Knowing and Being Known


My wife and I drove to Staunton, Virginia, Friday a week ago to watch The Taming of the Shrew at the Blackfriars Playhouse, part of the American Shakespeare Center. It was hilarious and extremely well acted.

As an English major many years earlier, I’d taken a Shakespeare class and been to Washington, D.C., to see a live performance of Macbeth–a tragedy. But I’d never seen a Shakespearean comedy. Nor had my wife ever seen a Shakespearean play in person at all.

We laughed almost continually, or so it seemed. The physical aspects of the comedy were clever and as well coordinated as the speaking of the lines. A total delight, and quite a reminder of the huge difference between reading a play silently as a homework assignment and seeing it come to life on the stage.

Afterwards, we saw that the actors playing Katherina and Petruchio (the shrew and her suitor) were talking with people in the lobby. We waited for our turn.

Annabelle Rollison and Ronald Roman-Melendez couldn’t have been more gracious. She said–quite sincerely and enthusiastically–that learning that this had been my wife’s first Shakespearean play (and the fact it had made such a good impression on her) had made her day. And they were more than willing to let one of the theater volunteers take a picture of us with them. (The two closeups are my work.)

       

It was really nice to get to know these two actors, no matter how casually, and–for just a few moments–to be the center of their attention. We wouldn’t expect them to remember us if we ever met again, but at least for the duration of our brief visit, we mattered to one another.

Some years ago I read a statement from someone who claimed that God couldn’t be real. How could anyone possibly know everyone in the world in intimate detail? And how could anyone pay attention to multiple prayers that might be going on at the same time?

I strongly disagreed, of course. My first thought was of the little book Your God Is too Small. That perfectly described the person who’d offered such a limited view of God.

Many times over the years, I’ve praised God for being so much bigger, more powerful, more righteous, more merciful, more of everything good than I could possibly understand. My God is awesome–the only One worthy of that word. He’s beyond my ability to comprehend, and I’m glad.

How could anyone possibly love, worship, follow, and depend on a god that human beings could describe adequately in human terms and put in a box that way?

We didn’t establish an ongoing relationship with the actors we met, no matter how pleasant our short time together was. But our relationship with God is eternal. Knowing and being known by Him is infinitely more important than any of our human relationships.

Your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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What Makes You Happy?

Nothing makes me happy the way chocolate does. And pizza. Not together, of course.

But that kind of happiness doesn’t last long. And too much of that kind of happiness could take my weight back up from 147 to where it was five years ago, over 200 pounds.

Hmm. I’m not an overly materialistic person; I pay strict attention to the family budget and to the amount of space we have. Still, wouldn’t a $2500+ Taylor guitar or a BMW sports car make me happy?

Both of those things would bring a different kind of happiness and one that might seem more permanent than pizza and chocolate.

But I know enough about myself and about happiness to know I wouldn’t ultimately be any happier if I had both of those things. Even if I didn’t reach the point of taking them for granted, either of them could be stolen, damaged, or destroyed. And where would I be then?

Would I cease to be happy if something happened to either of those things? Or to favorite photographs and recordings that couldn’t be replaced?

Nope. I would undoubtedly be upset at first, but then I would count my blessings. And I would remember that my happiness is not dependent on things.

Looking back at my seventy years of life, I can pick out a number of successes (and ignore a number of failures). Things I’m proud of. But does the memory make me happy? Not really. Not anymore. Especially if I’m failing to do anything noteworthy now. The happiness I gained from having three novels traditionally published has faded into remembered pleasure. But it’s the next book that will bring happiness of sorts…until that fades and I must focus on the book after that.

Happiness is an odd bird, isn’t it? One that won’t remain in its cage, even with the door shut.

Nonetheless, I am happy. Not usually an exuberant kind of happy, but a peaceful kind of happy.

Peaceful? Now there’s the secret. Happiness and peace are very similar, and peace isn’t necessarily the absence of violence or of conflict. It’s an attitude. We can decide to be happy.

Yes, it’s easier when everything’s going right, but it’s not dependent on that. When our relationships with God, other people, and even with ourselves are the way they should be, peace is a natural byproduct. And that peace brings happiness.

So, what makes you happy? Are you conscious of the effect of good relationships in your life? Or of bad relationships? Please leave a comment.

I’d like to express my thanks to Andy Stanley for his video series on happiness. Although we’ve only seen the first program so far in our Wednesday night Bible study, he inspired some of the ideas I elaborated on in this post.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger