#changetheconversation

I just came in from my morning walk.

My devotions led me to this.

We got back from our most recent trip to Haiti about eight hours ago. I, and three very humble, gifted, generous, funny, faithful friends had a full day of travel and retrospection. As is true after pretty much every trip the conversations kept steering to what could we do to “fix Haiti.” We didn’t use those words but that is the bottom line.

There are many responses rolling in your mind right now.

“Heal thyself” might well be one of them.

I digress.

By “fix” we are pretty much skipping over some of the greater truth to chase an economic solution.

Economic change is greatly needed there.

That’s exactly the thing we cannot fix.

To dwell on that is to come to a level of frustration that leads to spiritual stagnation that leads to defeat.

There is a line in a Book I read fairly regularly that says “the One who began a good work in you will see it to completion…”

We aren’t called to finish the job. We don’t even have a good grasp of what the beautiful result should look like. We are simply called to be participants in the project.

If we lose sight of this we also lose sight of something very sweet.

The good work is exactly that.

We can’t fix Haiti (or Anderson for that matter) but there are over 600 children going to school through the work that was begun in us. That means something.

We can’t fix Haiti (or Washington for that matter) but there is a young woman with new clothes going to college. New clothes and college weren’t even an option, not even a dream. That means something.

We can’t fix Haiti (or even change one hair on my head) but there is a very bright young man who is back in classical (secondary) school who’d dropped out because he didn’t have the $250 for the annual tuition. That means something.

We can’t fix Haiti but I also can’t get the image out of my head of several people leaving our outdoor woodworking area with chairs, tables, stools, and HUGE smiles. That means something.

We can’t fix Haiti but there is a freshly painted building with new pews to sit on where people gather to praise and draw strength and find hope in a place where these things are as essential as air and food. That means something.

I can’t fix Haiti but I can believe in a Friend who is in the process of doing that very thing - and fixing me in the process.

I got to the church building here in Rogersville about 11 last night. I checked my messages and mail. There was a note from a sweet lady who had a serious injury and several surgeries last year. She had no money for food - or for Christmas gifts for her children. You gave generously to her. The note she sent included the words “you have no idea how much that meant to us.”

She’s right.

As our Friend and I were winding up a fairly brief stroll this morning I felt compelled to confess the part of my life that wants to see everything fixed. He smiled at me the way he does and said…

“I prefer to look at the fixers.”

Your move.

Brother Pat

#changetheconversation

I just came in from my morning walk.

My devotions led me to this.

Usually when I shave I start on the sides and work to the middle.

Every now and then I will start in the middle and work out.

I’m a wild and crazy guy like that.

Yesterday as I was preparing my shaving equipment I entered a time warp. It was 1972 and I was in basic training at Fort Jackson, SC. A miserable place if there ever was one.

I had maybe three whiskers on my chin.

The drill sergeant woke us at 4;00 a.m. to teach us how to shave.

No kidding.

Thing is, young people in 1972 had a rebellious side. We gathered before the wall length mirrors over the sinks in the communal latrine. After the class the platoon started peppering him when he asked if there were any questions. Do you go up or down on your chin? Do you use the same amount of lather on each surface? Do you change the blade weekly? How much bleeding is normal?

It went on for quite a while.

The drill sergeant, quite a genius, finally figured out what was happening, said a drill sergeant word or two, and told us inspection would be soon and we better be ready - in so many words.

All in all I suspect that hour of shaving lesson cost the government a couple of thousand dollars.

One platoon now. You do the math.

But this isn’t about that.

It is about our (or maybe it’s just me) need for routine.

Not in all things of course.  Adventure is good.  But in some core things. Some things you do in the midst of adventures too.

Habit if you will.

Not in everything but in the things that bring peace.

A book I read several decades ago had a line in it that read “the only change worthy of the name takes place on the level of habit.”

You do it as naturally as you breathe.

For some, and I certainly hope most of us, no planning goes into brushing our teeth.

I have to make a conscious decision to not shave.

And I love those epiphanies when I realize I was thankful, or used by God, or moved to tears, or busted a gut laughing, just at the graces around me that I have come to expect out of habit.

It is my habit, you see, to take these walks.

Sometimes I start way out on the edges.

Sometimes I get crazy and start at the core.

But I have a queasy feeling all day, and bad breath to boot, if I don’t live the habits that matter.

Eh?

As our Friend walked with me on the coolest Memorial Day morning in my memory we fell into an easy rhythm. It was almost as easy as breathing. I was telling him how natural it feels to be in his presence in these predawn meetings we have. He smiled at me the way he does and said…

“That poor drill sergeant.”

Your move.

Brother Pat

Posted 9 weeks ago