Today my friend Patty threatened to send me a card, a care package, or a small car stuffed with clowns to help me endure the couch induced doldrums I have while mending from having my foot improved. Long time friend Matthew happened to call last night as I was mulling over some difficult transitions in some long term relationships. Noah and Camila came over and carved out jack-o-lanterns in a way that I assumed were carving holiday-themed neuro-pathways in their little skulls as well as little hope shaped etches in my cynical soul. Just when you hit a funk or things get dreary, sometimes a little gem cmes your way. These are little jokes, little providences and interventions that make me tilt my head and see I may have been reading life, well, wrong.
Its the timing of the joke that makes it seem so fantastic, so magical. “I was just, right now, thinking abut you!” “You have no idea how perfect it is to hear from you right now.” Little miracles a first glance wre so inexplicable, touched by an angel. While I never want to steal wonder from any corner of life I also realized that is often the same people who keep showing up right on time with just the right thing to say. Maybe its less to do with Magic than with having a lot of friends who see the world so differently, so much better, that they are more likely to make me tilt my head and rethink what figures I am spotting in the clouds. The kids are dear friends and good people. Matthew is a brilliant theologian and Soon to be Orthodox priest. Patty is a fellow oblate I have only known through Facebook. …and they are also all a little quirky. A little.
“Bob Hope was really disappointed because he only received three golf clubs for Christmas this year. …And one of the didn’t even have a pool!” its not just the timing, but the punchline itself tickles my brain because the picture I had in my head had to switch. I had to catch up with a quick detour in a couple homonyms which not only changed the meaning of the word “Club,” but also of the word “disappointed.” See, its funny ’cause he is so rich… disappointed …golf club. Get it? Brain tickle.
Patty threatened me with a box of clowns and in doing so reminded me to pray because, as a fellow oblate, I knew that’s what she was thinking. “Doug,” she said without saying, “I feel ya, but you don’t need clowns, this is your rare chance to listen. Carpe Ora – Seize the pray.” Matthew yanked me out of my fear-fest about maintaining intimate relationships to the hilarity that this guy on the phone that I met in a cafteria at a Nazarene college in Canada 14 years ago is still able to authoritatively say, “yes,” and, “of course,” as I describe my ridiculous life as a Christian, oblate, burner, catholic, hypocritical luddite, technology panderer. “Of course you and your little network of friends are a little wackadoodle,” he says as he traces his finger a long my jester’s hat that makes it feel like a choir robe. Camila reminded me that though we were probably making life long memories, pumpkin guts are still kinda oogie.
To be in the habit of holding the relentless love of God in one hand and the mundane vocabulary, the work, of life changes things. Everything is a little punchline. “Ora et labora,” Benedictines say, “Pray, work.”
Holiness, it seems is a little eccentric. It doesn’t fit my current way of narrating either the major or mundane milestones of life. To live life tilted toward the relentless of love of God is to see, with some peace, that things do not fit as they seem. Different things seem out of place when you lean on the things which are most at rest. These often show up to us in the form of miracles because our need for a miracle opens us up to something a little different. If and when I listen to the love of God I tilt. I am more likely to be the punchline in the right time in the right place.