Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A thousand lunatics waving

This week at my work everyone in the agency was asked to help out with a new business pitch by going on a little excursion. We received an email telling us to meet in the lobby of our building and that more would be revealed. So we all gathered and then at 3 pm the surge of people went outside. There were probably about a thousand of us, and we all started walking, just following the people walking in front of us. If there were clear instructions given at some point, I missed them. And frankly I'm not sure there were. All I knew is that we were walking toward Ontario street and that was it. I found someone I knew in line and we walked together, mostly just chatting, catching up, occasionally wondering and questioning those around us on what they knew, if they knew more than us, if they had any idea what we were doing. When we arrived at our destination--and the only way I knew it was our destination was because everyone stopped, we stood there for a long time, waiting, not knowing what we were waiting for. Waiting for further instructions, I guess. After about 20 minutes, at some sign that I wasn't privy to, those around me started waving and cheering, looking up toward the sky, toward the windows of this office building we were standing near, just waving and cheering. I joined in, all the while trying to figure out why, and who we might be waving at or cheering for. I never did--and ultimately I ended up just having to trust that I was doing the right thing at the right time, and there was someone out there somewhere watching, someone who cared that we were standing on a street corner, a thousand lunatics waving.

After a minute or two of this waving and cheering, at some other signal I missed, we stopped, and some people across the street held up signs that said, "Thanks and have a beer on us." and gave the address of a nearby bar.

This whole silly event seemed to me a perfect representation of the life of faith.

We follow some obscure instructions and follow other people following those same obscure instructions, hoping against hope that we're going in the right direction. Not totally clear on our purpose, our destination. Asking others along the way what they know, what they've seen and heard. Looking for reassurance in their presence. We are stared at by strangers. We are at times annoying to passersby, sometimes amusing, intriguing, sometimes even slightly inviting. We try to enjoy the journey by chatting with people we're walking with. And then we stop sometimes and perform strange rituals, waving wildly toward the heavens, hoping that an unseen face at the window sees us and what we're doing means something to them, matters in some way.

That's how it's been for me, at least. I heard some obscure instructions one day a long long time ago. And I've been walking ever since, walking among this great cloud of witnesses, trying at times to keep up, sometimes veering off on my own, sometimes happily following along, thinking it's all a great, crazy, ridiculous, funny adventure, and sometimes totally pissed off about the lack of concrete information, about what a foolish waste of time it all seems to be. I heard a voice and I started following, and I shade my eyes and look up to the sky for a sign that I'm in the right place, that my being here makes a difference, that my actions are communicating something to Someone, and that at some point all will be revealed. In the meantime, I am one of a thousand lunatics waving. Like Abraham and Sarah. Like David. Like Ruth and Rahab. Peter and Paul. Looking up and praying and hoping and believing we're all on the right road and as stupid as it feels and looks and as strange and absurd as it may be, this is what we were made for, this is why we were put here, this is what will ultimately make all the difference in the world.

Oh yeah and afterwards...whenever afterwards is...Free Beer.

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