Dreamers of the Day

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible." -T.E. Lawrence, "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom"

Sunday, September 04, 2005


“When the tears come streaming down your face When you lose something you can't replace When you love someone, but it goes to waste Could it be worse?....
I want to fix you.”
-Fix You, Coldplay

My brokenness was revealed to me in a different way this week. While contemplating it, two childhood memories invaded my mystical mind. The first memory is cleaning. Every single Saturday if we were not dying or on vacation, my mom would have us children cleaning the tiny house we all lived in. This was not cleaning of our own rooms solely, but of the entire house. And it was not the simple tasks of vacuuming or dusting, but cleaning the ceilings, the microwave and the sides of the refrigerator. It was extensive! To this day I still have impulses on Saturday morning to clean something. It is apart of my identity.

The second memory deals with ants. Growing up in Indiana, we did not have fire ants, but other types that were harmless. These tiny creatures would create small, tidy mounds of sand in the side walks or patios if sand were used as the sub-base. Obscure to the surroundings, these diligent creatures would create these mounds anywhere—whether in desolates parking lots, or at an entrance to a store. Many times I inadvertently destroyed the colony in one sweep of the foot and sent the ant architects and engineers back to the drawing board.

These stories came to my mind because I had been pondering them for sometime. Then, as I helped out at the Red Cross in Reunion Arena and the Convention Center, the reason for my pondering was made evident. In my busyness of helping other people in a terrible situation, the questions of “Who am I;” “Why am I here;” and “Where is my heart” made me stop internally. It intrigued me to ponder this in the midst of the situation and see where my heart was.

I am a typical guy. I see a problem and I fix it. The cleaning memory I think is a great example of it. If something is dirty, then I clean it. I make it right. I fix it. If someone has a problem, I want them to share it with them and then I will either fix it or tell them how to fix it. Obviously, this drives people nuts—especially female humans. But in this pondering of my fixing, I see something deeper at work. We sweep and clean, repaint, remodel and renovate because we live in a dying society. If we do not, it will crumble and fall. It will deteriorate. Please, don’t get me wrong. Cleanliness and being a good owner is a way of showing gratitude of a possession, but if the maintenance of that possession is done for the reason of control, it is wrong. I find myself cleaning and maintaining things because I can easily control it. I can fix it. If the problem cannot be solved, it disturbs me.

Our society seems to be that way as well. Our “bad parts” of town are the areas that are not “fixed.” They have broken sidewalks and streets as well as weeds in parking lots. The way we treat our lawns with chemicals is another way. I recently have met a man who helped me see this. We Americans will do anything for green lawns and weed-free beds—trust me I am in the landscape industry. A weed is classified as a plant out of place, because we are to know what goes where. Thus, we control the weeds with chemicals and fertilizers. We exercise frustration of not having control over all things, so we control the things we can. We try and try and try to recreate the Garden of Eden, but weeds are apart of the curse.

In this insatiable desire to fix things, I see the ant memory come into play. If something happens, I try to fix it immediately to bring it back to normality. I seldom think of my heart in the matter, but I make “it” the exact same way “it” was before. If my future plans fall in shambles, “No problem!” I will say and recreate other plans. I rebuild fervently to take back control.
I am sure that the ants do not ponder why the mound fell, but simply work to repair it and carry out the daily lives. In this lack of pondering, relief work seemed similar to me. We, the volunteers, had a problem, we answered to the problem and we fixed the problem. We will rebuild what we can, and what we cannot, we will make a memorial of it. It is simply an external expression of the complete brokenness internally.

I would classify these times in America as “bad.” A “bad day” or “bad season” in my life is defined as a place in space and time when I am not in control. Good times are when I am. Yet, my brokenness is not characterized by my external days of bad or good, but constant. I am always in need of Someone greater than me. Yet I deceive myself into thinking of the “bad days” as the days when I am broken, and the “good days” when I am not. I easily forget after fixing the problem, that there was Someone who allowed the problem to be produced in the first place. Like the ants, I fix it (externally) and move on.

Jesus did not teach us how to solve our problems, but taught us about the God of the problems. Christians are not greater than others because we have the solutions, but we can live in light of our brokenness. Yes, we are to help feed the poor, cloth them and give them shelter. We are to love them, but not love them because they are less than us, but simple because they are our neighbor. Someone who loses everything is not worse off than us, they just realize who they truly are in light of God and humbled. I think the reason why we are to help the poor is not to help them, but to remind us of who we are. I always learn more about me and my brokenness when helping “less fortunate” people. It is the poor person who helps me realized I am a broken individual who plays the part of a fixed individual very well.

In these times of God revealing to us humans that we are not in control, don’t forget this. Don’t forget it as you do service. One can easily lose one’s identity in serving humanity. Serving by all means is not wrong, but if it is done with the wrong heart, it is dangerous. Christian Scientologist as well as Muslims and Jews were all serving at the Red Cross together. But we Christians can be the only people who can speak to people’s brokenness and explain why we are broken. We can explain that this utter tragedy is the cause of no action or reaction, but simply the explanation that we live in a fallen world and are not in control of it. We can explain that there is no explanation. Amelioration is not wrong, but in the process, remember that we can fix the external and rebuild the external, but the internal can still be broken.


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At 3:22 PM, Blogger amy said...

I guess that fixing isn't always bad...but thanks for knowing when it is. And thanks for the call about service - we are the only ones who have the Hope and Peace that so many are searching for - it's a good reminder that I needed...it's not about me.

At 2:42 PM, Blogger Emily said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:43 PM, Blogger Emily said...

I like reading your perspective Jason Mayes.

You're a good writer (with an impressive vocab) ;)

At 2:45 PM, Blogger Emily said...

BTW~ The deleted comment was from me. I called you a 'good writing'- which you, quite obviously, are not.

You are a good WRITER, however.

At 6:54 AM, Blogger amy said...

It's on SUBJECTIVISM...and it's saved as a draft. It needs some 'tweaking', as my critics told me my audience is very undefined. :) ...whatever that means.


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