My art teacher at school was the first one who taught me to look up. He took his O-level class for a walk along the high street and got us to look up, above the shop facades to the original architecture of the buildings. The high street was so familiar to me, but mostly on the level of what was on offer in the shops, so to look at it in a different way, to realise that there was much more to these buildings than I was usually aware of, made quite an impression on me.
One morning many years ago, working as a novice monk in the kitchen at Throssel I was having a miserable day. The other monks in the kitchen were also feeling miserable, but I was just focused on my own misery. The senior monk taught me that one of the best things you can do when you feel low is to look and see how you can help someone else. This is advice I have followed on many occasions since. It has the effect of broadening my view of the world. It is not just me who is suffering, and my suffering is lessened when I look up from my narrow view and connect with another person in a way that is really looking at them to see how I might help.
I have a card pinned up above my desk. It is the iconic photograph of the earth as seen from the moon. I am looking at it now, and it serves to remind me of how small my own views and concerns are, and also that there is so much more, some of which I can see if I but look, and a vastness that I cannot see.
The knowledge that there is a bigger picture, infinitely bigger than we can ever know in this human form, is something that I find both salutary and reassuring – the world does not rest on my shoulders.