From All Things New
The Answer to the Riddle of the Promise
Optimism is not going to cut it. Trying to look on the bright side isn’t going to sustain us through days like we are living in. Given how critical hope is to our lives, the most urgent question has to be, “Where is the hope that can overcome all the heartache of this world?”
“We all feel the riddle of the Earth,” wrote G. K. Chesterton. “The mystery of life is the plainest part of it. The clouds and curtains of darkness, the confounding vapors, these are the daily weather of this world.” Thank you, Gilbert; I love it when someone says perfectly what we’ve always known to be true but never named for ourselves. I think the mystery boils down to this:
Some sort of promise seems to be woven into the tapestry of life. It comes to us through golden moments, through beauty that takes our breath away, through precious memories and the hope even a birthday or vacation can awaken. It comes especially through the Earth itself.
That promise fits perfectly with the deepest longing of our hearts – the longing for life to come together as we somehow know it was always meant to. The whispers of this promise touch a wild hope deep within our hearts, a hope we hardly dare to name.
Does it ever come true?
That’s the mystery; that is the riddle. So let’s start right here. Perhaps we can pick up the trail from here.
Now, this may sound a little odd for a man to admit, but I feel a sort of compassion for Imelda’s shoe fetish.
For those of you who missed the scandal back in the ‘80s, Imelda Marcos was married to Ferdinand, former president of the Philippines. They were ousted from power in ’86 and fled the country, leaving behind a fascinating treasure: designer shoes. Thousands and thousands of them. Like so many fellow dictators, the Marcoses lived an extravagant lifestyle – bankrolled by the state, of course – while their people went about barefoot in the streets. Thus the ousting. Imelda was rumored to have a thing for shoes, but truth again proved stranger than fiction. Her personal collection contained from 1,060 to 7,500 pairs.
Think of it – acres and acres of gorgeous, dazzling shoes from the best salons in the world. If you wore then tossed a new pair every single day for ten years, you still couldn’t wear them all.
What compels a person to obsessively hoard beauty they can never hope to see, let alone use in any meaningful way?
The media crucified Imelda, but I found the discovery fascinating. Fetishes are illuminating; they are a sort of peephole into the wild mystery of the human heart. We can hide our weirdness under a social disguise, we can maintain a good show, but our fetishes and fantasies blow our cover. The addict’s ravenous hunger is there for all the world to see. Honestly – I felt a kind of empathy for Imelda, though I wouldn’t go public with it till now. I think she was looking for the Ruby Slippers; she was looking for Somewhere Over the Rainbow. (This isn’t so strange: after all, one shoe changed Cinderella’s life.)
Imelda Marcos was looking for the Kingdom of God.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: your heart is made for the Kingdom of God. This might be the most important thing anyone will ever tell you about yourself; your heart only thrives in one habitat, and that safe place is called the Kingdom of God. Stay with me now.