Thursday, February 26, 2015

Week of February 22, 2015

How do we face challenges that seem insurmountable?  Sure: there's no shortage of soundbites, articles, books, and motivational speakers standing ready to offer solutions.  Their greatest function, maybe, is to keep the soul sound and savvy--else begins the spiral into the trap.

Come on!  Don't act like you haven't been there.
It's that age-old holding place: a sheol, if you will.  Dr. Seuss called it the "waiting place": You can get so confused that you'll start in to race down//long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on//for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear,//toward a most useless place.//The waiting place...  One of my favorite poets, Charles Bukowski, described precisely what it feels like in that trap in his poem The Shoelace.

If you've hung out with me at all lately, there's a great chance you know of my new addiction: Shonda Rhimes' Scandal. Netflix makes it too easy; so, I've thrown Lao Tzo's and Jesus' wisdom to the wind on a binge in hopes of catching up to the still-running series.  Olivia Pope, the heroine of the series, knows the way out of sheol; the way out of the "waiting place"; the way to keep the shoe fast, even with a broken lace.  Every episode moves toward resolution with her team of "gladiators," rescued from insurmountable challenges themselves, hard at work to fix some of Washington's greatest scandals.  One modus operandi drives this Pope's whole-iness: "We will fix this!"  She never accepts defeat, even facing the impossible.

Seem predictable and a bit has-been?  Then, it may be time to bust some Rhimes.  I catch myself, mid-binge, wishing she could write some of my life, identifying with her characters as though they were me or I them.  Why?  Maybe it's the clarity.  See, even when these "gladiators" are wrong, they're always clear.  It's always the sheer impossibility of the situation that invites the viewer into the

clouding perception,
eclipsing expected expectation,
What Up with That

and thus along for the journey.  The viewer and the character are in this thing together!

Hmm.  Honestly, I've not figured it out yet.  New Kirk Presbyterian, forget the future.  We face an uncertain present, offering insurmountable challenges.  The pastoral part of me moves toward waiting--waiting upon the Lord.  It's tough because the very realistic side of me fidgets at the digits and squirms at what the Author's next move might be.  Our calling, though, differs from Pope's.  We absolutely will NOT fix this!  The Author must write us to resolution.  The Author must, in some way, find the way for us--the actors.  We're in this together: Author, actor, viewer.  We have to go with Christ to sheol (1 Peter 3.18-20).  We have to go with Christ to the "waiting place"(Matthew 27.45-54).  We cannot be afraid to bend over and pull the shoelace (Matthew 28.17-20).

But, you know, regardless of how the Author resolves the episode, we feel the overarching theme of the series: it is love.  It is one heck of a scandalous love!  The world is outraged at its true leader, who has done something so foolish (1 Corinthians 1.18-35) as to have successfully, single-handedly torn down the kingdom this world worked so hard to establish.  Rest assured, though, however this episode resolves, God does it all for love (1 John 4.7-12).

Whether today we're "racing down long wiggled roads" headed for the trap or dead stuck, waiting in the trap, we can lift our eyes in hope; we can wait in faith; we can live in love.

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