Brian’s Reflection: Monday, October 25, 2010
A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.
And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion
are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle
that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.
John Steinbeck, American author; on this date,
1962, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Yes. Steinbeck, in his wisdom, speaks the truth ….. I think. Oh, I don’t personally think that human beings are so ridiculous or stupid that we don’t examine what’s going on and make choices. Most of us do. But often we are reacting, not acting. It takes a confident, courageous human being to act, to make decisions in sync with beliefs and principles that we have struggled to formulate, understand, and value. As Steinbeck says, each of us is unique, and each of us has a unique Journey to make ….. perhaps many.
Do we conceive of the Trip? Or, as Steinbeck claims, does the “Trip” take us? I think both. The Trip – Life – may indeed be laid on for us. We emerge from the womb and, at some point, we choose to make the Trip. But Life is a Mystery of its own. If we have been lucky, we have been prepared for the Trip, helped to see the Trip of Life as a great adventure, that it will unfold both from the opportunities offered and the choices we make or reject. Some people scurry to keep up; they have no sense of a partnership . Others make a covenant with Life, and together create a unique masterpiece.
People like to think that Jesus had it all planned out for Him ….. and that He knew the Plan. Not if He was fully Human (as the theology maintains) He didn’t! I think that the claim of Jesus’ “foreknowledge” is the creation of a church desperate to make a certainty out of a Life that is not a certainty. Rather, Jesus made a covenant with the God Who was His Life – the God of Unconditional Love and Justice – and made His choices, consistent with His God. The Trip was given to Jesus: human life. He partnered It, confident in the character of His heavenly Father.
The Buddha did the same. The Trip took him out of his father’s palace to the reality of suffering and death. He embraced Life, spent years coming to understand Reality, achieved Freedom from Illusion, and taught the way to journey together with Life - the wonder of Life and the magnificence of the human spirit together.
It is, however, critical to see the truth of Steinbeck’s insight: “ .. all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless.” He is exaggerating for effect. But: none can be counted on. They are all four tentative. They all fail. Especially coercion.
The wise human being knows the greatest skill on the Trip of Life: Change.