"O Lord, you have searched me and known me...you formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb." --from Psalm 139
interior life is not a question of seeing extraordinary things, but
rather of seeing the ordinary things with the eyes of God." --Thomas H.
I recently saw the movie, ''Date
Night" starring Tina Fey and Steve Carell (two of my favorite comic
actors these days). In the movie, when they are out on a date having
dinner together, this married couple (Claire and Phil Foster) play a
game called, "What's the story?" Phil will look at Claire and, nodding
in the direction of people sitting at a nearby table, will say, "So
what's the story?" On the spot, Claire has to create an imaginary, zany
story about the people. The sillier, more outlandish, the better.
Laughter, of course, ensues.
Sometimes I play a less silly version of this game myself. I'll see
the picture of someone in the paper who has committed a crime, and
staring at the picture I'll wonder, "So what's the story?" Or I'll see a
person holding up a sign at an intersection asking for work or food or
money, and I'll wonder, "So, what's the story?" Or even just as I watch
the person in line in front of me at the store, I'll wonder, "So, what's
the story?" And when I "play" this, I'm not wondering about just the
factual information of their life--where they have lived or what they
have done or who their family is. I'm going deeper and wondering about
all the dynamics and circumstances and choices and influences in their
life that have brought them to this time and place. Sometimes, when I do
this, I imagine the person as a tiny baby. And it reminds me that they
were once--as we all were--a vulnerable, helpless little child that was
completely dependent on others. And then I wonder at all that has
transpired between that time as a baby and the person I've just
seen--which is another way of asking, "So, what's the story?"
We human beings can be so quick to make assumptions about people, to
assign certain motivations to the actions of others, to judge them
based on scant information. But human beings are so complex, too
mysterious, that it really isn't possible to know another person
completely. God knows us inside and out, but finite human beings can
never definitively, completely know one another.
So when I find myself irritated by another person, or frustrated by
them, or when I find myself judging someone, something that helps me
honor the mystery of their humanity is to imagine them as a very small
child and ask the question, "So, what is the story?"
Prayer: Life-Giving God, we
thank you and praise you for the incredible diversity that flows from
your creative impulse. Help us to honor the mystery of the people that
will cross our path today. Amen.