Have you ever noticed that throughout our language, culture, and sacred traditions are countless clues that point us toward something more?
Picasso said “Art is a lie that reveals the truth”. In those words the famed artist encapsulated the idea that our created works often offer us sign posts that point us down the path of a less veiled reality.
In my experience this is true of so many things beyond art. Sure, our films, songs, and literature often have deeper meanings woven throughout them, but I think the line between art and non-art is more blurry than we may think. Things like architecture, clothing, food, transportation, and sports are all teeming with hidden messages if you take the time to notice. There are symbols everywhere, offering us clues to wake us up and that reveal to us things of ever greater importance. This is part of being human, the journey of finding meaning and passing it on. I guess the question is, are we paying attention?
Which brings me to a “clue” I discovered this morning.
Specifically, I learned that the word ‘consider’ comes from the Latin word considerare which is literally translates to “observe the stars”.
There it is, hidden in the essence of a commonly used word, a picture of being human that goes way beyond a few syllabic utterances and deeper than a brief definition. In reality, the word consider is a poetic portrait of what it means to be uniquely human, namely the gift of being able to behold our existence with awe and wonder.
As a city dweller I often neglect and even forget the stars.
What a tragedy.
It’s a tragedy because I’m missing out on something so beautiful and amazing. Each night, just above our heads, the cosmos dances about, teasing us with mysteries science has only just begun to unravel. If only we’d stop to consider in a way that honors the heart of that word. If only we’d pause in life more often and notice the beyond-words reality that we’re spinning around on a pale blue dot in the middle of a seemingly infinite multitude of planets, stars, and empty space.
As I mulled over the image captured in the word ‘consider’ I found myself remembering two instances where this linguistic truth-clue appears in the sacred text of my particular sacred tradition:
First in the book of song, prayer, and poetry (worship) we read:
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
Here the author seems to get it, the fundamental act of “observing the stars” which then leads to a sense of smallness and cosmic perspective. I’ve been there. When I look out at the oceans or the sky, I sometimes find myself asking the same question, “In the midst of the cosmos, who am I? Why, God, would you care about me?” That feels like an important question, where in the answer we find ourselves caught between the mystery and intimacy of the divine.
The other place this concept fired a memory neuron in my mind was from the book of wisdom, also known as Proverbs:
6 Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
7 It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
8 yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.
The human act of considering is not only directed towards the galaxies, but also towards the smallest of things like ants! I remember being mesmerized by ants as a kid, following their trails and being amazed at how they knew where to go even if I closed up their ant-hole or blocked their way.
Here is the point.
All around us, all the time, with every breath, is wonder, beauty, and miracle. Our sacred traditions, our ‘lying’ artwork, and our linguistic libations are all offering us clues. Living a life rhythm where this pursuit is embraced is the clue I discovered today in a simple word, consider, which is not that simple after all.
What clues are you noticing today?
How can we really consider the worlds around us in a way that is truer to the word’s meaning?