Riffing on Hymn #34")
Paul stood before those Corinthians. "What else? What else you got?" he asked again.
Some one said, "a strong work ethic."
Paul repeated the answer and added, "OK. And what else?"
"Fatigue," said someone else.
"Well, yeah, that goes with the work ethic. What did I tell you about those John Calvin books? What else?"
"Hope," offered a Corinthian.
"That's cool," said Paul.
"Yeah, you got that."
More answers were shouted out. Paul repeated them as he heard them: "Faith. Courage. Enough education, professional expertise, and a good bag of tools. That's all good stuff. What else?"
"Love," said one of those Corinthians.
"Bingo," said Paul. "You got love. You got love like an ocean in your soul." And just as the Corinthians were breathing a collective sigh of relief, Paul said, "Now get it out."
"Get it out. Take love out of that box you carry it around in, that casket you call your heart, open up that box and take out the love you have."
"You said it was an ocean," objected one Corinthian.
"Yeah, you're mixing metaphors," added another.
"I'm not mixing them, I'm switching them. You gotta be quick. You gotta be nimble. C'mon, keep up with me. Now take it out."
"You mean, like, metaphorically?"
"Whatever. Just, let me see it." The Corinthians sat there, just looking. Paul said, "What's the matter, take it out. Come on. How hard could that be? Simply open up the box of your heart, and let your love out. Just do it."
Finally, one of the Corinthians said, "Paul, I'd like to, really, I would. And I know I have the love. I feel it glowing in there right now, and I have felt what it was like when the box opened, but I can't just open the box on command."
Paul said, "So you're a failure then." And the Corinthian was suddenly very interested in her shoes. "How about the rest of you?" But they were all interested in their shoes too. "You can't do it, can you? You can't say, 'I'm going to open that box,' and reach in and open it. You can't make that box open up so that your love can be unmistakably seen. Can you?" The Corinthians slowly shook their heads. "So you're all failures," said Paul. There was a long and awkward silence.
One of the Corinthians finally said, "So what do we do now?"
"So what do we do now?" repeated Paul. "We need your brave fire to burn with love, because there is such a thing as burning without it. Yet you can't make the love come out. You can’t, by yourself, make the love come out. It comes out when it is born out on the winds of spirit that are not held within you but which come into being among us and between us, the spirit that comes to be yours but first was ours. You made the love, but you don't open the box to let it out, to let it be seen and recognised and take effective form. You don't open the box to let out your love. We do. And we do even when we don't know what we're doing and don’t mean to be doing it. The spirit which is beyond our control but which our connection somehow mysteriously creates, takes control of our hearts, brings our love into the broad day. The spirit that is us brings wholeness to our fragmented, separate individual hearts and spirits. Then inward love directs all our doing. And when your love is set free, so are you."
"So...we're not failures then?"
"Oh, yes, you sure are. Forever do you -- and I -- fail. And, through each other, forever are you and I being redeemed."
A Corinthian said, "Paul, that's great. I'm just not quite clear on how that answers the question."
Paul said, "What was the question?"
"The question was, So what do we do now?"
"So what do we do now?" Paul repeated again. "What we do now is pray. Together."
"Pray for us, Paul," shouted a Corinthian in the back.
But Paul said, "Oh, no. You know the words."
* * *
This is part 3 of 4 of "Beatnik Celebration"
Next: Part 4: "The Beat"
Previous: Part 2: "Riffing on Hymn #34"
Beginning: Part 1: "No Other Life"