This world we are in tends to close us off from the things of the Spirit. We are consumed with distractions — wonderful distractions that eat up our time, our thoughts, the impulses of our mind, the inner desires that dimly arise — we are consumed with that which is, fundamentally, trivial!
We are not satisfied. Time slips through our fingers. We go home, eat dinner, text half a dozen people, reluctantly sit down to do our class assignments, wash up the dinner dishes or put the children to bed. We are tired. We feel vaguely disappointed — dissatisfied.
Where is purpose? Where is that ineffable something we cannot define that will light the ordinary?
The secret lies in shutting down the outside impulses and looking within. To see — to seek — to feel — to love — this takes opening up, a deep opening up from within.
Vulnerability is the word. It is not a popular concept in today’s world where we skim over the surface and let nothing touch us too deeply, where we control our days and hours and determine what will happen and what we will accept on as safe ground as possible.
Vulnerability is often looked upon as weakness. On the contrary, it is strength — a strength comprised of recognizing, desiring and daring.
That most wise of Christian authors, Madeleine L’Engle, wrote in her book "Walking on Water": "When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable."
To cultivate what counts takes a devotion of effort. It also takes an opening of our eyes — our physical eyes as well as our spiritual eyes. We can’t see anything "in a hurry." If we cultivate the ability to pause, we will be well on the way to the calmness, patience and care it takes to be "see’ers." We cannot in truth plumb the depths of even something as seemingly simple and mundane as a mighty tree etched against a stormy sky, or brilliant, penetrating colors of a winter sunset. But as we see, we can begin to feel their wonders within our own souls.
"What happens when people open their hearts?" wrote Haruki Murakami in "Norwegian Wood." "They get better."
Where were the eyes of your heart and your mind yesterday? What have you seen — in nature, your home, people around you — that awakens you in some way?
Truly seeing is loving — it cannot be any other way.
Love brings risk. Love brings responsibility. Love brings giving, imparting of our self in ways that are frightening and at times overwhelming. Love brings the almost certainty of pain. But without it there is no understanding, no depth of hope and anticipation. Without love there is no joy.
C.S. Lewis in "The Four Loves" opens our comprehension of these things with clear, unerring vision:
"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable."
We obtain all by embracing vulnerability. We lose all by turning away. Only through love do we learn the secrets of our own hearts.
As George Eliot wrote in her book "Middlemarch," "After all, the true seeing is within."
Susan Evans McCloud is the author of more than 40 books and has published screenplays, poetry and lyrics, including two songs in the LDS hymnbook. She has six children. She blogs at susanevansmccloud.blogspot.com.