When you've lost something important, your mind goes from room to room, tossing up throw pillows, lifting up lamps, and swatting old trinkets to find the reason.
The further along I get, the more I see that life doesn't like giving you reasons. It's like a crotchety old grandpa-- the one with the fat retirement account and a closet full of Wal-Mart-- stingy enough to say no and wise enough to know it's mostly good for you. I'm not a big believer in searching out reasons anymore, mostly because whenever I find them they feel like cheap knock-offs of something far truer.
This is all an odd and abstract way of saying something awfully real: I have lost my old faith. All the big words have lost old meanings, ones that used to be vibrant with life: Jesus, love, prayer, salvation, intimacy, Jesus, Bible, joy, justice, wisdom, and Jesus.
The best part of me is willing to let it be written that I lost my old faith and finish filling in the hows and the whys later on when the smoke clears in my story. That's because the best part of me cares more about finding a new faith that still loves Jesus, others, and myself more deeply.
It's going to take a long time. I'm OK with that. Only 49% of me is like Spongebob at 1 AM with the Hash-Slinging Slasher outside, convinced that the world as I know it is ending. (Five people will dig that reference.)
Intimacy is one of those words that have hollowed out. Being close with Jesus used to mean marking up my Bible and barefoot prayer walks. And because those three words have themselves hollowed, so has intimacy. And though these words have been thieved of their old meaning, I've still got a silly hunch that the gospels aren't lying.
I still feel beauty beneath it all. And though before I could somehow feel and know God in the word-traffic of Bible and prayer, I am now wondering if the beautiful things and people I cannot avoid are themselves windows into who God is.
And when I see your brilliance; your loveliness; your livingness; your image-of-God-likeness; your best characteristics: I wonder if I am brushing up just as close up to holiness as on Sunday morning when I stuff grape juice and bread.
You see, I have a friend with the peerless vision of a ship captain. He wears glasses, but he can see 500 miles ahead with all the icebergs and tossing waves in between. And not only does he know how to get there, he just always has the fire in his bones to get there. And I wonder if God is a visionary like that.
You see, I have a friend with the wisdom of a mother. Not only can she untangle everything at play in a situation, not only can she diagnose the problem, but he also knows when words belong and when they don't. And when they don't belong, she prays. And I wonder if God is wise like that.
You see, I have a friend with the empathy of a saint. He doesn't fake listening like most of us do. When you talk, you can tell your words have safely made it ashore. And your words are always opportunities for him to take a walk in your skin and feel what it's like to be you. Most often, he doesn't need to feed you solutions because his compassion already makes you full. And I wonder if God has that kind of compassion.
And I wonder if anything good, true, and beautiful about people can also be said about God, times infinity. And like the freaked-out 4-year old at the county fair who lost his parent, I wonder if I look at people long enough I'll find the Jesus I have been searching so hard to find.
photo credit: lake winnie resort up by grand rapids, mn