A contemplative way of seeing the things of creation

Here is Josef Pieper on contemplation. Experience of the created world weds vision of the universe's heart. He perfectly captures how the desire for God is inseparable from engaging reality.

"Above all, there is a contemplative way of seeing the things of creation. I am speaking now of actual things, and of seeing with the eyes; I mean also hearing, smelling, tasting, every type of sense-perception, but primarily seeing.

A man drinks at last after being extremely thirsty, and, feeling refreshment permeating his body, thinks and says: what a glorious thing is fresh water! Such a man, whether he knows it or not, has already taken a step toward that ‘seeing if the beloved object’ which is contemplation. How splendid is water, a rose, a tree, an apple, a human face—such exclamations can scarcely be spoken without also giving tongue to an assent and affirmation which extends beyond the object praised and touches upon the origin of the universe. Who among us has not suddenly looked into his child’s face, in the midst of the toils and troubles of everyday life, and at that moment ‘seen’ that everything which is good, is loved and lovable, loved by God! Such certainties all mean, at bottom, one and the same thing: that the world is plumb and sound; that everything comes to its appointed goal; that in spite of appearances, underlying all things is—peace, salvation, Gloria; that nothing and no one is lost; that ‘God holds in his hand the beginning, middle, and end of all that is.’ Such nonrational, intuitive certainties of the divine base of all that is can be vouchsafed to our gaze even when it is turned toward the most insignificant looking things, if only it is a gaze inspired by love. That, in the precise sense, is contemplation. And we should have the courage to admit its identity. "
--J. Pieper, Happiness and Contemplation, trans. Richard and Clara Winston (New York: Pantheon Books, 1958), 84-85.



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