Friday, October 17, 2008
Inside my bubble
As a kid, one of my favorite cartoons was The Jetsons. George, Jane, Judy and Elroy. And don’t forget Astro, the family dog. You remember that futuristic family who had a robot for a maid, don't you? They didn’t walk on their sidewalks. Instead, sidewalks transported them to their destination. Judy’s high school floated on a platform in space and Elroy was dropped off at school on another planet every morning. And everyone had these little flying pods that looked like bubbles. They flew around in the sky like birds inside those little bubbles.
Welcome to the future. Kind of.
For the past 4½ years, I’ve driven the same roads at the same time every day on my way to work … in a bubble. Lost in thought or prayer or song, I will suddenly become very aware of where I am and realize that I don’t even remember the last few miles of road. The familiar has become a distant buzz in the background of my mind.
A few weeks ago, I noticed … I mean really noticed … something that I have driven past every morning for years: a group of kids that gather at their bus stop on the sidewalk of a busy four lane highway. The same kids, the same bus stop, year after year. As I sat in the bottlenecked traffic, I looked at each kid’s face. Startled, I realized how much they’ve changed with every passing year. In their interaction with each other, I recognized their distinct little personalities. The older kids are acting like they are way too cool to pay attention to the younger ones. The younger kids are trying their best to annoy the older ones, be-bopping around, acting silly, without any apparent concern for how they appeared to the strangers occupying the cars idling nearby. They talk, laugh, run, sit, frolic and stand in their little bubble, seemingly oblivious to the four lanes of traffic that flood by at rush hour. How long had I driven past them every morning, seeing them, but not really seeing them? Oblivious … inside my bubble.
Turning the corner off that four laner to a two lane road that passes through neighborhoods near a high school, the pace slows somewhat. Many people use the sidewalks on this road for their morning walk. Couples, young adults, folks walking their dogs, kids walking to school. There is a particular elderly woman who walks this road nearly every morning. She has a peculiar gait which first attracted my attention. And she always walks alone. The purpose in her stride and determined expression on her face touched my heart. I began to wonder about her. What’s her story? One morning, I had the distinct impression to pray for her. In my conversation with God, I gave her a name – I call her Ethel. Now every morning when I see her, I pray for Ethel. There are some mornings that I don’t see her at all which prompts me to pray for her all the more.
I have no idea why, but the Holy Spirit wants me to pierce Ethel’s bubble of existence and enter into her life, unbeknownst to her. I’ve begun praying for those kids at the bus stop, too.
We are all in our own little bubbles. Comfortable bubbles. Some of us exist almost exclusively within our own bubble and can’t be bothered to notice anything outside that doesn’t directly affect or threaten us. But since God has called His own to go into all the world and tell them the Good News, we can’t withdraw into those bubbles without offending Him. We weren’t saved from an eternity without Christ to live our safe, comfortable little lives inside our own little cocoon. We are the hands and feet of Christ. That's not just an expression. Feet go. Hands do.
Who are we passing by and overlooking every day - because they have just blended into the familiar background?
It’s time to break the bubble.