Hidden Giants: Day 8 / by Jeff Tacklind

Yesterday I got to meet one of my heroes.  Her name is Krista Tippett, and she is one of the deepest people that I know.  I say ‘know’ loosely, because I only just met her, and our personal interaction lasted all of 3 minutes.  But in a sense, I do know her, at least her voice, through hours of interviews on her NPR podcast, On Being.

What a privilege to get to hear her speak, twice. The first time on the intersection of faith and science, and the second time on the power of asking better questions.  I took twelve pages of notes. 

Krista asks questions for a living.  And she asks them of people doing the deep work of healing and renewal, of exploration and curiosity, and discovering what it means to become whole and flourish as human beings.  From people of faith, to poets, to particle physicists, she listens generously and, as a result, pushes beyond their individual particularities into the mystery that we all, somehow, stand on.

Krista creates what Parker Palmer calls, “quiet, inviting, trustworthy spaces where a soul can speak its truth.”  And there are so few of these spaces left in the world.  Everywhere we go, our world feels divided, polarized, and contentious.  Every matter is taken and pushed to the extreme, to vilify the other, and to create fences that separate us.

Yesterday I felt invited into such a quiet space.  Where understanding was the goal.  Where people’s stories were more sacred than their political positions.  Where mystery was cherished and held with delight.  How my soul needed it!  Hope!

We live in a world that is addicted to money and power and celebrity.  These principles drive every algorithm.  They dictate our values and virtues.  And as a result, we are all, deeply alone and detached.  We have become obsessed with immediacy, and it is preventing us from taking a long view of change.  We fail to see that so much good is being done in this world.  But if we’re willing to look to the fringes and the margins, we can see the profound restoration that is being done there. 

Krista called these people the ‘giants not known’ because they are too busy doing the work to bother drawing attention to themselves.  And as I listened to her, I longed to be one of them.  To stop trying to be heard and to get busy bringing light into darkness.  To stop clamoring for attention, and to join those who already have their sleeves rolled up, silently doing the work.

Krista doesn’t just find them, she questions them deeply in what makes them unique.  She sees their particularity as what they have to offer to the world.  And in those depths you hear the echoes of your own story.  How who you are and what you’ve been given is deeply needed.

I, too, long to create these quiet, inviting, trustworthy spaces.  To seek after wisdom and understanding, and to invite others into this conversation.  I'm challenged to listen generously and to hold mystery with humility and compassion.  And to find those faithfully doing the quiet, humble work of God’s kingdom, bringing it to earth where it is so deeply needed, and to join them there.