I'd describe this blog as a place for the purposeful ramblings of Ruth and others. You get to read my thoughts. Will you please share yours, too?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Seeing Outside

From Thomas Merton's chapter Consciene, Freedom, and Prayer in No Man Is an Island:
When we look inward and examine our psychological conscience our vision ends in ourselves. We become aware of our feelings, our inward activity, our thoughts, our judgments, and our desires. It is not healthy to be too constantly aware of all these things. Perpetual self-examination gives an overanxious attention to movements that should remain instinctive and unobserved. When we attend too much to ourselves, our activity becomes cramped and stumbling. We get so much in our own way that we soon paralyze ourselves completely and become unable to act like normal human beings.

At times the psychological conscience quickly gets paralyzed under the stress of futile instrospection. But there is another spiritual activity that develops and liberates its hidden powers of action: the perception of beauty. I do not mean by this that we must expect our consciousness to respond to beauty as an effete and esoteric thing. We ought to be alive enough to reality to see beauty all around us. Beauty is simply reality itself, perceived in a special way that gives it a resplended value of its own. Everything that is, is beautiful insofar as it is real--though the associations which they may have acquired for men may not always make things beautiful to us.

One of the most important--and most neglected--elements in the beginnings of the interior life is the ability to respond to reality, to see the value and the beauty in ordinary things, to come alive to the spendor that is all around us in the creatures of God.
Last night some of us ate at a Vietnamese restaurant and when I opened my fortune cookie, I wasn't satisfied with the theology of the message inside: Pray for what you want, but work for the things you need.

So, I opened another one and smiled, truly hoping that the message on that slip of paper is accurate of me: You find treasures where others see nothing. I think we will encounter the divine in the most surprising places, if we're aware and looking. Not just looking, though--seeing is a better way to put it.

I need to balance a healthy dose of self-introspection (so I can better grow into the person Christ calls me to be) with a focus on and appreciation of things, ideas, and people outside of myself. I want to live life every day, not just think about how I could/should live it.


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