Blaise Pascal finds himself helps us discover our own true selves.
Both St Francis of Assisi and Blaise Pascal would have said they were involved prior to their conversion in matters that were ultimately frivolous; their true purpose in life remained hidden in the future. Finding themselves was not dissimilar to the Prodigal Son’s night of pain whilst caring for the pigs, and feign would have eaten their food.
Do we find ourselves?
Do we come to ourselves? Or as some argue the self is not something one finds, it is a new existence that we create.
But discovering or forging the true self one way or another is absolutely fundamental.
James Michener once wrote that money, position and fame are all of little consequence if we never have found our true selves; many loves and even revenge too. In his estimation despite great successes our lives have ultimately been a failure; we have not even come close to reaching our real potential.
"Much more" is a subject that St Paul takes up in Romans, Ch 5. Pascal would have wagered on this.
Finding Christ means a far greater chance of also discovering our true selves; yet it is not guaranteed. It is something we strive towards, so often falling short.
Phrased differently Shakespeare proclaimed, “to thine own self be true.”
But who is the true self?
St Paul is unequivocal. Before the true self can emerge, the old has to die.
For him the old self is mired down in sin; it cannot raise itself up by its boot strings.
The philosophers of this world would vehemently argue otherwise but for St Paul we are slaves to sin, utterly captured; only the saving grace of God can set us free for the new self to emerge.
This is course is what baptism is all about; an outward sign of what has happened within. Going down under the water symbolises the drowning of the old self; emerging we are born to a new life.
The old has passed away, a dead chrysalis remains behind, and the butterfly emerges to the new life.
This is the journey we make, to find our true selves. When children come early on in a natural way to Christ they are spared the night of pain. For the rest of us, coming to ourselves often means first having to spend time in the pigsty.
If we fail to find ourselves, it doesn’t much matter what else we discover, again to quote Michener; we still have fallen short.
"Resolve to be thyself.
And know that he who finds himself, loses his misery.”
- Matthew Arnold, the English poet
And so God bless today, at least one ear open to Him as he calls us to do his work in the world.
Blaise Pascal finds himself revealing that each of us must indeed in the night of fire not seek to run; the Hound of Heaven, lover of our souls pursues us.
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