Monday, April 27, 2009

I Want it All

There was a moment in my life when I abandoned childish fantasies of being incredibly rich or powerful. But if you were watching me at that precise moment, you wouldn't see a young man with calm expression of peace and contentment; I'm certain you'd see fire in my eyes. It was the passionate fire of a refusal to settle for less than the very best. I didn't want to be rich – I wanted to be infinitely rich; I didn't want to be happy or amused – I wanted infinite joy. And I knew, at that very moment, that I'd stop at nothing to get it.

This breakthrough came for me when I realized that I didn't want my piddly dreams to come true – they were too small! In other words, nothing I could imagine would be enough to satisfy me. My motto was no longer “let me be satisfied with what I have” but to quote Freddie Mercury, “I want it all and I want it now.”

Chesterton describes an account of St. Thomas Aquinas where, when asked by God what he wanted, Aquinas replied, “Nothing but Thee Lord.” Now in response to that question, the Stoic says “nothing” because he has learned to suppress all desire; the Mystic says “nothing” and he means that he wants to apprehend the great nothingness of the cosmos. But as Chesterton explains, Aquinas doesn't answer “nothing” in the same way that they do; in fact, he doesn't answer “nothing” at all. When Aquinas is asked what he wants, he answers: “everything”.

Conquering desire involves the early step of recognizing that the entirety of creation could not make us happy (far less the small fraction we could ever hope to attain). Jesus could have simply said, “What would it profit a man if he gained the whole world?” and stopped there. Even if you keep your soul, gaining the whole world still leaves you unhappy. Knowing all this is one thing; living it is another. That is, I still make irrational decisions based on impulsive desires for things which will not satisfy and will only lead me away from the One who will.

We can't imagine what true happiness will be like. We cannot imagine heaven. It is revealed to us metaphorically by images of temporal things. This is why it is a bad argument against Islam to point out that the Koran uses images of wine and women to illustrate the pleasures of the heavenly paradise. Forty virgins may not truly satisfy a man; but neither do streets paved with gold.

Now God walked among us for a time, and He gave us the very secret to happiness during a famous sermon. The secret was proclaimed from the mountain top and yet we remain unhappy because we I am too cowardly to believe it. When even one person believes and lives the secrets He openly shared, it changes the world.. mountains are moved and trees get up and walk into the sea.

It's as if a rich man said, “I'll give anyone who jumps into this pool a million dollars” and one by one, a bunch of pansies tiptoe in, wading just knee high. Some run off when they're contacted by the water. Oh what will happen when just one brave soul cannonballs right smack in the middle... What a splash he will make!

Chesterton again has a great line somewhere: “The young man who knocks on the door of the brothel is looking for God.” And I'll tell you, the drug addict is closer to God than the luke-warm Christian. The luke-warm Christian is the one who wades in the water knee high. The drug addict is at least seeking that ultimate happiness he was created for (though in the wrong way). But the luke-warm Christian has settled for a church with warm fellowship, a minivan and a few “mission trips” where he stays in a four star hotel.

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times (like today, yesterday and everyday that I recall) when I seek the created rather than You, the Creator. If I can ask one thing Lord, teach me to live the beatific life because You know what I want: I want it all, and I want it now. That is, nothing but Thee Lord, nothing but Thee.

4 comments:

Mary said...

Nice post.

There was a time when I did some stupid things because I wasn't happy. Too many drugs, trusting strangers to take care of me, wandering highways with no money or place to stay. I didn't care if I died. Now I do. I'm not desperate for something else. I'm content to live in peace, laughing at sitcoms and loving God.

George Weis said...

Tim,

This is what I'm talking about! Although, your intellectual touch is still there, I am hearing the core of you! You are speaking of the thirst of the soul... the great desire to be consumed in and with the Godhead. Man, this is huge! I am so blessed to hear these words.

I am blessed by your prayer. I am also amused by your Freddie Mercury :D

God answers these prayers dear friend. But as some have found, they are often answered with darkness. A few we know of have gone through such turmoil... having all pleasantries stripped. Ultimately, He knows how to give Himself to us. He knows how to prepare us to receive Him deeper and mre fully.

Blessings to you and to your heart good brother. May He increase and ourselves be trampled underfoot... only to to truly discover ourselves> :)

In Him who strengthens us,
-g-

The Catholic Journeyman said...

Only Forty Virgins? I thought it was 70...hmmph. Must be in a Koranic Recession now.

Seriously.

Dude, you hear Fr. Fride's conversion story on Kresta from yesterday? Its alot like your post...how true. I also dig the pansie parable. I'm gonna use that in RCIA if you'll creative commons it for me. ;)

-Dave

Annette M. Heidmann said...

Tim, this was powerful. Thank you.