We live in the most affluent, comfortable, entertaining culture in the history of our planet. Our lives are marked by an insatiable pursuit after our definition of success – that which we call “the good life”: the best job with the best pay, beautiful pain-free bodies and short-term pain-free relationships…in short, ease and pleasure of every legally acceptable kind.
And yet, even as we have pursued our priorities with ever-increasing zeal, studies tell us that on the whole our current value system and the particular ways we have conditioned our minds to think about our world and our role in that world has led towards unprecedented levels of depression, frustration, loneliness, isolation, addiction, stress, worry, anger, insecurity, confusion and crisis.
Apparently our particular vision of what it means to exist as humans on planet Earth has created a state of mind that is inherently at odds with its own environment. We have analyzed our place in the Universe using a certain lens, or frame of reference, and have as a result come to some basic conclusions.
And those conclusions are slowly killing us.
Which ought to bring us to some new conclusions:
Either the world is a horrible place…or we’ve got this thing called “Life” horribly wrong.
The problem isn’t with our execution of the plan. The problem is with the plan itself. As others have said, it’s not that we just need to climb higher on the ladder of success - it’s that our ladder is leaning up against the wrong building.
Call the problem sin if that works best for you. But really we are talking about a whole mental mood, a worldview, a lens through which we interpret our lives, our experiences, and what is expected of us. We are talking about an error at the systemic level. At the level of our assumptions concerning the shape of Reality.
It is finally spring here in the Midwest. For a few short weeks the entire landscape will explode in a kaleidoscope of colors and aromas. Trees that look identical to one another for 11 months out of the year will for a moment blaze with individual glory: snowflake white, cole slaw, pink, rose, magenta, fuchsia, and burgundy, to name a few. Today the magnolias are at their summit, and they are magnificent.
And do you know what the “relevance” of all this extravagant beauty is?
It’s allergy season.
That’s the main “fact” that most concerns us.
That is what is “relevant”. (For I think it is safe to say that the working definition of 'relevant' is "what I consider to be important to me."
Can there be any doubt that there is something inherently wrong with our ability to perceive what is actually going on here?
"Open up your eyes..."
We are the recipients of the most dazzling, magical, incomprehensible gift ever imagined in this universe or in any other possible universe.
And for the most part, we are missing it.
Do you ever have that experience, that moment of clarity where you suddenly realize that you are "missing it"? Time is rolling over you as inexorable as the ocean's tide, life is passing, and you are missing it? Your college years? The springtime of love's first bloom? Your wedding day? The birth of your first child? A home full of toddler's squeals of joy? The day they will leave home forever? The loss of your parents?
And amidst all these landmarks as well as through all the quieter moments of possible joy, do you feel just a little less focused, less "present", less aware of what a wonderful thing this life is? More like you're going through the motions than "sucking the marrow out of life"? At times barely less than openly bitter at the life you've fallen into instead of bursting with thankfulness?
To walk the Warrior's Path is to believe that when life seems "common" and "plain" it is not because it is common and plain, but because we do not yet have eyes to see.
Each and every human being you passed by today without a second look was in fact the most wondrous impossibility the universe has ever seen.
Speaking to the men here - you know some tattered remnant of that truth, though I'll bet you weren't aware that 'wonder' best described what you were experiencing in the way that the female race can paralyze you, hypnotize you, leave you spellbound and amazed.
"Open up your eyes."
The flowering trees are a direct insight into the mind of God Himself, the God of all adventure and mystery and romance, the God who thought of palm trees and sunsets and balmy Caribbean breezes; the God who invented the kiss and designed us to respond to it the way that we do. The God who knows no depression or anxiety, no confusion or doubt.
The God in whose image we were created. The God who we were meant to be like.
Yes. Either this world is a horrible place...
...or we're looking at it all wrong.
God, grant us Eyes to See.