Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kicking Ash Wednesday

I hate those interpersonal conflicts where your chest tightens and the blood pulses through your skull. Where you're ready to take your rival down -- mentally, verbally, emotionally, and maybe even physically. Where you know that no matter what you say or do, you will not win the argument. Where your adversary starts to get personal, even when the issue is not. Where the antagonist demands, "I want to speak with the PASTOR!" And you have to reply, "I AM the pastor!"

I hate those types of conflicts, and I was embroiled in one the past two days. Fitting, I suppose, on the eve of Lent, as we recall that we are dust and to dust we shall return. It's always humbling to recall that our greatest opponents may be ourselves. The line between good and evil doesn't run between people, but through our own hearts. We are finite, broken people.

I wish I could say the conflict was resolved. It ended, but with no real reconciliation. Instead, I was left hanging on the verge of 40 days -- a holy period of time to ponder and pray and practice extending the grace in which I believe.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Small sparks

I'm learning to be grateful for the sparks of hope God offers us through people who collide with our lives. As I left church on a bone-chilling day, a gentleman stopped me with great excitement. He had just been given a pair of gloves and a hat that fortuitously matched the color his bicycle.

"That's cool," I told him with half-hearted enthusiasm, trying to extricate myself politely from the conversation.

"It's not just cool," the man replied, "it's a blessing. When you don't have much, let alone gloves and a hat, this is a blessing. I hope you can see that."

"Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. "
-- Luke 6:20