I'm beginning to sketch out a book on Christian spirituality, very tentatively titled, Fully Alive. In that process, I've been drawn back to my book The Time for No and particularly its final chapter (or really, a meditation). In it, I begin with a quote from Søren Kierkegaard.
"The highest and most beautiful things in life are not to be heard about, nor read about, nor seen but, if one will, are to be lived." Søren Kierkegaard
Beauty is found in doing what we are created to do. This suggests that we are created for
some activities (and not for some others). It implies that there’s a God who created us uniquely and purposely. As I mentioned from the start, saying yes is an affirmation of faith.
First of all, let me be clear: I don’t think this is about amassing more stuff.
If materialism could do it, we’d be fairly happy in this culture. It was the newscaster, Peter Jennings, who noted almost two decades ago, in 1997:
“When I came back to my current job and began to wander around this country again, I was struck by how many Americans, in the midst of such plenty, were hungry for something more than our vaunted consumer society could provide for them.”
Jennings pointed to religion, which is fine, as long as “religion” itself points to God our Creator.
Over a millennium and a half before Jennings, one of the greatest thinkers in western history, Augustine, began his autobiography with this prayer, a prayer of his own discovering that looking for fame and sex and even generalized spirituality left him unsatisfied.
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Augustine of Hippo
Then again there’s the French 17th century scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal, who realized in his famous “thoughts” (that’s what the French word means in its title, Pensées) that we all seek to be happy: “By nature, we all seek happiness.” But where do we seek it? “Some seek the good in authority, some in intellectual inquiry and knowledge, some in pleasure.”
But Pascal observed that all these various potential sources for happiness, for a beautiful life, leave us craving for more. He pondered what that meant:
What else does this craving, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him… since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself. Pascal
C. S. Lewis echoed this conclusion about 300 years later with a simple, logically compelling phrase: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
In different yet complementary ways, these three realized that we are created to return to God. Our yeses find their satisfaction in the One who made us.
This journey then, of finding the time for yes, leads us back to God our Creator. We seek our yeses and really, we are seeking for God. When we get this right—when we say the right yeses in life and therefore the right nos—we find God right at the Center. That brings it all together. “In Him all things hold together” as the early Christian leader, Paul, wrote to the believers at Colossae (Colossians 1:17). God holds not only the universe, but our lives together.
That’s where I want my life to be found, centered in God. Because there is what’s best: joy, peace, power, happiness, excellence, success, and beauty. As one of my favorite bands, Future of Forestry, puts it: “I will go where beauty leads me home.”
And I have to admit, I like those things. I want to find my back to Beauty itself.
So I’m saying yes.