I’m fangirling really hard over Christopher West’s Fill These Hearts, a book that combines theology and pop culture to discuss the universal longings of everyone’s heart for ecstasy, truth, beauty, and Love. It is explaining so much of myself, things I thought were silly but are maybe profound.
One of the things he talks about is how our world is a twisted version of what is meant to be. Death appears where there was only meant to be life, ugliness and pain where there was meant to be only beauty and pleasure. But despite the presence of these evil things, we still get to enjoy life, beauty, and pleasure. And it is in these gifts that we get a taste of what eternity with God will be like.
I don’t know about you, but there have been many times in my life when I’ve felt so happy I could just die. Most of the time, I’ve stopped myself. Of course I’m not really ready to die. I’m just really happy. But there are two times when I caught myself, then realized yes, I really would be okay if this were the moment I were ushered into eternity. Here they are:
- When I was 15, I went to see Return of the King on its opening night. I cried throughout 3/4 of the film, then went home, listened to “Into the West” one more time, and laid in bed crying some more. In the midst of all of this emotion, I thought, “I could die now. I really could.”
- When I was 26, I flew out of Dallas at sunset after a storm. As we climbed into the skies, we passed through a veritable wilderness of clouds in varying colors. I gaped out of the plane window as we passed through orange cloud tunnels and soared past pink cloud mountains. The plane shook with turbulence, but for once I didn’t care. “I could die now,” I thought. “I really could.”
I’m a bit embarrassed about these memories. Ready to die because of cotton candy clouds and a good movie? But Fill These Hearts is teaching me to embrace the divine encounters in the midst of the mundane. And the truth is, glimpses of beauty provide us with a sense of wholeness and completion. The aches and longings we feel are momentarily fulfilled. In those two moments, I felt like life was…enough. I was satisfied.
That’s what happened for me. I experience God most often through stories and through nature, so I suppose it is not much of a surprise that I would glimpse His plan most clearly in those same areas. Years of emotional buildup were paid off in a beautiful story that mirrored human struggles and ultimate hope. Flying gave me a front row seat to the most extreme versions of beauty that nature can provide. For a few brief minutes, perfection was a reality rather than a dream.
Have you ever glimpsed perfect beauty, truth, or love so clearly that your longings faded away? Leave a comment and let me know!