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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Finding God in the world 3

 Continuing discussion of sacramental worldview.

A sacramental worldview recognizes a hidden 'depth' in reality. Most people are able to do this on a regular basis without trying. For example, a young married couple has been separated for some months. He has served in Afghanistan. They see each other in the airport when he has returned from his tour of duty. As she sees him her eyes fill with tears. Each tear is a natural sacrament. They are objects (basically salt water) which trickle down her cheeks. But for any observer with any sense they are more than salt water droplets. They are a sign of relief, of joy, of pent up loss and fear. Those tears communicates something. It lets us know, without words. Of course, words may be needed. Perhaps she is crying because she hoped he would never return. Maybe she is sad about that. In the real world sometimes sacraments (visible reality conveying invisible meaning) are ambiguous. However, in our illustration this couple is in love and she is crying tears of joy. Her tears are effective signs. Seeing her cry has a deep impact on him. He feels an even deeper surge of emotion. He is more powerfully drawn to her. They wrap arms around each other and kiss. The hug and the kiss are two more sacramental acts. Each one conveys an invisible reality, namely love. The hug and the kiss are love incarnate. They are love manifest. The feelings inside each of their "hearts" is expressed in these acts. No one can see 'love' but one can see acts which express love. Once again, many people hug and kiss (and do other things) which look like love but are in fact not love. The ambiguity is what makes trust necessary.

Let's say we have been hurt in relationships. We do not trust others. Then the tears, the hugs and the kisses may mean nothing to us, even though the one crying, hugging and kissing is pouring himself (or herself) out in each act. Get it? Our faith, our trust is what allows us to experience, in and through a kiss or hug, the warmth and love and commitment. That is the way the world works. With a skeptical mind and a closed heart we are never able to experience what is hidden in the world around us.

Certainly many people are disingenuous and their sacramental acts are in fact a sham. No doubt. Therein lies the dilemma. What is worse? Is it worse to trust and be made a fool, or to not trust and never be open to experience the love someone else has for us? Eyes cannot see what they refuse to believe is there. Our world is full of signs and events which convey something deeper. Just reflect on the world you live in. Think about how often you do things which convey meaning. Things which impact others when they are open to receive the hidden message. Do not even worry about God yet. We will deal with God later. Let's just reflect on the world right now.

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