Eternity versus Now
Dear old and new friends,
The creative artist Sister Corita Kent once said, “If Jesus was among us now he wouldn’t tell parables, he take us to the movies!” That’s a marvelous insight since good plays and movies are more than entertainment. So ponder the German film story of the Wings of Desire.
In this movie an angel named Damiel is assigned to Berlin to observe and chronicle human activities and feelings. One day he confides to another angel how he longs to say to the humans he observes, “Now, now, this moment, forget about eternity and forever!” He also has this overwhelming desire to enter into history so to feel the simplest of things humans do even for the briefest moment. Damiel then falls in love with a beautiful circus trapeze artist and bravely chooses to plummet into humanity declaring, “Now or never!”
His first act as a human is a common one he’s observed as an angel that humans do innumerable times—drink a cup of coffee. First Damiel holds the cup of hot coffee with both hands allowing it’s warmth to submerge sensually into his flesh and then slowly sips the dark invigorating liquid. Raising his eyes from the cup, he looks at life swirling about him in a kaleidoscope of vivacious different yet harmonizing colors. Damiel sighs and then smiles contentedly, even if he has given up heaven and eternity for this single moment.
Stop Reading Here!
Pause and ask yourself what this German film/parable personally says to you. Take your time. A parable is a puzzle intended to disrupt your accepted wisdom and so may have several meanings. The most important is what it means to you. Now go to your brain cabinet and open the top drawer. What do you find?
If you discover that first drawer is empty, pause briefly and review the story Wings of Desire. Don’t be in a hurry. Refrain from eagerly racing on to do something easier like checking your e-mail. After a brief reflection, open the second drawer in your mind cabinet asking what for me was the message.
I’m in a hurry,” you complain! “I don’t have time to play puzzle games; I’ve important things to do today. Just tell me, what’s the meaning of this parable?” Sorry, I can’t and be faithful to the wandering Teacher of Galilee who never explained any of his parables!
Oh, but you object because in the gospels a couple of times Jesus explains his parables. Those words, however, didn’t come from his lips. They were added years later by the early church and integrated into the Jesus oral tradition, and some fifty years later they were written into the gospels.
Forget Eternity! Sink your teeth today into an ordinary moment.