Thursday, July 16, 2009

Going Back to Squares One

Have you ever gotten so familiar with a skill, discipline, game, profession, or something thereof that you forget how to reduce it down to its most basic rules and elements? So when someone new comes along and says, "explain 'X' to me," you find you really can't just basically explain "X" anymore without going into the whys and hows of how it all fits together. My "X" in this area lately is music. I can't just tell someone a rule to memorize without telling them precisely why it works this way. And quite often, I almost can't put it in words. The things I used to know as patterns and acronyms have become part of my intuition, and I'm so interested in the revolving music planet that I can't explain to someone what a tree looks like on that planet. Now, let me stop right there...I AM NOT AN AMAZING MUSIC THEORIST OR VIRTUOSIC MUSICIAN. But for my part of it, and for the youth that I try to teach how to play in a band, I'm finding it's hard to recapture from my mental reflexes, and from acquired intuition those initial rules that build the musical world. I bring this up because I am interested in honing an important skill: the skill of passing on something I am passionate about to those who come after me.

I sometimes have also found this same trouble for me in explaining the gospel or Christianity to young people. Again, I am not claiming to be an amazing, wise spiritual person. But, I'm just simply saying that it's hard to tell someone how to take their first steps on the journey when you are aware of every obstacle that could come, every turn that could lead astray, every oasis on the path etc. You can't just explain ALL of that from the get-go.

I used to be able to give the textbook answer for why we forgive, or why we believe in Jesus. I used to be a great apologist, coming up with theologically sound arguments for how God works and how the Bible works. I feel that I'm not good at explaining any of that anymore. It's no longer rules or statements or mental gymnastics for me. It's my deliverance, my passion, the air I breathe. Kids ask why I believe: I used to cite maybe the chances of Jesus' story being true or other incidental things, but now I can only say, I've never encountered any other faith that so accurately describes who I am as a sinner and how I am delivered from it. I can only share about what's happened in my life. I used to see God/faith as making sense; now I see it as truly beautiful (which to many probably seems like pure nonsense).

That's all good for me, but the balance I want to strike is how to continue where I am in my walk of faith, but still know how to speak the language of those who are just starting. I hate to sound condescending-- trust me, I have a loooong way to go! I just wanted to share my current thoughts and see if you've felt the same. How do you explain something that has become so integral to your life and actions?

I'll try to write more...sorry for the long delay!!!!! Patrick