By Kenneth Justice
~Have you ever seen something so beautiful that you cried? Although I haven’t cried at every wedding I’ve ever attended, I can remember a few in particular where I happened to notice the couple looking at each other in such a tender way that it brought me to tears.
It’s always interesting to find out what truly moves someone to deep emotion. For some people it’s a romantic or sad film, for others it’s a particular song or musician that touches their heart, and I am sure that if we opened it up for discussion we’d hear a plethora of different things that stirs our hearts.
In many ways, Western Culture is becoming more and more calloused and difficult. With so many people suffering from broken relationships, unemployment, out-of-control politicians, and everything else that plagues us, it is easy to spend too much time crying over the bad things…..and find that we never have the opportunity tear up over the beautiful things.
On Monday I clicked on the blogs of one of my readers and found myself crying as I read one of their articles. This morning I clicked on the same article and found myself tearing up again. I didn’t comment on their blog, sadly I often don’t know what too comment…..but what they wrote really touched my heart in a way that I haven’t experienced in a long time….even more odd was that the article was written by a very conservative Christian; which are the people who give me the most hell on my blog. However, one of the weird dynamics of life is that 10,000 other people could read the same article and have it mean relatively nothing to them. Just because I find something to be so beautiful, intense, or filled with emotion….doesn’t mean you will as well.
Finding something beautiful is an important facet of life. More often than not our lives are simply too damn busy. Whether we are a parent, an employee, a manager, or a student; life in the Western World is one big time rush from one task to the next. Of course, we say things like ‘take time to stop and smell the roses’ but how often does this actually take place in our day-to-day life?
I love going on vacation….but sometimes I wonder if too much of my year is focused on the beautiful things I will do on vacation, rather than focusing on the beautiful things around me every day. Perhaps my life needs to be reordered in such a way that it’s not merely when I am on vacation that I take the time to be amazed at the beautiful things in life.
I have a lot of responsibility in my life. Without going into all the nitty-gritty details; my life is in many ways overflowing with a ton of obligations both inside-and-out of my vocation. Some days I wake up and fear that I will find myself 10 years older and have lost a lot of precious moments that I could have spent on the things that matter most. Often times I fear that due to all of my obligations and responsibilities; that I’m not really accomplishing anything in life of much significance. Truth be told, there is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t wonder ‘what the hell am I doing with my life?’
No, it’s not a midlife crisis or an attack of depression…..it’s a desire on my part to spend as much of my time doing things of greater significance, spending time gazing at beauty, or spending my time making a difference….sometimes I simply get too distracted by the ugly things of life when all I really want to do is gaze at the beautiful.
To say I do not cry over my daily articles would be an understatement; they don’t move me. I read what I write and I wonder if I really have any business contributing to the blogging world. When I read the fellow blogger’s article yesterday I was moved…..when I read my own articles I see all the flaws and mistakes.
Blogging can be discouraging at times. Yesterday, a reader who identifies himself as a ‘pastor’ made a snarky remark to one of my old articles, “Kenneth, have you ever even read the bible before?” he asked. I wanted to give him a sardonic response and ask him ‘Have you ever been nice before?”…..but I didn’t.
Why is it that if I write an article that is merely aimed at promoting further thought on a subject; I inevitably end up getting my head chewed off by people? Have I ever read the bible before; hmmm, well my personal theological library numbers more than 2500 volumes. I have taken notes and written essays on more than 15,000 theological books….I have numerous degrees in multiple disciplines. So what the hell do you think?
The simple fact of the matter is that too many of my fellow Christians get apprehensive when somebody rocks the boats; but this is true of any religion. If you ask scary questions……people tend to get scared. But it is good to ask questions; if you are so confident that your belief system is correct, then you don’t have anything to fear if you ask tough questions about it….right?
Religion has turned a lot of people off. Religion in the Western World has in many ways ceased to be something beautiful and instead, is too often ugly. Religious folk harness verses from their holy books and use them as daggers to ‘prove other people wrong’. Instead of open ended questions where we allow people to learn at their own pace, or explore the truth at their own pace…..we expect everyone to see things our way, right away, and now!
When I read Gandhi’s autobiography earlier in the year I saw something beautiful. When I walk into St. John’s 100 year old historic sanctuary on Sunday mornings I see something beautiful. When I see people from different religions or different faiths talking together peacefully, working alongside each other and helping the poor or feeding the hungry I see something beautiful. When I see people talking together about the things that matter the most…and not biting each other’s heads off; I see something beautiful.
And yes…to the more than 100 snarky pastors and thousands of fundamentalist Christians who have emailed and messaged me this year and whom I still haven’t gotten around to responding to; Jesus still looks beautiful to me also.
Thank god for coffee, I really need another cup