Friday, September 4, 2015
Hoping past God
I suppose the comparison may not be apt; after all, we are (so far as we currently know) the only species capable of pride and arrogance; yet we seem determined to make up for this deficiency in other creatures by overcompensation alone.
Pride, like ego, is a subtle thing; it penetrates every action and inserts itself in hidden ways. The action of an inner presence is the only palliative for this; yet it is so rarely present.
I had a dream the other night in which I was in a group of people, speaking to someone else; and in the dream, I was acutely aware of how much I put myself on display through what I said. That is, the entire exchange just wasn't about being in relationship with the other person, despite appearances; inside me, it was about looking good. Or smart, or clever, or superior. I wanted the others in the dream to see me as capable, competent, well informed and important.
I was posing.
I suppose we all need a bit of this kind of recognition. Yet recognition from other human beings is treasure on earth, if ever there was any; and I crave that perhaps more than recognition from God. God gives in abundance and recognizes us in Glory, Grace, and Mercy; perhaps the whole point of that sequence of prayer is, for me, an objectification (in itself a dangerous thing, but never mind) of God's willingness to recognize.
Yet—although this is the one thing which, through both my own personal spiritual experience (as opposed to belief) and my professed Christianity, I ought to most crave and seek, I take it for granted.
I move on, hoping past God into some further territory populated by people and things.
This inner action of hoping past God consists of overlooking the sacred, and failing to acquire an exact appreciation, an exact valuation, of that which is given—that which I already have through the inarguable action of those qualities of Glory, Grace, and Mercy, which I am, in my essence, asleep to.
A single moment in the Lord is greater than all the moments in men; yet paradoxically, I want the moments in men. To further complicate matters this very same wanting embarrasses me; if I am given recognition, I somehow don't want it. There is a part of me that sees how untoward it is to wish in such an egoistic way.
Yet secretly, inside myself, these egoistic wishes are very strong things. They form the greater part of my intention; and that is what I ought to try and better see.
Lee van Laer is a senior editor at Parabola Magazine.