I had fully intended to do something funny this morning, but it’s not working out that way. I was upset about this, then I realized I’m probably not as funny as I think I am, so it’s no big loss. Anyway, I’m in the process of reading “Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church” by Kenda Creasy Dean. Ms. Dean, Associate Professor of Youth, Church, and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary, tells us about the National Study of Youth and Religion and how it’s findings relate to the church today. It’s very eye-opening and I recommend it for anyone involved in any sort of ministry. So, I’m reading this morning and she relates a story by Robert Fulghum (of “Everything I Needed to Know” fame) about a question he asked of Alexander Papaderos, a noted peace activist. At the end of a lecture Fulghum had attended, Papaderos took questions from the audience. As people were gathering their belongings, Fulghum asked “Dr. Papaderos, what is the meaning of life?”. Amid chuckles and dismissive laughter, Papaderos took a small, round mirror out of his pocket and answered:
“When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place. I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine–in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find. I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child’s game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of the light. But light –truth, understanding, knowledge–is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it. I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world–into the black places in the hearts of men–and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.”
I started this blog over a year ago as a way to explore new ideas about my faith and what living it out meant for me. I did it this way for three reasons: 1)I think better out loud, but can’t stand being interrupted. A blog gave me exactly what I needed, 2) I’m conceited enough to think total strangers would give a flying crap what I think and, 3) I’m a closet attention whore. I’m not a person that must have all eyes focused on me at all times (that’s actually kinda creepy), so I find other ways to garner the attention I crave and a blog is great for that. I’m telling you this because, with the mirror story you just read, I’m beginning to understand what my faith is really about; how to “bear fruit”, so to speak. Looking back over the last year, I can see it slowly coming together. All the “Love God, love your neighbor” stuff I’ve written, my slide away from the staunchly conservative political views I held for a long time, the new theology I’ve begun embracing, all of it showing me how to be a mirror of Christ’s love for everyone and everything. How to shine that light into the dark places and allow it change some people and some things for the better. That’s real Kingdom work. I just hope I’m up to the task.