- Thomas Merton
I have a hard time seeing the reality of other people. I'm self-centered, partly by temperament, partly by sin, and partly by circumstance, and other people occur to me mainly as the effect that they have on myself. And since I live so much in my head, and the truth of other people is so difficult for me to see, God is starting me small, with one person, maybe three, and the realization of a simple truth about them: God intends my little family for Himself. It's an astonishingly beautiful thought to have about a person, and one that I can barely look at straight on for my husband or my children, much less every other person in the world, for whom it is also certainly true. I'm not strong enough yet to live with a heart broken wide open. Instead, for now, I find myself called insistently to know this truth with my whole heart for one person, maybe three.
I wonder if part of the path to knowing this truth for every person with whom I interact is to be able to see the beauty of it for them as I do for Landon, or for Christopher. For them, it is easy for me to see the wonder of this destiny, and especially the way that all that I cannot give them will be found in an eternal moment with the Father. This optimism gives way, however, in the face of the mass interactions of faceless crowds. When I consider extending this thought to the whole world I think of Syria, Egypt, and wounded Kenya, of war-torn regions of the world that are not currently in the news, and of the mess of inner cities much closer to home. I see the pain that we give and receive, and the pain that comes on us from the tragedies inflicted by no one. It's hard enough as it is to hear and see this, but when I think of looking at all this pain through the lens of an ideal so far beyond it, I can't bear to actually entertain the thought. I let it slide off sideways without looking too closely. And I imagine that this must be what it's like for God to see all of us. To look at it that way, however, is once again to limit other people to their impact on myself. The tell is in a phrase like "faceless crowds." There is no faceless crowd that God created for Himself, there are only billions of individual people, each uniquely desired by God.
And it is too much. Once again, I find myself in the place of submitting to this lesson about one person, then three (or however large my family grows), and if I happen to finish that lesson in this lifetime, maybe I'll be able to truly learn how to love everybody that I wish that I could.