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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Freedom of Association

Oftentimes the ordinary things of this world take on an immortal quality. Every human person knows this. In moments of reflection, we can see the extraordinary in the ordinary; the passing things of this world enduring; the seemingly simple things becoming profoundly meaningful.

Consider the smell of homemade soup cooking in grandma's house, experienced so many time as a child on Sunday afternoons but subsequently lost through the intervening years. Consider the joy and innocence of that time rediscovered years later when that same delicious smell comes from another less revered kitchen. A park bench, not especially pleasing to the eye, might be the most wonderful thing in the world to a man who sat there with his future wife on their first date. Upon seeing that bench after a span of years, perhaps the flower of that young love becomes present again and rekindles that flame which was lit those many years ago. Consider a father who rocked his baby daughter to sleep to the aria "He shall feed His flock" from Handel's Messiah. Years later after his daughter is grown and may have daughters of her own, what images and memories must come flooding back to his mind as he now holds his granddaughter in his lap. What thoughts of love and tenderness echoed by the words of Isaiah.

The philosophers might call this reflection, and indeed it is. It is a manner of apprehending the true, the good, and the beautiful. Perhaps, we may say that it is a spiritual gift of an all-loving God who wishes to impress upon us deeper mysteries through the circumstances of our everyday life. Indeed, I suppose this is why great spiritual men have always admonished their people to surround themselves with good images. These simple things of the world are opportunities for reflection on the deeper mysteries of our existence which ultimately lead us to God and His Love. It is Freedom of Association! He has given each of us this spiritual faculty in order that He might draw us to Himself. It is evidence that He knows us individually and loves us individually.

Grandma may have died, her house sold, and her soup the stuff of memory; but the innocence and the joy of childhood endures. The old park bench may be removed by some urban planner with ideas for stronger and more beautiful park benches; but the love of a man and woman endures. The rocking chair may be gone, the daughter may be gone, and Handel no longer played; but the love of a father for his daughter never dies. It endures.

So does God.