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Seven billion stages and an empty theater

Seven billion stages and an empty theater



This originally appeared as part of the Daily Sip, a ministry of St John’s Cathedral in Denver, CO


by Charles LaFond


It takes great courage to be gentle. And it takes especially great courage to be gentle with our selves. We hold tightly onto the things we have chosen to believe. We think things and then we choose, for whatever reason, to believe the things we think. It’s insanity, and we do it many times a day. It seems not to matter if our thoughts are true or false. We simply believe the stories we make up about our lives and then we cause ourselves and others so much pain as we live out the belief we have in the lies we tell ourselves – simply because we believe the things we think.


Our lives stop being lives and begin to be a series of one-act plays on stages within audiences – since everyone we think should listen is busy on their own stage. Seven billion stages and an empty theater – empty but for God who leans forward, loving what God sees ferociously, leaning forward in his one auditorium seat, with God’s elbows on God’s knees, eyes wide, full of beaming love.


In this window from the nave of our cathedral we see an arresting and vibrant depiction of resurrection. Like all art, it is a story, not a photograph. It has assumptions built into it, as does all art. Did the resurrection look like this? No. But this is a story about the subject which tells a particular series of truths without worrying too much about a particular series of facts.


Mary of Magdala holds onto a brass jar. We may assume it is myrrh or nard or blessing oil or her contained hopes or her contained grief. It could be so many things. Or it is John the beloved disciple with long hair? I can’t decide. But what I notice is that she or he holds it bent over, clutching it for her or his very life and so sad while Jesus is triumphant, moving, upright, white-lit, and well.  What would it be like to gently welcome what life brings rather than fight for what we think? What would it be like to nod at the things in our life which upset us, and, rather than bashing around in life pushing and prodding and railing to get what we want (or think we want), we were simply to notice things with grace and gentleness and say “oh, so this is what is happening…this makes me feel this way…ok, I will sit with this a while and see what life is teaching me.”


In the resurrection moment, life is teaching Jesus’ friends about grief, longings, hope, loss, resolution, disappointment – all of it. Life is busy teaching and teaching and teaching, and we are like children, grabbing the school intercom, making impassioned speeches to the school about how we have been wronged, how life is not as it should be, how we are not getting what we want, how this or that is not right. So much noise. As we make these silly, shallow announcements, our voice just adds to the noise – so much noise – because so many people have grabbed their version of the microphone to make their version of the “this is not fair” speeches, not realizing that if we could all quiet, and sit in silence for a bit, we might find that life is busy teaching individual master classes in silent gentleness. Classes we are missing. Classes we need. Classes which would make us better personalities on our billions of stages.


Nature models the way to be before God. Silent awe. And gratitude. And in a storm – waiting.



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