The other night I had a dream I was in a library or storage room of some sort. It was huge and organized like The Container Store. In the corner of the room I noticed a box of globes and old maps, both of which I love, so I walked over to take a globe. As soon as I picked it up the world collapsed in on itself and the hard resin shell turned to paper. As I tried to put it together and fold the pieces of paper just right- it made a fan and would not puff out into a sphere. I couldn’t build the world. My world.
And just like that my subconscious threw me a bone.
I woke up curious and surprised that this dream or story-line stuck with me. I’d say there are a few obvious things in my life I’m trying to build or create right now that seem to be at a dead halt. Aside from the personal, I think we can all identify with the larger theme of the world being in some sort of flux. When talking about the current political climate, of which I’ve read so many humane and articulate interpretations, I think it’s easy to get exhausted and more committed at the same time.
I haven’t developed the skill, or nerve to publicly write about controversial firecracker topics online. I’d say I can hold my own and verbally editorialize with some intense rhetoric and over the top hand gestures to the right crowd, however. All of which is to say, while situations in my own world and the larger scope may leave me feeling powerless, an innate truth gets overlooked. We are always choosing fear or love. And for me, I’m reminded to choose love when I hear stories.
As I try to make sense of what I should do in my own world and the world, I thought of Brian Doyle. The man is a favorite, and is an awesome essay writer. Once upon a time he wrote the truth when he said: “All stories are, in some form, prayers.” He later connected his need to write and tell stories, “that both inform and move their readers,” with the simple declaration that, “that is what I do to shoulder the universe forward two inches.” He writes, and tells stories to create momentum. Waves of reminders to choose love, essentially.
I have a friend who tells it like it is. In a moment of frustration with an employee she sighed, “Find your corner, be creative.” T-shirt slogan worthy. But really, find your corner of the vineyard, and go to work. It doesn’t mean playing small, but sometimes you have to build your own corner of the world, feel minuscule, and be creative. It can be as simple as listening to your neighbor, being patient with a tough student or child, or waiting a little longer for someone or something. This is the tender gravity of loving because the people in your corner of the vineyard have incredible stories. And then somehow these stories thread our own prayers and desires together.
I’m no longer interested in sideline discipleship. I’ve been on the bench before, but now I think it’s time to get into the arena and play by whatever creative means – albeit small or large – our stories and prayers allow. So as I build my world, and let it take on whatever form it needs to, I think the important thing I want to remember from that dream (besides I want some cool old maps and a globe) is let it fall, let it break, then find your corner and move that universe, your universe, forward line by line inch by inch.
What do you do to move your world forward a few inches? How do you strive to simultaneously make a difference while remaining still in uncertainty?