Tuesday, April 26, 2011

reason

the heart has reasons that reason cannot understand
~Jacques Bossuel~

reason has become the praised method of decision making, upheld as the sacred way of thought. but i struggle to see why decisions made using reason should be championed while those motivated by the heart are deemed unwise, dangerous, and shameful. cannot good come out of either? cannot both cause future regret?

since the enlightenment, mankind, at least in the western world, has become very skeptical of any cognition not singing the tune of rationale. logic has been risen on a pedestal so high that all other modes of thought have become mere specs on the landscape, it can no longer see them accurately, their worth becomes microscopic in memory.

when people alter plans or make choices based on their passions, in response to emotions, out of love, such actions are ridiculed, feared, and earn warnings of caution. such heart-driven steps are deemed to be poor decision making, something that leaves a stigmata on your reliability-record, something you will grow to regret, if you do not regret it instantaneously. dispassion is glorified, celebrated, and adored.

i often wonder if this can really be true. growing up in a western society, you are instilled with certain notions that follow the argument of reason being safer and more sound in decision making: you should "not change your life for anyone else" (for who knows when they may betray and hurt you?) and "look after yourself" (for you are the only person you can truly trust), and always "go after your dreams" (because happiness is the epitome of perfection in life). while being ambitious and going after life goals is not bad in-in-of-itself, much of this mantra simple illustrates to me the foundational selfishness of reason.

how is shaping your life based on the sentiments of the heart, whether they last or are requited or not, any different in shaping your life and changing your course for other seemly more "rational" reasons like a career opportunity or a hunt for happiness? those categories of choice-motivators are colored as more worthy, respectable, and forgivable, but are equally if not more self-centered. making decisions based on love can certainly be driven by selfishness this is undeniable. but choices made out of love can also be driven by sacrifice, and by a response to the Spirit revealing where one's priorities ought to rely.

we live so much in a culture that fears regret, yet somehow the fear of regretting choices motivated by love is fare more powerful than the fear of regretting choices driven by ambition, logic, rational. for, few people can lecture you on making a choice that followed "sound reasoning," but many an i-told-you-so would be thrown at you for any regrettable decision made out of love.

this is likely a pure waxing-philosophical of a hopeless romantic, but when i hear and read of stories of ages past, where notable figures (both fictional and real) lived a lifetime of unrequited love out of a the obligations of duty, honor, decorum, practicality, and societal norms...it seems a greater folly to me then it would have been to throw all that away, disregard the mind for sake of listening to the heart.

the same goes for the way most of western society goes enters the working world. so many people put their passions aside, going for a "practical" career because doing what we love most, what we are most passionate about is either not prestigious enough (for our selves, our parents, our spouse), does not earn enough money, or seems impossible to obtain. i have seen so many people pursue law or medicine that never use terms of endearment when speaking about it. but, when talking about art, cooking, or linguistics, they light up. to go after the career or emphasis of study despite all the odds seems foolishness, yet, which life is more fulfilling: one with less honors and comfort but fills our days with satisfying work? or one with stability, that wins the envy of others, but provides so little fulfillment in the moment-by-moment?

so often we struggle to make decisions using the mind alone, but wouldn't it be better to let the heart have a say as well? a collaborative effort? at the end of the day, at the end of life, which would you regret more: making a poor decision based on logic or one made out of love, out of the passions of the heart? or, to put it differently, which would you find more reason to rejoice in, even if the joy of the choice was momentary, lasting for but a breath?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

tears

there is a sacredness in tears...they speak more eloquently then ten thousand tongues. they are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love
~washington irving~

tears are often taken for granted, but, when one really ponders upon them, they are actually quite mystical and fascinating. i mean, how is it exactly that our body responds to moments of sadness and purest happiness with tears? more interestingly, how is it that tears of happiness physically feel like something entirely different then tears of sorrow. it is obvious that tears of happiness emotionally feel quite different, but truly, tears of sorrow feel like a different substance than tears of joy. this release of water becomes the release of emotions, the outward and anatomical expression of overwhelming sentiments, ones that words could not express fully enough...our body had to take over to complete the communication of it. if you wikipeidia (yes, its a verb) "tears," it mentions bits about hormones and the limbic system, which is all well and fine and certainly factual...if you are looking for a reductionist sort of view...but i am more in awe of the fact that Someone was creative enough, wise enough, to know that humans have such limits to expression, and that weeping and the release of droplets of water would be able to say all that could not be said.

tears are both infinitely sad to behold and expressively beautiful at the same time...they are contagious, like yawns, they spread like an epidemic from one observer to the next. they give sweet release, both bliss and soul penetrating pain, even simultaneously, in the same emotion. there is something about the warmth of them as they fall down your cheek, roll gently off your nose, drop onto you pillow case our shirt that is an expression of an aesthetics that has no language. it is a therapy, catharsis, and often times a desirable joy.

there is something sacred about tears, they speak this mythical language of emotions that none remember learning and that none can teach or describe. it is a silent communication with our Creator, an inner dialogue expressed outwardly, universally understood regardless of culture or class. tears are a mark of mercy, they free us to let go, to allow ourselves to, for a brief moment, escape our robotic insistence of maintaining control, keeping face, and let our soul speak for itself in a language we did not know we could comprehend.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

thorn

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
~2 Corinthians 12:7-10~

this passage has always spoken to me, and spoken to a principle understanding about sin and grace in my life. i believe that there are some sins in our life, yes we all have them, that we habitually and continuously wrestle with. it is these sins that are the "thorns" that paul speaks of here. we recognize them and long so deeply to be freed of them, yet are tempted by them and are prone to repeat them time and time again. we cry out to God in frustration, in deep desire to be rid of them, yet they remain. but this is grace.

God knows of our struggle, and our wrestling with it...even if it is one step forward and two steps back, pleases Him, brings Him glory. but, these thorns are the sins in our life that i believe we will never fully be rid of in this life. that is not to say that we should not seek improvement on them, that we should not strive toward the goal of eradicating them completely, but some such thorns will always remain until we meet eternity. if i think upon this with human logic, reason tells me to give up in despair. for what point is there to strive for improvement if the goal cannot be reached? but, when i focus my vision to see as the Father sees, i can understand quite clearly that this is His grace for us. it is these thorns that keep us humble, keep us connected and dependent on God, remind us of our humanity and our need for mercy.

i actually find the premise that we should strive for a goal (complete freedom from sin) that is unattainable to be quite freeing. in knowing that i cannot reach perfection, i am free to give God praise for the small improvements i make along the way in my mortal life. and God does rejoice in these small victories. so we must keep our eyes on the goal of escaping the thorns, of their removal while acknowledging that some thorns will never completely leave, but their presence can be less felt as we grow closer to God. the more we seek God, the more we are filled with His Spirit, the less we will notice the thorns, the less room there will be for them. in a sort of back-door tactic, instead of going after the thorns, trying to will them away, we are called to go after God, and to accept His grace by responding in love in how we live our moment-to-moment.