A Good Man is Hard to Find

So I was traveling to Washington D.C. via the Amtrak, as I have no car, and I was absolutely struck by this guy who looked about college age and was also waiting for the train. He wore a brown leather jacket and looked as cool as one can look while sitting with one’s bag at a train stain at 6AM in the morning.

Anyway, what struck me about him was not any part of that vague physical description, it was instead what he did as we were both waiting.

Our departure platform was on the second floor of the building and, when this gentleman saw several middle-aged and older ladies making slow progress up the stairs with their respective bags, he went down the stairs to meet them half way and politely asked if he could carry their bags the remainder of the way up the stairs for them. The ladies were absolutely touched by his assistance and accepted the offer with flattered thanks. He, in turn, accepted their thanks with a humble nod and when he placed their bags at the top of the stairs he wished them a pleasant trip. He repeated this process so many times I lost count.

And as I was sitting there watching this unfold I finally understood something straight out of Mark 10:43 when all the disciples are discussing who is the greatest and they receive this answer,

Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant

I hear a lot in the news about these raging debates regarding what it truly means to be a man and what it truly means to be a woman. However, in my opinion, none of it ever gets anywhere close to the truth. Because in my mind, the truth is as simple as the above gospel quote. That the greatest man or woman is the one who serves everyone entrusted into their care and even those who are not, such as strangers who struggle with their baggage.

And in a world where everyone talks about influencing millions and having an exciting, fulfilling career in order to buy lots of things, I wanted to pay tribute to the young man who did not forget that sometimes the best way to lead is not through a social movement or a well-stated opinion but by example, because when I saw him I remembered something I all too often forget. And for that, I owe him my thanks.

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The Music Man

So today I had a really nice sit-down chat with one of the guys on my company’s maintenance staff and he was sharing with me how he was teaching his son how to play drums. He is quite musical himself and plays drums for his church, but his love of music actually started with the guitar when he was around his son’s age, which is why he is so willing to oblige when his son asks him for lessons.

d2

So of course this warranted the purchase of a sweet set of drums for the both of them (he showed me a picture) and it was great to see his face light up while he talked about his passion for music. People with secret passions (within the bounds of moral and civil law) make me so happy. Like, here’s a guy who fixes things for a living and he is quite good at it, but now I can picture him playing music all the time. It’s his outlet, one of the things he enjoys most about living, and he practices regularly and with dedication. Even though he leads a very humble life with his family, I know many more affluent people who would pay to feel like that about something, to have something capture their soul like that. And it was sweet because this man admitted that he’s seen others turning to alcohol, drugs, and things like that but that for him, it’s always been music. And his smile was so sincere I could almost see the halo.

But I wanted to pay a special tribute to the music man, for reminding me on an ordinary Thursday afternoon what life is all about.

Don’t Give Up

So the other day I got some bad news. It wasn’t new news, per se, but I’ve been having all kinds of minor health problems lately that have me being bounced around like a ping-pong ball between different specialists as they try to pinpoint which cause is responsible for which symptom.

It’s a frustrating process, not in the least because I sincerely worry that my boss will stop believing me the more I repeatedly ask to take off work to go to the next doctor who, of course, will also want a follow-up appointment.

I wouldn’t mind it so much if I didn’t have to ask permission to join something that I really want to join, something which I’m not sure will accept me as a candidate even though I feel truly called to do it. And that’s hard. Because obviously I won’t know their answer until after I apply, which won’t be in the immediate future. And in the gap that waiting always brings there is much room for doubt.

But it’s funny, even in the midst of some very reasonable objections I could see brought against me, I was surprised when my extremely practical family members looked me right in the eye and said “don’t give up.”

In the right context, those words can be quite powerful.

Because even though I was expecting my family to say “yeah it’s unlikely” or “yeah don’t set your heart on it, keep your options open” they instead believed in two people that I sometimes struggle to believe in, myself and God. They believed that in spite of resistance I might face that God is truly calling me to do it and that, if that is the case, neither hell nor high water will stand in my way. And I was touched because I know the reason they believe I can do it is because they have witnessed the strong interior conversion I described having, the one that inspired this blog in the first place, and the one that has carried me through many storms and placed me back on my feet on the other side to walk along brand new shores. And I’m sure I’m a better person for it.

And as I reach my one year anniversary of being a medical enigma, I also approach my one year anniversary of my littler way, a practice of living in the present moment with God. A process I will describe more in detail come the new year. A process that took the sting out of my bad news because, from the relationship that developed there, when push came to shove and I had to ask myself that tough question: “do I really trust God to take care of me, to get me through this and accomplish His Will for my life even in the face of potentially serious opposition?” My answer was a genuine “yes, I do.” Because God likes to accomplish the utterly impossible for me, it’s kind of our thing. I blame myself really because the truth is, as Miss Piggy pointed out in The Great Muppet Caper, “you wanted excitement!”

So I renew the promise I made when I began my consecration to the Blessed Mother, “No matter what happens, I won’t give up.”

Because in spite of everything I still have my new faith, and it really does make all the difference.