[Jesus] saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? – Matthew 16:15 (KJV)
Rip Van Winkle is a powerful example of mistaken identity in American literature. He excels at the art of the nap and provides an excellent alternative to the standard American identity of busy: “Up and at ‘em,” “Early bird catches the worm,” and other Ben Franklinisms about virtue being hard work and vice being laziness.
Rip takes a twenty-year nap, and nobody knows him when he wakes up. Washington Irving’s character is a sneaky challenge to workaholism, the idolatry of the Protestant work ethic and that persistently misplaced “work-life balance” that everyone covets and few achieve. Protestants started this sleezy cooperation with the Industrial Revolution, so we don’t know much about rest. We know even less about the art of the spiritual nap.
Peter nearly mistakes Jesus’ identity. He hoped for prominence when Jesus was offering a just peace. Jesus had a communion table that was round. The supper pictures have it wrong. There is no head of the table. Jesus came to challenge the pyramid. He came to cohere the world in a great roundness of belonging. Yes, food for all. Prominence for all. Jesus taught the ministry of the nap, quieting people into peace sufficient for great capacities.
I usually don’t have spiritual experiences in airports. But: I was at the Hartford Airport. The TSA and the Clear lines were super long. The regular line had a few people who were zipping through. I saw Jesus and the world he imagines. And who he is.
I named a cat Rip Van Twinkle once. She reminded me of Jesus, who joined the real Rip in flipping the script.
Wake us up, O God, and let us see you standing there in the regular line, with us, zipping through.