I found another corner of convexity in the cultural lens today. I was sitting in a budget meeting, struggling to keep pace with the cachorro de cifras coming from the other three sides of the table, and a thought wormed its way into my subconscious. As I made my way back to my desk, eyes a bit farsighted from the colorful stripes on the finance report, I realized that rather than being indignant at the unrecoverability of the last two hours, I was grateful for the new words I had added to my vocabulary list and genuinely interested in what I managed to understand (I shouldn’t undercut, though—in an act of grace, my ears were opened to catch nearly everything). Had I just witnessed the secret passageway between humility of mind and joy of heart? I was, if only for a moment, a Brother Lawrence incognito, scribbling menial calculations and inhabiting my meager role with lightness of heart. I knew I didn’t know very much, and was happy for anything that fell into my ears.
I won’t think about it too much, for humility is nearly the opposite of introspection: hold a mirror close enough and you are your whole world, and it’s too easy to believe that the axis you’ve created for yourself is not, in reality, 180 degrees away from right. The link of inevitability between humility and unhappiness, though, has significant tensile strength. The more you think about humility, the more you realize it hasn´t come in nearly the measure you had thought, and the more prone to despondency you are. So I’ll let the chain rest and refrain from too many sweeping statements about Why I’m Here or What It Means. I do think, though, that the little thought was attached to a little blade which cut a rope that held a load I didn’t know I was still carrying. With four-function calculator and notepad in hand, I walked out of the conference room and into Bunyan’s world and saw humility as Christian’s constant companion, drawing ever nearer as the Kingdom’s light grew stronger, photon by photon. If anything, I know less about the mystery of sanctification and the way forward than when I came to Mexico. But I am, perhaps, more grateful for the earful I have picked out of the hum of confusion.
I inhabit one world that spins the stick and does the dance until numbers from the future arrive—will we be on budget in three years’ time? If we keep going like we have, yes. We have only the past and fog as a guide. Yet in another world, one that shares cross-sections and holds ever tighter to this one, I find another mirror. There is no budget in the economy of mercy, nor is there a forecast that outperforms the God who inhabits and yet stands apart from time itself. So I go, rock by rock, conference room to spreadsheet to school to sleep, without fear that somehow I lost a decimal in the calculation and can only watch the best-fit line fall to the darkness. There is power in this, I tell myself as I copy formulas and wonder what’s next in my story. For now, it’s drawing straight lines between commercial margins and Pilgrim’s Progress in my brain and letting the weight of wonder settle into the crevices of my consciousness, splitting ropes on the way down my spine. Fiber by fiber, the rope breaks, but this doesn’t mean I see the future clearly. It means that the burden of desiring to know what is not mine to know slowly lifts. I will never know the future. I will only trip along the river bottom until the door closes and there is only Now and Day and Home.