Sometimes, I go all David Copperfield on myself, put on a low-rent bourgeois magic show, and convince myself that I am larger than life. And, of course, no one is larger than life. I am a small collection of particles, carefully ordered, wandering around in desperate need of air, water, sleep, warmth and tenderness. I do not run very many things nor understand very much. I have not successfully figured myself out, much less God, life and the world.
But because I am so prone to buy into my own little act, I need the gift of mountains and sea to protest my disproportionate sense of scale, to make me feel smaller and less necessary. Like Job, I need to be reminded of mountain goats and sea monsters to help me get my place in the cosmos.
There is so much weight assigned to us to be special, to be unique, to distinguish ourselves. There is a great deal of pressure to be “great.” But what if, today, I want to enjoy my status as my Father’s awkward, backward son, absurdly treasured and irrationally loved?
Religious leaders want to help me find “meaning” and “purpose.” In the meantime, I have no idea what I am going to eat for lunch. I must figure it out very soon—it is almost 11:30 a.m. How am I supposed to find the meaning of life when I have no idea what kind of sandwich I want today? To paraphrase Ecclesiastes, who needs meaning when you can have lunch with a friend anyway?
Today, I do not feel like putting on my magician’s hat, waving my wand and creating illusions of my own significance for you or for myself. I am content to make my lunch plan, and I am going to get it right. I am not going to build a platform; I much prefer building sand castles. I am not going to come up with reasons why I am lovable or why my life has worth. I’ll be at home in my smallness, at peace with the knowledge that the way I am loved is largely absurd.
You can have your meaning, your purpose, your significance. I will not feel condescended to if you look at me like I am a useless son, or if you think me half-drunk on my Father’s silly affections. I am perfectly aware that I did not purchase this coat of many colors, and have no reasons to wear it proud as a peacock. But I will wear the hell out of it, oversized luxury on such a small person.
I have no pretensions of greatness. I am a circus act; I am a walking comedy. I am infinitely ridiculous; I am infinitely loved.