be still, surrounded by the pieces of your life, and say the three most profound words given to a race born to adore: "You are God." And that is worship. That is the right place.


Anonymous said...

"We are like people half-asleep on a camping trip, trying to find the one contorted pose that avoids all the rocks."

Wholly true and very well said! If envy were ever a good thing, your gift for illustration would be near the top of my list.


Anonymous said...

"it is not for nothing that you are named Ransom. My name is also Ransom..." And so we are. In spending our lives for the sake of others, we lose ourselves, only to receive it back, in its proper place...

I thank God for you and your mind, your words and your time, and for the creative beauty reflected and expressed therein.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful and true, as ever. Praise God.