(Like 11pm after the exhausting efforts of a poorly attended open house and before I will jump on my bike at 8:30am to get to the church because I lead worship tomorrow…)
Marc and I just finished watching Adaptation. I must say that I’m not really a huge fan of the Kaufman boys’ films. Not so much their quirkiness but their humanness. Quite frankly, they make me a little uncomfortable. They admit things I don’t want to admit. I don’t really like thinking about our base human emotions of loneliness and lust and confusion and all the rest. I’d much rather push past those things in me — to do better. Not like I ignore them, I just try to overcome them — like I said, to do better. And I’m sure that’s fine. But somewhere in there, at the root, there is this fear that those things are really in me, and if I ever let myself be free in them it would be more shocking and horrible than anything I’ve seen in a movie.
But that’s not the point. The point is that they are there.
There is this drive in us that is always pushing us towards some intangible bit of happiness. And because it’s intangible we never quite reach it, so we never feel quite happy enough. If we’re lucky enough, we get a whiff of that happiness but by the time we realize what we’re experiencing, it’s gone. Intangible. Fleeting. Happiness.
Therefore (man, it’s been years since I’ve started a sentence with “therefore”!), what we end up doing is just grabbing what we can. It’s not real happiness, but it will do. It’s something. But, I think it almost makes us more bitter. We can grab this kind of stuff. And because we can grab it, we don’t really want it. It’s not the stuff we’re looking for. But it’s the stuff we can get. So we take it. Because we can get it.
I think those base thoughts and emotions (the things that drive us to grab what we can get) are the first step. And you know what? Maybe they’re the only step. If we can just accept the fact that we fail — that we seek the things we should not even want because we’re jaded into thinking we can’t get the thing that we really want or we’re just too afraid to try — then maybe we’ve made it. Maybe if we can start accepting in ourselves and in others the fact that we are limited, and fearful, and often quite stupid in the way we think and act and interact, maybe we’ll be there.
We’ll be at a place where we see that our fears and limitations aren’t the hindrance to our experiences of love, but are, instead, the very means by which we experience love with each other. We love people despite their faults. We risk letting someone love us with all of our failures and foolish desires.
If we let people into who we are, if we admit that in each of us are all of those base emotions that no one really wants to talk about, and if we are not bound by the fear that those bring, then we will know love. And that happiness which we thought was just fleeting won’t be fleeting anymore, because it is an ever-present grace surrounding our weaknesses.
So ends tonight’s sermon.