With three talkative children at the table, the ship of dinner-time conversation is rarely steered by the adults in our house. Which is surprising given that the youngest is working with a somewhat limited vocabulary. To make up for this handicap, he frequently resorts to loudly repeating a single word with varying intonations. His vocabularly may be small, but he certainly knows what talkative is supposed to sound like.
Recently, I yanked my mind from some daydream or other and recognized that the children were discussing Harry Potter. This, too, is strange, given that not one has finished reading a single book of the series, nor have they seen the films. I recognize, with a bit of sadness, that Harry Potter has joined the company of imaginative figures, untethered from any particular medium, which populate a child’s imagination. Harry Potter, Winnie the Pooh, a Jedi Knight … they’re all hanging out together in my five-year-old’s dreams.
As if trying to get a firmer grasp on all that she doesn’t yet know, the firstborn says, “But Harry Potter isn’t …”, and I gasp. I am suddenly sure that she’s about to say “true.” She doesn’t. Finishing her sentence over my raised eyebrows, she says, “Harry Potter isn’t real, is it Daddy?” He says easily, “No honey, it isn’t real.” And I sigh, grateful I don’t have to intervene.
But if she had said true? That would have been a very different story.
It isn’t simply that I love Harry Potter. I do. Much as I loved Narnia when I was my daughter’s age. But it isn’t love (or delusion, for that matter) that would have caused me such pain to hear my child say, “That story isn’t true.”
Despite what you may now be thinking, I don’t believe there are broom-flying wizards right around the corner. That’s our reality. No broom-flying wizards. I might wish it otherwise, but I accept this.
But true? Not true? To me, at least, those words suggest something very different from what we usually mean when we say “true-life.” No, Harry Potter’s world is not “true-life.” But true? Yes!
Ours is a fallen, not-quite-what-it-was-meant-to-be world, and our reality isn’t always true. At times, it lies. It says this world tends towards chaos, you are on your own, watch out for number one, pursuing goodness is a waste of time.
Stories – at least the excellent ones – give us a glimpse of the world as it was always meant to be. Through the lens of a story, we can see the world as it will be again one day.
Reality? Too often it is a cracked lookingglass. Stories? No matter how fantastical, this is often where we spy the truth.
When Jesus came walking in bare feet to rescue us, he was asked many questions. More often than not, he answered them with stories.
He told us himself that his name was Truth, and he told us stories.
It’s a mystery. One day (in a succession of many, many such days) you are a still and brackish puddle of water. No movement. Not much life. Then, something imperceptible happens. Perhaps, Someone breathes just a bit of Himself over the stillness? And the still puddle begins to trickle. It’s no river, certainly, but there is just a hint of movement, just a hint of renewal. Some fresh spring has begun to flow.
Nine months ago I began writing a story. My story. For the past five months the draft of that story has sat, locked in my computer, untouched. But this week I opened it up again. I started rewriting, tweaking, adding new thoughts.
It feels good to be at work again.
The only problem is that I’m feeling, here at the end of the week, just a bit dried up where words are concerned. Perhaps it’s only laziness, but I feel better remembering George MacDonald’s words: “Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness.”
I’m giving myself over to idleness for the next few days. Let’s hope it’s of the sacred sort.
Meanwhile, since I have few words of my own today, here are the words (and a few images) I’m carrying with me into this weekend:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth, and I will fill it.”
Psalm 89: 9-11
(That's my brother-in-law and two of my nieces perched at the top. Not pictured: my own children who had just fallen into the water and sat, crying, in a wretched, soggy pile at the water's edge.)
The name of this blog ("There is a River") comes from Psalm 46:4: "There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells."
I didn't know what this blog would look like when I began writing it in May. I think I sensed that it would not be topic-driven, and this still seems accurate to me today. Instead, I would say that this blog is focused on a particular perspective rather than a particular subject.
This blog explores the perspective of a Jesus-following writer, reader, wife, and mother who is looking for hope and beauty wherever it can be found.
I like to think that my spiritual perspective is not an example of Christian pie-in-the-sky thinking but, rather, more like pie-right-here-and-now with the promise of so much more to come.
But, really, my perspective has little to do with pie and everything to do with water.
"There is a river" points us to a place, the place where God's glory dwells, but, even more importantly, it testifies to a presence that is not contained by the flood-gates of heaven. This river washes us, it transforms us, and it quenches our thirst forever. It is here and now as well as there and then.
It is "the fountain of life" (Psalm 36:9). It is the man of sorrows who promises that whoever "believes in me will never be thirsty" (John 6:35).
I've been listening to the new album by Josh Garrels. It is beautiful and wise (and free! Download your own copy here). In the song "Farther Along," he sings, "go down into the river" and "let the flood wash me."
My hope is that "There is a River" (the blog) reads a lot like this song sounds. Click through below to track # 3 and enjoy.