“Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face? If we could only get round in front.” – G.K. Chesterton
“For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” – I Corinthians 13:12
“Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.”– II Kings 6:17
I wondered why we cannot see things the same way –
then I wondered why we cannot see the same things at all.
We agree on next to nothing. Politics, music, church doctrines, what it means to be a good citizen, whether or not the pitcher should have to bat. The only thing left to do is agree to disagree as they say. The ancients did it for fun; Plato’s Republic is just a bunch of guys sitting around arguing about ideas for hours and hours. I admire good debaters, but I wonder how much the differing of our worldviews has to do with interpretation, and how much sheerly with witnessing different things.
No one chooses the perspective from which they stand to view the world, not completely. In the movie, “The Soloist”, that poor musician didn’t choose to hear voices screaming in his head. Will Byers, the young boy in “Stanger Things”, couldn’t understand why he must be the one constantly getting dragged into another dimension where monsters chase him into the woods. Why do some people have panic attacks or lay in bed all day chained up by depression? For some reason higher than mortal men, these things come upon us. And while they may be considered abnormal, we can hardly say they are false, fictional, smoke and mirrors. To some maybe. But to others the voices and the darkness are more real than anything else. The group’s fortunate inability to see or hear something, does not discount its existence.
Then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun, despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it. – Ecclesiastes 8:17
We see and know so little, but I think sometimes we get glimpses. For fleeting moments we feel a little of the powers and realms that must exist out there somewhere. Good things. Bad things. Nice things. Sad things. A funeral or a wedding. A friend walking away. Falling in love. Summitting a mountain. A movie or a concert. There’s a weighted motion coming down on you, and you know, you know, that it’s far beyond the dust you’re made from. There are a thousand people sitting in this room, am I the only one seeing this? And when it passes, it hasn’t become untrue. You simply turned your head around the tree to see that it wasn’t a tree at all – only the back hiding something. Maybe heaven is the gathering of all the eyes and ears – the stories from all of us about what was really out there.
I think this phenomenon, that different people see the same world and a different world altogether, accounts for more than we realize. I scream and shout during debate to validate what I’ve seen – trying to convince my neighbor that I’m right. I know what I’ve seen. But he objects, he was there too; we all were. And he seen a demon where the angel is said to have stood.
But it’s more than just hearing voices and being plagued by depression. Why do some people feel so strongly, insist so intently, about certain ideas? Why do people hate rock and roll or only drive black cars or drive no cars at all? We’re living on the same planet, but somehow we’re seeing things from different angels – and different things altogether. The difficult thing to discern is when to trust my neighbor and his account and when to oppose him. I love the practice of philosophy. It fascinates me that people used to sit around for hours and hours just to debate each other, to convince each other of ideas. But to look someone in the eye and say, “Alright, I trust you. I don’t see what you see, but I love you anyway.” It’s not an easy thing.
I don’t know why some people see the demons. Why do only some witness the horror and panic? Why are some eyes blinded and some eyes opened? And for how much longer must we stand on the back side of everything?
Come Lord Jesus, spin this world on its heels, that we might look it in the eyes and smile back.
“Chase This Light” – Jimmy Eat World
Because tonight the world turned in me,
Because right now I don’t dare breathe,
Oh babe I know, it’s alive,
And somewhere for us to find tonight,
Chase this light with me,