Monday over Coffee: Quietly & Humbly

MONDAY OVER COFFEE: JUNE 14, 2021
Need a Word of Encouragement?
Quietly & Humbly
Over the course of history, approximately 120 billion people have lived on this planet. And we now know that Earth is only one of a hundred billion planets that exist in just our galaxy alone. Further, as there are about two trillion known galaxies in the universe, it's estimated there are about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets in the universe. About 300 million of these, NASA tells us, appear suitable to support some kind of life. Further, the universe is about 14 billion years old and is made up of 68% dark energy, 27% dark matter, 4.9% normal matter (i.e., protons, neutrons, and electrons), 0.1% neutrinos, 0.01% photons (i.e., particles of light and radiation), and less than 0.4% of things like spatial curvature, cosmic strings, and other fanciful, exotic components which are mostly beyond our comprehension.
This is all to say, based on the length of time that has elapsed since the Big Bang and the make-up and size of the universe as we know it, we—you and me—don't represent much of it at all. Our existence barely qualifies under the definition of infinitesimal. And yet, we sense within the remarkable and mysterious thing we call consciousness that our Creator is mindful of us. In fact, our faith goes so far as to tell us that God loves us and loves us so dearly that what was most dear to God was sacrificed readily for us.
What do we do with all of this? What do we make of it?
A Soldier of the Great War is a terrific book written by one of my favorite authors, Mark Helprin, and tells the story of an aged World War I veteran named Alessandro Giuliani. Alessandro recounts his adventures, misadventures, and philosophies of life and art to a young man named Nicolo whom he meets after they're thrown off a bus together in the Italian countryside outside of Rome. In full mentor mode, Allesandro offers Nicolo this:
"I'm going to tell you something that you may or may not understand, and I want you to memorize it and say it to yourself now and then until someday you do understand it."
"Is it long?" Nicolo asked.
"No."
"Go ahead then."
"Nicolo," Alessandro said.
"Nicolo."
"The spark of life is not gain."
"The spark of life is not gain."
"Nor is it luxury."
"Nor is it luxury."
"The spark of life is movement."
"Movement."
"Color."
"Color."
"Love."
"Love."
"And furthermore..."
"And furthermore..."
"If you really want to enjoy life you must work quietly and humbly to realize your delusions of grandeur."
"But I don't have any," Nicolo said.
"Start to have them," Allesandro said.
Nicolo shook his head affirmatively.
Delusions of grandeur are not some things with which we usually want to be identified. We all know people who think awfully highly of themselves, and it's not a quality we warm to a great deal. Lack of self-awareness. Blind spots. Narcissim. Over-confidence. A false belief in one's superiority. They're all rather unattractive.
What if, not with arrogance and self-importance, but as Allesandro urges, quietly and humbly we work earnestly to align ourselves with the Creator of the Universe's work and realize a partnership is miraculously being put on offer to us every day. What if, though fully knowing we're unfit for glory and often fail to follow even the basic operating instructions for our lives, we really are made to do grand things. To give joy to one another. To create. To love one another. While incapable of creating two trillion galaxies or understanding things like spatial curvatures and cosmic strings, what if we simply accept God's grand offer and commit ourselves, on a human scale, to the very things God does for us.
What are the delusions of grandeur that the God of this virtually boundless universe wants you to quietly and humbly pursue at this precise moment in time within the unimaginably vast expanse of all existence? How can you take part in increasing the volume of love in the world, in promoting joy, and in more fully joining with God's creative process and the divine effort to heal everything and everyone on this little rock hurtling through space?
To meditate on this for even a few minutes leaves one with the idea that if God indeed is mindful of us and loves us as our faith teaches, we probably ought to pursue our grand delusions. In the end, they may not be so delusional after all.


God—
Help me to start: to start to have and then to quietly and humbly work to realize my delusions of grandeur, which mysteriously and remarkably not only matter to You but contribute to the wonder of the universe.
Amen.
—Greg Funderburk


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