When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (1 Cor 13:11 RSV)
I was watching The Neverending Story, a 1984 film based on the novel of the same name. It could easily be said to be my favorite movie of all time. I saw it for the first time when I was 5 years old, and it set the foundation of my heart's desire for many years to come. By this I mean that fantasy became my "genre", from The Neverending Story I moved on to The Chronicles of Narnia, and many other fantasy novels and movies. Unfortunately, these fantastical stories were often read to the exclusion of my schoolwork, and definitely to the exclusion of Scripture, which was the exact opposite of the dreamy escapism I experienced in fantasy. Even The Chronicles of Narnia, when read with the understanding of a child, can in the mind of that child lead to a focus on magic and talking animals, rather than the sacrifice of Aslan.
So today, as I was watching The Neverending Story, it occurred to me as it recently has before, that the fantasy novels of my youth, with the exception of The Chronicles of Narnia and books like it, no longer satisfy me. The young heroes and heroines dashing off bravely (and often foolishly) to save the day, the struggling hero or heroine learning to wield a magical "gift", the wrongfully accused hero who must set the record straight and save the kingdom - they no longer speak to me of adventure and fill my heart with hours of daydreamy glory. Rather, I find that after reading one of these stories I feel at best a sense of nostalgia for a time when the only responsibilities I had were schoolwork and keeping my room clean, but more often, I feel a sense of time lost, precious moments wasted that could have been better spent in some other way.
And this, believe it or not, leads us to the seed origin of the Servant's Heart. For it is in the deepest parts of us where desire is seeded, and must of necessity lie dormant until the conditions are right for the seed to break open and the first cautious, fragile roots to reach out. My sophomore year in university I had an experience which led to me "getting off the fence post" and choosing to be Catholic. It was during the next couple years that I began to read Scripture more than I previously had, and began to learn that being Christian was going to be far more than just going to Church on Sunday, reading my Bible, and saying some prayers - when I happened to think of it. And it was this warming of the heart, and watering of faith, that allowed that seed to put forth its first roots.
I couldn't have known at the time what those roots would grow into, and know that even today I am not fully grown. But I was, and am, a journalor (journaler?), and thankfully have my journals to go back to, to read my thoughts and "realizations" as the roots began to take hold in my heart. The only wrinkle in this journey of mine, back in time to when it began, is that journals don't have a table of contents... So, next post, how the roots first broke out of the seed.