Friday, May 22, 2009

What do you see?, Part II

I know that I see the world in a limited way. The standard greeting in Nepal, and apparently some other places in South Asia is “Namaste”. The word means something roughly like “I honor the light of God within you”. I imagine that in everyday life the word has become simply a rote phrase with little thought for its meaning. Much in the same way, we say “Good-bye” usually without thinking of its original meaning “God be with ye”.

I’ve never been to Nepal. The closest I’ve come is a couple years exchange of letters with a friend who served in the Peace Corp there. But on occasion, I’ve met people who don’t look at someone and see their outward appearance, but look within and honor the image of God that is within us all, no matter how disheveled and dirty someone may be.

People that see that way are in my mind Saints. Not in any theological sense—I am probably the world’s worst theologian. But in the sense that people that see the image of God in every person they meet model the goodness to which I aspire.

In the unlikely event that I ever reach that goal, then I will set myself the new goal of seeing the world as the poet and engraver William Blake saw it:

“When the Sun rises, do you not See a round Disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea?’ O no no I see an Innumerable company of the Heavenly host crying ‘Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty!’”

Unfortunately Blake did not leave us an engraving to match these words, but the engraving copied here, The Great Red Dragon and the Women Clothed with Sun, gives you some idea how Blake may have seen the rising sun.

Until that day comes, I will begin by trying to remember that a greeting can mean more than “Hello” and that good-bye can mean more than “I’m leaving now.”

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