(dedicated to my friend chris and tamie)
So there was this guy at the airport. He was on his way to class, of the religious sort for getting smarter and stuff. While at the airport he began to have visions for his final thesis and started brainstorming, as is the case with his free-association-type brain, on paper, actually it was his really cool laptop.
Anyway, he wrote about all the themes he's been hearing himself make reference to including knowing and being known, holding and being held, hospitality, humility, monasticism, questioning, intimacy, loneliness and not least of all listening; ya know the normal sorts of things everybody thinks about from time to time.
Well, the time came to get on the plane. He stood in line, waiting and waiting and waiting. He walked down the tunnel thingy and onto the plane. And he walked all the way back through this long 757 locating his seat two from the very back, 39C (at least it was an aisle). After he made his way to the seat he was greeted by one of the most awkwardly friendly persons. As he was still standing, making his way to be seated, the guy who would be his ride-along-companion for the three hour tour, reached out his hand and said "Hi I'm Caleb. I don't like to do this thing." This thing of course meant flying. "What's your name?" he asked.
"Me? I'm Dave" he said.
Within the first minute of being seated Caleb had asked him practically every conversation starter you could imagine. "Where you from?" "Where are you going?" "Have you lived here your whole life?" "Are you married?" "Do you have children?" A generous portion of diarrhea of the mouth was shared.
Finally Caleb charmed in...again, "I don't do this flying thing very well. I was schedule to fly yesterday but I freaked out so I got off the plane. I'm traveling to Buffalo, NY with a stop in Minneapolis/St. Paul. I just need to talk to someone for a little while to keep my mind off of all this. You don't mind do you? So what do you do?"
Oh no the dreaded, "what do you do" question. He hated that question and usually avoided it at all costs. There was a lot to do for his class, he had to complete some reading, another paper, yada yada. Anyway, he had for a moment recalled the previous things he was writing while waiting in the boarding area. Ya know, those things about knowing and being known, being held and hospitality...listening! sh#$
So out of his mouth it came, "I'm a pastor, a Lutheran pastor." Not quite loud enough for everyone to hear mind you, a little louder than say a whisper, but just loud enough for Caleb to hear.
"You're a pastor?"
"Yep" he said in a quick, don't-disturb-me-look-the-other-way-type fashion.
"Wow, I guess things will be alright now." he said with assurance.
"Yep" said Dave the gracious pastor, "everything will be alllllll right."
Once they took off the pastor guy pulled out his head phones, rather quickly if you can imagine, along with his ipod, and the book he was to read. He turned on the ipod and then sat back to listen and read. In a matter of seconds however, the battery light came on and said, "low battery" and proceeded to turn off. This didn't effect the gracious and loving pastor for a second as he continued to sit there anyhow reading his book, head phones on in clear view...without music. Ah yes, he did this for a good 20 minutes or so. Can you believe it?
So why do we write? Why do we brainstorm books to be written about grandiose ways of embodying life? What's going on inside of us that we need to get things out of ourselves...and for whom?
Miroslav Volf writes this about his own writing of books. "Most books I write, I write for myself, as a spiritual exercise." A little later writes saying "In the book (Exclusion and Embrace), I argue, among other things that we should embrace our enemies as Christ has embraced us. Well, an 'enemy' - a small one - arose in my life after I wrote the book, and I sense in myself the propensity to return in kind and exclude rather than forgive and embrace. And then I heard myself saying, "But you argued in your book...' It was like an academic's version of the still, small voice my wonderful and godly mother so often speaks about."
Ahh the ironic situations in which we find ourselves. Peace all.