“St. Patrick’s Breastplate” is a marvelous, wild hymn. Two lines from it are burning into my consciousness as I think of the subject of inner vision.
I remembered the lines as God within me, God before me, but they actually say Christ within me, Christ before me. Let’s stick with God for this article because all humans can find God within them and God outside them.
Why am I thinking about inner vision? It seems the desire to write about it started with being shocked and horrified about what is available to watch on TV. When I grew up, and even through the ‘90s, there was more content I could enjoy, more shows that engaged me intellectually and allowed me to relax.
How can a channel called The Learning Channel have so little learning on it? How could watching constant ghost stories teach us about how better to live our lives? All good entertainment does that.
Superficiality, noise and glitz all drown out our normal capacity for contemplation. They are designed to addict us to artificiality and turn us away from what we instinctively know is right and good.
Our society has become so commercialized that many people are unaware they have inner vision. I believe there is a purposeful intention to turn people’s minds from God, nature, love and other fundamental necessities of being human. This is all escalating at the very time when we need to turn inward and hear the quiet voice of God. Humans must rediscover their need for nature before climate change destroys nature.
In college, I majored in German literature and greatly enjoyed Romanticism, the movement that gave us a love of nature. Before that, nature was seen as dangerous. But a fatal flaw in Romanticism was a self-fulfilling addiction to tragedy. A famous example is Goethe’s novel “The Sorrows of Young Werther.” Goethe is a wonderful writer whom I adore, but his tale of a young person’s suicide for love caused a rush of suicides in real life.
Today we are addicted in entertainment to violence, speed, noise, cacophony. And we see all that in real life now. It is sold to us as normal, but it is not. Normal is walking down a street rapturous at the beauty of trees and houses. I grew up in a beautiful town in Maryland and lived in rapture at the beauty of nature. Everyone needs such natural joy.
Now that we have a society that values violence, speed, noise and cacophony, how can we withstand it? I am preaching to the choir here, but maybe what I say will filter out to those addicted to what I have just decided to call negative beauty.
Our inner vision is what will protect us. When angry at something from the outside, I have learned to pause, bend over and withdraw into myself. Peace descends upon me.
I first learned that inner vision could protect me right here in Juneau. I was a banquet waitress at Centennial Hall and had left my uniform at home. Dreading the anger of my boss, I walked to her office. Just yards away, I heard a quiet voice saying, “Wait!” Peace came over me, and I went about my business. Minutes later, my boss said, “Here is money for a cab. Go to the Baranof and get more tablecloths!” I went to my house on the way and picked up my uniform!
God spared me the wrath of hell that day. If my inner vision had been drowned out by my environment, I would not have perceived the word that saved me.
• Page Bridges is a member of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.