The ability to keep perspective is one which is valued in my community. We’ve talked about this through the years and we often refer to it under a different term: keeping the big picture. The objectivity it brings is one which can be analogous to the difference between viewing something from the land versus viewing something from a soaring eagles perspective.
When this phrase up we’re often referring to keeping the big picture of what we feel God plans for this Order, but which we can’t currently live due to circumstances; some of those plans would be perpetual adoration, works of mercy to the homeless, imprisoned, and youth, and a dual night schedule so our external members can join in our life. It’s easy to get lost in small details of the here and now and lose perspective on the whole situation. That being said, to be able to transcend the minutia and soar into a broader vision is a liberating experience. I recently had one of these experiences I’d like to share.
I was on my monthly retreat day and I was not faring well. That morning a small situation had come up that triggered a deep wound I have regarding my masculinity and sense of acceptance from other men. I collapsed interiorly and become incoherent in my speech (ask our secretary, she was there for the whole thing as I tried to explain to her what was going on through incomplete sentences and groans . . . I probably should make the point that I have been told more than once I can be overly dramatic!)
Later that day, although I was still reeling from my explosive reaction, I decided to continue on with my usual routine of going for a few hour walk in the afternoon. It served a dual purpose, I could use the time to work through the struggle, as well as look for the “perfect” stones to use for some bonsai trees I was crafting. As I walked I kept my head down searching the ground carefully; simultaneously I also was searching deep within, trying to bring resolution and peace to my heart.
There were moments when I’d look up and experience the beauty of my surroundings–and this felt good–but it was soon eclipsed by the recollection of the struggle. Then, once again, my head would bear towards the ground as the introspection started once more.
I eventually made it down to the railroad tracks and began to walk them. There were some good rocks there; finding them boosted my spirits a bit. As I made my way back to the road from the railroad tracks a light seemed to switch on inside me. I suddenly realized that this whole time, without my noticing it, I had been so lost in the details of conflict (as well as searching for rocks) that I was missing the beauty around me. I threw my head upwards and saw soft, white clouds gliding slowly across the small plot of sky between the trees bordering the railroad tracks.
In that moment my heart lifted and the weight of the conflict fell from me. It was an embodied shift from being locked in the details of life to finding freedom in a broader perspective of life. As I walked home that afternoon the storm had all but passed and I found myself joyful, at peace, and experiencing gratitude. It was a lesson, to be sure, in the wisdom of holding onto the big picture and keeping perspective.