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.