January 22, 2009

The World is a Metaphor for itself?

We are really good at convincing ourselves that things are exactly as they appear and accepting the way the world works.

And if things are exactly as they appear to be, then we should stop looking for answers because we already have them: Things are what they are; life is life; death is death. Get over it.

But if the world is beyond what it appears to be, then that means there is something more. And if there is something more, then that means we need to find it. And if we need to find it, where do we do look?

Now as someone who likes to search for answers, I'm really good at buying books, listening to lectures, discussing issues, asking questions to the older and wiser, etc. But what if the answers to the world weren't found in books or songs or letters? What if the answers weren't "hiding" anywhere? What if the answers to the world ...were found in the world itself? What if God provided all the answers to "why" the world worked the way it worked in the workings of the world itself (say that ten times fast--maybe I should quit blogging and start writing tongue twisters?) This would be GENIUS!

Shit, I totally lost you. Too many "what ifs" and not enough examples. Bear with me. This is something I've tried to put into words for a while, but failed every time. Partially because it's so obvious and simple that it is hard to explain and partially because I'm still an idiot 65% of the time.

But here's what I'm thinking...we have largely convinced ourselves that the workings of the world is simply the world and not something OTHER than the world. We think that the sun is just the sun, a rock is a rock, the ocean is an ocean. But what if we entertained the theory that everything is symbolic? What if the workings of the world were an exact metaphor for how God planned for our life to be? What if the world itself told us the answers to why we can't see God, why our bodies are the way they are, why there is suffering, why the soul is buried deep? Would things make more sense? Would we stop being so confused?

For example, if someone asked you "why can't you stare at the sun?" you would probably respond, "I don't's too bright?!" (and then you'd laugh to yourself and mumble under your breath, "dumbass.") But if someone asked you "why can't we see God?" you would probably spend the next three days engaging in philosophical discussions, whipping out CS Lewis, seeking Jewish mystics, and using a lot of hand motions to try and convey a still unsatisfactory answer. A simple "because He's too bright?" probably wouldn't work, because we don't think of the sun as symbolizing God. But should we? Do we make things too complicated?

To better explain this, I'm going to you give some examples. My friend James Pearson ( ignited this whole thought process, so I'll share with you his own example.

He wrote: "The moon tries to shine its light on us every night, but is shaded by the earth herself. We fear the darkness, but we block the light. It is the nature of our world."

My other friend, Mitchell Moses, made a similar type of observation: "Funny how fitting it is that our body is made up of 60 -70% water. Maybe a hint from God on how our lives should look - Refreshing, Radiant, and Fluid. Water flows effortlessly from one form to another, but never loses the essence that defines it. " This is the nature of each individual.

And diamonds and gems, which lie deep below the surface, are only available to those who dig to find them. Beneath the superficiality of the grass, beneath the messiness of dirt, and beneath the seemingly impenetrable rock lies the most valuable and precious stones. It is the nature of our souls.

And the rain, the source of growth for almost all living things, is accompanied by dark, heavy clouds. At times, they completely shield the sun to those looking up. And the rain sometimes sprinkles and sometimes storms, but it always ceases when the winds from the west dissipate the darkness. And then, though the earth is damp and heavy from the water, true growth occurs and new life begins. It is the nature of suffering.

And the sun, the source of light and the source of life, is the only thing at which we cannot directly stare. We can feel it, but cannot see it. We perceive its rays, but are blinded by its core. And yet, in the early morning, as the new day approaches, and in the evening, when dark meets light, its brightness is subdued by the softness of colors, and in those moments we catch a glimpse, though our eyes burn after. It is the nature of God.

I could go on, blurb by blurb, to dissect the symbolism of nature's nature. About the ocean. About the tides. About mountains. But I'll leave it at these five examples for now because what may strike me as symbolism may strike you as silliness. Regardless, here's to searching for answers in symbolism.


  1. "even the rocks and the trees cry out..."

    Beautiful thought, Ms. Docherty. In fact, I'm not sure what's silly about it at all. :)