A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

Going to see Don Miller speak about story on Monday night (http://donmilleris.com/) in Flint. My college boy is home this weekend, and has the guy’s newest book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I don’t read a lot of “religious” stuff anymore (no rants right now), but have always loved Miller’s ability to tell a story. He’s conversation; he’s funny. He’s a guy you want to sit down with over a beer, because you know he’s as self-conscious and obsessively self-aware as you are. And if you both know you’re in the same frame of mind, you can laugh and have a good time.

Anyway … I’m trying to buzz through this book before Monday night (I hate not knowing what’s being talked about when I do something like this). So, I’m downing it on this blustery Friday afternoon, and I run smack-dab into this statement:

“I keep imagining these people, just living their daily lives, and then having them suddenly ended in unjust tragedy. When we watch the news, we grieve all of this, but when we go to the movies, we want more of it. Somehow we realize that great stories are told in conflict, but we are unwilling to embrace the potential greatness of the story we are actually in. We think God is unjust, rather than a master storyteller.”

If you are not, a person of faith, this statement poses little problem, because you have determined that every choice you make directs you on to the next step. Your “story” is written without any existential editorial help from a “greater power.” Whatever happens — happens. The only determinant is what you chose to do, to act on, to accomplish. So, the triumph, the blame, the conflict and the “happy endings” all fall on you and those you choose to surround yourself with.

If, however, you are a person of faith — of any type of “belief” — this statement becomes a truism. None of us like pain. No one I know enjoys disillusionment, betrayal, brokenness. Some of us have made a “story arc” of these tragedies, connecting fracture after fracture, slipping more than occasionally into cynicism, and yet still struggling like an abuse victim to “save the relationship” with have with the Divine. Not willing to walk out.

I’ve walked both paths in search of … myself? Truth? Meaning? I have good friends on both sides of the fence, all calling out and claiming they have the answers. But in all my wanderings I continue to stay somewhere in the center lane … not willing to chuck faith totally, but not willing tie myself eternally to the system of dispensation known as religion.

So when the question of pain and loss are thrown into the dialog, I become a bit quiet. I know the “good” that comes through honing, through struggle and the wrestling with “God” that brings me to a stronger, better place. But I also know the seismic fissures that it brings to many people, separating them from all things physical, spiritual, mental. Some times,  pain is the catalysis for a person’s leaving of any type of faith. And while the hurt doesn’t keep them there … eventually, most people “get over it” … it does open doors for doubt and intellectual reasoning that can no longer align itself with faith of any kind.

So, what is my story? Is it one of spiritual mud wrestling that will result in a pillar of faith, touting the Divine as the answer to all life’s questions? Or will it be a tragedy of love and live and loss that finds the protagonist wandering the streets of Ethiopia, looking for meaning?

Ah, isn’t that the best part of a good story? Struggling, day by day, read by read, walking along with a person as they discover their own story unfolding? Not reading ahead to the ending? Like Harold Crick, I know I’m a character. And somehow, I still think I can interact with the author, and I have some say into how this story goes.

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2 Comments »

  1. Gaye Castle-Pollard Said:

    Thanks for the tears….it is good to be alive…tears remind me that I have not shut down all of my emotions…yet
    Your kids are amazing and you have given the world such a sacred gift by there lives and what they are and will contribute to the world.
    Gaye

  2. hcg cream Said:

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