I love those rare occasions when I am reading along and I come across a passage which speaks to near perfection something that I have felt and known but could not yet articulate. It is like finding a $100 bill in an old pair of jeans. To know that the foggy tendrils of thought in my mind aren’t completely nuts is a relief – or at least to know if I am insane I’m in good company. It is comforting and exciting all at once, and it inspires my mind to continue its processing even if doing so is often muddled and fragmented.
In reading G. K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy I seem to be discovering such passages and quotations at every turn of the page, but this one stands out in my mind and heart. In a day of polarized theologies and ideals, such wisdom is especially refreshing.
Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health.; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity. The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic. He has permitted the twilight. He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairyland. He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of today) free also to believe in them. He has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them, His spiritual sight is stereoscopic; like is physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that. Thus he has always believed there was such a thing as fate, but such a thing as free will also. Thus he believed that children were indeed the kingdom of heaven, but nevertheless ought to be obedient to the kingdom of earth. He admired youth because it was young and age because it was not. It is exactly this kind of balance of apparent contradictions that has been the whole buoyancy of the healthy man. The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand.