I wonder what the conversation would be like if Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, John of the Cross, Jonathan Edwards, Augustine, John Piper, Tim Keller, Bruce Waltke, and Eugene Petersen sat down to have a meal together?
That's what they're doing in my head, and they dine often.
It's not always pleasant, sometimes I feel awkward, lost, afraid of where the conversation might lead. I often feel the compulsion to protect and defend each one at different times, at other times I am angry that one of them could say such a thing - especially given all the other wonderful things they have said. At times there is an anxious clamour as each one speaks louder to be heard - or perhaps resists speaking while preferring an angry and protesting silence.
It's not easy to have this kind of company over... but for some reason I love the sounds, I love the voices, I am entranced often by the rhythm and melody, the crescendos and the diminuendos, its pure delight when I really give myself to the conversation. Each voice has its place, has its tonal quality, its depth, its time-tested timbre. A lot of the conversation sounds more like an orchestra warming up than a symphony.
But then something happens...
Kairos, God-time, invades the chaotic clamor awkwardly progressing through chronos. The voices begin to become one, the melody begins to emerge, a great and mighty theme echoes in the chambers of my mind. I begin to forget that there was ever dischord, I begin to listen not to the many but to the one... the One. It took all the textures of each of the voices to sound together for me to hear, but I do hear. Sometimes it is His voice speaking to me, sometimes it is my voice speaking to Him, and I discover that in those moments the company I keep were really at the banqueting table of Another. I joined them because I perceived they heard Him, but now I hear Him, and I hear myself. Their words, sounds, colors, textures mediated His presence for me and now He is present, or perhaps more accurately - I am present to Him.