Sunday, January 18, 2009

The 500th Post, or "On the Gifts of (the) Spirit"

(I wrote this Thursday, January 15th, but am only just posting it now.)

It's 7:30 a.m. I just got to school, and I have already been to Mexico (yes, the country) and Wal-Mart today.

When I got to school, I took a moment and glanced at my blog feeds, discovering this really wonderful video Paul posted.

And, because I am not quite mentally... normal, to me these things fit together.


Fret not, I'm going to attempt to explain. First, I need to back up.

I finally ordered a digital SLR last week. The days following saw me obsessively watching UPS's tracking site. The UPS man didn't show until Wednesday night about 6:30, when we were at dinner. When the doorbell rang, I quite literally leapt up, threw my chair back and ran to the door faster than I've run in at least six months. I came back with my package and the jitters, and one of my housemates said, "I would never have expected that from you."

"Well," I said, "I've wanted this for years." I looked down at the beautiful brown box and shrugged. "I love taking pictures."

Despite my overwhelming glee, I went to bed early. Two of my housemates are going on a ten-day mission to Mexico in April as chaperons for their students. This weekend was a pre-mission retreat, and they loaded the buses in Mexico at 6 a.m., so I volunteered to take them over the border. In the midst of my anxiety over getting my Volvo back into the United States, I could not help but smile and be stirred: it was an hours before daylight, but there was so much life, energy, and enthusiasm on and around those buses.

This brings us to the part where I’m thinking about Beethoven (watch the video) and sitting back in my teacher chair, suddenly struck by the power of passion.

I strung these events together in my head, and 1 Corinthians 12 leapt to mind: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit”. Generally, that’s applied to purely spiritual gifts. In that moment, though, I pondered that those gifts extend far beyond the invisible, mystical spirit. No, perhaps I should rephrase that -- the invisible, mystical spirit extends way beyond what we think it does.

You look at Beethoven and what he did, and you see extraordinary brilliance driven by other-worldly passion. You look at my housemates the other adults on that trip, and my coworkers, and you see depths of dedication fed by unearthly patience. You look at a dork like me and you see school-girl giddiness inspired by an unending wonder of everything around her.

We’re not a body with a spirit, or a spirit with a body; we’re both at the same time. That’s why we take certain physical postures to pray, and why a song that stirs your soul gives you goose bumps. It seems to me that saying “the physical world” and “the spiritual world” isn’t really accurate. They’re aspects of the same world, like the up-and-down and side-to-side threads of a loom. You’re not living a full life without something that drives you. I know it’s a cliché, but clichés exist because they are often true.

God gives us gifts in the form of abilities and talents, of course. What good would those gifts be, though, without one other: simply giving a damn about something. Anything. Maybe it’s a Mother Theresa like drive to serve, or maybe it’s a love of marine life. Maybe it’s your friends or your children. Hopefully, it’s a couple things. Isn’t having the drive more important than having the talent? What has ever been accomplished without passion?

Beethoven had passion. Anyone who teaches, or works with kids at all, better have passion for it, even if it’s often shrouded under exhaustion and frustration, or get out of it. Parents are passionate about their children. Heck, even the relatively meaningless hobbies we have – taking pictures, knitting, doodling on napkins -- serve the purpose of giving us meaning. All of it puts a ribbon of significance into everything we do.

Which is kind of the point of this little nook of cyberspace. There’s a lot of theophany going on, both as vast, encompassing, and stunning, and as frequently unnoticed as the sky. I suppose I’m a cloud watcher. Sometimes things take forms and shapes that force me to take a moment and sit back in my chair, and just take it in.

Oddly enough, this time coincided with my 500th post here. Funny, eh?


1 comment:

Tony said...

I must say...I really enjoy your hack attempts at stringing words together. Because it normally works really well :-)