Friday, May 29, 2009

God glasses

Sometimes I wish the ability to see as God does was a little more tangible. You know, you decide to follow Christ, and along with that "new believer's Bible" they hand out by the dozens, you get a pair of God Glasses. Yes indeedy, the key to spiritual 20/20. (The paradox, I suppose, is that that Bible is the set of glasses...but that's another post). Sadly, most of the time I find myself looking at the world through an unchanged set of eyes. I cast my glance around me and immediately make judgement based on less-than-holy standards: sometimes silently, sometimes (unfortunately) aloud.

Recently, I found myself feeling rather grumpy as I began the 25 hour train ride back from California. Hoping to nap, I was instead kept awake by a nearby teenager, talking at a typical teenage volume and playing songs recorded as ringtones on her phone (while singing along, of course.) I moved back to another car to rest, only to have a rather prudish-looking conductor mark the car "closed" after we stopped in Reno. I returned to my original seat, thankful that the teenager had succumb to a nap in the time I was gone. My relief was short-lived: a man across the aisle began staring at me in a way that made me more than uncomfortable. Frustrated, I gathered my things and went to sit in the lounge car, dreading the 22 hours that remained in the trip. I could ask for help from the conductor, I thought, but that guy looked uptight. I inwardly blamed him for being so, and for closing off my precious escape car. While standing outside with my dad at a brief stop, the conductor passed, and I nearly said out loud, "What a prick." I restrained myself, but only from the words. The thought remained, and I inwardly smiled at my wit.

I'm so glad I didn't utter those words. When I later ran into some other conductors and asked about the closure of the Reno car, they asked about my situation and immediately began looking for a way to help me out. Who was it, you might ask, that eventually came to the rescue more than anyone else? The prick. Ah yes, the prudish, uptight prick. He found me a soon-to-be-vacated seat in another car and marked it off so that no one would take it (even claiming the seat next to me as reserved). He offered me his own seat until that seat was cleared (at the next stop). He checked in on me a few times, checked out the creepy man, and made sure a man was seated there instead of another woman. The dude went above and beyond. Uptight? No. Kind and helpful in the extreme. What was that about God glasses?

Later I found myself surprisingly in need of...some toiletry items (ahem). The little on-train store carried no such items (can we say severe oversight, Amtrak?). I was directed to the woman who ran the dining car, but no amount of inquiring around on her part turned up any help for me. Sitting at the table post-dinner, feeling sorry for myself, I found myself looking at the hugely overweight woman who had barely squeezed into a booth nearby. She was an employee in the kitchen. The judgments that flew through my mind were atrocious--I am embarrassed to recall them. As I chatted with the dining car director again, the large woman overheard. Looking up from her silverware wrapping, she said, "Let me go look in my room." She disappeared for a while, and came back with a neatly wrapped care package put together with much consideration. "Thank you so much," I said. "You really saved my rear." "Of course. Happy to help." My mom asked if I owed her anything, and she laughed if off as a ridiculous notion. Walking away, I realized I had again falled victim to poor spiritual eyesight, and God had pointed out the fuzziness of my vision (probably with great delight, as he knows the deep beauty of that woman's heart).

These are minor examples of the adjustments that need to be made every day. In my work, especially, seeing people as God does in an often unsuccessful venture. Looking at a slobbering drunk, homeless person who is acting like a ridiculous jerk, I see,well, a slobbering drunk, get the point. I have a feeling that isn't what their Creator sees. The principle applies equally to the mirror for me. I look and pass judgement every day, failing to see myself through the lens of God's abundant, lavish love and grace.

May the people of God use the means given us (including that Bible) to begin to change the way we see our world. It isn't as easy or neatly packaged as a literal pair of God glasses, but the opportunity is there each day to seek God, and to allow him to take us from tainted eyes to spiritual 20/20.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

time to write

I miss writing. I miss crafting words, capturing my thoughts and then stepping back to look at them as they appear in ink. Aha, I think to myself, that's what you look like! Yet I have not written much these last couple years. Some of that was natural. The move to the trailer meant the loss of home internet, as well as the loss of a great deal of what had previously been free time. As well, my most prolific years involved writing late into the night, which is less feasable now that I am back in the working world and on someone else's schedule.

Still, the excuses aren't sufficient. What did I do this week that was more important? I watched several epidsodes of The Deadliest Catch and scanned the internet for ideas for a fall trip. I wasted too much time on Facebook (Oh FB, how I love and loathe thee...). I took a bike ride. I spent an hour in Target trying to decide which notebook and bike lock to buy. I had tea and did some reading at a coffee shop. I met up with friends, inititally for tennis, but finally for coffee when the courts presented only puddles. Some of these things were important indeed. But some were by no means worth the loss of hours that could have been spent writing. It is a discipline that I have let fall slack. I need a good old fashioned kick in the hind quarters.

That said, any and all are welcome to offer such prodding. It is time to write again.