My wife Linda and I recently returned from what we called our post-retirement OE. First we visited Andrew our elder son and family in Brisbane, and then we went to England.
Andrew’s family have the words of guidance for life composed by Mother Theresa on their kitchen wall. Some of what she said is:
“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centred. Forgive them anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
George Herbert’s words
Later when we were in Exeter I saw the opening words of George Herbert’s hymn set into a footpath leading to the cathedral. “Teach me my God and King in all things thee to see”.
Mother Theresa and George Herbert are two of the saints of the Church, what they write can be reliably accepted as the best of spiritual guidance. However the two quotes have very different views of the world and where we find our god.
Mother Theresa’s words imply that the world is often ungrateful and does not recognise the good we do. Her God stands above the world, and she owes her allegiance only to Him.
George Herbert’s words convey that God is to be found in the world round about him.
I personally warm to the attitude of George Herbert, and though I can see that Mother Theresa’s attitude is good, it doesn’t represent what is true for me as well as George Herbert does.
My personal view
I find God in the world around me, and I do not feel I am His agent in a largely hostile environment.
I would suspect that the personalities, life experiences, and the different nuances of Christian faith of Mother Theresa and George Herbert would account for these different approaches to the reality of the world they were in.
The answer to whether you find your inspiration all around you or in a god who stands above what is human and worldly will affect all the significant decisions you make and how you relate to everyone you meet.
Recognising that and evaluating the consequences of your answer is necessary in order to live a life with direction and meaning.