Noelle's dairy entry - from the film, Limbo.
"Jesus, the son of Joseph.... the son of Adam". Luke 3:25 & 38.
It's one of life great pretenses.
"How are you?"
It doesn't actually take much to peel away that paper-thin veneer, but of course, we don't,
because we're expecting the usual to happen in such "conversations" -
"How are you?"
"Oh, I'm OK to".
(Phew - that's out of the way).
Then it's on to lighter issues.
Getting close to someone always costs, because once you peel away the outer "calm", you will find the storm inside - the raging push and pull between what they would like to be and what they actually are.
That's why the gospels (Matthew and Luke) quickly give us genealogies.
We often think that true purity or holiness is light years away from us or our shaky little worlds, but amidst what we might consider the dusty tomes of 'this one begat that one' - not what we might usually consider a page-turner - resides the answer to all our fears and troubles regarding ever being anywhere near good enough to matter.
The Christian message is that everyone counts, and that's not in some weird philosophical sense. God has literally married himself to us - to this strange, turbulent mess of a race called humanity. That's what the passage in Luke is telling us - he became a man of the same stream, but without sin, as the rest of us.
The good news that keeps me afloat is not about measuring some increasing amount of virtue or piety in myself - if anything, I so often find the very opposite to be the case - it's all about the fact that "True holiness - the holier it is, the closer it will draw to sinners" (Luther).
We shouldn't be surprised about the fact that our greatest need is met by someone else.
Everything that really matters about us comes from beyond the shores of "me", but how we receive these gifts, how we use them, that's often where we find ourselves stranded. We know they count - we know we should be thankful and reciprocate with generosity and care, but there's this dreadful selfishness in the way that usually causes us to spoil or squander even what's good.
Some years ago, I started attending a church where most services commence with a moment of confession and absolution. It's a moment that resonates deeply, because it tells me that what really counts isn't my inner turmoil over the last week, but the fact that God has already intervened to change what matters - He has killed the power of Sin and Death in coming to us, living with us and for us and dying and rising to brake the cycle of going nowhere. That moment in church often allows me to recognize that splendor once again... and that allows me to get through another week.
That 'allowance' - assurance that what someone else has entirely done is what truly counts - breaks into our benighted, often dreadful days here, and beckons us to a surety and certainty that mediates a comfort beyond ourselves.
Sanctity is because God makes it so. That's why we're deemed to be saints as well as sinners - the bare creature, so marred and crippled by their folly, is covered by a beauty and a purity that could never be obtained by the wretch beneath it. That's why Christians are constantly talking about Jesus - He alone is the righteousness, the holiness, we so clearly need to heal this innate poverty of soul.
There's a great deal more that could be said about how we so readily "miss" each other because we know to do otherwise would cost our island-like selves deeply (the film, Limbo, is a splendid study in how this happens continually, often until it's too late) - but the remedy is here, and we can know a beginning of something far better in the life God brings us in His beloved Son.
I don't have any problem being the "hello... and goodbye" kind of person life so readily makes us, but every once and a while, you get to have an actual conversation with someone, and that can truly be life-changing. When we lift the lid, we begin to realize we're all the same, and we all need that precious moment when we're reminded that something, someone has made it right... in spite of us.
So, when today gets disjointed and you're in a rut once again, consider Him who went to the cross to bring you something so much better - that's the only way we can escape the trouble that is ourselves.