Monday, December 21, 2009

what do you get the person who has everything?

i first saw this video a couple of days ago. i'm not a huge oprah fan. i'm not a huge oprah critic. i just don't pay much attention. however, this video brought me great joy. i thought to myself "self...there is a person who could buy anything in this world, but she couldn't buy that." and it showed on her face. she's got, what, a billion billion billion? and yet...21,000 people dancing for her. not just dancing like "woohoo! i'm at oprah's shindig!", but learning a dance that was part of a surprise gift to her from her staff and the Black Eyes Peas.

if you watch her reaction, you'll see they succeeded in the surprise. i think you'll also see that she's seeing something she just could not have created. she could have assembled 21,000 people. she could have paid them to dance for her. but that would have been buying the love. she could have asked them to dance for her. they would have. but, still, it would have been asked for, and expected. of course they would dance for her if she asked. she's oprah and they love her.

but there's something deeper in all of this. first, whatever one's personal feelings about oprah may be, the people who pulled this off, the people who taught, and the people who learned...they sought to do something not asked for. they looked for a way to express how they felt without payment or request. and the result shows in oprah's eyes and smile and body language. it's going out of one's way to express the joy and love that they have for someone.

there's something else. where i come from dance was sort of a no no. dancing caused pregnancy, i think was the general line of thinking. i always wondered about that...partly because i wanted to be relatively normal (a lost cause, i'm sure) but mostly because i saw so many references to it in the Bible which was supposed to be the basis for the faith in which i was growing up. i don't think i knew it then, but this is what i think i missed. there is a joy and unity coming from this celebration that causes all other divisions to cease existing for a few moments. the people dancing cross probably nearly every cultural and subcultural line we could ever think to draw between us...color, creed, economic status, gender, faith, etc, etc...and for a few hours learning and a few minutes dancing they ignore it all. it is humanity as it is supposed to be. united and with a common goal...celebration and praise and worship. and that got me to thinking about one more level of what i see here.

someday, i believe that a part of my eternity is going to look a lot like that, only milllions and billions of people in the crowd, with some pretty amazing worship leaders calling the crowd together. and while God will likely not be surprised by anything, i do believe the expressions might not be all that different as His people, not for payment or for being asked, celebrate, praise,and worship the One who has given life so easily to the greatest of gods we exalt on earth down to the smallest of those we neglect while giving up that exaltation. and we will dance in unison, people from every tribe and tongue, and the whole earth will be filled with His glory.

that's gonna be fun!

beauty and brokenness

i owe this blog several posts. my brain works no less. it's just had some trouble connecting it to the fingers lately.

i spend a lot of time around some of the uglier sides of society and culture. truly it can be overwhelming at times. i think sometimes that the heartbreaking stories in the world can cause my heart to scar and make it a little tougher than i'd like it to be. but, somehow, as often as i'm distressed and distraught, i'm just as often completely caught by the beauty of this world. it makes for a strange tension.

for a world that is broken and has so much pain and hurt, it's remarkably full of breath-catching sights, smells that draw us into long forgotten memories, flavors that pause time, and sounds that can soften the hardest of hearts.

in the middle of some very tedious work tonight i decided to listen to a version of The Water is Wide that my brother found. i've loved that song for a long time, especially by Eva Cassidy, but this version, as he put it "is the best i've ever heard." i ended up taking a bit of a break, listening to probably 15 different versions. one of them had some water and boat scenes in the video and i just sort of went off to my happy place.

water is my favorite part of nature and after a few minute of thinking of the places from where these photos were taken and letting my mind drift with the music, a thought came to my mind. someday this scarred heart and all the damaged places of this world will be redeemed...and my heart jumped to think "what more beauty could there be in a fully reconciled world? my senses reel at the dimly seen much more will i well up when seeing all as it should be?"

i am blessed even to see much of the beauty present in this world as it is. so many will never taste, hear, smell, feel, or see the things that life in a developed country or in a privileged life bring. i do not want to soak up all i can now at the expense of fighting the brokenness that wearies the soul at times. there will always be more to see and taste and smell and hear and feel. it would be a useless challenge to seek it all. instead, i will relish the chances i do get, and work to bring reconcilation to the brokenness in and around me through the one who gives beauty and heals pain. i know one thing for sure. i'd rather have both ends of the spectrum than live somwhere in the middle and never touch either. after all, both beauty and brokenness already live in me..