My pencil would scramble to #1 and then quickly through the sequence. I’d stop after each few to see if I could figure it out. And then rush to connect more. When I’d see the finished image, I’d sit back and smile. I had brought order out of chaos, beauty out of sequence.
I really need those puzzles now. When I look around at the devastation in the world—mass shootings, thousands of refugees fleeing with crying children in their arms, and ISIS, a perpetual threat growing daily with our fears. I’m having a hard time believing there is a big picture.
Sometimes it feels like we are sinking in a sea of space. We are told that there are buoys and markers out there, to hold on to, to guide us on our journey toward the end. But the wrenched stomach, the distorted boundaries, and the fear all but cripple my hope that there is a plan for good.
But I know there is…Not because I see it. Sure, I see the dots, the buoys to cling to for a while, until I catch my bearings. I take a breath and scan to see if I can see the big picture yet. But I can’t. I am just refreshed enough to take a few more strokes on the blank paper sea.
That’s pretty much how I see my spiritual life as well. Most of the time I’m running so hard from marker to marker that I don’t take time to stop and catch my bearings. Then, when I get to the end of the picture, I’m too exhausted to enjoy the view. I just want the next picture, next image, next experience–collecting them like a visceral junky so I can post them for “oohs” and “ahs” on a synthetic internet galaxy.
All the while, what I really crave is a broad line stroke, something I can touch. I want a connection with the infinite that binds me together with others in this cosmos. Call it what you will—the transcendent, the ultimate, the Namaste of life that acknowledges my soul’s connection to yours. It’s what makes me move forward through the course instead of randomly through some numbers on a page.
But I guess, first you have to believe that those numbers hold a meaning and a plan. That’s easy for me because I have had many people connecting the dots for me–loving, wise people who have modeled the path of hope, patience, peace and joy. They have encouraged, directed, and corrected me on my course.
Because of their influence, I have come to believe that the dots on the page are a plan of wholeness, health, and joy for all to savor because those are the tenets of my country—“life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and my God—“I come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
But so many do not have any dot connectors in their life. They don’t believe the dots hold a plan, or worse, they can’t even see the dots. I’ve heard some tragic stories and can understand why, to them, the horizon is gloomy. But that is not my business. My business is connecting the dots. Just as those before did for me—offering understanding smiles when my child was screaming in the library, and coffee and a prayer when I felt alone. The most memorable dot connector for me was Audrey, who taught me about Sabbath rest–a way to hang out on the marker and find my bearings.
So you can keep coming at me with your fear, anger, and resentment. And I will respond with love, prayers, and gentle hands pointing you to the markers. The markers may not be easy to see or understand, but if we hang out long enough on them, wrestling with the poignancy of Jesus’ words and actions, even though we can’t see the next buoy, we may just find we have enough strength to get through these storms together.
I may not agree with you. I may not understand you. But that outstretched hand is restorative when we are sinking and gasping for breath. And who knows, one day when we look back, we may just find that our strokes have connected a picture of order, peace, and beauty, when before, all we could see was chaos in that storm tossed sea of space.