I wish I could freeze this moment, right here, right now and live in it forever.
~ Peeta, The hunger Games
Megan was blow drying her hair while I got dressed for the funeral. Ivy sat in front of a Disney sing along DVD, when “pop” – the lights went out… I suppose if I lived inside an epic tale this would be the moment to say something irrational like, “they finally found us.” At which point me and my brother Jacob—half in our suits, both suddenly ripped—would join Megan and use our surprisingly good karate moves to take down the faceless masses breaking through windows and doors. The finale would probably have us pinned against the wall, defeated, when Ivy pushes opens the door and says, “mom, I need a drink” – without saying “please”, because we are actually working that out now. But this distraction would allow Megan to escape and, while lecturing Ivy on the “magic word”, she would take down the remaining rabble. Then, after Ivy says “please”, we would all get a drink… But I do not live in anything so epic. So when the lights went out, we needed to find the breaker box. I could not remember that it was deep in the basement, so Jacob left to flip the breaker. When he got down there, he walked up to the box totally forgetting about the sump pump. And splash, hit suit pant leg went right into the hole full of gross water… (What is a sump pump? ~ It is basically a pump to keep the basement from flooding. It resides in a hole where the water would drain. Often in wet weather the hole is not empty!)
These are the stories of our lives. Rather than the ridiculous or death defying, they are often simple and silly. But here is the detail that is crucial: in both the stories I told, for the main characters the funeral would be what dominated their thoughts. No matter how epic the tale relationships are the most important part. Take the final book of the Hunger Games—I am not quite finished, so do not tell me the ending (though, hypocritically, I am about to provide a mini-spoiler). The trilogy has been a crazy futuristic epic. But in the last book, my favorite character, Peeta, has been missing and then arrives changed. This has thrown off the whole story for me. Sure there are still amazing action scenes, but without the relationships I love—well the book doesn’t matter so much… And it is this same way with every book or story. It is not the magic in Harry Potter that made the books special. Instead it was Hermione falling for Ron or Neville acting a sweet or …
In our minds the story is all about the action, the magic, the battle between good and evil. We wish our own lives could be a little more exciting—a little more epic. So part of the reason we read is because we imagine our lives are missing something. But we miss reality. We do not love the characters because they are strong, but for conversations, feelings, even jokes. We love them because they relate to our lives!
So today live your life. Embrace the relationships around you. The only time we miss something is when we are waiting for something better. The epic tale is all around us. With our parents, with our friends, with our church, with our… there is no better life than loving and being loved. Hence Jesus said, Love God, Love your neighbor… That is the law, but more, it is joy.
One thought on “Mocking Ourselves…”
I love the realization of our life as a story. As a kid reading the Bible I often wondered at the Israelites; often the right thing to do was so clear and yet they often missed it. But with time I began to realize that the Israelites’ situations involved all the details of real life and so the critical issues and answers were hard to see. An example from Genesis: Joseph’s years in prison are described in the Bible in a to the point fashion. The story moves forward for us in a few quick verses and it is obvious Joseph just needs to keep faithful to God and working hard at the jobs he is given. But in actual practice Joseph’s years involved dealing with a smelly cell-mate, fleas, endless sweeping, or who knows what. Days stacked upon days and at least one great hope (in a seemingly hopeless place) seemed to, for several months to have come to nothing. We read that God had given Joseph visions and that his family was blessed by God, and it’s easy for us to believe those things are true…but from Joseph’s perspective, keeping faith in those previous experiences with God and lessons from his family while in prison took a lot of faith and hope.
The lesson I came away with is to try to think of my life as a story in the Bible. The cloud of details often clears and the right path becomes obvious (though it often takes a lot of courage).