October 9, 2010

Does This Analogy Work? I'm Not Sure.

It's when the sun shines through them that you notice how much your windows need to be cleaned. Nevertheless, it's best to wait for a cloudy day to clean them, because the direct sunlight will dry up and clump whatever cleaning agent you use, and you will find yourselves in a frustrating battle with smudges and streaks.

In the same way, it's when we most feel the presence of God in prayer that our sins and state of distraction comes most sharply into focus. But this isn't the moment to dwell on or work through such troubles. We should just enjoy and appreciate God shining upon us, however imperfectly we receive Him, and not give in to the temptation to turn back on ourselves. There will be plenty of dimmer moments to work out our plans for ascesis and the means to increase our recollection.


Greg said...

Wonderful analogy. It works.

I imagine we see this in Francis as he would go out into the world living in grace and changing lives, then he would return to contemplation in the darkness of the cave.

There are those times, however, when the light is so strong it burns the residue of sin/dirt off the window as one watches...the miracle of the Presence.

Anonymous said...

It is true that under a bright light you see how much a dirty window needs to be cleaned. It is also true that under the illuminating light of prayer that we see our own imperfections, our sins. It is under that light we confess them. Is that though when we should “clean the windows”? If we clean them under that bright light, we might notice an improvement. We also might notice what we missed; a few spots and streaks. In noticing what we missed, we might be motivated to repeat the process. One then might notice that they look even better, yet there are still a few missed spots and streaks. After numerous attempts under this intense light the conclusions could be that when ever we re-clean, there is more sparkle to that window. A conclusion could also be that no matter how much one scrubs, there are always a few missed spots and streaks; especially when viewed under such an illuminating light. Are you be better off accepting a little of that patina on the glass? If one accepts the good from God, should we also not accept the bad? If you spend all your time scrubbing, will you no longer enjoy the light?

If we notice the dirt under the bright light and clean on a cloudy day, we might be a little more successful, or not? Yet, we still have to wait to view under that bright light; that’s when we see all the spots we missed. We still will have to repeat, and re-evaluate our progress. I would think at the end though the same conclusions would be reached; the more we clean, the better things look and are you be better off accepting a little of that patina on the glass? If you spend all your time scrubbing, will you no longer enjoy the light?

It seems then the important part of this scenario is the utmost appreciation of that light, of always viewing “the window” under that bright illuminating light, and cleaning that window to enhance that light without making a clean window more important than the light. Ultimately, who cares how clean a window is at night?

Anonymous said...

This is not related to your excellent analogy, but I like to relay this tid-bit whenever the opportunity presents itself. When cleaning your windows, don't use cloth or paper towels...use newspaper. Hands get dirty, but windows get clean. A streak-free, lint-free clean like you can't imagine! Believe me, I worked at a movie theater all through high school and cleaned many a glass door with an ammonia based cleaner and newspaper. Try it and you'll agree. Again, apologies for the rather base comment attached to your thought provoking premise. Love your blog by the way. Truly evidence of God's grace in your life. Thank you for your efforts. Doug

Don Arsenault said...

I like the analogy and I think I'll adapt it for use as a practical exercise in catechesis.