Sometimes I remember how small I am, how inconsequential my life in the shadow of history. So often I approach life, God and purpose from a place of great arrogance. I assume my existence as ordinary, that I am mine, that a mind is sovereign. Isn’t it true though, that I am just molecules and atoms that someone else put together and that in itself is a miracle? An injury to my head and I could completely lose myself, crossed wires and I’m gone. I am reacting to the elements around me that were already there and we could never create. I exist in a universe beyond my comprehension and I only understand that because someone gave me capacity for reason.
I’m obsessing over that book On Human Being. The author Olivier Clement says, “all is grace”, and isn’t it? My being is grace, my mind is a grace I could not create, love is a grace I do not deserve, the right to refuse the creator of grace is itself a grace of magnanimous weight. This liberty I have to understand God, this was given to me, I had no part in receiving such a gift as consciousness. Clement argues that as Christians even death is grace, as we have already died to ourselves in Baptism, so death is just movement through the curtain to the reality that is truly real.
This makes me humble, it makes me afraid of my limitations, removes the pride that is a fundamental misunderstanding of who I am and what I deserve. I am the product of a maker, whether one believes by design or evolution, I am indebted to and governed by its choosing as my life is sustained outside of me.
We’re all walking around on stilts of arrogance with masks of pride on behaving like we have control, when if we really looked around we might see that we all just look like buffoons, teetering about on our heightened sense of self. Isn’t our rightful place on our knees, maybe even prostrate before such greatness beyond ourselves?
If we can find this place of humility we can then see it all differently as the smog of our presumptuous culture settles in the higher places. We can see again, that if such a God really bent down to be near to us, to love us in our tiny place as we wave our fists in the air in anger and contempt, to grab us by the arm and lift us to stand upright in dignity, for our eyes to connect and to know and be known, then it is unfathomable. And if it's true, it is the very essence of the miracle of life. It is grace so all encompassing how could we ever forget? How could we ever be drawn back to the agony of our stilts?
Miracles by Walt Whitman
Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses towards the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of the stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.
To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot at the interior swarms with the same.
To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fish that swim – the rocks – the motion of the waves – the ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?