Blogging on Mockingbird Mondays has forced me to do something I am sure all writers take the time to do at some point. It has made it a necessity for me to go back through my own book… weekend after weekend. Too often, I come across a thought that makes me pause for a moment. It is similar to the sensation of lingering at the mirror momentarily to wonder if I really am becoming the person I aspire to be. It is a healthy hesitation that asks: does my day-to-day life really reflect the voice and tone of the words that I write?
I have the greatest job in the world. I get to spend my time with educators, children, pastors, artists, activists, and musicians. Teaching, writing, preaching, and leading all involve creative work. They all, in some way, require casting vision and imagination when they are performed through the lenses of the Gospel.
I know a retired English teacher whose words are often repeated when thedepartment is discussing classroom plans and practices. I think it captures the tense of the vision I am speaking about, “We aren’t just teaching reading and writing, we are hoping to teach the children how to be better human beings.”
Every good educator, like the retired Mr. Swift, would agree.
I love teaching. But, as much as I aim to capture those affecting moments where the kids are experiencing the humanities in a way that makes them better people, too often in my classroom we don’t reach those junctures of enlightenment.
I often find when I am meeting with pastors and other writers that there is a natural divide between their speaking/writing persona and their real personality. This distance isn’t dishonesty. In fact, I think it is necessary. This is the tangible space between “John Keating” (Dead Poets Society) classroom moments and the mundane ones. It is the very same gap between who we hope to be and who we often observe in our reflection…
It is the natural tension of faith and art; one foot is firmly planted in the work, relationships, and nurturing of the here and now, and the other foot resting in the eternal.
It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.
We are working toward the fulfillment of reconciliation and resurrection.
We can see bits and pieces of it now- enough to believe that someday it will be here.
It is the distance between who we long to be, and who we are in the moment. The difference between our voice from the pulpit and our agitation with a store clerk at the end of a long day. It is the difference between our tone on the page and our tone in an argument with a co-worker. There is quite a tension and sadness in that divide. One that we agonize and pray over.
But, the truth is: when we stop noticing that great separation, when we start to believe that every lesson is affecting, when we begin to believe that the voice on the page or from the pulpit is who we truly are, … well…
We havelikely lost our way. We have lost sight of the eternal.