Can We Get a Napkin – 2 Responses to a Spontaneous Encounter with the Divine

The spontaneous food court musical put on by Improv Everywhere is, in my opinion, a Youtube classic.

The final note of the musical is preceding by a camera shot of a little girl watching the spectacle. Her expression in is priceless. Her smile widens and her eyes get big, and she seems to be communicating via facial expression, “this is the best thing ever.”

An obvious connection to the Divine is compare this reaction to mine when I encounter the Divine. This girl was having a normal day eating a normal lunch at a normal mall in a not-so-normal food court. She (or more likely, her parent) did not seek to be deliberately entertained/enraptured by a musical performance. The performance was precarious: it was out of her control.

I am in a similar situation. The elegant universe is indeed quite a spectacle. I don’t just mean that in some abstract cosmological sense of the word. I mean the universe in its entirety. This includes, among other things, me, my family, and the amazing blessed life that I have with them. Anyway, this life is something that I precariously participate in. I had no say in whether or not I would come into existence and I have little say in when I will die. Perhaps, like the spontaneous food court musical, this precariousness of my situation is a beautiful thing.

There is, of course, another response to spontaneous things: discomfort and disdain. There is a gentlemen featured in this film is quite disturbed by the musical. It interrupts his groove. It shatters his expectations. This, when considered in more serious circumstances, is an annoying and (even) painful process. Several days ago I found myself aggravated because someone wanted to pray for the homeless while I was in the middle of something. I was annoyed by praying for the least of these. Amazing.

In addition to just being annoyed about encountering the Divine interrupting my plans, I am also often urked by the precariousness of my existence. Last night I thought myself, “I am already dead.” This rather ambiguous statement is (was) a reference to how little time I have here. My sentiments are echos of Solomon’s

“The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.”

For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless days they pass through like a shadow? Who can tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone?

I want to be like the little girl. I want faith like a I child. I chose to be captivated by the Divine, and to live out the few days of my existence with the joy of knowing the Divine. Perhaps I can begin to understand through this silly Youtube classic that it is precisely the precariousness of my existence that, like the musical, gives it its value and beauty.

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