Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Addiction, Intensity and that Jewish Kid from Nazareth

Intensity!

One of the paradoxes of the spiritual life is that big and eternally significant things are achieved in small and sometimes hidden ways.  And God works in our daily lives at times without our noticing Him.  He is present through the boredom, the little ups, the little downs, and everything in between.  We keep expecting the Messiah to be someone famous and noticeable.  But He's just that Jewish boy from Nazareth - of all places!

They said, "Isn't this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, 'I came down from heaven'?" (John 6:42)

And in the same way that those who knew Jesus in person rejected His divinity because He wasn't tall enough or good looking enough or because they knew His kinfolk and Mary and Joseph certainly weren't special, so the little things in our lives get overlooked and undervalued. I have often gotten into trouble in my life from trying to attain Big Results spiritually - namely, a kind of Intensity that must be similar to the high that drug users get.

It's one of the things that attracted me to the cult-like experience of Jiman Duncan's Academy for the Performing Arts.  I learned a lot from Jiman, both good and bad, but the hallmark was a kind of Artificial Intimacy and Forced Intensity.  Real intimacy grows slowly over months and years; it is not the product of quasi-group-therapy sessions in which you bare your soul to other actors.  And real intensity is marked by patience and endurance.  You can't love your wife and kids, for example, with bursts of intensity.  You've got to love them little by little, even when you're half asleep and watching TV on the couch in the family room.

And yet I've distrusted the Little Way, I've disliked the mundane.  I've wanted to feel that "10" all the time, but life is comprised of days that range between a 3 and a 6, every now and then a 7.  Seeking the rush can be dangerous, not only for addicts but also for Christians.

For the story of Our Lord and the transformation He works in us is a story that is played out over long and sometimes quiet and unremarkable periods of time.  Every day is not the Apocalypse.

But One Day will be, and when that day comes we will be judged by how we valued "the least of these" (Mat. 25:40) - not by the Big Deal, not by the high, not by the intensity, but by the small and unnoticed moments of love.



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