Becoming through seeing

Language, love, laïcité and violence

There are going to be some very special moments in your life.

They will be the kind of experiences that point beyond themselves to something more.

For example, something wonderful in nature that leaves you feeling you are part of something much bigger than your own life-time.

Or, the sudden feeling that even the good things of life (a good marriage, a successful business, good friends, good health, etc) still leave an empty gap somewhere inside you.

Your own deep self tells you that there’s more than all this.

Or, someone you love has died, and suddenly everything around you appears in a different light: the things that seemed so important to you don’t seem quite so important now, and the things you knew about only vaguely, like heaven, suddenly seem so real.

Or, some sight or sound or scent will trigger some fond memory, and you know you are still linked to the people and the places of your past.

There’s a feeling that they are still part of you, and that one day all good things will come together again.

“The profound is always
within our reach,
masquerading as the ordinary”(Daniel O’Leary)

Or, you might be listening to the kind of music that makes you want to be still and quiet because it seems to be drawing you towards something.

Or, in some quiet space on your own, you just experience the mystery of your own self, unique in all the universe.


In all these experiences you are getting hints that there is more to your existence than you might have thought.

The opposite to “seeing” in these ways is “not noticing” – because we don’t stop still long enough to notice the “something more” – as if sleep-walking!

Some people have even narrowed their vision down to seeing only what is useful or profitable or pleasurable.

Some see the world only as a kind of quarry to be exploited and used.

They don’t notice that it is first and foremost a precious environment that can lift our spirits, and invites us to “see”, and makes us want to give thanks.

At the beginning of the second century CE, St Iraneus said that we honour God by being alive – with the life that “comes from seeing God.”

“Seeing” God means knowing God’s presence–in the experience of beauty, or love, or graced moments, or the sight of life-long faithfulness, or the sight of friends being reconciled, or in love’s heroic sacrifices, or in forgiveness and peace, or in the smiles on children’s faces, or in any of the ways that nature is revealed to us as a gift – God being theGiver.“

Look at the dance,
and you will see the Dancer” (A. de Mello)

This deep sense of God’s presence in all creation has very practical consequences, which the Maori world-view recognizes: the world’s resources are entrusted to us but belong to God; we have a duty of care for the earth (kaitiakitanga); the needs of the common good and our duty of care for one another (manaakitanga) take priority in all matters of property and ownership; etc.

This world-view has been, and continues to be, trampled over by the excesses of Western individualism and capitalism.

There are forms of poverty that result from this kind of oppression.

  • +Peter Cullinane was the first bishop of the Diocese of Palmerston North. Now retired he continues to be a respected writer and leader of retreats and is still busy at local, national, and international levels. Here he shares his reflections on sciences and Christian faith. To conclude the introduction of this series he quotes Albert Einstein, “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”
  • This is the ninth in a series of chapters from his letter to senior students
  • Image: Manawatu Standard
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