Learning How to See
A Gospel Lens
Friday, March 5, 2021
You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. —T. S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”
Everybody looks at the world through their own lens, a matrix of culturally inherited qualities, family influences, and other life experiences. This lens, or worldview, truly determines what we bring to every discussion. When Jesus spoke of the coming of the Reign of God, he was trying to change people’s foundational worldview. When Francis of Assisi described his “marriage to Lady Poverty,” he was using a lovely metaphor to explain his central thesis for life. When Americans identify money as “the bottom line,” they are revealing more about their real worldview than they realize.
We would do well to get in touch with our own operative worldview. It is there anyway, so we might as well know what this highly influential window on reality is. It’s what really motivates us. Our de facto worldview determines what catches our attention and what we don’t notice at all. It’s largely unconscious and yet it drives us to do this and not that. It is surely important to become conscious of such a primary lens or we will never know what we don’t see and why we see other things out of all perspective.
Until we can allow the Gospel to move into that deepest level of the unconscious and touch our operative worldviews, nothing substantial is going to change. It will only be rearranging the furniture, not constructing a new room. Conversion is about constructing a new room, or maybe even a whole new house.
Our operative worldview is formed by three images that are inside every one of us. They are not something from outside; they have already taken shape within us. All we can do is become aware of them, which is to awaken them. The three images to be awakened and transformed are our image of self, our image of God, and our image of the world. A true hearing of the Gospel transforms those images into a very exciting and, I believe, truthful worldview. When we say Christ is the truth, that’s what we mean. Christ renames reality correctly, according to what reality honestly is, putting aside whatever we think it is or whatever we fear it is. Reality is always better than any of us imagined or feared; there is joy associated with a true hearing of the Gospel.
All together, we could put it this way: “What should life be?” “Why isn’t it?” “How do we repair it?” When these are answered for us, at least implicitly, we have our game plan and we can live safely and with purpose in this world.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Wisdom Pattern: Order, Disorder, Reorder (Franciscan Media: 2001, 2020), 135–138.
Story from Our Community:
I am so grateful for the Daily Meditations and the podcasts on bias [Learning How to See]. They help keep me grounded and hopeful. Surprisingly, for me, I have a sense of peace and awareness of the presence of grace in the midst of this mess. —Angela A.