Weekly Message from T. J.

Canned Faith

*tink*… “Damn.” *tink*…*tink*…*dff*

These are the sounds of a person trying to toss tiny rocks into the open mouth of a 12-ounce aluminum can on the beach. Sometimes it would hit the can, maybe even on the top, and tink. But a lot of the times, it hit the sand around the can, and dff. It’s not an easy game. The solidity of the rocks combined with the rigid, almost forbidding springiness of the paper-thin aluminum made the task seem impossible. And when you account for the non-uniformity of the rocks and the wind of the beach, it would take a miracle.

This scene was the answer to the question, “What will two people who’ve said about all they need to say to each other do for more than an hour without their phones?” Part way through the game of trying to swish a rock into the can, I remarked that this is how games and sports probably started. I probably went on about a book I’d read that supported my thesis or how much we are like our ancestors of millennia before any other kinds of entertainment. I might have got a nod, but mostly it was tink…dff…tink…[expletive]…dff.

In my area of law, intellectual property, I dealt with inventions a lot. And I’d often quote something I might have heard my father say, who also practiced intellectual property law, “Necessity is not the mother of invention. Boredom and laziness are its parents.” And in the history of human ideas and ways of spending our time, it struck me how advanced and integrated systems of games and amusement have become, from the Super Bowl this weekend to the tiny little pastimes many have on their phones, systems of games and fun are with us always.

But with every throw of a rock or tiny shell, I felt something else. A lightness spread in my mind with each toss. I was tracing the trajectory with my eyes and hoping something with my heart. The tiny arc etched the universe, and bent toward a feeling I can only describe as faith. I could feel the sports fan in me rationalizing that I had to believe, I had to have faith, and that would increase the chance of winning the game. And it struck me that I had more faith at that moment in the toss of a rock toward a can than I had in others or myself at times.

A woman I knew used to say, “I have a deep and abiding faith…that comes and goes.” There are times I know exactly what she means. But there are times …tink… when I’ve said all there is to say …dff… and the tiny arcs of the universe bend toward faith …[expletive]…. Because the impossibility of what two friends are trying to accomplish …dff… isn’t nearly as remarkable as the possibility for good …tink… that their friendship holds for the world.

Tink… “Did that one go in?”

“Oh, sorry I was distracted, thinking about something”


And may it ever be so,

Rev. T. J.

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