A God’s-Eye view

23 Mar

The idea of a ‘God’s-eye view’ has had a bad press lately. The critical philosophy and the de-constructionist movements quite rightly point out that no one can claim to have a complete overview of anything. No one can claim to see things completely accurately. No one can see all points of view.
Thus, we all need others, to help us understand what is happening, and to challenge our own limitations—to which, so easily, we are blind.

Still, this can easily lead us to think that the ‘big picture’ is of no value.
Just every now and again, I read something that offers a grand vision, and big picture of what life might be about, showing in some way how many smaller parts can be seen as a whole.

Last week I found this prayer, written back in the 1950s by the French catholic priest Michel Quoist. It’s from his book Prayers of Life which I found really helpful, many years ago.
As I read it, I remembered how these prayers had helped me through some
troubled times. Quoist speaks with reality, with an every-day
truthfulness about how we feel, often.
The whole book is long out of print, but I thought I would share this one prayer, with a few  editorial adaptations. It’s called, ‘I would like to rise very high.’

Before the prayer, this paragraph:

If only we knew how to look at life as God sees it,
we should realize that nothing is secular in the world,
but that everything contributes to the building of the kingdom of God. To have faith is not only to raise one’s eyes to God to contemplate him; it is also to look at this world—but with Christ’s eyes.
…  We must pray to have sufficient faith to know how to look at life.

I would like to rise very high, Lord,
Above my city, above the world, above time.
I would like to purify my glance, and borrow your eyes.

I would then see the universe, humanity, history, as the Father sees them.
I would see in the constant transformation of matter,
In the perpetual seething of life,
Your great body that is born of the breath of the Spirit.
I would see the beautiful, the eternal thought of your Father’s love taking form step by step,
Everything summed up in you, things on earth and things in heaven.
And I would see that today, like yesterday, the most minute details are part of it.
Every person in their place.
Every group
and every object.
I would see a factory, a theatre, collective bargaining and the construction of a fountain.
I would see a group of young people going to a party,
A baby being born, and an old man dying.
I would see the tiniest particle of matter and the smallest throbbing of life,
Love and hate,
Sin and grace.
Startled, I would understand that the great adventure of love,
which started at the beginning of the world, is unfolding before me.
The divine story which, according to your promise, will be completed only in glory after the resurrection of the flesh,
When you will come before the Father, saying, All is accomplished, I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.

I would understand that everything is linked together,
That all is but a single movement of the whole of humanity and the whole universe towards the Trinity, in you, by you, Lord.
I would understand that nothing is secular, neither things, nor people, nor events,
But that, on the contrary, everything has been made sacred in its origin by God.
And that everything must be consecrated by humanity made divine.

I would understand that my life, an imperceptible breath in this great whole,
is an indispensable treasure in the Father’s plan.
Then, falling on m y knees, I would admire, Lord, the mystery of this world
Which, in spite of the innumerable and hateful snags of sin,
Is a long throb of love, towards love eternal.

I would like to rise very high, Lord,
Above my city, above the world, above time.
I would like to purify my glance, and borrow your eyes.

3 thoughts on “A God’s-Eye view

  1. Frank,
    thanks once again for feeding my soul. At times of late I have wanted to hide, not soar, but your blog calls me to emerge again and test those wings. May hope guide us. Sandy

  2. “to borrow God’s eyes” … it’s a challenging thought. On one level, deeply appealing, liberating … on the other, too threatening, exposing … overwhelming. Not sure I can pray that just yet!

  3. I share the reservation, Simon.
    Please don’t think I am claiming to see as God sees. What I was hoping to suggest, I guess, is that there is encouragement in this prayer, as it offers a sense of connectedness, perhaps even relationship, between what Auden once called ‘the long littleness’ of our lives and an integrative purpose or vision. God is for me that hope of wholeness, for us all.
    One of the fascinating things in the new ‘postmodern’ perspective is that it affirms at once that all things are somehow related, yet no one is able to see and know this absolute ‘whole’.
    How do we respond to that seeming paradox?
    Too easily, we narrow our sights to our own little patch, and abandon hope for the others.
    (I’m not accusing you of that. I know it is not true!)
    I guess I am just affirming some sense or hope of a unity in all things, even though I cannot see it. Maybe somehow I can sense it, through prayer, and through sharing this hope with others.
    Does that make sense?

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