Trains, lettuce and Harry Potter

The second section of my Theodyseey journey was titled “Architexture”, which turned out to be an exploration of my identity, my life story and the perceptions that I hold of myself. You know, easy topics like those. I felt a little like a frog in Biology 101- my heart, mind and soul were being dissected and studied piece by piece, and I enjoyed looking at myself from several newangles.

The part I didn’t enjoy involved trains and lettuce.

The author presents (again) two different approaches to understanding the way that God works in our lives. I would take this a step further and apply these metaphors to the ways that people approach growth, change or progress in general. The first is a train model: we are traveling forward on a linear track, passing stations left and right as proof that we are getting somewhere. If we make a mistake, the train is “derailed” and taken all the way to the beginning of the track. The point is to make as few mistakes as possible: “The goal of this linear pursuit is the final destination. After all, isn’t the whole point of the journey to ‘get there?'" Minimize mistakes, maximize speed a
nd you will arrive- sounds good to me.

The lettuce model is quite different. Rather than seeing spiritual growth (or
ourselves) as a linear progression, we are like a head of lettuce with the Holy Spirit at the center. Just like iceberg and romaine, we have various layers that are both healthy and unhealthy. Some areas of our livesare vibrant and alive, while others are struggling and withering. The main difference between the two models is the focus: “Rather than focusing on the destination, the emphasis in the lettuce model is on the process. There is a relationship to be entered into and a process of transformation to engage in.”

As my friends in Theodyssey could tell you, I clearly did not like this concept. In fact, when I was reading this section of the homework, I groaned out loud, put the book down and physically walked away from the text. I couldn’t stand it! I even wrote “uggghhhhh!” in my homework! Why would I want to be involved in such a messy, complex process when I would rather just move my caboose along one track?

What might have helped me was watching a little Harry Potter. In an effort to get myself pumped for the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (So I’m a nerd…so what?), I put on some of the older movies while doing work around the house. The Order of the Phoenix was on and I walked into the livingroom just in time to catch this powerful scene:

Harry is talking with his godfather, Sirius Black, and Harry is deeply concerned that he is becoming more and more like the evil Lord Voldemort. Harry says, “What if after everything that I’ve been through, something’s gone wrong inside me? What if I’m becoming bad?” Sirius answers, “I want you to listen to me very carefully, Harry. You’re not a bad person. You’re a very good person, who bad things have happened to…We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”

While I’m not going to base the rest of my life on Harry Potter, I did find some hope in hearing these words. I am learning to accept the fact that I have healthy and wilted lettuce, green and brown leaves alike. And the best part- all are important and all serve a purpose. All have played a part in my story, and while I’m choosing to act on the good and heal the withering parts, I can accept all of them as part of me. Now, that sounds way better than a train, doesn’t it?

I’ll challenge you with the same- what picture looks more appealing: the train or the lettuce? Are there parts of you that you would rather pass by on the train tracks? Or do you find freedom in accepting all of you, just as you are in this moment? Here’s the crazy thing: THAT is exactly how God sees you and me, and loves us in the midst of all that…

Much love,

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