(…Or at least have a supporting role.)
At least once a month, I receive a new newsletter called PARSE, written by Paul Pastor, the online editor for Leadership Journal. If you’re interested, you can subscribe by clicking here.
This is an example of the short essays he writes…
To be honest, sometimes I think that I’m the center of the universe. That I am some human version of Foucault’s Pendulum; the one fixed point around which the cosmos rotates.
Here’s how this plays out. Most of the time, I act like other people are just the supporting cast of a film I’m starring in. My wife’s a co-star of course. Close friends and family have big roles, full of humor and drama. There are bit parts too, mostly to help the plot along and add some color. The man with dreadlocks who pumps my gas. My favorite barista. The mailman. An old professor. Strangers are extras, maybe chorus members for a musical number.
“THE STORY OF PAUL” the promo poster says in my mind. “CO-STARRING EMILY, CHRIS, IRENE, OREGON, CHICAGO, AUNT PAM …”
What would happen if I realized that life wasn’t really my movie at all? What if I were actually a supporting actor in the “films” of dozens of my friends and family, a mild villain in a few old co-worker’s films. A comic character in some, tragic in others, sometimes just a member of the chorus, a flashing blip visible only when you pause the frame, back it up, analyze that tan blur there off to the left.
We’re all players in each others’ stories. Somehow, all those lovely, winding narratives mesh up to make bigger ones. The Story of Paul folds like tiny origami into the story of the 21st Century Church. The story of Post-Enlightenment Culture. The Story of History. Those in turn fold together into yet larger tales. The Story of Carbon Based Life. The Story of the Planet Earth. The Story of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Those, in turn, mash up yet again. The Story of the Universe. The Story of Creation and Re-Creation. The Story of God.
Those are plots too big for my comprehension. And I have the hubris to think that I am the center of it all? That all this revolves around my awkward mutterings?
I repent of my foolishness, but am daunted by a marvelous thing; you and I still have speaking parts, no matter how big the story gets.
May we deliver our lines well in the Story of the Church and Her Culture, standing here as we do, at the edge of infinite stages.