Showers, lions and Job.
I’ll get to the above in a second but first, a little truth-telling.
If I were situated in the center of a circle surrounded by my activities, thoughts, fears, hopes and sundry other things, my immediate world could be defined as Pi times a good baseball throw––the radius––squared. That’s it––a circle of life, albeit a moving one, within a small circumference.
For the moment, that’s all I can handle. The macro-big-picture-30,000-foot perspective on earthly matters––an earth with a 24,901 mile circumference––will have to wait for another day. Kind of tough to focus on the center field bleachers when a fastball is screaming at your head.
You see, in my immediate world, things aren’t going well and I’m a bit pre-occupied with the “why.” I’ll spare you the details but the challenges are both real and frightening.
So, sadly, I no longer whistle in the shower.
But if I possessed supreme faith and was standing on the Coliseum floor staring at a bunch of chained-up, ticked off, rather hungry lions, I would give them my best Crest smile, pour steak sauce all over my body and defiantly yell, “Release them!”
Unfortunately, my faith is weak.
And what about Job? He bitterly lamented his misfortunes, yet he remained confident in God’s wisdom and Providence. We are to look to him as an example of patience.
However, I’m an impatient man and have lately been napping in the fetal position. Whatever confidence I exude might be nothing more than an illusion. Perhaps the enemy has found a chink in my armor and is having a field day.
Nevertheless, despite being the antithesis of a strong Christian––temporary dammit!––I still have to figure out some way to get out of God’s doghouse. He’s my Father, this must be about disciplining me, so I’m back to the kiln again for more formation, right? But surely I can say something to help my case.
O God, be merciful to me a sinner.
That’s a good start. Nonetheless, let’s hop aboard a train of thought and see what else we can come up with.
- Rich or poor, there’s one commonality. What do I have to confront every day whether I’m moneyed or penniless?”
- People. Guess what? I’m a lousy people person!
- What are the two major themes of the Ten Commandments?
- Love God and love your neighbor.
- I’ve rightfully been focusing on God but…
- People have been flying under my radar.
- No wonder I’m in such a bind. I’m terrible at social rituals, impatient, too private for my own good, and my perfectionism demands that people make sense. And they often don’t.
- I’m not a scholar. My spiritual curriculum vitae is lacking as well. My theology is developing and I would most likely never make it as an academic in any program of religious studies; too lazy, probably not enough intellectual firepower.
- Some things in life I do well, other things not so. I’ve had instances where I’ve set the world on fire but those incandescent moments faded as quickly as the flash of a summer firefly. I’m basically an ordinary guy.
- However, I really want God to be proud of me today.
- I wonder if it’s possible for me to state a spiritual truth, a truth with a small “t,” something knowable, objective and consistent with reality. I would never presume to actually formulate a universal Truth; that’s God’s province.
- It’s absolutely possible. It’ll be my “get out of jail free” card. So let’s forget my measly circle world and go back to thinking big!
As a proposition, I’m going to assume I’m dying in a few short days. However, unlike most preparing for the end, I’ll be granted an opportunity to speak to the world. Given those circumstances, what would you say? I’ve been pondering that question all morning. Whether I have legitimacy or stature doesn’t matter. Remember, I’m ordinary. Whether anyone will listen is irrelevant.
I won’t be entering into highbrow ecclesiastical discourse because I’m not a fool; what do I know. Moreover, since I’m going to be dead, I shouldn’t have any fear of repercussions. I daresay just getting on the record would be enough of an achievement notwithstanding the record of my utterances might go down in history.
I could address any number of topics I’ve already written about in this blog, which wouldn’t be a bad idea, but I’m trying to challenge myself to come up with something new. If I’m concerned about time constraints or verbosity, I shouldn’t be. The Old Testament law was written on tablets of stone by the finger of God. The Creator understood short and sweet; I’ll follow His lead.
No doubt, there are many things I could say that might salve the multitude of wounds I have acquired over a lifetime, but that would be counterproductive and selfish. No, I have one shot to impact the world.
Planet earth. Klaatu barada nikto.
Sorry, couldn’t resist. Science fiction buffs should recognize this phrase from the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still. It was never translated in the film; nobody has a clue what it means. I’ve always interpreted it as “hangars, no starch.”
Let’s get back on message. The idea of speaking to the world is daunting. How does one whittle down the potential topics? I’ll be speaking to a medley of cultures, ethnicities, experiences, biases, ages, moralities, languages, religions and socioeconomic conditions. Furthermore, my mindset for today may be completely different tomorrow. That being said, I’m not going to punt this opportunity away.
Here we go.
People of Earth. I’m no more than a particle of sand blowing amid the endless dunes. For the moment, God has graced me with a wise voice and a wizened face. I say this. From this point forward until the end of your time, never again glance at the people in your lives. Rather, look deep into their eyes, encounter their mirrored souls and imagine those souls good. Recognizing their sacred humanity, with due humility and patience, assume every person possesses singular dignity and act accordingly. The world will change. I promise.
Lord, how did I do? A pearl of wisdom from a non-haloed sinner sitting in the cheap seats? Should I pass it forward? Back to the drawing board?
The merit of my current struggle is that it may resonate with others, my mental gymnastics are probably universal and trying to please God is never a bad thing.
But ultimately, God is the only answer to our tribulations and one has to trust in His love and will unconditionally.