This is my fourth 4th of July to spend overseas. I had hoped to have a party this year until I realised that everyone I would invite would be British. Instead, I wore a red dress on a sunshiney day and subjected my British housemate to a reading of the Declaration of Independence.
In last night’s Postgrad Christian Union (PGCU) meeting, we read an excerpt on Colossians from The Art of God Incarnate by Aidan Nichols, O.P. Reviewing the first chapter of Colossians, we discussed Nichols’s quote, ‘Jesus re-interprets in a decisive fashion the whole realm of the real’ (39). I did not have much to say at the time, because I have to sit and brew on such questions. I find it interesting that though I have been classified as philosophical and logical by my friends at home, within this group of people I am probably the least so. Instead, I find myself holding the role of the mystic. Here’s why.
Jesus re-interprets in a decisive fashion the whole realm of the real. How can I describe this with words? For me, this statement is simply True. He has re-interpreted it, he continues to re-interpret my entire world. Having spent the last five or so years in and out of severe depression, I can honestly say that Christ is the Only Thing That Matters. When I have been utterly lost, blind, afraid, insane, and when I have reached my hand out in that darkness, Christ was there. I sometimes struggle with reality — this world is so transient, fleeting — that God is the most real thing to me. ‘The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever’ (Isaiah 40.8), or ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away’ (Luke 21.33).
I say I am a mystic because there is but a veil between this world and the true reality. When I see the glory of the sea, the sands, the forest and the hills beyond spread out beneath the sunlight; when I see a ring around a full moon on a clear night; when I see a baby duckling paddling so hard with its wee little feet, the first response I have is awe and wonder and the whispered words, ‘Lord, you are beautiful’. Jesus re-interprets reality, because in him are the varying shades of living green, the spark of imagination that writes the perfect scene in a story, the delight in reading a Middle English poem and criticism about it, the pleasure in losing oneself in another author’s world. ‘He is before all things, and in him all things hold together’ (Col. 1.17).
It is like in The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner, when one of the gods makes a very rare appearance to a misbehaving king:
‘Trying to believe that he hadn’t seen what he’d seen or heard what he’d heard, Costis followed, telling himself that it wasn’t true that he and the king and even the stone under their feet were nothing but tissue, transparently thin, and that for a moment, the only real thing in the universe had been there on the parapet with the king’ (346).
Jesus re-interprets the realm of the real because he alone is Reality.
There. That is probably enough maundering meandering thoughts for now.