Friday, August 12, 2005


Impossible Things

How to write of the impossible? How to funnel experience into words, images into these pale things made of 26 abstract symbols, and have something like the original come out in the mind of someone unconnected with it?

God faced the same situation when He wanted to show all of us his love. His unending, fascinated, rapt love for the people he made. Jesus sang the words and we became. Jesus became the Word, and died, so that our songs could be restored. Jesus whispers His words into my ear: "Don't quit. I want you to keep going."

How to deal with something like that? Someone who, although He could have anything, wants me? As did my forebears in Jerusalem 2000 years gone, I try to kill off the blessing. It's too radical, too far removed from my daily experience.

I just finished reading Patricia McKillip's "Od Magic." Now, real Christians are supposed to redeem the time. Reading science fiction hardly comes under that severe and justifiable heading. God is much more flexible, however, and speaks His words through any source that's in the ballpark. This book starts with a gardener, listening to plants. It started me with a memory: doing the same thing when I was a child. It also started me with an ache: try to listen to anything in Los Angeles and what you'll hear is noise. Sad.

I have taken on blinders to aid in keeping my eyes facing forward. Survival is all. Sidetrips take time and energy. Listening to plants is an absurdity not in keeping with the rational lifestyle that seems so essential in this big noisy place. I have a job to keep, after all.

Why live? Brenden, the gardener, is content with his life. Then Od invites him to come and be the gardener for the school of magic she set up in a faraway city. He tells her he will go after the harvest, and he does. The collision of his silent magic with the rigidly enforced rules of the school turns the kingdom upside down. It wasn't a comfortable revolution for anyone involved, from king down to the gardener himself.

I want to touch magic. I want something far beyond the rules that have grown up around the schools of Christianity. Jesus is magic: his touch transforms. I need to be transformed. I'm dead, barely able to haul myself out of bed in the morning, and basically waiting until I retire so I can get the hell out of this place.

Jesus agrees with the magic, but knows that it takes some doing to haul a man away from the threshold of oblivion into the light of life and freedom. Rules just don't work. At the end of the story, all the improbable participants are standing in the king's hall, looking at each other, wondering how they got sandbagged by a gardener. At least they let themselves be sandbagged.

That seems to be important. Letting God have his way, no matter how impossible it seems. People make the rules. God makes life. Life is unpredictable, especially when God is involved, because our predictions are based on human experience. We set up systems to help people, but like that ossified school of magic, our schools become bone enclosing flesh that, as it returns to life wants to dance outside the lines of approved Christian practice.

How to talk of what God has done? He has brought, and is still bringing, freedom to a reluctant revolutionary. He won't let me crawl back under the rock. He just tells me that he expects nothing else; I am, after all, a depraved child of a fallen world. He has to teach me everything. Even how to accept his blessings.

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