Tuesday, 2 July 2013

A Life in Ruins: Demolition

Inspired by what I'm reading in St. Augustine's Confessions I thought I'd try my hand at a similar style:

I am a ruined man, I see it now.


I was going to make movies, appear on television, be famous, work 'in the industry'. I was ahead of my curve in this regard, volunteering at a young age for television crews, studying in college before I'd yet finished school. I was in contact with local television companies and writing my own scripts and bringing them to production. I wasn't very good but I was young, I was learning, I had time. That was what I was building, that was where things were heading.

All my aspirations pretensions to greatness have gone. All of my plotting and scheming and all of my 'when I grow up I'm going to be...' has come crashing down. I see that now.

I am a man held captive, a man in chains and yet as a man I've never been more free, never felt more liberated and complete. I have known God the Father, Son & Spirit and although I still fight and wrestle with feelings of fulfilment and contentment I know that I am ruined to anything else.

How did it happen? When did this demolition begin?

In the film Inception Leonardo Di Caprio's hatches a plan to invade someone's sleep and plant an idea in their mind. The reason, he says, is this:
An idea is like a virus, resilient, highly contagious. The smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define or destroy you.
Somewhere along the road an idea was planted in my mind. I experienced a sense of wonder and inspiration. I experienced an awakening of enquiry.

I don't know when it was exactly that I began being interested in seeing through to completion my thoughts about God. As a boy I'd never really given much thought to God. I mean, I believed in invisible things as much as the next boy, I believed that if I concentrated hard enough I could make things move with my mind and that if I tried hard enough I really could fly. As a boy I had a sense that God existed but in the same way that I knew that Egypt was a real place. I had never been there and had no intention of going but I knew it existed.

Somewhere along the line however I began to see the question of God as something to pursue. It became an idea I couldn't escape. If God then x, y and z surely. I don't even think the 'if' was a major consideration at first. I think, like most people, I had a sense that there existed a creator being of some description, I just didn't see the point in thinking too much about him/it. I (like most people) saw that it was only really religious people who were overly bothered by him. To my mind they seemed to take the whole thing too seriously and were quite serious and glum people for it. In my opinion, they were weird, socially awkward people who weren't quite 'cool' enough - and if I'm honest that was my all consuming pursuit. I wasn't concerned with too much else other than knowing that I was 'safe' and not too close to the edge of the lifeboat that was and is social status of the teenage years.

Nevertheless the idea was there, it had taken root from the world around me and the stories I read.

It was when I was 15/16 that I saw the film Good Will Hunting. It triggered something that laid dorment in me. The story of a man's redemption and rescue through the acceptance and love of a woman inspired me like nothing else had until that point. It was a deeply significant moment in my life. The idea that had taken root in my childhood grew and grew. I walked home from my friends' house only to stop and take in for the first time the beauty of my surroundings. I was embarrassed to admit it afterwards, embarrased by the emotion of the moment but I cried at the beauty of the moonlight on the grass. Wonder was awakened.

It feels awkward to recall that evening even now but it's clear that in that evening something crystallised;  something that had been growing and gathering pace for sometime. In that moment it felt as though the world came into focus. On that night I became an out-of-the-closet believer in God. I encountered the beauty of creation and became convinced that there was indeed a creator behind it all.

That was, I suppose, when the demolition began. It isn't very 'reasonable' - by that I mean to say that I didn't begin with reason and analysis, but with experience. I began with feeling and wonder and followed the rabbit from there. Some will say that since this is the case I was a 'lame duck' from the beginning, ill-equipped to examine life properly and analytically. I shouldn't be listened to. They may be right and I have found myself thrown back and forth between arguments on both sides. For all my feeling and experience there is still plenty about the world that only really reason and careful thought can explain; but then for all my thinking and considering there is too much beauty and joy that cannot be appreciated except by encounter.

On balance I found and have found since then that we are much more than animals. Our appreciation of life and beauty, our love of love and uncompromising belief in right and wrong betrays the philosophical conclusions that some have made from their science.  Not that science is at all at odds with faith but that some scientists' philosophy is at odds with faith.

I sometimes wish I could simply be left alone to not think or not writhe for something else beyond an animal existence. But then again, as I've said, I'm ruined. I am undone by the love and life of God in Christ revealed to me by the Spirit. An undoing and a ruining that began as a boy and continued on into adolescence.

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