“The heart has reasons of which reason knows nothing.” -Blaise Pascal
Where do we look to make sense of our lives? Our crazy, mysterious, puzzling, miraculous lives?
I was recently talking with a friend who suggested that if we could all just be more rational and logical and scientific, that our world would be a better place. He’s not alone. It’s a nice thought, but I don’t find it very convincing. I certainly am not against reason. But the longer I live, the more mysterious life seems to me. The more of my past that I leave in the rear view mirror, the less I am certain that I really understand fully what it all means. The more years I’ve spent on this planet, the more puzzled I am even about my own self—my deepest hopes, confused desires, hidden motivations, and consistent failures to be the person I intend to be.
While I am grateful for all the comfort and enlightenment that has come to us through the application of reason and experiment, I’ve discovered that this approach doesn’t really help me that much with my biggest and most vexing questions.
Science can tell us that the universe was created from a massive explosion of tightly-packed matter—and even date this “Big Bang” with some degree of certainty, but it cannot tell us why it happened or whether there is any purpose behind it. Psychologists can describe all the amazing physical and emotional changes our bodies go through when we are attracted to someone, but it cannot explain the mystery of what it is to truly be in love. Mathematical equations can help us estimate the size of our galaxy, but they cannot give us insight into whether there is a God who set this all in motion. We need something deeper and other than reason or experiment to penetrate into the depths of who we are and why we are here.
The gates of rational knowledge beckon to us with great promise. They are thrown wide open, inviting us in. But nearby there are mostly unused doors covered with the dust of neglect. They are low, ivy-covered doors that remain unguarded. They suffer from disregard and lack of use, but if we turn the key in their lock, they fall open onto unimaginable vistas. The names on these doors have such titles as “myth,” “beauty,” “wonder,” “art,” “imagination,” and “longing.”
Our culture treats these things as diversions, entertainments, or even distractions. But they are so much more than that.
I’m discovering that I need to expose myself to experiences that are more about intuition than intellect, more about the heart than the head, more about childlike surprise than clinical examination. As I learn to pay attention to the beauty of a sunset over the ocean or a painting by Van Gogh, the song of a bird or a Mozart symphony, the lyrical perfection of a Hopkins poem or the startling honesty of The Psalms…I am touched and changed.
Slowly, quietly, in ways that I cannot encircle very effectively with words I begin to understand a little something of the mystery. And reasons only the heart knows.
Terry Glaspey serves as our tourguide to art, history, and beauty at Seasons Weekend. To learn more about Terry, visit his website at www.TerryGlaspey.com.