Everyone Needs An Island
John Donne, the 17thcentury English poet, managed in one short poem to pen two iconic lines that we still hear today: to wit; “No man is an island entire of itself…” and, “Therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” ~MEDITATION XVII Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, John Donne. It is a beautiful and thoughtful poem showing the ultimate connectivity of humankind.
Now, the part about no man being an island – that is mostly true. We need other people to get through life and to discover our way and our why. The self-made man is a bit of a conceit. Even a self-made man had nothing to do with his own conception, birth, changing of diapers and so forth. However, while no man is an island, I would say we each have need of an island. There must remain a part of us that is untouched by the push and pull and noise of the congested metropolis of ideas. Our minds need an island, an oasis, a place of rest where we can renew our thoughts to the eternal view of things. You won’t get that from the 24/7 news cycle. There your worst fears and hidden prejudices will be exploited and both the desire and ability to bless others will become anemic – even to the point of death.
So, Paul tells us: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. We each have that responsibility – to not conform but to transform – to find that little island called the mind and nourish it no matter the cost. I can’t do it for you. You can’t do it for me. And Paul continues with the “why” of it: “…so that you may prove to yourself what is the good, pleasant, and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2b If we’re being played, if our thoughts are being crafted by an angry world – the perfect will of God will seem naïve and even offensive. We’re to fight! We’re to resist! We’re to label! We’re to fear! We’re to mock! The will of God will only makes sense and becomes good, pleasant and perfect for those who choose to share their island with him.