In his book, The Solitaire Mystery (trans. Sarah Jane Hails; New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1996), Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder creates the following dialogue between father and son as they stand outside the temple of Apollo at Delphi (p. 162):
[Dad] gestured toward all the tourists swarming out of the tour buses far below and crawling like a fat trail of ants up through the temple site.
“If there is one person among all those who regularly experiences the world as something full of adventure and mystery…”
He now took a deep breath before he continued.
“You can see thousands of people down there, Hans Thomas. I mean, if just one of them experiences life as a crazy adventure—and I mean that he, or she, experiences this every single day…”
“What about it?” I asked now…
“Then he or she is a joker in a pack of cards.”
“Do you think there’s a joker like that here?”
A look of despair now crossed his face. “Nope!” he said. “Of course I can’t be sure, because there are…a few jokers, but the chance is infinitesimal.”
“What about yourself? Do you experience life as a fairy tale every single day?”
“Yes, I do!”
There is a lot in that snippet of dialogue that expresses well the meaning of mischievous discipleship.
Being aware of the adventure and mystery in daily life
Jesus calls and enables us to become mischievous witnesses to him on a daily basis. He does this by inviting us to join him in conspiracies of goodness. This invitation comes to us through life-transforming words which he shares with us always at the most unexpected times. Our daily enjoyment of the mystery of God-with-us is just this discerning of Christ’s words and our joyful joining with him in his always surprising adventures.
Many are called but few are chosen
This daily call of Jesus is something Jesus initiates with everyone, Christian or not, mischievous or conventional, no matter what. Most ignore him, some respond to him unintentionally, all are invited to be intentional about listening for his voice and responding.
Being jokers in the deck of life
Through the character of Dad, Gaarder refers to people who intentionally experience the adventure and mystery of life on a daily basis as jokers. Of all the cards in a regular deck, that does seem to be the one most analogous to what Jesus calls us as mischievous disciples to be.
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