"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

There's Never Nothing Going On

At the encouragement of a friend, I finally rented and watched a movie this week entitled "Peaceful Warrior." I was told it would offer me some good material for the Romans class I'm teaching on Sunday mornings. Offer it did -- and so much more. Whereas I'm always careful to endorse any kind of movie due to questionable content, I really did like this one. It's dubbed "Like 'Rocky' for the Soul." As the cover says, it's "an inspirational and triumphant film about the power of the human spirit." Nick Nolte plays Socrates, a "mysterious stranger," and Dan Millner, the gifted young athlete bound for the Olympic gold, is played by Scott Melchlowicz.

The story revolves around Dan and this mystical sage of a man who works at a gas station. Because of his inability to sleep, Dan shows up at the station night after night to try to figure this "Socrates" out and glean his wisdom. When Dan sarcastically asks Soc why he's still working at a gas station "if you know so much," he replies, "This is a service station. We offer service; there's no higher purpose." "Than pumping gas?" "Than service to others." So He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him (John 13:4-5) Soc's right -- there's no higher purpose.

When Dan agrees to be "trained" by Socrates, Socrates has the boy meet him in the park. Upon doing so, the old man tosses the younger one over the bridge into the creek below. Enraged, Dan chases after Socrates and yells, "You're out of your mind!" To which he responds, "It's taken a lifetime of practice." What Socrates was doing by throwing Dan over the rail was trying to get him to experience the moment by getting everything out of his mind. And for that split second as Dan was flailing in the air, his mind was cleared of everything -- except for the fall.

When Socrates pointed out that "you're missing out on everything that's going on," Dan yelled, "There's nothing going on!" And then we're allowed to see (in slow motion) 3 men in the park heartily laughing; a woman throwing a frisbee, her dog catching it and the subsequent loving of the pet as it returns the toy; we hear the pages turn as a man sits under a tree and reads a book and the crunching sound of a ladybug eating a leaf.

After an accident leaves the young gymnist encapable of competing again, Socrates throws him back into training by sitting him outside on an old, broken down Plymouth to think. He instructs Dan not to return until he has something of value to tell him. Finally, after one attempt after another of coming up short with any kind of widsom, Dan finally comes up with, "There's never nothing going on. There are no ordinary moments."

Dan is right. There are no ordinary moments. With God, every moment is sacred. But due to the reality of our terribly distracted, cluttered, and noisy existence, to experience it as such is not easy. But I'm trying to make a concerted effort to know that "there's never nothing going on" -- and to know that holiness indeed comes wrapped in the ordinary.

At the end of the movie when Dan is on the rings in a hand stand high above the floor, we hear a conversation going on in his mind.

Socrates: Where are you, Dan?
Dan: Here.
Socrates: What time is is?
Dan: Now.
Socrates: What are you?
Dan: This moment.

These are no ordinary moments after all. So let's start harvesting some treasures.


constantlyrunningtoHim said...

I just overheard someone in my office make the statement that if they didn't have to work, they would want to work some where like Perry Volunteer Outreach so he could get some "fruit" from his job.

This made me stop immediately and reflect on myself. Am I getting fruit here?

I know God has me here for a reason and with that I feel that I must do His work where He plants me. Opportunities are always around for doing His work. It may not always be working in a soup kitchen feeding the hungry or working with PVO - BUT I believe we are called to recognize those "ordinary" things in our every day lives and act on them as if it were monumental in our eyes BECAUSE it is in God's. People have needs every day. If you open your mind to seeing those things you will. God will show you.

My prayer today for myself and others is that we will see a need no matter how big or small and do it for God and give Him the glory!


Robert said...


J.K. said...

great Movie!
There's never nothing going on. There are no ordinary moments.