"We Think in Generalities, But We Live in Details" 3-9-15

May 18, 2016 | by: Father Chuck Owens | 0 comments

Tags: Padre's Ponderings

padre164"We think in generalities, but we live in details."

I've been focusing more than a bit of my Lenten pondering on this statement made by Alfred North Whitehead's almost a century ago. I'm a big picture kind of fellow; even as a fort-building lad, I was more interested in the whole battlefield than in hand-to-hand combat. With Spiritual maturity has come the gift of visionary leadership and a passion for transforming what might be into what is - I now relish the entire process from generalities to details. Increasingly, I've also come to cherish opportunities to mentor and release those who have the gifts necessary to manage and expand upon my initial God-given visions in ways that magnify the potential Kingdom impact . . . absent this my life would now consist of little more than running to and fro keeping plates spinning.

But Whitehead's statement has not served to whet my appetite for back patting . . . rather it has stoked an oft simmering desire to come to grips with a tendency to see myself generally so as to avoid a more detailed examination of the old man in my mirror . . . to see myself from 30,000 feet rather than eye-to-eye in my weed-choked being. And more specifically that means confronting the inclination I have (maybe you have it, too) to give too much credence to what others say about me, especially when it's favorable. You see, many who know me only generally extrapolate a detailed narrative that supports their perceptions: a smile is taken to mean I'm always jovial; an extemporaneous prayer with a hurting person draws the conclusion I'm the epitome of compassion; a handwritten "thank you" note implies I'm a model of gratitude; holding my wife's hand signals an unduly affectionate nature; an unruffled approach to the unexpected prompts thoughts of my being always calm, cool and collected. Now it's not that I have none of these supposed attributes, I do . . . just not to the degree and surely not with the consistency being surmised. I'm like a glossy picture - from a distance I look a lot better than I do under a magnifying glass - and in my heart of hearts I know it.

With Good Friday drawing ever nearer, my daily goal is to grapple with the details of my humanness and by God's grace to narrow the gap between the perception and reality, between what might be and what is. The devil would prefer otherwise; but then the devil has always been in the details!

In His power and for His glory,


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