Imagine the most wonderful man you’ve ever known. He’s passionate and loving, intelligent beyond compare but infinitely understanding rather than arrogant and unapproachable. Imagine someone who is totally enthralled with all of creation, discovery, learning; a lover of ideas and growth and the amazing limitless depths of the human person. Imagine someone who pours out their whole self to redeem and improve. He gives his whole self to save you, but also to make you see how special and indispensable and unrepeatable you already are. He is totally preoccupied with you, so much so that he wants to share with you the intense and unimaginable splendor of everything made, as he sees them. He desires you to take pleasure in and care greatly for the universe along with him, and he has called you out of your normalcy to pursue this, for both your sake and the sake of the world.
Now, if you’re anything like me, you have very strong feelings about this man. Regardless of who might be your favorite (bowties are cool), you’re with the Doctor till the end, you can’t remember a time before you had the something-exciting-is-happening music stuck in your head, and secretly (or publically), you’re hoping you’ll be the next companion.
The other day, not uncharacteristically, I was obsessing over this show. I was thinking about the nature of the character the Doctor, and was utterly confounded by how so much goodness could be packed into one fictional person. He is relatable, even in his alienation. He is kind and wise and great and knowable and mysterious all at once. He wants to know his companions, has great affection for them, even as he is, in reality, so far above them. And in thinking about this, I realized two main things.
A. I am totally 100% jealous of the companions.
2. I have no reason to be, because maybe I am one, too, and maybe my Doctor is even better than the BBC’s.
All my prayer life, I have dehumanized Christ. I strip Him of His personhood and replace it with an unreachable and impersonal statue, a historical name, a fact to be memorized, a far-flung idea of a Divine Being on a proverbial cross. But what I realized in that moment is that He is totally and utterly real. He is vibrant and dynamic and unique and absurdly wonderful. And He is desperately preoccupied with me.
I sat there thinking What if it’s real? What if Jesus is an endlessly fascinating Being who is funny and wise and colorful and brilliant and infinitely more things, and what if He wants to be my absolute best friend? What if it’s real?
The morning after I had this realization, I was chilling at my kitchen table, praying Morning Prayer (try it here!) when this happened:
Lord, send your mercy and your truth to rescue us from the snares of the devil, and, happy to be known as companions of your Son, we will praise You among the peoples and proclaim You to the nations.
Roommate can attest to this, I actually burst out laughing. I cannot account for a single other time I have ever seen the Church referred to as “companions of your Son”. Maybe the Apostles. But even with them, it’s not a frequent expression.
It’s so personal, so mutual, so Whovian.
All I could do was sit there in total awe. Everything I had been thinking about, how maybe He is just as ridiculously wonderful and loving and brilliant as the Doctor, but on top of that maybe He is a real person; how maybe He is as caught up in me as the Doctor is with his friends; how maybe He is calling me out of my normalcy to pursue some great adventure with Him, (in which I get to know Him and myself simultaneously, wherein I see the great worth of all created things, and learn to hope big ridiculous hopes and dream absurd dreams and be given opportunities to love heroically). Maybe it’s all true.
So here’s how Doctor Who improves your prayer life:
Think of all the reasons why you love the Doctor (sweet mercy, bowties are cool), all the ways in which he amazes you and is wonderful and brilliant. Think of how much you want to go with Him, see the universe, be so important to someone that they want to bring you along to save the world with them. In this lies the reality of the Person of Christ. He is wiser, insanerer (“is that a word?”), more brilliant, more epic, than the Doctor, and more madly, desperately in love with you, His companion. You are Rose Tyler. You are Martha Jones. You are Donna Noble. You are the Ponds. But you are even more important and wonderful than they, because your adventure is real life, real souls, the real world waiting for your part in it, and your Doctor is a real being.
The metaphor is imperfect of course. All metaphors conceal as much as they reveal. But it’s still crazy beautiful. Take a moment, know your worth, and address Him as you would the Doctor. Watch an episode, revel in how much you wish someone that uniquely wonderful felt about you the way the Doctor feels about his friends, and then know beyond a doubt that you mean so much more than that to Someone who is infinitely more brilliant than him.
And then come along, Pond.