Monday, November 23, 2009

Clod

Sometimes I get worn away. Do you know the feeling? Every once in awhile I think, Oh please. Please. Oh no! Not again. Not that idea again.

I feel like dirt. Like a clod of dirt in the monsoon. Here comes the rain, all glad and everything. Happy to be bringing the possibility of life to the dry ground. To the dirt in this particular part of the world. And here I am, melting. Disintegrating. In the sudden torrent.

Have you ever felt like, Oh no. Not that funky idea again? Not my friends. No. They don’t give that funky idea the time of day, do they? Do they really? Have they really invited it into their homes and actually made it comfortable there? Allowed it to play with their children? Their defenseless children? Have they really given it a place in the family circle, where it sits like a toad, smiling like an idiot, belching, self-satisfied, wet-land smelling, balding, and rotund in the deep and brightly-upholstered chair by the fire, with a footstool and a warm glass of milk! And a platter of homemade chocolate chip cookies by its side! With a look on its face like, Ah! This is the life! This is more like it!

And it turns out they have. They do. They do think the idea that you think is funky is actually quite illuminating. Quite eye-opening. Quite insightful. Quite unfunky. And if it isn’t brilliant, at least it’s interesting.

And all you want to do is to run. All you want to do is to cover your head and find a place of shelter out of this rain that comes down hard as bits of metal from as far up as the moon.

I find all of us Christians have funky ideas.

Well, no. That isn’t exactly correct.

What I find is that all Christians outside the Bible except for me have funky ideas. I only have excellent and well-founded and well-thought-out and God-breathed ideas. Ideas that Jesus and the Apostle Paul and the Apostle Peter and the Apostle John and Moses and Elijah and Abraham would certainly agree with.

Because of course I consult with these seven on a routine basis and receive all of my ideas and inspirations from them. We have our own mountain hut, with a fire of our own. It’s really more of a lodge than a hut. Comfortable. Well stocked. Roomy. Arts & Crafts d├ęcor. Arts & Crafts style furniture, upholstered with leather. Wool throws everywhere with Native American designs. Plank floors. Tall ceilings. Monumental log walls. Wrought iron chandeliers. A boulder-fashioned fireplace you could drive a Ford F-150 pickup truck into, and the truck would seem small. Kind of like a toy.

Our lodge is somewhere between here and heaven. Up on a mountain side, at about seven thousand feet. Giant Sequoias tower over us. As the sun begins to set, we frequently gather here from our solitary walks among the huge, sweet-smelling, winter trees. As the cabin-size logs in the fireplace turn from red to lavender, and our faces brighten with the heat of the fire and the warmth of the conversation, they share their ideas. We discuss them back and forth. I play Socrates. I ask my questions. We discourse about their ideas like so many famous holy people enjoying one another’s company.

Finally, when they have proved the worth of any particular idea to my satisfaction, they then mystically transport me back to the actual world, and I convey the idea to you. My reader and my friend. That way you will get only the real gems. The real potentially sparkly items. Even though sometimes they’ll appear a little dull and dirty with what looks maybe like. Well, I don’t know what. Wet. Warty. Deceptively like a clod. That kind of thing.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Practicing

Every once in a while one hears something. One reads something. Or one finds oneself saying something that strikes one. Well. Like a ninety-mile-per-hour baseball. Smack dab into the forehead. Wow, that hurts.

This happened the other day. It echoed others. It may have been original once but was no longer original. It has become in certain circles a commonplace. And so I heard it reverberate in the hollow place between my ears. I heard it join with other similar statements I have heard from others and read in books. I heard it resonate and magnify.

And it was said by someone who does not normally indulge in commonplaces. So it was odd.

It went something like this, or I thought it did: We are practicing for heaven. Practicing for what we will be doing perfectly in heaven. We Christians. In expecting the Holy Spirit. In concert with the Holy Spirit. In doing what we think the Holy Spirit wants us to do. In trying to do this, even though we know that sometimes we’ll look a little foolish. A little silly. The important thing here is to be faithful. To do our best to respond faithfully to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

And so. Well. This idea of practicing. Oh. I guess I’m not. Maybe others are, but I am not. No. I’m not practicing for anything. Maybe I should be, but I’m not. Maybe I’d get better if I practiced, but I’m not.

Maybe, you’re thinking. Maybe this person meant practicing as a doctor practices medicine. Maybe practicing Christianity is like practicing medicine. One isn’t rehearsing. One is doing what one is asked to do. Taught to do. Employed to do. One isn’t looking forward to the day when one will do the thing. Perform the thing. One is doing this now. Just a different meaning of the word, and I misunderstood.

Maybe. Maybe I did misunderstand. Maybe what I heard was what I’d heard before several times and read several times because that is what was said before. Written before. But this time the person in question might have said something different. Something very different.

Ah, well. Could be. I make mistakes. And so I could have heard it wrong.

Maybe I did not hear what the person really said. Maybe what the person really said is that we are practitioners of our belief. We are practitioners of our Christian art, our Christian learning, our Christian discernment. We are healers, really. Or we bring the Holy Spirit’s own healing to a mistaken world. To an ailing world. To a diseased world.

I like that hearing better. The Kingdom is a place where we are all healers. Where we can all hope to be healers as John Woolman was a healer. Bringing the Holy Spirit forward to mend all that is broken here and now. Coming forward in the Spirit to create the Kingdom. Not later. No. Something that we can get fairly good at now. Not something that we are rehearsing. No. Something that we are doing for real. For keeps. Both seeking God and doing what he asks. Now. And now. And now, again.

Something like that. Maybe that is what I could have heard. Or might have heard. Or should have heard. But I don’t know.