My young son opens the box and giggles with delight. This! This is what it’s all about. The familiar little plastic envelopes fly as each is emptied into a gladware cup awaiting assembly. The color glossy booklet, folded by robots at the Worldwide Lego HQ, is opened and spread out on the floor.
We’ve had the Mars Mission phase. We’ve done Power Miners. Now it’s all Star Wars.
Lego, from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means “play well.”
If my son had a flowchart for the creative lego-playing process he has arrived at, it would be:
- Follow assembly instructions carefully with bomb squad precision.
- Enjoy this lego creation for a period of 2 hours to 2 weeks.
- Mutate lego creation. With the imagination of gods, add, subtract, demolish and rebuild to heart’s content.
- Ditch original assembly instructions forever.
Kids and legos. Grown-ups and spirituality.
When you grow up immersed in any spiritual tradition (or no tradition), that’s your reality. The language, symbols and culture of your tradition is the truth your family offered you.
What else could there possibly be?
In a very real sense, every moment of your life is mapped in relation to the elements of this Reality Story. That’s a good thing, the first seeds of trust in a friendly universe, as Howard Thurman put it.
At some point, we each come to the edge of that given map.
That Story of Life, the Universe and Everything as we understood it begins to be tested. For some of us, it’s an intentional intellectual curiosity– like a scientist examines her hypotheses and allows the scientific method to show the Truth. For others, it’s some real-life experience– a break-up, cancer, a bad pastor– that does not comfortably fit that reality. Or sometimes the Story just starts to feel old and it kinda. Just. Fades form our consciousness. Maybe sleep in on Sunday mornings, or decide to change your Bible study to bowling night.
Holiday TV ads have begun.
So much of the Christmas pomp is geared to kids, that if you are around kids, you may find yourself pleasantly regressing to the old, old story that you have loved so long. At the same time you may notice that faith wants to grow up. You may feel the contrast.
That original instruction book is in a drawer somewhere. It’s not what’s important now.
In the gospels, Rabbi Jesus is irritatingly consistent in his teaching: “You’ve heard it said…” (insert a bit about murder, adultery, sin, hatred, etc.) he spoke, serious as a heart attack. And then- was that a wink?- he’d continue, “But I tell you…” (insert a disturbingly different theology about integrity of the heart). He unwaveringly claimed was not destroying his beloved Jewish tradition but fulfilling it, evolving it.
What can I make of my life now that the letter-of-the-law instructions are no longer the important thing?
What evolution is possible now that our obedience to human-crafted institutional structure is wrecked, and we are now paying attention to the holy Spirit-wind-breath hidden in every cell of creation?
It’s a terrifying and wonder-full thing.
But my lego-fanatic son knows now all things are possible, and the fun is just beginning.