Sunday, October 31, 2004
A Graduation of Solutions
Sometimes the solution is an ongoing process. I can't eat breakfast once
for all, but I understand the process, know what to do, and don't need to
think about it very much.
That's the real goal: solving a problem means not having to think about it
any more. The autopilot handles the old problem so I can go on to new ones,
or just forget about everything for a time.
Yesterday I was on my home on the bus. I get on at the start of the route
and there's always room in the two-place rack for my bicycle. A few stops
before we got onto the freeway another woman got on with her bike. The rack
was full, and at the last stop another man tried to talk the operator into
letting him put his bike between the two already there. "You'll have to
wait for the next bus." I've been in his situation before and I don't like
It had been a very busy day. i was crabby and just wanted to get home so I
could quit thinking about anything. I didn't pay much attention to the
woman who usually rides with me and tells me about all her boyfriends and
such. Earplugs are a big help with the constant noise of the bus.
We arrived at Bundy and Pico in time to catch a westbound 7-line. I walked
over to the stop. The woman with the bike followed a few minutes later, and
then the bus showed up. One position was available on the bike rack. I took
it. Basic principle is "first come, first served." One of us would have to
wait and I didn't want it to be me. The next bus could be an old crock with
no rack, or the rack could be full, I'm tired and don't want to ride home
against the brisk west wind.
I felt a twinge of something or other. Not exactly the way of kindness, I
thought as I got onto the bus. I'm supposed to be kind. God has been kind
to me. It was too much and I just retreated, turned my back on God and
everything else. God will just yell at me and I've had it with everything
You'd think I'd learn. I've seen first-hand how God works in my life, but
I'm still looking for that once-for-all solution: God as autopilot so I
don't have to think about Him. Just follow the principles and commands and
sleepwalk. Autopilot is antithetical to the kind of relationship God wants.
This isn't a problem to be solved. I can't just make a new tool and call it
good, or synthesize a principle and go on using that to prosecute the
ongoing life. Any relationship, ideally, is flexible and ever-changing but
frequently they devolve into sameness day after day so that no new
solutions are required. Every day with God is different, as He Himself is
He really doesn't give a fig for actions. What He wants is access. My real
sin in getting on that bus wasn't putting myself first, but closing myself
off from God. I quit believing, and all of the new solutions in my life
that depend upon that belief and access started eroding. All the usual
problems started growing: depression, a lack of interest.
It seems that life isn't a problem to be solved so much as it is a
relationship to be participated in. I thought the idea here was that God
would patch things back together so I'd be able to live outside of the
repair shop. Turns out that the repair shop is the world and the only way
to live is with God's hands constantly holding my works together. Apart
from Him I can do nothing. Or at least nothing worth doing.