AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

23 August 2020

Paint-box.


The principle of progress in which all sane men believe is mainly this: that we are engaged and ought to be engaged in a persistent effort to change the external world into the image of something that is within ourselves; to turn what is, as far as we are concerned, a chaos into what shall be, as far as we are concerned, a cosmos. God did not give us a universe, but rather the materials of a universe. The world is not a picture, it is a palette. Most of us who can remember our childhood at all will agree that the best present that can be given to a child on his birthday is in all probability a paint-box. Many fathers know this; the Father of us all knew it well. He gave man a paint-box. He gave him the crude materials of something; the crude materials of everything. That brown earth beneath you is only raw umber, which you are destined to turn into cooked umber. That blue sea which you think spherical and perfect, is only the element and beginning of something beyond the sea. How gratifying it is to reflect that the word "ultramarine" literally means "something beyond the sea"! That green grass is only the material out of which you may make elves and foresters and the figure of Robin Hood. That blood-red sunset which you unwisely call perfect is nothing but a lake of crimson (called for the sake of brevity crimson lake) from which you may fish up the flaming images of purple seraphims and scarlet devils. Heaven gave us this splendid chaos of colours and materials. Heaven gave us a few instinctive rules of practice and caution corresponding to "do not put the brush in the mouth". And Heaven gave us a vision.

G.K. Chesterton, from Orthodoxy

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