What a ride we’re on…
Sometimes I think the anxious people, the people with high blood pressure, the people always on edge, maybe even the paranoid folks…sometimes I think they’re more right that the calm ones. Why should we think good things will happen today? Heaven knows there are lots of bad things happening. Reading U.S. history from 1820 until now, especially if you concentrate on the journey of African-Americans through this troubled land of freedom, one does not forget that bad things happened then, and will no doubt happen now. And most of the time, they don’t just happen. There’s usually someone else on the other end of the bad thing that’s happening to you, incarnating something other than the “good” of our nature. Not always, but often.
The task, I think, is to find the story, wrestle the meaning out of it, and then tell it as best we can. As Brian McClaren (The Story We Find Ourselves In) and a host of others are telling us, we are in a narrative in which we are not the primary protagonist. Oh, from our point of view, we are the protagonist, but in the end, the film is not really about us. We are, at best, bit players in a cosmic, centuries-old, unfolding drama. God’s world rolls on past us, and future generations will debate the old values just as previous ones have. All manner of human sin and proclivity will parade on, and life will continue to be done according to the faith of those tasked with the task of living it. Meaning, I used to say, is something we don’t really have to strive for, because in Christ, it’s already been given. Well, may be, but now I’m more inclined to think the whole thing is about naming that meaning. I’m postmodern enough to believe that there are always multiple ways to tell a story, see a story, or live a story.
Reversals are big in story-telling. Unexpected turns in the road. We fall into pits from which heroes must extract us. Friends turn their backs, or we turn ours, and then there’s a whole list of complications that must be lived through to get those friendships back. Stories of race, of what makes a family, of the nature of love, of who’s right in religion, and who best tells the story of history or better yet, who best owns the story of history. And what of war?
The task in life is to risk being wrong, and living and telling the story you find yourself in with all your heart. To watch, to observe, to act, to listen, to risk, to dream, to challenge, to hope, to weep, to rage, to repent: all these and so many more verbs make up that action of life that is our task. To live in the sight of God (and what if He’s not there?) with all our hearts, loving more than we are capable of ever grasping.
In Brigadoon, one of the lines I remember sounded achingly like Jesus: “It’s so hard to give everything. Even though its the only way to get everything.”
Writing to remember…