"I was sleeping; don't know if we're in Iowa or Missouri.
It all looks the same, caught between the cornfields and snow flurries,
I haven't yet arrived, but I'm not just starting,
I'm somewhere in between..." "Somewhere in Between" by Storyhill
I'm a sucker for a good travelogue. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker and gang, the Bundren Family in As I Lay Dying, the brake-less family in a Volkswagon bus in Little Miss Sunshine and the New Testament. I'm sure you have your favorites, too; stories that remind us that in the end the journey is far more important than the destination and that there are important lessons we learn about family, friendship and our ultimate purpose in life that can only be learned on the road.
Our family soaked in the joy of the new Muppets movie last weekend. Harkening back to the original Muppet Movie, the whole gang is on the road to put on a show. My favorite moments are when the Muppets tap into our deepest human desires when on the road, which often entail speeding things up. In the midst of the slog that journeys can become, who doesn't long for a musical montage that quickly and comically highlights the frustrations and requisite overcoming of said frustrations along the way? What child (and adult) doesn't long to "travel by map," where simply placing your finger on the map and tracing a line to where you're going means, "Oila! You are there!" No incessant "Are we there yet?" questioning needed, we are magically and instantly there!
Despite our longing to speed things up, it's in the midst of the hard work of reclaiming the best and redeeming the worst from our past while creating hope for the future out of the necessity of the present that we value the worth of each life gathered around us and we find ways to genuinely communicate that value and love. Each successive year I feel like the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas speeds up and I long for spiritual practices that will slow me down. Each year I am grateful for the season of Advent that bids me to ponder the world by starlight and search for how God is present in the world and people around me. Each year I turn to the devotional book The Advent Sourcebook, a collection of poems, quotes, scripture and hymnody that helps me orient my thoughts and actions towards God and my neighbor each day.
Advent and the Muppet movie reminded of this quote from liberation theology's Leonardo Boff, who writes of the emerging kingdom of God in our midst:
"The reign of God, the eschatological liberation of the world, is already in process, is already being established. It takes shape in concrete modifications of actual life."
When we clean up the theaters of life that surround us, when we sing the songs of our youth with renewed vigor, when we make small choices in word or act that validate the relationships that we are privileged to have in our lives, we catch glimpses of God all around us.
It's time to play the music,
It's time to light the lights...
It's time to put on makeup,
It's time to dress up right...
And now let's get things started,
Why don't you get things started,
It's time to get things started,
On the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational..." Muppets Opening Song
Show of your life!
To read more from Amy Ziettlow on faith visit www.familyscholars.org.