I Can’t Escape…
I picked up this book from our library's "New Fiction" rack because I like the cover. Then I read that it was about an ordinary guy who suddenly finds himself with a "super power". Only it's not that super, and he has no idea what to do with it. I figured this is how any power I would develop would hit me, so I decided to pick it up.
I'm often amazed how I "randomly" pick up books, movies, CD's that are overtly spiritual even when (maybe even especially when) I'm not trying. And lately (read, the last few years), I'm not often trying…
This book was a good case in point. The characters are awkward (awkward's the new funny in case you haven't noticed, i.e. The Office, Ugly Betty, Arrested Development, any Judd Apthow work – which I am not endorsing). The plot's somewhat interesting (if not completely stilted). And the main character starts every day with 12 shots of espresso. So it was interesting. But what kept me reading was James belief that maybe God was behind this new "skill" and maybe there was a point to it.
SPOILER ALERT! I'm going to take the risk that you're not going to read the book (and even if you do, this won't really ruin anything since it's not that plot driven) and let you read the last few pages of the book…
From Leaper by Geoffrey Wood
"I came here to see you, James."
"You should have called. I'd have put on some coffee."
"Careful with yourself. This moment matters."
"Oh, okay," I say and laugh. My dream guide, he's not laughing.
The cathedral is so quiet. Creepy quiet. The old guy just smiles at me, sits and smiles, picks a little fluff off his sweater. My head is pounding, not with pain, but silence. In the pause I think I can hear the candles flickering. And something about it, this moment, this pause, his smile, something makes me want to slow down, stop fighting. Dream or no dream, I want to hear the quiet flicker of candles.
"You come here to see me? Then answer this."
"If I can," he says.
"Tell me. Tonight, the past three days, this whole thing – is this reality or madness?"
He stares at me, unsure. Not like he's unsure of his answer, but of whether or not I will believe his answer, no matter what. Finally he says, "Without God, reality is madness. Reason will tell you so. You either madly trust in God, or you trust in a world gone mad without Him."
"Is there a third option?"
"Time to go," he says.
"Wait! Does God really do this? Does God get involved, really make people do the impossible?"
"He always has."
"But does he still?"
"Don't rob God of being with you, James."
"But I can't…," I start, but then say, "I'm afraid."
"That's why you can't see it. That's what happens sometimes. And when it does, trust becomes the only road home, back to love."
I have no answer.
He pats my shoulder again like he did that day at Mass.
"That's why I'm here, James. I came here to help you see – and to show you a few things. Come on." The old guy reaches into his pocket. He pulls out a shiny silver pocket watch. "My grandfather gave me this, last time I saw him. Get up. It's your time to see."
"You need to see moments without you in them, just as they are." He turns a bit, dangles the pocket watch by its long chain so it spins in the candlelight.
"It's a beauty," he says, eyes reflecting the light like his watch. "You've been changed, James. You've been given a gift."
"I don't want this gift."
"The gift's not for you. It's for others. Everything we're given is for others. God has already changed you, and you can't do anything about that now."
"But what if I don't want to be changed?"
"Well, that's why I was sent, to show you the ropes. Show you a few moments, and you'll be back. You can make your choice then. It'll take no time at all."
I understand what I'm supposed to do now. I'm going.
At first, God's gift was annoying, an interruption. When the interruption became surprising, then God was simply terrifying. But God was alive. Like Chapman kicking his legs, kidnapped and scared, somewhere deep down, I longed to tell God not to leave, to come surprise me and to do it again. God was, at least, interesting.
Then suddenly, tonight, not only was God terrifying and interesting, but it occurred to me that God might also be up to good. Not that I owed God good, but that God himself might be up to good – that God might be truly, quietly, surprisingly, tirelessly good.
God is beautiful. Why not trust myself headlong into that?
The moon sparkling on the dark river below – that is beautiful.
Even this reflection off my watch is as beautiful and blinding as talking to a stranger.
God help me.
I must be going…
I must be…
There are all kinds of great questions crammed into these last paragraphs, but my main question is much more "personal": How is it that I so regularly "stumble" unto such ponderings? Is it that I'm hardwired to subconsciously pick up on this stuff? Maybe. Or maybe God's fingerprints really are everywhere in His creation. Maybe there really are some universal questions that we all (sometime or another) ask and want to know – even if we're pretty sure the answers will scare us.
I don't know, but either my psychic meanderings are getting more consistent, or our culture is leaning more towards the spiritual again. But that is another topic altogether…