- Religion and Philosophy
Searching for the Hidden Life
The Paradox of Finding the Extraordinary Beneath the Ordinary
What is the root of this fruit of tension and frustration that lives within me? And is it a bitter fruit that will cause destruction or a necessary one that must be born for a higher good? It is a foolish burden or one that has been entrusted to me with a distinct purpose? I wish to attempt to explain—to label these somewhat ambiguous feelings. Life must be something more—something different—than what I see set before me. Where is it hidden? Beneath a summer flower? In a gentle spring breeze? Underneath a pile of Autumn leaves? Below the solid ground of a winter snowfall? Is it hidden away in the simple or must it be sought after like a complex treasure map? Let me start with myself—for that is what I know above another. Where have I found moments of authentic “living” within this life?
A warm cup of coffee in my hands on a cold day—the smell of fresh cookies baked with a loved one in mind. The sound of a child’s laughter—the song that is sung by a care-free, little girl as she swings in a park. Watching a father with his daughter—the intimate bond of her little hand in his strong grip—the light in her eyes—the confidence of her petite steps as she believes that anything is possible because she is secure in the protection of her daddy.
Sitting down and writing—filtering the heart though words—searching for just the right way to say what you feel.
The silence of a winter storm—the vast landscape of white that seems to swallow any darkness that tries to penetrate the scene. The smell of a campfire, the warmth of the flames, the hypnotic trance shifting between fire and sky—pondering the glimmering of a million stars against the backdrop of a pitch black sea of darkness. The awe of the vastness of the ocean—the feeling of the sand beneath my feet—the voice whispering “peace” in the breeze and the sound of the birds chattering with joy. The majesty of a mountain—the view from below astounding and the view from above breathtaking.
The feeling of a loved one’s hand in mind—when squeezing tightly communicates a message of love beyond words. The quietness of a sleepy cuddle under a warm blanket where time seems to stand still. A deep conversation that engages the depths of the soul and evokes a passionate response—the kind that pushes time to go faster—where 5 hours have gone by yet it feels like only a brief moment. Looking into the eyes of one that you love and loves you—as windows to the soul—staring with a gaze that speaks a love language of its own. Silly times—not taking yourself too seriously and giggling—allowing abundant laughter. Tickle fights that make you laugh so hard you want it to stop but it is so pleasurable that you bear it.
A good movie where you forget that the character is in your TV screen and you cry or laugh or jump with him or her. When you think about the universal truths that all must wrestle with. The way a good song makes you stop and close your eyes—the way it grips your heart and causes you to get lost in the moment of the tune and find yourself wrapped up in the words. A good book that you can’t put down—that wakes up your imagination and finds its way into the depths of your being—to areas that you didn’t even realize existed.
Worship. Gathering with a people that love God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. The sound of many voices calling out as one—expressing devotion and gratitude and worship to their King. The wave of sentiment that crashes into an ordinary place and transforms it into the throne-room of God—where we praise God together with the saints of old and the angels. Prayer—those moments where you feel the presence of God so strongly that you feel as if you might actually explode—where you burst into tears—weeping—laughing—all senses are heightened and intermingled. A burden to pray for somebody—calling out to God with such vigor and intensity that you are consumed with compassion—the excitement of knowing that you are tapped into the very power of God and knowing that if you had eyes to see beyond the physical, the very heavens themselves are being moved.
Rest—wrapped up in a blanket—cozy on a couch—a candle lit and soft music in the background—having a conversation with God—sharing thoughts and fears—asking questions—and laughing at myself for asking such ridiculous questions at times. Serving another in need—the peace that comes from giving—the gratitude of another’s eyes filled with tears—knowing that you have made an impact in his or her life. Opening up the Word of God and getting immersed in the grand narrative of life, itself. Realizing that you are not simply reading a story but are a part of that story yourself—for the author of life is the author of your life, as well. Tears. Those times when you cry so hard that you shutter from a place deep within—and the pain is so intense that you think you cannot bear it for another moment—but then the tears stop—you yawn and close your eyes—and a flood of peace flows over and around and inside of you—and somehow you know that everything will be OK—and for now you rest and just let yourself “be.”
The death of life would be a stone heart—a calloused spirit—where nothing can get in and nothing can get out. For to experience joy we must embrace pain—and to know love we must be willing to feel the sting of hate. To laugh we must also allow ourselves to cry. To find strength we must be willing to sit in our weakness. To know truth we must struggle though the lies. To understand appreciation we must lose things we cherish. To enjoy the companionship of another we must comprehend the loneliness of being alone. To find the thing that counts the most we sometimes must lose the things that we thought were important. To find peace we must experience tension. To be immersed in the beauty of God we must admit to the ugliness within ourselves.
Where is “life” to be found? It’s a paradox—for it's hidden in the ordinary but indeed it’s extraordinary. Life is full of complexities but is found beneath the simple. Fulfillment comes through the cycle of emptying and filling.