Blog # 388 SIGNS
There are signs all around us and within us. Many times we hardly recognize them or pay attention to them. Street signs, traffic signs, billboards along the highway, signs at the Post Office, the supermarkets, the gas stations, fever, the pink color and swelling of a wound. Normally we pay attention to signs when we need something, like the location of a particular Street or building. Signs point us in the particular direction we want to go.
By their very nature signs point beyond themselves. DANGER!, Children playing, Ice on the Bridge, The first element in every sign is the reality that points, the wood, the paint, the letters, etc. Secondly comes the meaning of the sign, what the words on the sign say, that to which the letters or symbols on the sign point, the actual danger, the actual children, the actual ice on the bridge. A third element is the function or purpose of the sign. It answers the question why a particular sign was made and placed here or there, what should a particular sign do, and what should be my response to the sign.
The first element that goes to constitute a sign is a given, the facts of the sign, whether external or physical and attained by the senses, color, shape, temperature, etc., or internal such as psychological pain, joy, loneliness, etc. and experienced within. This second element is determined by the sign maker. The sign maker wants to point out a dangerous curve in the road ahead. A curved black line on a bright yellow background will do the job. The third element, the response to the sign by anyone who is exposed to it, is determined and produced by that person, ideally in fulfillment of the meaning or purpose of the sign as indicated in the sign itself by the sign's maker, e g. : STOP.
Most likely few people consciously think about or relate to signs this way. As with other areas and experiences of our lives we tend to touch the surface and move on. How many of us as we travel down a road ever think of the person who put the sign we see together, cut the wood, made the paint, arranged the letters, etc. Yet someone did all of that. In the ideal human scenario those people would see their work as a way of making a living but also as an act of love for the people who benefit from the si, and we would receive it as such when we read the sign, and pray a short prayer for the sign maker without even knowing the name of the sign maker but nevertheless having a relationship of thanks and appreciation for him or her.
How many of us keep our driving speed at 55, 35, or 70 as an act of trust, cooperation and obedience rather than because we don't want to get a ticket or a fine? Yet in the ideal order, traffic signs and the regulations to which they point are not for the purpose of raising money for the Government but the safety and good of the people using the roads. Not keeping ourselves aware of
these potential broader insights in general keeps us away from a level of experience that could enrich our lives considerably.
In my reflection on these thoughts a fascinating insight began to become clear: ONLY GOD IS A NON-SIGN,UNCREATED, AND POINTING TO NOTHING BEYOND HIMSELF. Creation, everyone and everything but God, is a sign. As Creator of all that exists, God is the universal sign maker. In reflecting on this we begin to see how and why it is that we adore God alone and only God is worthy of our total love. A common response to hard times or sickness is the question:Why me? When we recognize hard times and sickness as signs and ask the question what is God the Sign-Maker saying to me here, I am on my way to the answer to the question "Why me?". It is because God desires to love me this way.
All that you have been reading so far about signs, sign makers, and responders can be applied 1)to all of creation as a sign of God's presence, 2) personally to God the sign maker, and 3) to ourselves as created capable and called to respond to it all by way of a conscious awareness and appreciation and in a personal relationship with the Sign Maker, God Our Father.
To see all creation as a sign from God is to see Easter as the sign of the Resurrection of Jesus and God's response to the loving death of Jesus on the wood, and to see that death as a sign of the victory of Jesus over all that is evil or contrary to God's love.
United to Jesus by faith and Baptism, we become signs of His unconditional love for the Father played out in us. That is a sign we should be constantly trying to keep in our awareness. Our efforts and desire to overcome temptation and do what we know is right are signs in us that Jesus lives, loves us, and is loved by us. This holds for every moment of our lives.
Try to see yourself as a sign of God's love through Jesus in your life and see your effort rewarded with new power over temptation and sin. This seems to me to be similar to what happens for us when we apply in a practical manner the Parable of the Potter and the Clay.