We all want to be certain, we all want proof, but the kind of proof we tend to want - scientifically or philosophically demonstrable proof that would silence all doubts once and for all - would not in the long run, I think, answer the fearful depths of our need at all. For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-by-day lives who may not be writing messages about himself in the stars but who in one way or another is trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around down here knee-deep in the fragrant muck and misery and marvel of the world. It is not objective proof of God’s existence that we want but, whether we use religious language for it or not, the experience of God’s presence. That is the miracle that we are really after. And that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get.
No One Cares About Your E350 Convertible, Either.
I shared the road with an interesting character this morning.
At first, he was behind me, tailgating me in his Mercedes E350 convertible. At a stoplight, I observed him in my rear view. He looked like a privileged bachelor type, but despite the luxury ride and designer sunglasses, any description I could offer would likely sound like I was talking about myself, down to the 4-day old facial scruff, short messy hair, and shawl-collar sweater.
I found myself wondering what made this guy’s life different than mine. As he passed me, I glanced over at the 30 year old in the shiny black E350, slouched in the driver seat, oblivious to the world beyond the road.
At another stoplight, I stole a couple more glances. His body language was a cocktail of disinterest, annoyance, and general aloofness. But I could have been reading it wrong - these things get lost in translation between lanes and panes of auto glass.
Eventually, he merged in front of me, and from a distance of a few dozen feet, I made out what I thought to be one of those stick figure families. Thrown for a loop, I began to revise my interpretations of every observation I had made about the guy.
Not a bachelor, but a husband. And a dad. Successful enough to afford the car, but not too full of himself to deface his rear window with a painfully cheesy boast of his love for his family. Was the aloofness exhaustion? Were there issues at home? Maybe a kid was sick? Maybe there were issues with his wife’s pregnancy?
A whole new world of possible scenarios made me realize how narrow my assumptions had been. I had framed it all within a very finite window of stereotype. Now I saw that I really, truly, had no idea who this guy was.
At our third stoplight together, I pulled up behind the E350 - close enough to notice that the sticker on his rear window wasn’t the typical stick figure family decal.
It was this:
You never change something by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.