Drips and Ripples

The world out my window is still this morning. No wind at all, which means the cool air out there just won’t come in. My office and bedroom are hot, humid with malaise and early reluctance. It’s like that sometimes; just through the portal there, there’s relief from the sweaty doldrums, but nonetheless, there’s work to be done here, inside. Relief will have to wait.

In Seeds of Heaven, Barbara Brown Taylor writes about Jesus as a drip. A drip as in water–a bloop, bloop, bloop of mercy that keeps the folks wanting showtime messiahs frustrated. If I was Bono or Angelina adopting babies or even my friends currently spending the week in Africa doing AIDS-orphan related work, or if I could find true celebrity through achievement or at least notoriety, I could gather up enough political and religious capital to be something, be somebody, make a difference. But no, I’m just me, sweating in my hot office, not a gust of wind in sight. My job is to follow Jesus. And Taylor gives me hope. Surely I can drip a bit against the rock that is my world.

Why didn’t Jesus put on a better show? Why doesn’t he now? A better show as in a good piece of doubt-killing, teeth-rattling, mountain moving? It would be so simple. As Cyrus says in Leaving Ruin, how hard can it be for a God to speak?

Here’s the problem: if it takes animated mountain moving to create faith, most poor saps are stuck. Life is coming at me today in pint-sized cartons, nothing too fancy, but with lots of pizazz if I’m willing to pay attention. And what I do with those little somethings of reality, that life of mine, is my only shot at impact, holiness, and for that matter, love, which of course, is the whole point. But it’s not a show, it ain’t fancy, and like the little town with one flashing red light, if you blink, you’ll miss it. The words can only come one keystroke at a time, a key stroke no one will miss if you don’t make it.

Systems. In Quantum theory, entanglement essentially speaks to the connectedness of things. Folks into that sort of thing like to say stuff like, “There’s no out there, out there.” I used to laugh. Not so much anymore. What if the drip, drip, drip that flows from a pint-sized carton of mercy coming from your particular day through your particular offer of kindness to this particular barely-something-of-a-person, maybe that drip is powerful because at the quantum level, the tiniest drip does what all drips do: makes ripples.

Ripple. Funny little word, that. Taylor likes the erosion metaphor. I’ll take ripple. What if separateness is like the quantum folks say, an illusion? What if God chose to lock us in a system with Himself? It was important to Francis Schaeffer–and the bevy of evangelicals that came after–that God was separate from his universe, standing outside, a necessary posture to keep the pantheists at bay. But in relationship, perhaps it’s more helpful to shrink separateness and put nearly all the emphasis on “entanglement.” Is there a move God makes that doesn’t touch the world I live in? And conversely, is there a move I make that doesn’t touch Him?

And what about you and I? Your reading this, even if I never know it, makes ripples in my world. And for that, I say thank you.

This post is too long, but one last thought. I read some poetry last night, poems by Czeslaw Milosz. I came across this phrase in a poem called What I learned from Jeanne Hersch.

“12. That in our lives we should not succumb to despair because of our errors and our sins, for the past is never closed down and receives the meaning we give it by our subsequent acts.”

The ripples go backwards, too. Thank God…

…wet with grace…

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