Ah Love! Could you and I with Him conspire
To grasp this Sorry Scheme of Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits — and then
Remold it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!
NOT MANY PEOPLE WOULD, IN THEIR MORE HONEST MOMENTS, TELL YOU THEY PRESENTLY HAVE ALL THEIR HEART’S DESIRE. In many ways, this world is an incomplete world, a world of dreams, even a “broken” world, we might say, where we feel our hearts being stirred by longings and aspirations for a perfection beyond the fragmentary happiness that seems to be our lot. We want more than what we’ve known in the past and the present; for most of us, the future is something we envision with desire, and even hope.
Some would say we’re too naive — we need to do away with our desires and content ourselves with whatever is real right now. And, of course, when deep desires are unfulfilled, they can feel very much like pain, and so many people think we should protect ourselves from pain by diminishing our desires. But truly, being people of desire is not a thing to be regretted or avoided. When our desires are governed by wisdom, humility, and respect for the dignity of other human beings, we are at our best when we present ourselves to the world as people of desire. If we’re not passionate, we’re not fully alive.
Bob Costas, the delightfully thoughtful television sportscaster, made a wonderful statement one year at the beginning of the Winter Olympics. Speaking of the glory of honorable competition and the power of dreams that drive us toward excellence, he said, “We are beaten only when we quit believing in what we wish we could be.”
Our dreams matter. Our desires are our dignity. And though we often err by letting our desires be diverted into some very unproductive channels, it’s not usually our desires that are at fault, only our discipline. We need our desires, and those around us need them too. They need us to want better things. Higher things. Stronger things.
“Bad will be the day for every man when he becomes absolutely content with the life that he is living, with the thoughts that he is thinking, with the deeds that he is doing, when there is not forever beating at the doors of his soul some great desire to do something larger, which he knows that he was meant and made to do because he is still, in spite of all, the child of God” (Phillips Brooks).