I’ve learned, too, that I don’t really know very much about anything. I mean, I used to have all these theories about life. I thought I had everybody figured out, even God, but I don’t. I think the woods, being away from all the clingy soot of commercialism, have taught me life is enormous, and I am very tiny in the middle of it. I feel, at times, like a droplet of water in a raging river. I know for a fact that as a grain of sand compares in size to the earth itself, I compare in size to the cosmos. I am that insignificant. And yet the chemicals in my brain that make me feel beauty when I look up at the stars, when I watch the sunset, indicate I must be here for a reason. I think I would sum it up this way: life is not a story about me, but it is being told to me, and I can be glad of that. I think that is the why of life and, in fact, the why of this ancient faith I am caught up in: to enjoy God. The stars were created to dazzle us, like a love letter; light itself is just a metaphor, something that exists outside of time, made up of what seems like nothing, infinite in its power, something that can be experienced but not understood, like God. Relationships between men and women indicate something of the nature of God — that He is relational, that He feels love and loss. It’s all metaphor, and the story is about us; it’s about all of us who God made, and God Himself, just enjoying each other. It strikes me how far the commercials are from this reality, how deadly they are, perhaps. Months ago I would have told you life was about doing, about jumping through religious hoops, about impressing other people, and my actions would have told you this is done by buying possessions or keeping a good image or going to church. I don’t believe that anymore. I think we are supposed to stand in deserts and marvel at how the sun rises. I think we are supposed to sleep in meadows and watch stars dart across space and time. I think we are supposed to love our friends and introduce people to the story, to the peaceful, calming why of life. I think life is spirituality.
If I could, if it would be responsible, I would live in these woods forever: I would let my beard grow, hunt my own food, chart the stars, and write poems about mountains. But I know these days are passing. … I start wondering if, when I leaver this place…when I leave the starlight above the mountains, if I will go back to my old faith habits, jumping through hoops, trying to please God or, worse, subscribing to self-help formulas and calling it faith. I hope not. I hope I never lose this perspective. Walking through the meadow on the way over to see Paul, I promise myself if I ever get frustrated with life again, if I ever get into river-deep debt, I will sell it all and move out into the woods, find some people who aren’t like me and learn to love them, and do something even harder, let them love me, receive the love of somebody who doesn’t share my faith system, who doesn’t agree with me about everything, and I will sleep beneath the stars and whisper thank you to the Creator of the universe, as a way of reacquainting myself to an old friend, a friend who says you don’t have to be smart of good-looking or religious or anything; you just have to cling to Him, love Him, need Him, listen to His story.
–Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts