landscape is ugly."
I don't know if at the time that she wrote this sentence Ms. Weil was familiar with the psychoanalytic concept of projection, but she clearly understood that people are tempted to take their inner ugly and paste it on any surface they can find. We would rather do almost anything than bear our own suffering. Her pithy remark is a terrific reminder for me to look inside every time I notice myself finding fault with the people or circumstances of my life.
Not only does it temper my fault finding, it also turns my attention to God. Because of the mystery of my brokenness, I usually don't know why I am suffering. I become aware that a lead blanket is pressing down on my heart and the feeling of it can not be explained by the circumstances of my life. Even when life is hard, I can perceive that the circumstances are only a part of the story. The rest of the story lies deep in my soul where there is an illusion of
control, a lack of gratitude for the miracle of each breath, and a failure to appreciate the beauty that pushes up through the asphalt of life like a stubborn flower.
Only God knows the whole truth about my condition and the way, that is, the particular process by which I may receive the grace that would awaken and lighten my heart.
When I become aware that I am projecting and choose instead to turn to God, the first feeling is of confronting a hard truth. Bam! There's nothing to do but take it in the face. Justifications are embarrassing. Analysis feels both arrogant and stupid. There's really no way around the simple suffering of truth and experiencing of powerlessness. The good news, yes there is good news, is that the truth sets us free.
But the truth that sets us free is not a propositional statement, it is an encounter with the "the way, the truth, and the light." Statements of truth are not meant to be a substitute for the direct experience of the Christ. In my experience so far that usually feels like crawling up on an alter, knowing only that something must die.
W.H. Auden's line is apropos:
"We would rather be ruined than changed
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die."
Another metaphor is useful here. We are like butterflies. This life is accomplishing something in our souls. While it may be understood that the caterpillar must enter a cocoon, it is sometimes forgotten that it must also go through a complete restructuring, it must become a gob of liquid before it can be re made into its final expression. The Kingdom of God is at hand and it is accomplishing something corporately and individually. There are no short cuts. We must go through it. Consenting to this process rather than projecting the pain of it out into the world is our way of co operating with God and joining him in the work that he means to finish.