We were driving up the California coast on the way to our son's home. I was enjoying the scene. Sparkling ocean, palm trees, beautiful California, when St. Paul's admonition - whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are true, think on these things - came to my mind. I spent some time dwelling with the glorious views as well as St. Paul's thought.
Then I began to consider how hard it is to keep my mind on the lovely in the normal course of a day. I thought of the news, the awful movie previews, the violent things that flashed by me in the passing of each day. I thought of the views of poverty, war, ignorance, intolerance & inhumanity that are presented to me regularly. I thought of the movie we recently walked out of --- so offensive!!! I thought of personal family challenges. I thought of the path of my life with all of its twists & turns.
What is "true?" How do I keep my mind on the true when it is not always clear what that is?
This "simple" admonition given to us by Paul turns out to not be so simple after all. Even in his day, with the Romans attack on the followers of Jesus, the poverty, violence, disease & filth, it was not so simple.
How can I/we follow this direction? Can I get the movie studios to only make lovely movies or TV execs to only make lovely programs? Can I get sponsors to only make lovely commercials? Can I get politicians to speak only the truth? Can I stop the ugliness of war, poverty, ignorance, or man's inhumanity to man/woman? I don't see how I can avoid seeing things that are not lovely, or how I can be sure I am seeing what is true. I don't see how I can change the world to make it be more lovely or truthful. I'm not even able to make myself lovely & true all of the time. On top of that, not all of the Bible is lovely - wars, murders, betrayals, crucifixions, etc.
What a dilemma.
I try to look beyond the appearance. Was this Jesus' clue on how to do it? Judge not by appearances, but judge righteous judgment. What is the righteous thing to see? I've long told myself that this is the spiritual essence behind the surface. A person might be acting in an ugly fashion, but behind that is their eternal soul trying to express the spiritual truth, but stopped by confusion or hidden by pain or some such thing. But I don't know right this minute. I see people supposedly committed to God, Jesus or Allah doing angry, mean, ugly things. They say they have given their lives to God, but they act viciously toward others. They act pious, but then they attack a loved one. They say "thy will be done," but endeavor to control everyone & everything. The words are spiritual, the actions are straight from ego.
Was another of Jesus' clues re: this his words on the cross? Forgive them for they know not what they do.
In my life I have made a gazillion mistakes. I endeavor to correct them. I try to be congruent. I want to be filled with the Light of God. I am not always able to be what I want & know I need to be. Sometimes I feel guidance re: something, but don't follow it. Most of my regrets fall into this category. I'm getting better, but I'm not there. Is that part of the message? It's a journey; God is Infinite; you can never arrive; you have to start with yourself; you can only keep on trekking; forgive yourself & others because you don't know what you're doing or you would do better.
So, I continue to ponder.