Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 20, 2003
Only the mature can practise admiration
By FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi
Only when we see through the prism of love do we see correctly.
"Notice me!" "Why am I not being noticed and admired?"
Anthropology tells us that adulthood can be defined this way: A mature man or woman is a principle of order rather than disorder, is someone who helps carry the burdens and tensions of others rather than dumps his or her own tensions on them, is someone who helps feed others rather than feeds off of them, and is someone who admires others as opposed to demanding that others admire him or her.
One of the defining traits of human maturity is the capacity to admire. If that is true, and it is, then our proclivity for criticism speaks of a lot more things than simply our enlightenment.
Thomas Aquinas once stated that to withhold a compliment from someone is a sin because we are withholding food that this person needs to live.
One of the reasons we live with so much dissatisfaction, anger, bitterness, and depression is precisely because we no longer know how to admire.
It's hard to be happy and to feel good about ourselves when we don't feel very good about anything or anyone around us.
Without admiration, we can never be happy - nor can we see straight, irrespective of how sophisticated, educated, scientifically-trained, aesthetically fined-tuned, or hermeneutically-enlightened we are.
Hugo of St. Victor had an axiom which said: "Love is the eye!"
Only when we see through the prism of love do we see correctly. Admiration is part of that.
When we don't admire, we aren't seeing straight, pure and simple. When we are forever seeing what's wrong in others that speaks volumes about our own interior state. Partly we see what's out there, partly though what we think we see is largely coloured by our own interior disposition.
When we admire we get to feel good because, when we act like God, we get to feel like God. God is never grey, depressed, and cynical, and God's first gaze at us, as both Scripture and the mystics assure us, is not one of critical disapproval but one of admiration.
As Julian of Norwich puts it, God sits in heaven, completely relaxed, smiling, his face looking like a marvellous symphony.
That's hardly the description of how we journalists, academics, artists, theologians, ministers, priests and ordinary folk look at the world.
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