Writing this moment down is like trying to catch a cloud in a mason jar - thrilling but futile.
As a continuation of my last post - last night I asked God for clarity and it came. In fact, I've been asking for my old self back for a while now - I wanted to be able to write about something substantial, something of the heart, not that I don't love sharing poems or pointing to other people's creativity, but my soul has been hard as a rock and dry as a desert. Well, of course restoration came, its God, (but I'd be a liar if I told you I wasn't skeptical- and a one day turnover? that's pretty darn good.)
Here's the big insight: there is nothing new under the sun. There is nothing that I can tell you that is new or even remotely insightful. Ponder that for a minute. Nothing I can say makes one iota of a difference nor adds to the cosmic pool of knowledge or wisdom and trying to be original is an exhausting cycle of dead ends. How many people have gone before me? They've probably said what I've said but ten times more poetic and three times as profound. That's right - insta-depression. All your strivin' is for nothing.
I did say I got an answer, I remember saying something about that ... Oh yes! It happened this morning, when my friend and boss Linda led us in staff prayer, she spoke a prayer by Oscar Romero:
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
And since God is funny and likes to overdo things - well, he doesn't actually overdo things, we're so thick headed he has to resort to it - he dropped another one on me through my roommate sharing with me her favorite book. Here is proof that there is nothing new under the sun - here is another person saying exactly what I'd like to say and its a delight to paste it here instead of searching for a creatively exhausting way to say the same thing with different syntax and word choice - that's a bit silly. So here, read it for yourself; hear what this man has to say! BUT DO NOT READ THIS, understand this.
The seasons remind me that I must keep changing, and I want to change because it is God's way...Everybody has to change, or they expire. Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons. I want to keep my soul fertile for the changes, so things keep getting born in me, so things keep dying when it is time for things to die. I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not to read the same page recurrently.
Time has pressed you and me into a book, too, this tiny chapter we share together, this vapor of a scene, pulling our seconds into minutes and minutes into hours. Everything we were is no more, and what we will become, will become what was. This is from where story stems, the stuff of its construction lying at our feet like cut strips of philosophy. I sometimes look into the endless heavens, the cosmos of which we can't find the edge, and ask God what it means. Did You really do all of this to dazzle us? Do You really keep it shifting, rolling round the pinions to stave off boredom? God forbid Your glory would be our distraction. And God forbid we would ignore Your glory.
HERE IS SOMETHING I FOUND TO BE TRUE: YOU DON'T start processing death until you turn thirty. I live in visions, for instance, and they are cast out some fifty years, and just now, just last year I realized my visions were cast too far, they were out beyond my life span. It frightened me to think of it, that I passed up an early marriage or children to write these silly books, that I bought the lie that the academic life had to be separate from relational experience, as though God only wanted us to learn cognitive ideas, as if the heart of a man were only created to resonate with movies. No, life cannot be understood flat on a page. It has to be lived; a person has to get out of his head, has to fall in love, has to memorize poems, has to jump off bridges into rivers, has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath:
I'll tell you how the sun rose
A ribbon at a time...
It's a living book, this life; it folds out in a million settings, cast with a billion beautiful characters, and it is almost over for you. It doesn't matter how old you are; it is coming to a close quickly, and soon the credits will roll and all your friends will fold out of your funeral and drive back to their homes in cold and still and silence. And they will make a fire and pour some wine and think about how you once were . . . and feel a kind of sickness at the idea you never again will be...I want to repeat one word for you:
It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.
Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn't it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don't worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.
- Donald Miller, through Painted Deserts
So where does the joy come from? Where can it come from in an existence of meaninglessness (which is what life really is without God)? - It comes from realizing that each day isn't planned, it isn't certain, and it isn't promised. That's thrilling. And you have the pleasure of being cast is the ugliest, most complex, terrible and absolutely beautiful story ever performed in front of a live audience. In this way imitation isn't good or bad, it just is, its just inevitable - and its because we are one human race, one people of varying perspectives, but liked by common experiences, trains of thought, reactions to life. But your time is now (like right now, this second, and this one, and the one that just passed), with these people, people who those in the past can only reach through old texts and documents - its your time now to be a living breathing transforming changing moving bearer of light to the people with you right now. That's a priviledge people build time machine's for.