Monday, September 6, 2010

Playing a Game

"At times he heard within him a soft, gentle voice,
which reminded him quietly, complained quietly,
so that he could hardly hear it.
Then he suddenly saw clearly
that he was leading a strange life,
that he was doing many things that were only a game,
that he was quite cheerful
and sometimes experienced pleasure,
but that real life was flowing past him
and did not touch him.
Like a player who plays with his ball,
he played with his business,
with the people around him,
watched them, derived amusement from them;
but with his heart, with his real nature,
he was not there.
His real self wandered elsewhere, far away, 
wandered on and on invisibly
and had nothing to do with his life."
-Herman Hesse

Do the quote and picture seem contradictory? Good. They are. If you knew Dave, the contrast would be even more stark.

Dave isn't just playing a game. Instead of toying with his work and people for his own amusement, he engages. Mine was the privilege of working with Dave when I lived in Lancaster, and I hope I assimilated something of his characteristic love for people.

One Sunday afternoon, while taking a walk, I witnessed a motorcycle accident. One man, my neighbor, landed in the ditch with obvious head injuries. The other man dragged himself and his nearly severed leg off the road. I sat on the bank, lacking the training to do anything about the groans and screams, waiting for the ambulances and police to arrive. One of the ambulances was driven by Dave and his wife, Mary, who have been EMT volunteers for many years. Just seeing them at the scene, I felt comforted. The gentle, professional manner in which Dave served the patient was familiar to me; that was how Dave treated his employees at work. I knew the man was in good hands. The following morning, Dave met me in the entry at work, asking if I wanted to talk. "The responders have a chance to debrief and talk about the trauma they witnessed, and you didn't have that," he said. Not only was talking therapeutic, but also the fact that he thought about me and made sure I was alright.

When Haiti was struck by an earthquake, Dave and Mary immediately joined a team of medical volunteers sent by Christian Aid Ministries... during a busy time at work. Everyone said it was "such a Dave and Mary thing" to do, and the picture of Dave changing the bandages on the little boy's head is "so Dave". He gives with heart, and he lives a vibrant, full life.

Visualize, for a moment, life as a crystal of myriad facets. Imagine the earth, people, self, and the Maker of All being the primary facets, the ones with the most surface area, the predominate interactions one makes on a daily basis. Just as blocking the light from any facet of a crystal banishes the rainbows that dance on the walls, refusing to give one's self... to genuinely know and be known... on any facet of life dulls life of the splendor it was meant to be. Conversely, in really loving people, I love in them myself. In loving people, myself, and the earth, I love in them their Maker. In loving Him, I love them.

Knowing and being known... loving... is much harder than wandering aimlessly apart from my own existence. However, I'd rather be purified by the humility, vulnerability, and work requisite to unity with the existence gifted to me. I'd rather dive deeply into the vibrant depths of this communal gift, the gift of life.

I don't want to be only playing a game. I want to receive what a great Man named Jesus (whom I suspect taught Dave how to live) offers: not only life, but Life Abundant.

1 comment:

Martina said...

a hearty 'amen' to this post! Dave & Mary are a great couple!