“Many things continue to amaze me, even well into the sixth decade of my life. I’m startled or taken aback when people walk up to me and tell me they are Christians. My first response is the question “Already?” It seems to me a lifelong endeavor to try to live the life of a Christian. I believe that is also true for the Buddhist, for the Muslim, for the Jainist, for the Jew, and for the Taoist who try to live their beliefs. The idyllic condition cannot be arrived at and held on to eternally. It is in the search itself that one finds the ecstasy.”
I haven’t read this passage by Dr. Angelou in many many years. When I read it as a college student in a stifling ultra-conservative, and suffocating environment, trying to find my long-silenced voice for the first time, I made the note “Is this true? Bc (because) if so, I’m tired just thinking about living.”
I smile at that note now. Dr. Maya was right. It is true. And life has been tiring at points…but pure ecstasy along the path. I smile at the girl I was at 19 thinking that I was a Christian and that was that. I smile because here I am…nearly 18 years later wondering what on earth it means to be a Christian and trying to grasp it and hang on. While my parents, my professors, and my church were trying to give me all the rules for getting my Christianity “right” I was reading Angelou, Lewis, Eliot, etc. and finding out that it would be a process and feeling defeated before the battle had begun.
But I’m learning Ms. Maya…I’m learning.
The path is the important part. The journey is important. We spend so much time looking at “the destination” or “the goal” and we just flat miss out on the walk. The beauty around us. The joy of laughter. The agony and delight of being in community. The blessing and curse of being a relational creature trying to serve a relational God and be like his relational Son.
I have stopped being an “are we there yet?” Christian…always hoping for heaven and waiting to be made perfect. Instead I’ve tried to become a “Stop and smell the roses” Christian who laughs, serves, heals, hopes, and loves her way to the finish line of this incarnation and just enjoys the mystery of the next. The first makes us lazy, entitled, and checked out. The latter pushes us to love others, make the world better now, and keep the promise of seeing Jesus’ face in our back pocket as a treat to pull out on the very hard days rather than the inevitable, hum-drum, ho-hum thing we can’t wait to have happen so we can be rescued. Instead of waiting to be rescued…I’m along for the wild ride and have thrown caution to the wind. I’m living so that with my last breath on this earth I can say “Been there. Done that. Helped Her. Loved Him. Got the tattoo! NEXT!?”
“I suddenly began to cry at the grandness of it all. I knew that if God loved me, then I could do wonderful things, I could try great things, learn anything, achieve anything. For what could stand against me with God, since one person, any person with God, constitutes the majority. That knowledge humbles me, melts my bones, closes my ears, and makes my teeth rock loosely in their gums. And also it liberates me. I am a big bird winging over high mountains, down into serene valleys. I am ripples of waves on silver seas. I’m a spring lead trembling in anticipation.”