Monday, March 19, 2012

Frontiers and Tumbleweeds

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb. 
- Miley Cyrus, "The Climb"

When I played this song to my class at school, all the kids knew it. Half of them hated it, but they could still sing the lyrics with a catchy sarcasm.  No matter their opinion of Miley, there is something about finding every moment of life meaningful that captures the imagination. I suspect that in a world of broken homes and damaged lives, the idea that even the most daunting climb matters resonates as well.
As compelling as the message may sound, there is a better and deeper perspective. Every journey has a destination; that much is true.  We will all arrive somewhere, and unless we want to be terribly disappointed we should probably know where we want to end up.  The journey is important, but the destination matters too.

"Something of this longing for what is not here, this joy of the pilgrimage, has set deep roots in the soul of Western man.  But it has become detached from an end to the pilgrimage. We thus lose a sense of home, both the eternal and the temporal. So we seek new frontiers to discover and to master, but without any point beyond the assertion of mastery.  We praise ourselves for our mobility, meaning that we can move, without noticing that without any sense of ultimate meaning, without any Person to whom we grant ultimate allegiance even in the smallest acts of our everyday lives, me must move.  We are under compulsion of perpetual mobility precisely because, without God, to settle means to acknowledge defeat, and to rest means to die within...

We change towns, we change schools, we change houses, we change husbands and wives, we change churches, we change faiths.  We go off into the distance, and we set at at a distance those nearby things we still pretend to cherish, as, for instance, our children.  We look down upon women who 'stay home,' thinking of them rather as creatures who are stuck in mud.  We almost treat as pious heroes those who are determined to leave their homes and never return, yet who still claim some tenuous and sentimental attachment to what they have abandoned.

It is doubtful whether, without steadfastness, without devotion to this place, this work, this spouse, this land, we can enjoy even a decent human life.  A tumbleweed is not only rootless.  It is directionless.  It is blown about by the chance of the wind, quitting here, divorcing there, forgetting here, abandoning there.  In following our own purposes, regardless of the claims of steadfastness upon us, we lose our purpose, and turn with every turn of the fickle heart."

 - Anthony Esolen, "God's Place & Ours," in Touchstone

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