Friday, January 10, 2014

Break open my fish bowl

I remember the first time I came through Narita airport. Stepping through the terminal doors felt like stepping out onto a stage, in the middle of a play. Everyone around me seemed to know their characters and lines, and there I was, caught without a clue or a script, but trying so hard to pretend I knew my lines. Every interaction felt like a scripted scene, the people around me distant, like characters on a TV screen. I was only half there, really, peering out at it all from behind a glass wall. I loved it though, the excitement. It felt like magic.
It doesn’t feel like magic anymore. The glass wall cracked and shattered quietly somewhere along the way. I don’t remember where, exactly, but I remember it hurt. Even now, my hands sting from the little cuts the broken glass made when it fell. It hurts, but I’m coming to think maybe this small brokenness isn’t such a terrible thing after all.
Today I passed my ticket to the bus driver, and a spark of static electricity along with it, jumping finger-to-finger. He jumped and I apologized, chuckling, and he did too, smiling under his hat as he handed my ticket stub back. There was no glass wall. There was no script. Just two people momentarily together in a funny moment.
That’s all we are, really; people standing face-to-face with an ocean between us until the glass breaks. It’s so strange, the things we allow to divide us. Language? Temporary. Culture? Even more temporary. Economics? Education? What do any of these things matter against the weight of eternity? Because people, the real us that we are when there’s nothing else, that is eternal. That matters. That’s why Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman, in the face of Jewish culture. That’s why he chose fisherman and harlots for friends, and healed the children of Roman oppressors. Because people are more important, so much more important than the things that separate us.
 I don’t want to forget that. I want to remember the scars much deeper than mine that broke his hands to crush what separated us from Him. I want to hold this truth like a sledgehammer against every glass wall.

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