It seems to me that in today’s society we are more “concrete” oriented as opposed to “abstract” oriented. We tend to focus our attention on what we can see and touch and not on what is not clearly visible or known. Ancient civilizations, prior to an understanding of scientific knowledge, were a people who relied on stories, or myths, to explain the world around them. The stories concretized the abstractness of the world. When I was young I was scared of storms (I reflect more fully on the experience in a few of my earlier posts) and so was told by my parents that the noise I heard from the thunder was that of the “angels bowling”. As a child that explanation made sense to me. As I aged and studied the science of meteorology I later understood how thunder occurs. My knowledge increased yet my sense of wonder decreased. Are we as a society losing our sense of wonder? What are the consequences of us losing “wonder”?
I’ve reflected on this topic since I have posted my recent reflections on meditation. Meditating not only brings one closer to one’s inner-self, but also leads a person beyond themselves into the abstract, spiritual, realm. In the Christian bible there is a passage in Luke’s (chapter 10) account of the life of Jesus where Jesus says:
23 Turning to the disciples, Jesus said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see, 24 for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.”
Jesus is letting His followers know that they are witnessing, in Him, what many generations of people longed to witness. What a privilege! But where does that leave the rest of us? In today’s culture, filled with objective science, is there room for religion and spirituality? How do we find a concreteness in an abstract spirituality?
Maybe the question itself is not the proper question? Does spirituality have to be abstract? In my reflection on this Bible passage I see that what Jesus tells His followers is still true for us today. If we truly and deeply consider the world around us, where do we see Jesus and God?
Can we see and appreciate the beauty of God in the beauty of nature? Can we see God in the actions of others? Can we appreciate the workings of God in the events of our lives? If we can see the world around us in the focus of seeing God and Jesus in it, not only does the world become a better place, but the abstractness of spirituality fades into the concreteness of our objective world. And in that shift the passage from Luke’s Gospel still holds true for us today.
Our challenge is how often we pull over on our life’s journey, find the rest stop, and look around us. Look to the sky, look to the ground; be observant of the world around us. What do we see when we simply stop and look?