Mirror, mirror on the wall

I had dinner with my dad tonight.  He said a kind-of interesting thing.

Recently, he’d traveled to this place in Colorado.   It is in the middle of nowhere: the nearest hospital is an hour’s drive away.  The people apparently were rejoicing because they’d just opened up the town’s first grocery store.

Dad said that a guy was talking to him, and this guy said that the people who live there have to be o.k. with themselves.  They have to be at peace, they have to be alright with spending time alone, because there is so little to do.

And then it ocurred to me: everything is a mirror.

Everything.  It’s just a reflection of what we have inside.

We fill up our lives with noise, sound, and activities.  If I were feeling a bit pompous and literary, I might go so far as to say that we fill our lives up with a sound and a fury.

It’s all an attempt to run away.  From ourselves.

But the problem is that we’re still in a hall of mirrors.   These mirrors might be cunningly designed.  They might fool us for a while.  But we can’t escape the fact that in the end, they are still just a reflection of us.

There’s a large number of theories of varying degrees of wackiness.  They all attempt to explain why we seem to experience the same things over and over again.  People talk about “The Secret” and some sort-of psychic attraction.  They talk about karmic debt.  They talk about working out our childhood issues by reliving them.

There are varying degrees of truth to some of these.  But more fundamentally, I think, the thing is this:

Everything is mirrors.

When we are filled with despair, this is what we see everywhere.  When we are filled with hope, this is what we find around us.  When we act dishonestly, this is reflected in the world around us.

I don’t believe that under our own power we’ll ever find anything within our own selves that is worth looking at for very long.  I believe that we need to find something greater than ourselves, bigger than ourselves.  Only this greatness is worth reflecting out into the world.  When we reflect this, we’ll be living lives that are worth it.

This, I think, is some of the truth that is implied by the claim that the kingdom is among us.  This is part of the meaning to the idea that out of the mouth comes the overflow of the heart.  This is why it is so critical that the inside of the metaphorical cup be clean; this is why we must be lights to the world.


Christmas reflections, version 2

Every year I tell myself
This is the year
That everything will fall into place.
This is the year
That there will be peace on the frosted windows of my home.
This is the year
There will be contentment in the deepest part of me.

And every year
There are just enough
Just enough
Little glimpses
Frozen moments
To give me just a glint of hope
That next year
It’ll be better.

The cynic in me
Says that I should have learned by now.
The cynic in me
Says that it’s not going to happen.
The cynic in me
Says that I am Charlie Brown
And Santa Claus himself plays the part of Lucy
Snatching the football out from before me
Every single year
Right before I kick it.

There is something bigger than cyncism.
There is something greater than consumption.
It is the very fact that we know to feel despair
That we know that
This is not how it was suppused to be
That gives me hope.

There is this eternity in our hearts.
And there was eternity,
And he was also a man
Born among us
Died among us
And he is gone now, but so close.

It is right that we remember him
With this
Happy sadness
Despair filled joy
Aching, longing contentmen.

And this all gives me hope.

And I come to this sudden understanding:
I do not love this Christmas by ignoring the despair we face
I love Christmas because of the despair we face.

Perhaps the delicious disappointments
arise from this tension this attention
we fufill so little of our potential
and yet we are enough to know that we could be so much more.

Despite all my yesterday’s promises I haven’t crawled far out of the mire
and yet I am ever so slowly crawling out of the mire.

A greatness, a nobility resides
not so much in us
as in our aspiration to greatness and nobility.

I am a gnat leaping into the darkness
With only the faint promise of the far side of the canyon
falling and leaping falling and leaping falling and leaping.
And There is this Jesus and he is
The eagle soaring across the gulf
As we are falling and leaping falling and leaping and falling and leaping
That we know to long to be him, to be with him.
This is my Christmas hope.