“Everything is a miracle, old man”, Jesus replied.
What further miracles do you want? Look below you: even the humblest blade of grass has its guardian angel who stands by and helps it grow. Look above you: what a miracle is the star-filled sky! And if you close your eyes, old man, what a miracle the world within us! What a star-filled sky is our heart!”
Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation of Christ
Perspective, the lens through which we view anything, is crucial, as we see in these words attributed to Frederick Langbridge: “Two men looked out from behind prison bars; one saw mud and the other saw stars”.
How we choose to look upon something, to interpret it, will determine so much else about us. It will determine how we respond in any situation, how we think about ourselves, others, relationships. It will determine our response to conversations and interactions and indeed, how we view life itself. Our perspectives and interpretations can open us to great joy and peace and they can also lead us into restlessness, hurt, bitterness, negativity and close us up to life. In fact, Victor Frankl, the neurologist and psychiatrist who was interred in a concentration camp during World War II, drawing on the teachings of the philosopher Nietzsche, said that the last of the human freedoms is the ability to choose a response. Frankl was fascinated by what he saw happening to his fellow inmates in the camp. Some survived the brutality, fear, indescribable sadness and loss, while others did not. They simply gave up. Frankl came to the conclusion that we can live with any ‘how’ as long as we have a ‘why’. “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” (Man’s Search for Meaning). Later, after he was freed, he resumed his practice as a psychiatrist and developed this insight into a form of treatment he called logotherapy, helping his patients discover the ‘why’ in their lives, leading them to meaning and purpose, and helping them explore and embrace a worldview which provided this meaning and purpose.
Ms Kerry McCullough
Liturgy and Spirituality Co-ordinator