To Capture the True Beauty You Must Look and Listen

This is fantastic for so many reasons!

I only wish I could have been there when it happened.  The look on peoples’ faces is remarkable, their delight at an unexpected symphony in the streets as memorable as the experience itself.  It is regrettable, therefore, that only a handful of people will, in fact, remember the event.

A guide from my Costa Rica trip wisely advised us travelers to have a no-technology zone.  When you see, hear, or experience something that takes your breath away, don’t be so quick to pull out the camera.  Take a few minutes at least to absorb the sights, the sounds, to process all of your senses.  This is the act of creating a long-term memory.  Then, and only then, should you document the experience using a cell phone or a camera.

That is our faulty habit, our natural instinct.  That is what these citizens did on the streets.  Many will only recall what they recorded on a 3″ LCD screen.  They didn’t see or hear the symphony for themselves.  Their memory is too small.  Only adults could make such a foolish mistake.  In contrast, a child sits in the front row with an attitude of admiration.  A child walks away with a rich, genuine memory.



The Manifestation

It has been a long time since I’ve posted a poem, so here is one that is particularly meaningful for me written by Theodore Roethke (1908-1963).  As I learn and read more from him, I come to appreciate these sentiments more and more.

Many arrivals make us live: the tree becoming
Green, a bird tipping the topmost bough,
A seed pushing itself beyond itself,
The mole making its way through darkest ground,
The worm, intrepid scholar of the soil—
Do these analogies perplex? A sky with clouds,
The motion of the moon, and waves at play,
A sea-wind pausing in a summer tree.

What does what it should do needs nothing more.
The body moves, though slowly, toward desire.
We come to something without knowing why.

Incongruent Laughter

Sometimes I laugh at inappropriate times.  I laugh too loudly or in the wrong company.  Sometimes I don’t laugh when others clearly think I should.  Sometimes my sense of humor is a little twisted and I let on to how immature I really can be.  This can be a tricky business, particularly between cultures.  Yet what is most important is now how we laugh, not when we laugh, but precisely that we laugh.  It is essential to the human condition.

What makes us laugh?  Or why do I sometimes laugh at a different time than others around me?  One of my favorite authors, James V. Schall, suggests that “our laughter depends on our seeing the incongruity of things.”  (The Order of Things, p. 17)  The world was created a natural order, with categories, and our minds built to recognize them.  When those categories don’t match up or when our rational mind perceives an apparent irrationality, it does not interpret this as foolishness.  Instead, we find comedy, laughter.  Perhaps like these pictures below:

Art for Arts Sake

Google: “Did you mean battleship?”

Customs Sniffing Dog

Ronald Reagan on a Velociraptor

(Ok, maybe you didn’t find that last one as funny as me.  But if you shook your head rather than smiling, I guess that validates my introductory statement.)  The point is this, we find something humorous when it is not as we would expect; two things dissimilar aren’t meant to go together, but yet they do.

We have much to laugh about in this life, even when the world seems dark around us.  That is not by accident.  The Creator of this world, who transcends time and space, stepped down from his post and limited himself by taking on human flesh (John 1:14, Philippians 2:6-8).   The savior and king who was sent to deliver this hurting world arrived in a manger, surrounded by filthy animals, travelers and misfits (Matthew 2:9-11, Luke 2:7-11).  And one day the lion will lay down with the lamb without hesitation or fear (Isaiah 11:6, 65:25).

The Lion and the Lamb

What peculiar images!  Maybe these don’t inspire us to laugh out loud, but they are indeed reasons to give us joy.  This Christmas season, amidst parties and family gatherings, I hope you have found much cause to laugh.  More richly, I hope the incongruency of this season brings joy to your soul that laughter can only begin to describe.

Repetitiveness and Abounding Vitality

An excerpt from Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton:

It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork.  People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance. This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact….

The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. 

A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. 

For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE.

The Seven Ages of Man

From William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy “As You Like It.”     Typical.          I missed a step somewhere….
                        All the world’s a stage,
                        And all the men and women merely players.
                        They have their exits and their entrances,
                        And one man in his time plays many parts,
                        His acts being seven ages.  At first the INFANT,
                        Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
                        Then the whining SCHOOLBOY, with his satchel
                        And shining morning face, creeping like snail
                        Unwillingly to school.  And then the LOVER,
                        Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
                        Made to his mistress’ eyebrow.  Then a SOLDIER,
                        Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
                        Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
                        Seeking the bubble reputation
                        Even in the cannon’s mouth.  And then the JUSTICE,
                        In fair round belly with good capon lined,
                        With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
                        Full of wise saws and modern instances,
                        And so he plays his part.  The sixth age shifts
                        Into the lean and slippered PANTALOON
                        With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
                        His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
                        For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
                        Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
                        And whistles in his sound.  Last scene of all,
                        That ends this strange eventful history,
                        Is SECOND CHILDISHNESS and mere oblivion, 
                        Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Angry Birds

My life changed the day I learned that angry birds could explode…