Did you ever have one of those moments that forced you to question the real value of all of your efforts? What I’m talking about is a moment that draws deep into your motives and methods and causes you to ask the underlying, “why do I (we) do all of this anyway”? It is a profound “What’s the point of this exercise” reality check that helps one look deep into Alice’s mirror and wrestle with what is real and what is not, what matters and what doesn’t.
Let me just say this; if you haven’t then you need to, everyone does. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the ones that we need to have do not happen with our choosing. They are thrust upon us unexpectedly. They are often induced by tragedy, either our own or others who might be close to us. For me, in my position as pastoral artist of a vibrant community o’ faith, it often comes as I witness it in the lives of the people I serve beside.
My problem is that I am a planner. I live in the future and I’m always planning on how we’ll all get there. I plot courses. I develop teaching. I seek new hills to climb and oceans to cross and I wonder relentlessly how to encourage people to join the journey. I am the one running ahead and then stopping on top to yell back, “come on, you can do this”. Most of this happens in my mind, somewhere in the future, and with the illusion that it matters and that people have nothing better to do that humor me and to run towards the sound of my voice. I am terrible at living in the moment, within the realm of everyone’s everyday existence. Ironically I think that this enables me to be halfway decent at what I do. But on the other hand, while I’m running along ahead like a five year old in a field of dandelions, those who I envision following me are living real moment by moment lives.
And here in lies the problem. These people…. In fact people in general… have to live in their moments. And in their moments, babies don’t make it to term, jobs are lost, relationships fail, and spouses die without warning. In short, what they thought was their future turns out not to be so and they are faced with the deep black abyss of uncertainty. And I’m left realizing that I’ve probably missed the point one more time. It seems almost heartless to be chattering on like a preschooler about the exciting things we’ll get to do in the months to come when some don’t even know how they’ll get through this day. It seems pretty pointless to be the one dancing on the top of the hill yelling down excitedly about the view to people who are too wounded to climb it or care about it in the first place. What they need is for someone to walk alongside, propping them up when necessary, and telling them that they’ll make it and its worth it and they’ll not let go till they get there.
Tell me whether or not you think this is true. All of us, to one degree or another, are in the place that I’m in. We have our lives planned out…or at least how we perceive them to be. They generally don’t turn out that way. We can dream about what it looks like on the top of the hill, but all we are guaranteed are the moment by moment climb up the side of it. Live in your moment, and live with others in theirs…and don’t be in too much of a hurry to imagine what it looks like from the top.