I’ve been reading E.B. White, of Charlotte’s Web fame, recently and soaking in every sentence. My current volume of choice, One Man’s Meat, (another Betsy book) is a collection of prose pieces he wrote between 1938 and 1942, while working on a salt water farm in Maine. Part of what makes it so entertaining, is that he takes the seemingly mundane, everyday occurrences of life, and invests them with significance; we are shown that the small things matter, contribute to a larger picture, have something to teach us about the world.
Another point of interest is that you can look back and see the prophetic thread running through many of White’s thoughts. For example, he suggests that this new idea of television
will insist that we forget the primary and the near in favor of the secondary and the remote. More hours in every twenty-four will be spent digesting ideas, sounds, images – distant and concocted. In sufficient accumulation, radio sounds and television sights will become more familiar to us than their originals (White, p. 3).
If this isn’t astute insight into the nature of virtual reality in the age to come, then I don’t know what is.
His comments also resonate with a discussion a friend and I had about the nature of the kingdom of God as we wondered how to live in the tension between the already and the not yet; how to handle the big dreams we have for the future, without neglecting ‘the primary and the near.’
Misty Edwards calls this being in the waiting room of unanswered prayer. “God,” she sings, “you and I both know that patience has never been a strong point of mine.” Mine either, Misty.
So how do we live in this balance between hoping and dreaming for something greater than we have yet experienced, while also being contented with the here and now so that we are free to love those around us without constantly wishing ourselves somewhere into the future? How do we have both faith and patience?
Peter says it like this: make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful (2 Peter 1:5-8).
This is how we are told we become ‘partakers in the divine nature,’ become like Jesus, inherit the kingdom. Like E. B. White, we treat every small thing as important. Every good decision, every small act of mercy, every little repeated renewal of our commitment to the way of the kingdom is crucial. As an orchestra tunes to the oboe playing its concert ‘a,’ we must tune our hearts to what the Spirit is requiring in the here and now, so we can bring his ‘already’ into the ‘not yet’ of the world.