Seek First the Kingdom - The March of Hope - Chapter 7
The Simplicity, Richness, and Unity of the Kingdom.
Welcome! Paid subscribers have access to this entire chapter. If you are a free subscriber, consider an upgrade to view this and all posts in their entirety. In the meantime, enjoy the free preview! Thank you for being here!
Let us now explore, in light of the previous section, how the new worldview given to me by Christ in his Eucharist and through his scriptures began having an immediate impact on my life. How did things change for me in my day-to-day living?
For lack of a better description, I had been cursed with a whirlwind of destruction and complex confusion before my healing at the feet of a statue of the Virgin Mary. I had no interior unity; I had “dis”-integrated. In the aftermath of the beautiful event with Mary, and having been immediately blessed with the new worldview, I walked into a place of “re”-integration, unity, and beauty. We must walk carefully, taking a step at a time, being careful that our way is secure and that the ground is solid.
Suppose you have ever had the privilege to stand on a beautiful, remote hillside, overlooking a field covered in wildflowers and grassland, with a view of distant rivers and streams running into fresh lakes that reflect off their waters the soft images of the landscape around them. In that case, you will be able to understand and master the language of this entire next section well.
As we move forward, here and through the following two chapters, I would like you to continue painting this scene I just described in your imagination as I do my best to develop imagery for what happened going forward on my March of Hope with Joan of Arc and Thérèse. In effect, I would like for you to take this time to contemplate.
Imagine now that you are standing on this hillside, far from the noise and bustle of our civilization. It is very early on a cool, summery morning, and a soft but deep mist is covering the beauty, the distant hills, the meadows below, the rivers, and the lakes. You see the panorama before you only very partially. The scene is slowly absorbed into your spiritual being with great mystery and anticipation. You are happy there, even though much remains hidden.
Now let me add a condition to this contemplative vision you are forming. This condition is that you have not been here before; this is your first time seeing the place. You cross over a threshold on a hilltop and see this hidden and mystical landscape for the first time. Because you have not been here before or ever seen it entirely in the bright sunlight of the day, it remains a mystery, a partially observed phenomenon.
You can imagine in your contemplative musing that it is entirely possible, even natural and intuitive, to have a sense of the great beyond. You feel astonished by the view though you cannot peer through to capture the full color and hue, observe the details of the scenery, or describe it sufficiently in words. In short, you know it is magnificent even though you cannot see it.
As the sun rises and its brilliance streaks over the landscape, the mist begins to retreat as if a veil were being pulled back or as if a curtain were rising over a grand stage. The beautiful scene now becomes even more astonishing. Mystery has given way to exhilaration driven by the nobleness of the objective beauty before you. Time stands still, and you temporarily break through to eternity before returning to the realm of time and space. After taking all this in, you run down the hillside to tell others.
The March of Hope can best be described with this imagery. This journey uniquely resembles the contemplative stillness of a rising mist over a magnificent landscape, as described above. In a significant sense, this is what it has been. St. Paul puts this journey into the very same perspective when he writes:
“Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now, I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known.”
The new worldview I described in the previous section was like this landscape with rising mist and bright colors and tones filling in the shadows. The March of Hope is a journey through time and space, yes. But it is also beyond that, a mystical journey where the sunlight of God’s revelation burns away the cloudy mist in our souls.
Keeping your mind’s eye on this image for a moment, I would like to pause temporarily to make a crucial point, one that could easily be lost in this land of Catholicism on the other side of the gateway leading into this kingdom. The land here represents the deep richness of the faith that astonishes the soul. It is powerful and fulfilling, filled with purpose and a positive, life-affirming structure. The one thing that it is not is complicated. The business of this kingdom is quite simple. Do not mistake the richness of color and exhilarating variety for unnecessary complexity.
The axiom of the spiritual life is that simplicity is the fertile ground for authentic spiritual awareness and growth. The landscape I am presenting to you is just that, simple. But in its simplicity, it is filled with variety and wonder. There is no better description of what I mean here than that given by our powerful little friend St. Thérèse of Lisieux:
“(Jesus) opened the book of nature before me, and I saw that every flower he has created has a beauty of its own, that the splendor of the rose and the lily’s whiteness do not deprive the violet of its scent nor make less ravishing the daisy’s charm. I saw that if every little flower wished to be a rose, Nature would lose her spring adornments, and the fields would be no longer enameled with their varied flowers.”
“So, it is in the world of souls, the living garden of the Lord. It pleases him to create great saints, who may be compared with the lily’s or the rose; but he also created little ones, who must be content to be daisies or violets, nestling at his feet to delight his eyes when he should choose to look at them. The happier they are to be as he wills, the more perfect they are.”
Thérèse puts it quite beautifully. I discovered simplicity and richness of content and meaning in this land. In other words, I found fulfillment.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial