Friday, November 28, 2008

We've Been Tagged

Among the many examples of my childhood naivete stands the first time I encountered the game "Marco Polo." I was swimming in a community pool and kept hearing kids gleefully shouting out what sounded suspiciously like my last name. Other kids seemed to be holding their eyes shut as they splashed around, yelling something like "Pow-Oh!" Several minutes passed before I was able to decipher that they weren't talking about me.

My eight-year-old daughter enjoys this recollection very much. The other day she and I were playing the game in a giant field near the woods. When it was my turn to yell "Marco" with my eyes tightly shut, I stumbled around for at least 20 minutes trying to tag her. Since I refused to cheat, I had no chance at all. Speed and savvy were on her side, as I continued to offer a version of my last name into the air.

There are times when God seems to whisper our name, subtly striving to gain our attention. Sometimes our eyes are open but focused on the concerns of the day and our ambitions, and we do not hear his voice.

Other times our eyes are shut and we are offering our own name up to God, seeking his listening disposition. At times it feels our petitions merge with the whistling of the wind, and we remain in perceived darkness as we stumble around, hoping to tag the divine with our pleas.

The truth is, we've already been tagged. The grace that permeates our games, our work, our relationships, is as much a precursor to our awareness of God as the name that was on his lips long before those some lips breathed life into the one who received the name. If we continue to listen, and continue to call out, we receive deepening confirmation that God not only knows our name but knows what we need before we know it.

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Prayer is not a matter of pouring out the human heart once and for all in need or joy, but of an unbroken, constant learning, accepting, and impressing upon the mind of God’s will in Jesus Christ.”

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