Tuesday, August 31, 2021

A different set of lenses

Because of this attitude of reverence, the pious man is at peace with life, in spite of its conflicts. He patiently acquiesces in life’s vicissitudes, because he glimpses spiritually their potential meaning. Every experience opens the door into a temple of new light, although the vestibule may be dark and dismal. The pious man accepts life’s ordeals and its meed of anguish, because he recognizes these as belonging to the totality of life. This does not mean complacency or fatalistic resignation. He is not insensitive. On the contrary, he is keenly sensitive to pain and suffering, to adversity and evil in his own life and in that of others, but he has the inner strength to rise above grief, and with his understanding of what these sorrows really are, grief seems to him a sort of arrogance. We never know the ultimate meaning of things, and so a sharp distinction between what we deem good or bad in experience is unfair. It is a greater thing to love than to grieve, and with love’s awareness of the far-reachingness of all that affects our lives, the pious man will never overestimate the seeming weight of momentary happenings.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 312–13

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