Journal

Contemplative Life

What’s More Important?

Who has achieved more for global peace, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon or…Fozzy Bear?

The gospel of Jesus is radiated long before it is communicated.  What is radiated is what is communicated.  “For we are the aroma of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:15); the truth of our theology or righteousness of our cause will extend only as far as its fruitful virtue is manifest in our everyday manner of being.

When people ask “how’s it going?”  I am enticed to project an heir of impressive meetings on Capitol Hill or initiatives at the UN I have been privileged to be a part of.  But, to give the writer of Ecclesiastes his due, such falsely placed significance is meaningless.  It is quite easily, really, to accumulate an impressive list of accomplishments that sparkle on LinkedIn.  Folks in DC don’t suffer from a lack of impressive accomplishments; we suffer from enmity – enmity among men which is ultimately rooted in estrangement from our creator.  The shalom of God and shalom among men will only advance to the degree we embody it ourselves.  Embodiment is fundamental, achievement is tertiary.  Thus, the emanating place of power is not in position, title or “accomplishments” but in the grace-filled human heart.
We hope to take our kids to see Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, this holiday season, a perennial favorite for many.  In the story, Scrooge is escorted by the ghost of Christmas past to a time when he was the apprentice of his old boss, Fezziwig.  (I am particularly partial to the Muppet’s rendition and “Fozziwig.”)  Scrooge recollects Fezziwig had “…the power to render us happy or unhappy, to make our service a pleasure or a toil.  Say that his power lies in words and looks, in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add ‘em up; what then?  The happiness he gives is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.”[1]  The potency of living and achieving true greatness is in the accumulation of seemingly insignificant particles of humble, deferential kindnesses that comes from a well spring of faith, hope, and love in our souls, not in supposed achievements that fill a resume or obituary.

If the atmosphere of our marriage, work place or church is suffused with what William Wordworth calls the “…best of a good man’s life; his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love,”[2] then the Kingdom of God is likely very close in that place and from that place is the power to the change the world.

What happens when people come into my orbit, be it the kitchen table, board room or bus stop?  Our words, looks, gestures, stress or peace are the composite of the room’s atmosphere.  Thus each member of a community is a very powerful person.  So pray for the Ban Ki Moon’s of the world, that they may indeed achieve great things for humanity, but in so doing may they become more like Fezziwig.

 

 

 


[1] Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Stories, (New York: Penguin Books, 1984), 71.

 

[2] William Wordsworth, “Lines Written a few miles above Tintern Abbey,” in William Wordsworth, ed. Stephen Gill, (Oxford University Press, 1984), 132.

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