Fathom Mag

Published on:
July 1, 2019
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4 min.
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The Secret Lives of All of Us

*Written under the influence of New Mexico Pinion Coffee, Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, and Judy Collins’s Wildflowers (1967).

In the year of our Lord 2016, The Secret Life of Pets premiered—a movie about...well, the title spills the beans. I recently noticed the sequel plays in theaters, so apparently there is a need for further discovery when it comes to the lives of dogs. From time to time I do wonder what is going on in the head of my Beagle. “Dude, what are you thinking? You just yarfed on my Chacos.” 

But I ponder more the secret lives of people—we flesh-and-blooders created in the spitting image of God. Yes, there are some these days who seem to want nothing more than you and I to peruse every page of their lives. No secrets any longer. Vulnerable of vulnerables, all is vulnerable. Well, maybe.

Many people wander up the hills from all around you          
Making up your memories and thinking they have found you
But I ponder more the secret lives of people—we flesh-and-blooders created in the spitting image of God.

You’ve heard “The Piña Colada Song,” right? The one where a guy and his lady are bored with each other, both respond to a personal column, agree to meet their “escape” person at O’Malley’s, and, when they get there...well my, my, wouldja look at that, it’s the guy and his lady. The song has a few problems. If nothing else, everybody knows “making love at midnight/in the dunes of the cape” leaves you zombified the next morning at work, not to mention the added hassle of sand in your chinos. But it is a catchy song, and it makes you stop and think. I love that—two people who have known each other for years suddenly discover something they didn’t know about the other. It’s a shock that can happen between friends, family members, even a guy and his lady. 

In the real world, for example, my wife recently exclaimed, “What?! You’re kidding. How did I not know you liked Red Velvet Cake? Seriously? I’m shook.” She didn’t really say “I’m shook.” I added that, but the rest of the quote is genuine. Of course that’s a rather tame revelation. If I’d said, “Honey, I’d like for you to meet my other wife and our seven kids. They’ve been living in Boise for the last ten years.” She’d be truly shook and I would soon be shooken.  

I can show you all the songs     
That I never sang to one man before
(“Since You Asked”)

My hunch is most all of us hold a handful of beliefs or feelings or likes or dislikes close to the vest. Not because we’re hellbent on some with-holding pattern, but rather to maintain a little mystery in a culture clamoring for the full Monty. I do realize this runs counter to The Bachelor and/or The Bachelorette policy and procedure where everything must be on the table. But maybe taking life cues from Colton and Hannah is not always wise. 

Do you really believe Jesus told Mary and Joseph everything?

I do agree that the all-in-the-open mindset is a much-needed counter to the shame-based rules many of us lived under as children (don’t think, don’t feel, and certainly don’t talk). But I’d like to believe there’s some place between don’t-ever-reveal-anything and get-it-all-out-on-the-table. Maybe there’s a way of living that honors the truth of who we all are—an honesty that unfolds over time and allows for light and shadow.

So many things I would have done
but clouds got in my way
(“Both Sides Now”)

I don’t meet many people—especially Christians—who find Jesus interesting. It blows my mind (which might be puny and easily blown, but still). To many, Jesus seems to be a Flat Stanley who is always with us whithersoever we go (thank God) but at the end of the day, due to his lack of any depth, is frankly rather boring (dear Lord). We’ve got Jesus all figured out.      

To which I believe Jesus winks, “Maybe.”

A tweet of mine dated June 3I don’t think Jesus really liked being a carpenter. I mean, he did it, learned the trade, and my guess is Joseph loved having him close. But I believe Jesus dreamed of the sea.

I first had that thought years ago when I heard a line from Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne”: “And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water.” (Fantastic song, by the way.) I believe Jesus had thoughts and feelings he pondered it his heart, kept to his divine-human self. Do you really believe Jesus told Mary and Joseph everything? I don’t know any son or daughter, including myself, who tells their parents everything. Maybe the Savior of the World was kinda meh when it comes to carpentry but oh yeah for the sea faring life. 

True, our salvation doesn’t depend on those answers and chasing such mental rabbits could lead us down a slopery slip where the next thing you know we’re wondering whether teenage Jesus thought teenage girls were cute. And that might lead to considering whether there’s another “Jesus wept” moment when, after kickin’ tables and takin’ names in the Temple, Jesus stepped to the side and shed tears because he lost his shit and felt bad about it afterwards. 

I know some people, some of them Christians, who don’t find people interesting. Blows my mind. Curiosity is in short supply these days. We’ve got each other all figured out, labeled with numbers and types and political allegiances and strong opinions about Keanu. We see through the glass darkly, and it feels like we prefer it that way. Heaven help us if our certainties were suddenly shook by the feel of the ocean or getting caught in the rain.

John Blase
John Blase preached for over a decade but then he thought he’d go where the money is, so he started writing poetry. He’s a lucky man with a stunning wife and three kids who look like their mother. He lives out West but he’ll always be from the South. His books include The Jubilee: Poems, Know When To Hold ’Em: The High Stakes Game of Fatherhood, and All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir (co-written with Brennan Manning).

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