I’m fascinated by the relationships; where they form, what happens in them, and how they shape us.
In March of 2004, a mystic, a skeptic, and a practitioner walked into a canyon. That’s not the beginning to a bad joke. On the contrary, it is the beginning of a real life journey that would effect every other walk these three men would take and impact the course of their lives forever.
They didn’t know what they were getting into. They didn’t know they would be graced with paradoxes; communal solitude, raucous laughter and deafening silence, sharing meals and carrying burdens. Neither did they know how this trek and this canyon would become so vital in their lives and for their living.
There is no way I can articulate the complexity of our relationships in one post. But here is an overview and hopefully it will get my point across.
Mystic – a follower of a mystical way of life (Webster’s Dictionary) This friend was a 50 year old kid (now in his mid 60’s and still a kid), enraptured with the beauty that surrounded us…no matter how cold our feet were from the muddy water. He’d scramble up a pile of rocks and yell, “Mark this moment as a moment you were truly alive!” This hike was a snapshot of his life. A slice of life that we’re all desperately in need of. He is comfortable with a big God who is full of mystery. His faith is simple but not simplistic. He’s familiar with saying, “I don’t know,” and being completely ok with it.
- Are you walking with someone who reminds you that Jesus goal was not to start a new religion?
Skeptic – a person who habitually doubts the authenticity of accepted beliefs (World English Dictionary) This friend refuses to swallow catchy phrases as truth and knows the difference between mission and motto. He hears what’s being said behind the words of others and is an artist at pushing back on stated positions. He is kind and because of that I realized that questioning is good, necessary. We all need to have a healthy amount of skepticism. Doubt has an important role in faith for without doubt there would be no faith.
- Are you walking with someone who asks you, “Why do you believe that? Why do you think that? What if there’s something more to it?”
Practitioner – a person who practices a profession or art (World English Dictionary) I entered the canyon as the practitioner. Lifelong church staff member recently turned church planter. My entire adult life had been spent employed by and attempting to serve the church. The lens practitioners look through is, “How does what we’re talking about apply to my work?” That’s a good question. We need to ask it. And we need colleagues around us that help us convert philosophical issues into practical application.
- Are you walking with someone who is familiar with vocation and who shares your joys and frustrations?
I left the canyon with the deep realization that I needed to take the practitioner hat off on a regular basis. I need to spend concentrated time as a mystic to be silent and learn the art of listening. I need to spend time skeptically examining what I think and why I think that. The only way to do that consistently is to walk with such people.