Saturday, March 5, 2016

On Dreaming and Doing. . .

"Some men see things as they are and say why; other men see things the way they could be and say why not..."  Words something to that effect were spoken by John F. Kennedy, later by his brother Robert F. Kennedy, and most famously in the eulogy to RFK by his brother Ted Kennedy.  They were originally the words of George Bernard Shaw in  Back to Methuselah, Act I.  If you had to read some of the plays of Shaw at some point or another, you might find out that these words were placed by Shaw into the mouth of the serpent speaking to Eve. 

That last point is hard on me.  I am a dreamer.  I was once described as a speeding train while the folks around me were cattle grazing on the pasture.  By the time they heard the train coming and looked up, the train was gone.  I am not sure if it was meant as a compliment or not but I get it.   Sometimes I leave people behind because my mind and words move too quickly to allow the hearers to catch up with me.  I have found it a distinct problem that I have wrestled with for most of my adult life.

Now there is nothing wrong in dreaming.  There is nothing wrong with being a dreamer.  The worlds needs dreamers.  But how easy it is to live in dreams and forget the moment.  How easy it is to settle for dreaming and end up only with plans and nothing done.  And this is precisely why it was into the mouth of the serpentine Satan that Shaw placed these words.  Man dreamed in the garden and it did not take much more than one quick opportunity to dream of life without or apart from God and to find that he had dreamed death's curse upon us all. 

One of the other dangers of being a dreamer is that you miss so much.  You miss the heroic figures and actions of people, largely anonymous, who daily manifest their faith in lives severely tested and tried by trouble, temptation, and turmoil.  Think of the mom who daily orders her life around the routines of the household, of chores that are never finished, of endless duties that cycle on and off.  Moms cannot afford to dream if dreaming means exchanging their heroic service to husband and children for life in a world of what ifs.  Think of the dad who daily returns to the workplace, leaving home and family behind, for often tedious repetitive tasks of which only a paycheck can inspire.  Dads cannot afford to dream if dreaming means forgetting those for whom he makes the sacrifice of labor and work.

So I take this pause from my dreaming to remember with thanksgiving my mom whose daily duties of house and home provided me with the heroic gifts of good food, clean clothes, a comfortable dwelling, and encouragement to do and be your best even when no one is looking.  I leave my mountain top for the valley in which my dad labored the whole of his life for the sake of others and for not much earthly gain -- while I misunderstood him and falsely presumed that his work was a choice instead of love.  I take a moment from the clouds to recall how my brother has lived his life around my parents, my hometown, the civic duties of fireman and EMT, and allowing me to dream of great things that turned out to be smaller than his heroic service.  I hope, if you are dreamer like me, you also will pause to remember those who lived and still live their lives doing.  And thanking God for them!

As we made our way down the Transfiguration mountain and through Lent have trudged the slow walk to the cross, we ought to recognize that God's presence is not tied to what we might become but who we are.  He loves us as the unworthy, ordinary, sinners that we are and loves us enough not to leave us in our sin and death.  Our Lord's life is not some dream world but harsh reality of a people who rejected Him even when He came to suffer in their place and die their death.  He suffered to release from suffering a a world captive to sin and its new normal of death.  God is not in the mountain only but in the valley.  He reveals love not in eloquent words but in the deeds done upon the cross.  Faith is not an escape from reality but the only way to confront the painful reality of sin, guilt, shame, suffering, and death -- of lives filled with joys that will not endure under the threat of death that always seems the victor.  We see with eyes not some dreamy utopia of what might be but the radical new what is of blood that cleanses us from sin and lives reborn from death to eternity.

I know I will always dream.  I pray that I may not forget the doers who tolerate my dreaming.  I pray that I may remember always the God who meets me not on the shifting sands of what might be but on the hard surface of what is (because of sin and death)...

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one. See the link below for more info.