How do you see the world? Have you ever thought about it? I mean, through which lens do you perceive the world? According to the American scholar and theologian, Marcus Borg, there are three lenses through which we can look at the world: hostile, indifferent, or gracious.
The hostile and indifferent lenses
If you see the world as hostile you will almost always respond defensively to protect yourself from a world you perceive as threatening. If you look at the world through an indifferent lens, Borg says, you will also respond by seeking to protect yourself, though with a little less paranoia. Because unlike a hostile universe, an indifferent universe is not out to get you, it just doesn’t care about you. Although both lenses might keep us safe, they make us paranoid and prevent us from trusting people, enjoying life, and living freely.
Another way – through a gracious lens
There is another way – we can look at the world, and one another, through the lens of grace. This lens invites us to perceive our world fully with all our senses – seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting the abundance and beauty of nature. Seeing the world as gracious does not mean we should not acknowledge that there are places where we will encounter hostility or indifference, nor does it mean we are not allowed to take sensible precautions to protect ourselves. This lens does not want us to live with blinkers unaware of danger, but rather invites us to see an overall gracious world despite the dangers all around us. Seeing the world as gracious leads us to relax at the core of our being, to enjoy our lives, and live lives that are defined by gratitude.
There are many ways to practice looking at the world through the lens of grace. Here are five ways that have helped me see the world as gracious.
Looking at the world through the lens of grace
- Take time out to relax. When we are stressed and tired it is difficult to see beauty or feel hopeful.
- Set aside time daily to be quiet and reflect, be it with meditation, centring prayer, or just sitting in silence.
- Do something you enjoy. Choose one or more small pleasures that you can enjoy daily: a hot shower, reading something that makes you happy, a piece of good dark chocolate, a good cup of coffee or pot of ginger tea.
- Consciously plan a weekly artist date with yourself. Do something creative that you enjoy.
- Practice gratitude. Take time out to be grateful for the blessings of the day. Choose to thank at least one person for something every day.