A blur of romance clings to our notions of "publicans," "sinners," "the poor," "the people in the marketplace," "our neighbors," as though of course God should revel himself, if at all, to these simple people, these Sunday school watercolor figures, who are so purely themselves in their tattered robes, who are single in themselves, while we now are various, complex, and full at heart. We are busy. So, I see now, were they. Who shall ascent into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?
There is no one but us. There is no one to send, nor a clean hand, nor a pure heart on the face of the earth, nor in the earth, but only us, a generation comforting ourselves with the notion that we have come at an awkward time, that our innocent fathers are all dead- as if innocence had ever been- and our children busy and troubled, and we ourselves unfit, not yet ready, having each of us chosen wrongly, made a false start, failed, yielded to impulse and the tangled comfort of pleasures, and grown exhausted, unable to seek the thread, weak, and involved. But there is no one but us. There never has been. There have been generations which remembered, and generations which forgot; there has never been a generation of whole men and women who lived well for even one day. Yet some have imagined well, with honesty and art, the detail of such a life, and have described it with such grace, that we mistake vision for history, dream for description, and fancy that life has devolved. So. You learn this studying any history at all, especially the lives of artists and visionaries; you learn it from Emerson, who noticed that they meanness of our days is itself worth our thought; and you learn it, fitful in your pew, at church.
... This is all we are and all we ever were; God kann nicht anders.
~from "Holy the Firm" by Annie Dillard. New York: Perennial, 1977. p 55-57.
What is the place and purpose then of the idealists- the artists, the visionaries, the scribes of 'what could be'? Do we continue to hold out a lure? Do we do a disservice to humanity by providing evidence of improvements? Would it be better to say more simply:
Come as you are. You are enough. You- who are too busy, you- who wounded your children, you- the disloyal, you- the disappointed and disappointing, you- the creative, you- the destroyer. You! You, come! Come stand in this place. Let us look at you. Look at us. Here we are.