So, there’s this story I love, from a series of King Arthur tales by Gerald Morris–maybe you know it. It’s about Perceval/Parcifal/Parzival. There are many many variants of spelling for this particular knight’s name, so I’m just going to pick one and stick with it. In the story, Parsifal is yet un-knighted, and he’s going about the country with his page, looking for a worthy deed by which to prove himself. He’s questing for a quest. As am I, incidentally.
Parsifal, in the rendition I’m familiar with, is an innocent–he was raised by his mother far from civilization, and as a result, has no so-called civilized manners. He asks sort of impolite questions and gets himself into trouble as a result of his ignorance. But he has a kind and true heart.
One day, he comes to a castle where he and his page are welcomed in to a feast. It’s a strange feast, featuring weird rituals and an oddly-shaped dish that, when placed before the guests, gives each guest exactly what it was they most desired to eat. All of this is really neat to Parsifal, and what he wants most is to ask what’s going on. But his page has told him over and over that it’s not polite to ask questions.
There’s a king in this castle, as there very often are in castles, only this king is wounded terribly. He’s at the feast, but there’s obviously something wrong with him–his face is “full of anguish.” Again, Parsifal would like to know the king’s story–what’s wrong with him and how Parsifal can help–but he’s afraid of being rude. So he stays silent.
In the morning, the castle has disappeared and the truth is revealed: the magical dish was, in fact, the Holy Grail, and the king was someone who, had Parsifal only asked, could have given him answers about Parsifal’s purpose in life. If Parsifal had only asked a question, the king would have been healed.
i wish we asked better questions. Me. I wish I asked better questions. I wish that, instead of entering a room and instantly homing in on how I feel and how I ought to react and blah blah blah, I could forget me and focus on learning about someone else.
There is so much more to people than we can tell, or than we will ever know. I mean, think of how much there is to you that you feel people could never see from the surface, or that you feel people will never truly understand. And then consider that every human walking past you has probably felt the same feeling. It’s wonderful and awful at the same time.
I’ve been wondering lately why I blog, why I write things. It’s not like I’m sharing recipes or cool pinterest-y crafts or anything like that. I just…ramble. And yeah, it’s an outlet, sure. I say sometimes that I’m just trying to reassure people who might need the reassurance that they are not alone in a particular thought or struggle.
It goes the other way too, though. I’m trying to reassure myself that I’m not alone–that someone is interested in what I have to say. And as much as I protest that this isn’t the Confessions of a Girl Named Jo, who do I think I’m kidding?
I want to be known. And I want to know others well, not just surface-level.
I don’t think I’m alone in that.
I think that quite a bit of what we post on the internet stems from this deep, deep desire to be known, with all the quirky, good and not-so-good parts of our personalities. It’s so, so easy to define our worth by what others think, by how well we feel others know us–by how much we feel they care about us.
It’s disillusioning, then, to think that no human is ever gonna fulfill us in the way we crave. No amount of attention or popularity is going to fill the hole we have, and as much as we might try to know people, there will still be depths to them that only their Creator can know and love. I tend to think of the end of 1 Corinthians 13: “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” I know that the passage has to do with a whole lot more than what I’m referencing it for here, but I love it because it reassures us that the frustrating limitations we have now won’t always be–that even though there is much we can’t understand now, that won’t always be the case.
I’ve been reading several peoples’ blogs today, and I love it so much. Give me someone’s blog any day over their Twitter feed. If social media things were at a party, Instagram would be the cool pretty girls comparing tans, Facebook would be the everyman in the middle of the room, and Twitter would be those obnoxious loud guys competing for who’s most popular. Bloggers would be in the corner talking quietly. Or maybe they’d be at home, blogging.
Tangent, sorry. Sweeping generalizations, sorry.
I love reading people’s blogs. It’s like listening to people talk about things they really care about, which is one of my favorite things ever to do. I want to listen to people say in person what they say in their blogs. And here’s where I might finally get back to the story of Parsifal. See, I’m pretty durn good at listening, but I’m so bad at asking.
For one thing, I often don’t talk. I’ve gone a whole day without saying one word, just to see if I could do it. I wait for other people to talk. I say I like hearing other people’s stories, but often I’m so concerned with my feelings and my discomfort that I indicate something else with my actions.
Oh, help us, God, to talk about things that matter and that we care about. Help us ask deeper questions, even if we’ve been told that questions are impertinent. When I get to know a person, I want to know what makes them them. I want to be the person who helps draw others out, who cares enough about knowing and loving others well that I’m not considering myself anymore.
Give us wisdom and courage to care for what You care for.