On The Foothills

I find that most of my life has been spent trying to figure things out. For instance, I never really understood high school and what was expected of me. I never sorted out what role I was supposed to have in college. I’ve never found the answer to any relationship questions. And I still don’t know what to do with my life.

Sometimes I’ve failed horribly in trying to figure these things out, and sometimes I’ve had minor success. But usually when I get through an experience I look back and realize I have no idea what just happened, and probably even more important, I have no idea how to change things for the future. Sometimes I think all I’ve actually learned are what mistakes not to repeat. I think this has qualified me as an expert in making mistakes, but certainly not an expert in much more than that.

I admit that this seems pretty bleak, and maybe it is, but when I look around it seems that other people have similar experiences. We all try to figure things out, and we all make mistakes. Sure, there are times when we find insight, but those moments are rare and tend to disappear behind the barrage of daily mistakes.

Don’t get me wrong, I realize there are many areas of study where one can be an expert (i.e. quantum physics, systematic theology, number theory, human anatomy, history of textiles in America, how to beat Mario-Kart, etc.), but when it comes to living life, and even more so, the spiritual realities of life, I think we are all in the same boat: we live, we make mistakes, and we wonder what to do next. And if you are like me, you can quickly find yourself in despair.

Recently however, and in large part due to C.S. Lewis, I’ve been looking at things a little bit differently. In his book Letters to Malcom, Chiefly on Prayer Lewis says “You and I are people of the foothills…two people on the foothills comparing notes in private.” Very few of us have ascended to the mountain top of expertise, or ever will. And very few of us wallow about devoid of thought in the low-lands of the unexamined life. Rather most of us live in between those extremes, traveling through life with others who are also on the foothills. The best we can do, in fact it seems that the most we can expect is to compare notes about our travels.

Sometimes these notes are quite helpful, and sometimes they are not. But if we don’t take the time to compare notes with one another, then we will never know. George MacDonald, in Unspoken Sermons I: The New Name says, “There is a chamber…in God Himself, into which none can enter but the one, the individual, the peculiar man,— out of which chamber that man has to bring revelation and strength for his brethren. That is that for which he was made—to reveal the secret things of the Father.” He is essentially saying that each of us encounters God in our own unique way and we were made to share our encounter with others.

It is with these things in mind that I have decided to embark on something that I thought unconscionable just a few short years ago: writing a blog. I realize that is not such a big deal, as a recent statistic puts the number of blog posts per day at about 2,750,000! Thus making the chances that my comments will be read by many people fairly small. Whatever I have to say is a small voice in the sound of a massive throng. But I’ve come to the conclusion that such statistics should not be taken as important. If we are made to communicate that which we have found in the “chamber in God Himself,” then the size of the audience should not matter. The only thing that should matter is that we have exchanged notes with another person traveling on the foothills.

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