Sunday, January 11, 2009

Eyes to See?

Sensitive to the eternal – “… with the Lord, every day is packed with eternity and eternity is impacted every day.” II Pet. 3:8 (dgw)

In the biblical account of Jacob’s ladder, Jacob exclaims, “Surely the Lord is present in this place and I did not know it!” or perhaps, and at least, “There is much more going on here than I supposed!” Gen. 28:16 (dgw)

Here is an example from my experience:

The American Indian would express a fear of photographs that we often casually dismiss: “The camera will steal my soul,” he said. I would very insensitively imagine that he could think that the camera actually captured something of his and transferred it to a piece of paper. “How silly,” I would think. 

God forgive me.

Consider that what he meant is that the camera will somehow rob him of the mystery that is every individual – that he will somehow be diminished after having been photographed. Prior to being photographed, he can be unique, feared and respected, perhaps even legendary; a photograph, however, would emphasize his similarities to everyone else and he could then lose (at least some of) the distinction (the mystery) that was previously his.

A photograph would presuppose that he always is as he appeared at that moment – and he knows that his complex dimensions can never be captured in one or even one million photographs. He knows that to be human means to change. He knows that tomorrow, he will not be the same – but the photograph will be the same; and others’ image of him will be locked in that photograph, i.e. who he was, and not in the dynamic of who he is.

Indeed, is that not “stealing his soul?”

Have we not also stolen his (our) soul by reducing such a rich, thoughtful, and complex concept to a mere caricature?

The above illustration is representative of the way I feel that I respond to all of life and faith: superficially accepting or dismissing items that have far more meaning than easily or commonly understood.

Terms like eternal life, kingdom of heaven, salvation, judgment, and repentance have far more (and sometimes less) meaning than commonly understood. These terms have obtained a super-definition that we all assume is universally understood. We then use these terms as if we all understand them and then shallow, lifeless communication is all that follows.

Father, forgive me for so carelessly and callously handling your words (and Word.) Teach me to carefully and tenderly regard other’s ideas and opinions and to be open to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and teaching. I pray that I never assume that I know the meaning of a term and then dismiss what I can learn from careful scrutiny. In the Spirit of your Word: Jesus, amen.


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