It’s 5:23 am. I’m alone, sitting in my chair with my coffee, thinking, the cats camping out on my lap and nearby.

Last night I went to my friend Tim’s retirement party. About 75 people were there. We qued up for pizza, pasta, and chicken fingers and told stories about various explosions and fires connected to Tim.  Tim confessed at one point,  in a moment of hilarious candor, after numerous fireworks and burning-engine and flaming-Christmas-tree stories,  “I love fire!”

Then he paced the floor thanking people and honoring others and making jokes and flailing his arm about like a puppet in the hands of a maniac,  as he is wont to do when he gets excited, which is always. Tim is no sleepy house cat. He is a wild cat, a man on fire. For a few years he was in the habit of taking 75 or so Christmas trees to the desert, roping them together and lighting them on fire.

This morning, sitting alone with my coffee, thinking about Tim, it comes to me that when life is social, warm, burning, it is best, and that it is always social.

Alone is a fiction. There is no being alone. In a sence I am never alone, because I know Tim.

Tim is one of my very best friends. I’ve known Tim for about 35 years. He was the best man in my wedding. We have a lifetime of talks and some crazy adventures and some rough times too.  I rely on Tim; he relies on me. If he were to do something out of character that brought shame to him, I would feel the shame too. If I were to do something wrong, something out of character, something out of alignment with the good reputation that I have in the community, something that disgraced me, Tim would be disgraced too. And in this way, we are accountable to each other, and not really alone in our behaviors and choices.

We have fed each others fire; we burn for some of the same causes; we have each others backs.

Sometimes we speak of privacy. I write this in a private moment. We have created places of privacy, homes and fenced yards and bathrooms, but we don’t see this thing of isolation even close to correctly. Even in those more hidden places, we are never alone.  Our friends are there, and there is something else there, and on this  I am finally getting my mind straight.

God is there, everywhere, always with me. Privacy is a myth.  The Bible, that best book on life and God and reality, says that God watches us, that he sees it all, that his eyes cast around to see who relies on him and he energizes those who do. Last night when I watched Tim lounging about the room, arms up and down, laughing and waving and yelling and creating warmth and love and kindness in the room, I saw a man filled with God, not alone, fueled up on the watching eyes of God.

And I get it more now, although not yet as I will get it when I finally begin to wake up to our utter and complete and irrevocable not-aloneness. God is omniscient. God sees, it all, and when we know that, and live in that, and live as if that is true, which hardly anyone I ever met does, then we are different. If there is no privacy, then my behavior changes, because there is perpetual accountability and endless energy to do the right thing.

Listen, someone else is always in the room! I am growing wisely paranoid. We are being watched! And we are always creating stories than can and will be told. There is no movement of our fingers that isn’t part of the plot that is being written for public consumption, that can’t be told and retold as we live and then retire from work and love and hate and life.

This begs, pleads for, falls down and cries for the question: How would we live if every moment were filmed and shown at every moment to everyone? It is! God sees every moment of our lives. He is consistently present. He even knows our every thought.  And so we must each one always ask ourselves, “Do I want to do this right now, think this right now, live this out right now, seeing that God is right now watching me and recording my story?”

It burns in me! Pile on more Christmas trees. It explodes. Set off more fireworks. It smolders in me and in you, the glowing ember of God. It flares up in every moment, and it makes me want to live smart, aware, different, as if the lights are never off, and they aren’t and we are never, ever, thankfully ever — alone.

We are living public stories. We are always living out what will be told at our retirement party. We are always fighting off fire, or letting it burn in us. We are irrevocably public, and we would do well to live as if the whole world and God were always watching.

It is.

He is.

  1. Adam Cabasos says:

    This is actually one of my favorite blogs you’ve posted.  I was intrigued when you mentioned how God is omniscient, yet you’ve hardly met anyone who believes this – because it’s true.  I think we tend to ignore that God “sees all.”  I enjoyed this topic.

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