Changing the World from Within ~ BitterSweetLife

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Changing the World from Within

Seeing a world of light

I’m not convinced that the world ever changes much. That’s not to say that a piece of helpful legislation never gets passed, or that corrupt regimes never get upended. As history has shown us, they sometimes do—but anarchic people and oppressive governments are something we don’t escape. The world, you see, doesn’t change much.

Nevertheless, something changes about the world. Our relationship to this earth is in a state of flux. Reality is a picture with an increasing pixel count. Existence gains high resolution. Realism becomes a way of life, and it is brighter, not darker, than what previously passed for perception.

I almost hate to say what I’m about to say because it will sound dangerously like designer spirituality—the stuff which aims for sentimentality without actuality. Only the fact that I have Paul (who wrote about “seeing through a glass dimly”) in my corner, as well as Jesus (the self-proclaimed “light of the world”), gives me the nerve to push on.

The world doesn’t change much. And, while I know (and aggressively assert) that we grow some, I’m not convinced that people change drastically either. (Note my emphasis on “drastically.”) But something about us changes. There is this thing called variously “getting mature” or “gaining experience” or “finding wisdom.” So what gives?

I like to think of the subtle “change” I experience as sleep gradually giving way to consciousness—and not the drugged, irritable wakefulness that follows a too-short nap, but the kind that caps a long, refreshing dream. This is a sleep that gives way to a dawn of unexpected promise.

Anatomically speaking, for me this is not always the case. In my sleep, my body stealthily moves into contorted positions which were comfortable in my earlier life but that now spell disaster for my vertebrae. I wake up to pinched nerves and the realization that, during the dark hours, I can’t monitor my own health. I can’t even see myself to know what I am doing.

I can draw a parallel between my physical sleeping patterns and my spiritual development: maybe I will reach the point where I will stop hurting myself in my sleep. Will I gain new self-awareness? Will my spiritual stupor give way to a magical sunrise? Or perhaps, will one accompany the other?

I know that I “change” in this way, at least: Heaven’s light seeps through my eyelids and the world gradually takes on shape. The light gives life. I see my personalized addictions without the dubious benefit of obscuring shadow. I know where in the room they stand, and where I do. I no longer stub my toes.

I see that the world is broken, and I am too—but things are fresher, and more truth nevertheless: I see Christ through the cracks. I need him badly: Apparently I will be a child all my life.

The world hasn’t changed, but I see it more clearly. In a sense, then, I have changed too, because Christ has given me new eyes, and they are blinking. They are guessing at earth’s eternal shadows. In the end they will be fully open.


Things I did not say:
It’s not worth reading the news.
Voting is unimportant.
Who needs social justice?
People are hopelessly evil.
Don’t bother trying to grow more mature.
I have all this figured out.

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Will Robison said...

The more things change, the more they stay the same. And yet, just because we've experienced something before it doesn't mean we can't react to it. We're supposed to react to it. It just means that we still haven't figured out a way to solve that particular problem. Polio was almost eradicated and then, suddenly, it has started to make a come back. Small Pox is still out there, waiting. We haven't dropped an atomic bomb in 60 years. Does anyone think we're out of the woods yet? Its the same with our personal lives and our spiritual lives. We continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. And we can never seem to figure out why.

Perhaps what we need to do is stop trying to find our own way in this world and see if we can't help others find theirs. I don't know. I'm just as Lost as you.

Andrew Simone said...


I might have to respectfully write a sed contra to this.

Ariel said...

I sense that this post is mired in ambiguity and have the sneaking suspicion (gulp) that what I thought may not have translated...

That being said, I'd welcome a rebuttal or even a flat contradiction. Maybe I could exploit such a thing to clarify what I really mean. ;)

Andrew Simone said...

Writing is not without its dangers. Although, to be honest, I think I disagree more with the emphasis than hard and fast, black and white truths.

Either way it will be fun, no?

Ariel said...

Yes, I think this is called "iron sharpening iron" (I read it in a book somewhere). Bring it!

Trailady said...

Very well said! There is nothing new under the sun. However, there can be newness of life in the soul.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife