by: J Rourke
I delight in brilliance. Like so many folks my age, I love good writing, probing videos, beautiful photography. Images of smart people, overlaid with substantive quotations (preferably in a bright, clean typeface). These things are fine, maybe even excellent. They encourage, inspire, challenge. At least for a moment or two. Long enough for my friends to hear me talk about it, for it to be shared with others on the internet, then forgotten.
Not the worst way to waste a life. It is my generation's bane to be surrounded by beauty and changed so little by it.
Sometimes artists my age will have a revelation, one they force onto every experience, into every conversation. Instead of accepting what is, they take that little piece of truth they have and stretch it. Does this create magnificent art? It can! Does the artist change? Never. Or at least, not much. Well-meaning and talented, the young artist produces work much like other work produced by other young artists. It is seen. It is sometimes appreciated. And then it is forgotten.
Most Evangelical Christians my age use Instagram this way. We make something pretty to look at on our phones, add a vulnerable-Christian-cryptic caption, and off it goes. Then the likes, the comments, the features; the feedback feels good. It's pretty, it's fun, it's easy. But it doesn’t matter if we don’t sit with it long enough for it to change us.
We are poised to move on instead of move in. We stroll around the neighborhood on Beauty St. and marvel at the carefully-crafted houses, gasp at what’s inside, maybe even take a photo and say to our friends, “I could live here.” But we never stay.
This is why we need community. If I find something brilliant and share it with my people, they can choose to own it, too. We can live in that house together, and embrace the beauty and the challenges it brings us. We may choose to be transformed. But most of us just don’t. We’re stuck in the static. Our bags are packed; we keep moving on.
We’re not good at simple living, at sitting in What Is. The moment passes, and we are again the same people we were before. We forget. We seldom make the same choice twice, and when we do, it’s to avoid making the choice we know we should be making. We keep moving on.
I’m not arguing for us to put our phones down forever, or to read more books, or meditate more. My message is that we have to stop avoiding life. I have to stop avoiding life. Stop with me. Consider the source of Beauty, and give her your full attention. She has the power to guide us into ourselves, if we let her. She speaks slowly. She is an old woman telling a long story, and must not be interrupted. Are we listening? She can guide us home.