Why Reality is Paradoxical & Joy Must Be Searched For ~ BitterSweetLife

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Why Reality is Paradoxical & Joy Must Be Searched For

I've been slowly rebuilding our computer's hard drive. Functionality is almost back to 100%. Downside: We lost three months of pictures and some essays. Upside: Now the computer runs faster.

Meanwhile, Aidan is convinced that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. He keeps falling over his plastic tractor or his plastic piano or his colossal plastic-console/toy-with
-electronic tunes,-volume
control,-blinking lights,
-and-a-can-opener as he rushes off on urgent errands.

He'll run toward the kitchen, where a bag of chips has just been opened, only to stumble over Toy A and fall down with a surprised look on his face. He does not understand curved trajectories. He will not admit any obstacle to prevent his pursuit of food and balls. He tries to walk over a stuffed lion, Noah's Ark and three books on his way to the living room and falls down, crying, at the unfairness of it all.

Aidan is suffering acutely from a condition known as being one year old. As I watched him try to walk through a CD tower a few minutes ago, I asked myself how I could make some use of this stuff on the blog. There had to be parallels.

Determination? No, too easy. And that would be forcing the analogy, anyway, since we don't really want to applaud what Aidan is doing and, despite what's taught in some pc, happy-clappy elementary school curriculums, none of us will be able to "beat every obstacle and always win" as we achieve our dreams through a mixture of positive thinking and chipper grins. So the pursue your dreams at all costs line wasn't flying.

Then it occurred to me that most of us keep on doing what Aidan is doing right now, but in different, creative ways. We let our lives be dominated by our line of vision. We think that what our eyes see tells the whole story, and, as a result, we make "simple, natural" choices that are actually stupid.

There's a certain logic to thinking that buying new clothes brings security, that shacking up means pleasure, that verbally blasting someone will defuse your seething anger. It's the two-points-straight-line logic that Aidan lives by. It's simple and absurd and most of us use it by default unless we try hard not to.

If only life really was as straightforward as Aidan believes. But cause and effect are devious. God has arranged the universe so that ultimate joy and pleasure are found in paradoxical ways, and he does it for our good. There are seen and unseen things, an earth that has arrived and a Home we are still hoping for. Faith is the key that unlocks this mystery.

The Why of it may be sticky, since where God is concerned we are not mind-readers, but we are faced with a life where the invisible vies with our physicality for attention, where molecules are sometimes transformed by radiant spiritual power. There are beer bottles and asphalt and angels and demons, all in the same story. Why isn't everything located on the same plane of existence? Why are unseen things invaluable? Why do we need faith to live paradoxically satisfying lives in soil/spirit composite universe? You'll like this: Because God likes it this way and thinks it's better.

But back to my central metaphor. Aidan does not yet suspect that worship is the key to eternal joy. He doesn't know that your life can be driven by any one of a hundred things and you'll fail to really enjoy any one of them until you pursue Something Else first. He is still stumbling over blocks on his way to the kitchen, let alone stumbling over girls on his way to happiness. As soon as he can say a few more words besides "ball" and "cracker" we'll start trying to adjust his perspective...

Reality is more nuanced than connect-the-dots, but Aidan doesn't know that yet. Do we? I'm not sure any of us to ever learn it without a miracle of grace. And we may not ever know it fully and surely, with the certainty of golden conviction, until the day when hidden and seen converge, and Christ looks us in the face.

Like what you read? Don't forget to bookmark this post or subscribe to the feed.


must_decrease said...

Solmon sums it up nicely in Ecclesiastes 3:9-15:
What does the worker gain fro his struggles? I have seen the task that God has given people to keep them occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but man cannot discover the work God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy the good life. It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks and enjoys all his efforts. I know that all God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of Him. Whatever is, has already been, and whatever will be, already is. God repeats what is passed."

My favorite lines from this passage are, "He has also put eternity in their hearts, but man cannot discover the workd God has done...God works so that people will be in awe of Him" What a great reminder that in many ways we are as children, and while now we see, act and think as children we will someday put away childish things, and while we now see dimly we will someday see face to face

Timothy Goering said...

Love this post. Fantastic thoughts and extremely well written!

Will Robison said...

I'm not sure (ow!) that I get (oof!) what you're (ouch!) talking about (wham!). I don't run into (blam!) things all the time. ;)


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