When the pain of the world filters through my vision all at once, I easily focus on what I’m seeing rather than what I’m seeking. Without thinking about it, what I’m seeing then determines what I seek. And I can seek cynicism, fear, and distraction with the best of them.
I feel entitled to my cynicism. And to my fear.
The world is burning. We aren’t changing. The future looks bleak.
Cynicism lets me criticize the entire world limitlessly while being absolved of actually doing anything that could be life-giving. In fact, cynicism tricks me into believing that my eternal criticism is actual transformative work. I don’t have to look. I don’t have to see. I don’t have to seek. Denial suddenly seems both plausible and sweetly palatable.
Fear freezes me into place. I can’t respond because my entire lizard brain keeps me focused on scarcity and suffering. Fear is slick, slithering neatly up my spine, activating all of my deepest nightmares and worst case scenarios.
When the challenge to choose to seek love, hope, and peace come around, then, I have an authoritative air that lets me respond with scorn or disdain. My disbelief sits as supreme ruler over my ego, and supreme authority over everyone and everything else.
And yet the call remains extended to me: to love and be loved. To love others, to love the world, to love God. As love is extended to me, I need to extend love. It can’t remain static. It needs hands, it needs feet, it needs intention, it needs attention. Somehow it feels all too easy.
Hello, Infinite Cynical Feedback Loop.
If I push through my own general malaise, and set my sight on the nature of love, I begin to understand more promising truths: love can’t stay still.
It sounds not so much like a moral ‘should’ as rather a Spirit voicing a plaintive need: Love needs to move.
It needs to seek and shape my seeking. It breathes in my movement and exhales connection and life.
When it begins, it feels like flesh being resurrected after going to sleep: hot pins and needles shooting up my legs. I start hobbling about the room, needing to stretch the shocked muscles but quite unable to bear up under my weight. It’s awkward, stilted, painful, and confusing. I lurch back towards the couch, reaching wildly for something to support my body weight. Acting out love is a stage play in imperfection.
The discomfort reminds me that love is alive — deep in the flesh and spirit both. It breathes and moves and chooses and grows. It turns to face the images of shouting heads of state, of burning Australia, of pictures of victims of plane crashes. It doesn’t close its eyes to reality.
But it chooses to seek past the death in my world — underneath it, through it, around it, above it. It’s not grounded in denial or saccharine distractions, but rather in facing the truth as best it understands it.
And still it rises.
When I seek death, I find it. When I seek love, I find it. What I seek can influence how I see myself and the world. And while love doesn’t deny that death is happening all around us, it does extend a living hope that there’s more going on in this world than the only gift death can offer: finality.
Get up. Seek. Seek love in all of our clumsy glory. See past the media’s perpetual doom. Discover the what hope lies under the rocks and in the caverns of the world. Be surprised by God.