Water, boredom, and mystery

I know how much we need it.  I know that we live in a chronically dehydrated society.  I know that there are people dying because they don’t have access to it.  I know that someday soon wars may be fought over it, in the same way we fight over oil today.

But none of this changes a very simple fact:

Water is boring.

It’s boring, I suppose because I’m spoiled.  It’s boring because I’m short sighted.  It’s boring because I don’t have the maturity to appreciate what a blessing it is.   But none of this changes the fact either:

Water is boring.

As we wonder through the wider context of communion, that’s a place I’d like to begin.  Water is boring.

And part of water’s boringness is not a function of where, when, and how I live.  Part of water’s boringness is universal.    It is colorless and tasteless.  It is the most basic building block of everything we drink.  In some ways, in ancient times, water might have been even more boring than it is today.  Thousands of years ago, there were no vending machines, fruit punch mixes, sport drinks, coffee shops, juice blends…

There have been times in my life that have been much like water.  Tasteless, odorless, flavorless.  Through these times I have had blessings that others only dream of, and yet, these blessings have seemed like a lot of nothing.  Just as the ubiquity of water is so very easy to overlook, just as the blessing of having access to enough drinking water to stay healthy is a luxury, so too the health I have had, the freedoms I have had, the friendships I have had… Sometimes these have not felt like enough.

I am not on a “We should do a better job of thinking about the third world and feel grateful for what we’ve got rant.”  I’m just setting up an exploration of a mystery: water can be boring.

And life… Life can be boring, too.

The problem runs deeper than boring.  That word trivializes the whole affair.

Life can seem empty.  It can seem pointless.  It can seem tastless colorless and stale.

In my own life, there have been times when I had all this freedom and enjoyment.  It felt like all I could ever need.

But suddenly? It wasn’t enough anymore.  I needed something more.  All these things that I was doing, they had their price.   Once they had been vibrant, ecstatic even.  But eventually… eventually they were like water.  Odorless, colorless, joyless.

We all know that when the old thrills stop be thrilling we have two choices.  The first is to step things up a notch.  Intensify our greed, lust, and desire.  Seek out more of our old poison in order to feel the same old effects.  The second is to shrug our shoulders, give up…. And just go through the motions.

We can live off water.  But who would want to?  Sometimes, in life, it’s like our whole diet, our whole world is boring, room-temperature water.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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