Thursday, February 24, 2011

Relatively Speaking

"The ideals which have always shone before me and filled me with the joy of living are goodness, beauty and truth."

Any idea as to the author of these words? Perhaps a poet - maybe Emily Dickinson? Or a theologian.....or philosopher? Someone who speaks the language of a lover of beauty and goodness would likely be one with a tender heart and magnified soul.

It came as a surprise to me to see Albert Einstein's name beneath this statement. He is one who seems to have lived by the hard and fast laws of science and quantifiable statements....who functioned in a world where what mattered was defined by measurement and accuracy not by virtues and ideals.

Quite a guy, that Einstein. His stupendous brain conceived concepts of relativity - both general and special - and he contemplated Joules, energy and antimatter in ways I do not even begin to express. The language of the scientist seems incongruous with the words above, and yet they spring from the same source.

His is a striking example of the human capacity for versatility in spanning disciplines. Scientist, mathematician, writer, violinist...he did it all.

The life of Albert Einstein also reveals a sort of contrapuntal tension - a dissonance and irregularity between what he said and what he did. His closest relationships were marked by great upheaval and estrangement. This seeker of goodness, beauty and truth had a hard time making his own commitments stick and finding joy in his own family.

So we are just as fully human as he, without the mc squared.

There is a great contradiction within us: humans possess a tremendous affinity for both virtue and depravity.
We have the capacity to express love and tenderness, to appreciate beauty and to search for that which offers us the joy of living. Einstein himself said that happiness and comfort alone were not fit to be goals for living, except "for a herd of cattle," as he referred to those unthinking masses who live for happiness as the end game.

I do not hold him up as a standard for life. Role models surround us for the choosing, but some of the most celebrated and popular offer only fragmentary particles of truth and beauty suspended in a residue of our cultural waste byproducts.

I seek a source who far exceeds the limitations of men and women to illumine our own path and to cast light on the 'joy of living' as Einstein puts it. I prefer to seek the fount of wisdom, the creator and maker of all that is, and the lover of our souls. God sees us as we really are and acts to redeem us and to reconcile our disjointed, dysfunctional lives. The One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills is not intimidated by the writings or diatribes of even the most illustrious of our shared humanity's herd of cattle.
Thanks be to God.

1 comment:

  1. i would never have guessed that Einstein would say those words! how interesting. i hope you have a lovely weekend :)