Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Important reminders

Today has been a day of somewhat strange encounters, and the day's not over yet. I began my morning with a much needed run (which I must confess ended in a walk). While cooling down, a woman walking her dog approached me and began a conversation. She was very curious about me, our family, how we went about renting our home and she asked me a bazillion questions. Because I began my day with a reading from The Attentive Life, I recognized the importance of paying attention, and instead of giving a quick hello, I engaged in conversation. When I told her I was a minister, she looked somewhat amazed and said in a very naive tone, "huh, you don't hear of many women ministers, do you?" I loved her curiosity, her expressiveness and her friendliness.

Another encounter was with a man suffering from dementia. During our conversation, he reminisced about his career and life as a minister and he kept referring to people by their race (i.e. "the blacks" and "the whites"). A black man now in his 80s, he recalled with pride his ability to cross racial boundaries to minister to and with white folks as well as black. He made several comments about how our churches should be more racially diverse, and he ended our visit by telling me that whatever I was setting out to do, it was going to happen (and he said it with great confidence!).

I love days like today, days when I am free to enjoy encounters with people unlike me, yet so much like me. So often I am too hurried to notice, attend to, or value each encounter in a given day. Today, instead of being preoccupied with thoughts of how/when/why of church starting, I lived in the moment. It's so easy to get carried away by allowing anxieties and concerns about the future to keep us from being present, but there is too much at risk by living this way. I would have missed out on a reminder that while the issue of women in ministry is important, it is inconsequential to the lives of most of the people walking through my neighborhood (duh...). I also would have missed an important reminder that longings for racial reconciliation are innate and powerful - so powerful, in fact, that they penetrate through the cob-webbed thoughts of an aging black man struggling with dementia. Sometimes I need a little perspective, and sometimes I also need to hear words of assurance (if even from a stranger) that, yes, with God's help, I can do this.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Susan! Found your blog and have been reading your posts (on my lunch hour!). Really enjoyed reading this last one. I almost teared up! (When you talked about the elderly man.) So true--many times we overlook the wisdom in people. We do judge people (he's old and crazy, what does he know)--etc..Thank you for reminding me to stay in the moment! Robin