Friday, April 13, 2007

near to you

"I look for the good in everything
It hurts when I cannot find it.
I don’t want to wear a suit of armor.
Do I have to come out fighting?

When it is clear to you
I’ll be near to you
I will be around
When it is clear to you
I’ll be near to you
I won’t let you down."

~ The Innocence Mission, Clear to You

Out of the poetic and biblical triumvirate Faith, Hope, and Love, the subtlest and most understated is that integral perspective of hopefulness. Perhaps our conditioning makes the action of confident forward motion into something far more arbitrary and abstract, than to love someone or some thing. And surely the element of faith is egregiously misunderstood into rote religiosity. It seems to me that when one can look ahead with trusting hope, there follows enduring, internalized love and faith. Stopping to think, and actively reflect, requires some unusual and creative effort, necessitating the elimination of multiple layers of "filler," the varying degrees of "white noise" we tend to overlook. A couple of weeks ago, I tried a new cafe in the city, and noticed how the environment invited the idea of being something of a refuge from the work day. I made sure to thank the proprietors for not having loudspeakered sounds clog their place. The quiet was conspicuous by virtue of the absence of demanding interruptions. Surely, the duration of the day needn’t require such stark austerity, but I’ve begun to view punctuating counterforms of contemplative spaces in the day as parallel to meal-times, or a glass of water, or a deep breath of sea air. This is how hopefulness looks to me. The very opposite of passivity, and truly the conscious practice of aspiring from the Spirit’s point of reference. To hope is as active an engagement as it is to refuse the ways of nurturing outdated anguishes. In this journey, living a hopeful trust looks less like a state of mind, and much more as learned, conscious action.

Perhaps I am not the only one for whom this has happened: On bright weather days, I will occasionally bound in from the outdoors, and absent-mindedly turn down light switches, thinking the indoor lights had been off and trying to turn them on, due to the comparative strengths of ambient light. Then in that subsequent split second I'd realize how accustomed I'd become to brightness- and- how much dimness I had previously tolerated. All of which causes me to wonder about the invisible graces that adorn our paths. Were they always there, as in the literal at-one's-side, the consoling paraclete, hidden and cultivating yet so often unnoticed by us? How hadn't I seen what creating forces awaited me so patiently? Embracing the moment is as conscious a choice as resisting it, yet the treasure planted and hidden in my heart aspires to the horizon. And I am finding the open embrace to be the more worthy effort.

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