Walking to work the other day I was enjoying one of my little habits. I have a notebook in my office with the label “Overheard” on the front. I walk and listen to the tidbits of conversation that float around me. A dad and daughter walking together conversed about the end of the day.
“So I’ll pick you up and when we get home you’ll unlock the door.”
“I don’t have a key.”
“Mama said she gave you a key. How are we to get in if you don’t have a key?”
He seemed serious, but she was smiling broadly which made me think that she wasn’t worried and that she was enjoying her father pretending to be worried.
A mom and daughter discussed her social skills. “…and did you have a napkin with your lunch?” “Nope.” “What do you mean you didn’t have a napkin? Did you take a napkin?”
A bus pulled away from the curb and as it swung into the road it revealed a man running across the street behind it, waving, but the bus kept moving. A woman, walking across to our side, started swearing at the bus driver, and then said, “That was wrong! She seen you. She even made you run for the bus. That was ignorant.” (and then looking up at the steeple of the church we were beside) “God, you seen that? That was these ignorant people in this ignorant world.”
I just jot down these little phrases or bits of conversations and think through what I can tell or not tell about them. Can’t ever tell completely what was going on. Sometimes there’s a hint, like the little girl’s smile, but what if she was just unaware momentarily that her father was telling her, for real, that they were locked out? You just can’t ever tell completely.
Conclusions help us deal with the world. We make up stories that fill in the gaps, help us make sense or even bolster our opinion. Unfortunately they can also become gossip or rumor that rest on nothing more than the little bits we make up. It’s hard for me sometimes to not make up complete stories to go with the words I hear. I think it must be for most people and that’s why I think it is important for us to know that we don’t know. And also to know there is something better than figuring out our own story-lines for our experiences. There’s a filler that completes our relationships, ties together so many loose ends of our ideas or just makes them unimportant. And it always works.
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.” 1Corinthians 13:8-10
The stuff we proclaim, the stuff we expect to be part of worship, the stuff we claim as the way everyone should understand life… all of it will fade. And that’s because there’s all this stuff we don’t know. So, right now we only have part, like snatches of conversation. But there will be a day when completeness comes. Until then the closest thing we get to completeness is loving others, whoever they may be.
Man! When does this stuff get easy?