Monday, September 5, 2011

Star Wars, Scripture, and a wizard: Change, the "will of God", and the unknown...

Here are three things that can bring fear to many of us:

1) Change
2) The "will of God"
3) The "Unknown"

Here are three things that can bring joy to many of us:

1) Change
2) The "will of God"
3) The "Unknown"

Hmm, how can the same three things bring us fear AND joy?

First, let us look at a dialogue from the "Phantom Menace, a.k.a. Star Wars Episode 1 (I should note that this is my least favorite of the Star Wars movies but it does have some decent moments including this one):

OBI-WAN: I have a bad feeling about this.
QUI-GON: I don't sense anything. 
OBI-WAN: It's not about the mission, Master, it's something...elsewhere...elusive. 
QUI-GON: Don't center on your anxiety, Obi- Wan. Keep your concentration here and now where it belongs. 
OBI-WAN: But Master Yoda says I should be mindful of the future... 
QUI-GON: ...but not at the expense of the moment. Be mindful of the living Force, my young Padawan.

Now let us look at the following:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?
(From the Gospel according to Matthew)

Why did I choose to look at a dialogue from a movie, and also to something said by Jesus? Both allow me to look at the following:

Do we not worry about the future?
Perhaps you make plans regarding how to come up with money for the rent or a mortgage. I have been there myself many times. And we worry of what may happen if we do not come up with the money; to be homeless is a reality that many of us do not want for ourselves or our loved ones.

Is it valid to plan and worry about it, yes.
Can it affect us to a point where we can even loose sleep, yes.
But, is that all we should do?
.....And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?....

What if we have a very important meeting at work or with a doctor in about 30 minutes. Do we worry so much that we forget to go to the meeting? We don't want to put our job at risk or our own health at risk if we miss that very important meeting.

But what about the past? Surely the past cannot affect us, only what we are doing in the present. Well...

Perhaps you are going on a date tonight.  You are very excited about it.  So you get ready for it. Then you remember something painful in your life, related to an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend of yours. And you think to yourself, 'should I go on this date'? For all you know, she/he will break your heart later and why allow yourself to be in that situation? You will go from single now, change to (if I am allowed to use a Facebook term) "in a relationship", get your heart broken, then change back to "single".

The future...
The unknown....

They can be very, very scary.  However, what if the date goes well?
Even more, what if it develops into a beautiful and meaningful relationship?
Do we deprive ourselves of this possibility?

The future...
The unknown...

Perhaps you are a Christian and you ask yourself: "Is it the will of God that this may work?"
If you do, the valid question comes:
What is the "will of God"?

To a Christian, there is such a thing. But, how can he/she know about it?
Does she pray?
Does he think about it?
Does she get a 'message' about it?
Does he stop to think how it will affect others?

To an Atheist, some of this may sound like a bunch of nonsense. So, allow me to rephrase this:
What benefits (or problems) can come with this potential relationship?
Is he ready to do this?
What does her mind tell her to do?
How will this affect others around him?

Is the "will of God" something from the outside, external?
Or, is it something from inside of us, internal?

In the end, we analyze the situation, we make a list, we make a plan, etc etc.
But at some point we must act!
Maybe all the planning, all the lists we made, all the preparations will not help us at all.
But at some point we must act!

Kierkegaard never had a problem with reflection, with thinking; after all, he was a thinker himself. But he had a problem with that reflection and that thinking keeping the person from acting, remaining passive, inside of himself and not doing anything. Of not acting!

And it is true: we cannot be fully sure of the outcome.
The result may be something terrible.
But the result may be something wonderful.
Or the result may have elements of both.

But we should not let our anxiety and the mistakes of the past stop us from acting in the now, and having what could be a wonderful future.

I try to look at the past (sometimes I am not good at this, and sometimes I am) as my teacher.
It is in the past that we can recall what worked and what didn't work.
It is in the past that we can remember bad advice and good advice.
It is in the past that we can go back to an experience that could be similar to the one that we have now.

I myself try to do what I can to find out what the "will of God" is, not only in what I must do, but also in how the choices I am making may affect others; that my choices will not harm them, will not cause them suffering but instead will bring them happiness, joy, love. It is my hope that what I am doing is part of the "will of God".  It is also my hope (and part of my drive) that what I am doing now will be the right thing and that I remain open to other possibilities, to changes, to the advice and the wisdom of others when I do act.

I also try my best to remind myself that the "will of God" may elude me.
That if I am lucky, I may grasp a very small part of it.

We do not operate in the isolation of our own hearts and minds. We operate in a world with other human beings, with their own hearts and minds.

The past, the present, and the future: separate from one another, or a part of "one"?

The choices that we make in our lives bring change, and this is unavoidable.
We should never forget that "change" is part of life.
Change will bring to us many moments to our lives and when those moments come we can either let them pass or we can act.

The results of change and the actions we take may bring us pain and suffering. And yet, sometimes because of this pain and suffering we can tell others about our experiences. They in turn may avoid some of the suffering we felt and teach others about it.

...teach others about it...

In these "others" we find both friends and strangers.

As a Christian I must remember that he is my brother.
As a Christian I must remember that she is my sister.
My brother and my sister does not want my hate.
My brother and my sister wants my love.
My love in the past, the present, and the future.
My love when change comes.
My love when anxiety comes.
Perhaps I may 'listen' to the silence of the "will of God".

It has been in moments of prayer, or meditation, of reflection that I been lucky enough to "receive" certain answers.

To my Atheist brothers and sisters allow me to translate:
There are times when we must slow down, stop what we are doing and ask, "now what"?" Perhaps your mind and heart will know what to do. Then again, I think that works for everyone, both Atheist and Christian  :)

Act my friend, act.

The present is important, but do not forget the future!
The future is important, but do not forget the present!

To end this reflection, I leave you with one of the most beautiful quotes from the "Lord of Ring-Fellowship of the Ring":

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us....



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