A passageway exists that leads to a world of treasure. Secret passages are always welcome in life, especially when you're in a bind, or when life slants unfair, or when you become lost in life's shadows.
You see, we are forever searching for the beautiful in this life—those things or people or places that make us feel like kids again. They possess the ability to re-twist that which the world bends and distorts into what we always thought things ought to be. They possess an innocence procured from the infinite.
Innocence, it seems, is the skeleton key to beauty. And the door leading into beauty does not open easy. We must turn the key and push through, gripping the key of innocence all the while. Once through the door we must reacquaint ourselves with this mysterious passageway—our holy imaginations. And then we must continue on into the secret hall until we come up through the trap door in the sun.
There, we find this new and glittery world of treasure. It looks strangely familiar, like a memory from one of our old childhood books. And once there, in this world of treasure, life's shadows dissipate. There innocence is reborn. There beauty flourishes the way it did in our dreams, the way we always thought it should.
How does this new world of innocence and beauty change us?
We find new vision as we view our surroundings through the kaleidoscope lens of our redemption. "Fortunate is the person who sees with eyes and heart together," writes Abraham Heschel. We see the world for what it is, a brutalized mess. And yet we are not dismayed. Rather, we breathe deep and set out on a rescue mission, we "hate it enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth saving." (Chesterton, Orthodoxy)
When we find our innocence, we find beauty afresh. It rests in the hand of God—a hand that holds us high above this world's afflictions, high enough to see the light behind the sun.
"Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who has established the ends of the earth? … Tell me if you know?"
Whisper his name now. And in your whisperprayer, regain the innocence of your redemption and look around you. Have the shadows gone?
Timothy Willard is the author of five books, including Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life and the forthcoming The Life-Giving Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019). He has collaborated on over 20 books and has written, consulted and served as spiritual director for organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Catalyst, Q Ideas and Praxis Labs. When he’s not riding the trails in the Appalachian mountains you can find him by the fire with his three daughters and his wife making up stories about Tom the back yard badger. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.