I was recently listening to an episode of the Liturists podcast (a post on podcasts will be coming soon) & the wife of one of the hosts was a guest on the episode, she was there to discuss her new book. The author; Lisa Gungor, the book; “The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen”. After listening to the episode I ordered the book & I just finished reading it.
It is a beautiful courageous, vulnerable, thought provoking and eye opening account of Lisa’s very personal, but very relatable story. It is not a roadmap for anyone else’s journey, but an invitation to open your eyes through her shared journey.
It is not exclusively about the moment her second daughter was diagnosed with down syndrome, shortly after she was born and the feelings and emotions that brought about. Though you will be encouraged to look at the lenses through which we all view the world. The prejudices we each hold, even if we don’t realize it. How they are shaped, how our world view is informed by the tribes of influence that we are all a part of.
Nor is it exclusively about her faith journey although Lisa is incredibly honest as she talks of her struggle with faith, trying to discover what or who she believes god is, if she even believed at all. With her life a Christian music maker and church planter I can only begin to understand the struggle this must have been for her. Yet as a human I find it totally relatable; especially going through a time right now where I too am trying to figure out what I really believe instead of simply accepting what I have been told to believe.
She writes “a collapse of beliefs leads us to the opening of something true. A collapse of social structure leads us to see human essence.”
The book is not only a look at her personal journey, but in a very real way, it affords you permission to be on your own, to let you know that it is ok to question everything. The book in many ways, is “someone reaching a hand out of the darkness and guiding the way”.
She takes on our species’ obsession with measurements and charts and performance. Our societies exist as though there is some permanent contest that must be decided. Whilst there are uses for measurements, our focus on them takes away from the beauty and sanctity of each individual life. We decide who fits in, who can and who cannot do things based on measurements. It’s separation, it is judgement, at it’s worst it is dehumanization. We value measurements and power over wonder and beauty and I for one feel that we have this the wrong way around.
Yet I suppose that is just my perspective and my perspective is no more valid than someone else’s. To think it is (and lets be honest, it is always a struggle not to) would be to give in to the great “ego game” that the world is trying to sell to us.
Lisa says quite succinctly on perspective; that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something completely different “we see things differently because our histories or circumstances give us differing viewpoints.” It is a beautiful section of a beautiful book.
Perspective is so key to understanding life. If we as people can learn to see things from the perspective of others, from our children eyes, from our parents eyes, from our spouses, from those all around us, how much better would our societies be?
At one point, she writes “I realized our words and definitions do a great job of explaining something complex, but definitions just can’t hold the essence of life.” This book is not a book of definitions, for me it truly does hold some of the essence of life.
People’s stories are fascinating, it’s so easy to forget that every single person on this planet has their own unique and intricate story. So before I just copy the entire book for you (I wouldn’t really) I will encourage you to pickup this book and read it, read it with an open heart. It may have something that will really help you, challenge you and make you think. I know it did for me, but I suppose it’s all in how you see it.