We look among the faded tatters for glory. But why does the true glory escape us?
We know a human life could be glorious yet why do we always discover a fatal flaw? So we idealize. We build pedestals and place something high. But we know it is our imagination.
Why the idol? Why this statue? We demand meaning! But we know we are making it up. We read and hope to find meaning. We listen. We look. We are always ready to stick a stake in the ground and say, “Here is meaning.” But it is only a grave marker. Read this poem. Listen to that song. Hear this orator speak. Consider this artwork. Look at that building with its majestic lines. That bridge is so much more.
In the museum, look, there is David. And what moved the sculptor to trace the beauty of the female shape in such detail?
All shadows. All former glory. All that is left are hints. Indications. We gaze at the ruins of humanity and imagine its greatness. Yet, we can’t look too close or we see how it is not what it was or what it could be.
Isn’t that where we look best? Former greatness. The ruins of a civilization. As we look closer, we find human sacrifice. We find falseness. The golden statue is a thin shell full of sawdust. The soaring tower was used to hold men captive. The cellar is filled with bones and rags.
The throne is dusty. The former greatness is gone. The halls are empty. The paintings faded. The glory is gone.
What happened to us? Why are we disappointed as we examine things closely? And the disappointment sinks slowly into despair.
The canvas of human history has been painted on over and over. This time we will get it right. We will promote goodness. We will learn from past mistakes. But something trips us up once again.
What is that which keeps us from glory? We desire to see it. To feel it. We know it is there, just beyond our grasp.
And we are right. The glory of man is our destiny. But we are in our own way. The ego opposes the conscience. Yes, it is the outsized ‘me’ that is in opposition to the ‘you’ that desires glory. We can’t grasp glory because to touch it is to foul it beyond recognition.
And for this very reason, our glory, which we are meant to have, has been moved. Our hands must be washed before we can handle our glory. Our glorification awaits us. Maybe it can’t be found here. Can we follow the traces? Can we find the beginning by starting at our end. Will knowing the beginning help us?
The European watched the Nile flow into the ocean. He wondered where the magnificent river began its journey to this sea. He enlisted others in the search. Yet, each try ended in failure. One man succeeded. He wasn’t even trying. He began at a lake unknown by the Europeans. He started at the source.