This week has been a week of uncertainty revealed. What we thought we knew, we no longer know for certain. It is a week of surprises, and of uncovering deeper meaning perhaps.
Today let’s talk about Pluto, Atticus Finch, and Family.I never did accept a re-ordered list of planets placing Pluto before Neptune when the crazy orbit of Pluto crossed the orbit of Neptune several years ago. I also never unlearned Pluto from the list of planets I had committed to memory as young as 6 or 7 years old.
Like so many, To Kill a Mockingbird is among my favorite books. It’s one of the very few books I have read more than once in my life (works of Dr. Seuss notwithstanding). When I found out that a sequel was to be released I pre-ordered my copy! What a treasure, I hoped.This week I was thrilled to get up close and personal with two old friends and like many, I was amazed at what I saw. Atticus may not be the wise beacon of justice and the advocate for those with no voice we all thought he was. Pluto may be much more than the floating lump of coal many have tried to downgrade her to.
These two realizations are somewhat like Looking for Chris has been. I thought when I was a boy I knew who Chris was: Clever, attractive but not stunning, witty and resourceful, not overly ambitious – why would I be when life came easily. I thought when I was a young man I knew who Chris was: Still clever, still attractive but not stunning, still witty and resourceful, and still not overly ambitious – life remained easy.
Then came family. Clever gave way to stress, attractive to baldness and weight gain, witty to frustration, and resourceful to hard working. Life wasn’t easy. I married into an instant family of four and by the age of thirty I was married with a family of six with kids ages 3-14, and now I was not at all in love with my wife or my life. There was so much uncertainty, so much outside of my control. I couldn’t make my wife laugh with a wink and smile and get her to respond in the same way. I couldn’t get my kids to act a certain way with cleverness. I worked hard, and time was short. No time for anything.
It was at this stage, through what can only be described as love from neighbors, that I came to know true faith. It wasn’t touchy feely love. It was love that traded to get my kid on his baseball team so he could get to know us. It was love that prayed for us, though we hardly knew them and kept our cards close to the chest. It was love that kindly shared cookouts and bottles of wine. It was love that patiently answered questions when we started to ask.
What I thought I knew about Chris disappeared when I found real faith at the age of 30. But what I thought I knew a few years later also disappeared over the next decade and gave way to a new Chris. He is still a work in progress.
I have not yet finished Go Set A Watchman – the older Atticus will no doubt inspire, as he has for more than a half a century, but likely in a different way. Maybe he’ll even surprise himself. Also, we probably will not know very many of the deep mysteries of Pluto in my lifetime, rather I’d guess scientists will generate more questions than answers. I wonder if a person will ever be close enough to really see her face to face.
I have found that following Christ through this life is much like waiting on the next mystery to reveal itself. After what has been a decade of true chaos in our family, we have found this summer, finally, to be a season of peace.
Our daughter has come home as a beautifully pleasant young lady, with enough hurt in her heart for three lifetimes, and a humor and calmness that reminds us of when she was 10. Two sons (who I have yet to write much about) who each were lost in a world of drugs, have found their way out. Each has independently found his source of inspiration and stimulation which can sustain him in healthy ways. Our youngest, The Graduate, came out as homosexual to us this past spring. This, as I have shared, has sent my theological mind and heart in topsy-turvy movement rethinking all I thought I knew about God’s Law, Love and Creation. This is still a work in progress between God and me.
This summer, after a long storm, we have found a morning calm, peace in our home, in our hearts and in our family. Perhaps it is the fruit, the essence of the vine, beginning to emerge as mature. Truth overcoming mystery and light overcoming darkness.
Truth will always be true and love will conquer all, and some mysteries will remain so.