Monday, February 2, 2015

Random Musings About Perspective and Weather

I was going through some of the unfinished posts I've accumulated over the past few months and decided to start posting some of them.  This one is unfinished, or at least I think it is...not really sure.  I'm not even sure exactly when it was started; October 2014 maybe?  Seems right.  Given that is about changing perspectives, I decided to go ahead and post it.  Why?  Because my perspective now is far different from what is written.  Now, when I look at this piece, it feels a little self serving, like something that would irritate me if someone else wrote it.  Then?  In the moment?  It was very sincere, very pure and was an outlet for what me to work out what I was feeling.  That's what writing does for me.  I should also add that what I had, what I was doing then; I had no idea what I had and that really is the only reason why I'm going to go ahead and post it.  Make no mistake though, I learned pretty quick what I had :)

*****

I feel like I've got a confession to make up front; I'm not sure this post is going anywhere.  I don't have a conclusion in mind or a particular point to make...I think.  It's just some random thoughts that seem somehow connected and maybe even important.  Beats me; I just know I feel like writing about them :)

*****
To know me is to know that I love cold weather and I love Christmas.  The love of Christmas is far too nuanced for this post because it's all at once theological, neurotic, and sentimental.  Perhaps someday I will try diagram it, but then again...maybe not.  However the love of cold weather is mainly rooted in a love of snow and the fact that it signals the approach of Christmas.  However, I think it goes beyond that.  I feel more alive when the air is crisp and the wind has bite.  It stirs something within me that brings a peace and a contentedness that I cannot explain beyond the well established fact that I'm just a bit weird.

*****

The older that I get the more convinced I've become of three things (among many lol).  The first? It seems that there is a cultural phenomenon that dictates large swaths of our populace enjoy misery.  People will find any and every reason to be miserable; just look at my Facebook feed lol.  Christmas, Columbus Day, political parties, each other...it gets so old.  The second; misery it seems, truly does love company.  They want you to join them in their misery and will climb upon a soapbox at the drop of a hat to pontificate about the righteousness of their misery.  Thirdly, the misery du jour is often comically fleeting.  I mention all of this, because I am not miserable, nor am I inviting you into any sort of perceived misery...although I fear it might seem that way.  It's not; I assure you.  While certainly cantankerous, it tends to be a joyful cantankerousness :)

*****

Something else I've become more convinced about, has nothing to do with age, but perhaps experience.  Discipleship, chasing after the nail scarred savior that bids us to come and die, is I think at times best measured (you know, besides fruit) in changes of perspectives.  The transition, the morphing of our perspective into that of others, but especially that of the aforementioned savior.  Can we see, understand, discern, and truly be impacted by the perspective of others?  Is the perspective of the one we pursue becoming our own?

*****

A couple of weeks ago, on the first chilly morning of the year, I walked outside barefooted, in shorts and a t-shirt.  The grass was wet, the wind was blowing lightly and I found myself standing in the grass; my eyes closed, taking in long, deep draws of the cold air, while my toes wiggled.  I realized that a massive smile was painted across my face and that to the neighbors, well, I'm not sure anyone would have been surprised by the sight.  I was just drinking it all in, using every means of perception at my disposal to experience it.  It raised within me an unexplainable joy...and then with a single thought, fleeting as it was, my heart shattered and it would seem my world changed.

*****

I have been shopping for a new winter coat since about the second week in July.  Seriously, it helps me to stave of the long, hot days of summer.  I found one in particular that I liked, but it was expensive, real expensive.  I tend not to chase brand names (except when it comes to toilet paper and ketchup; I'm weird like that lol), but this particular coat was of a brand that is a cultural "must have".  I was drawn to it not because of the brand, but rather because of the functionality of the coat (layers, waterproof, etc).  But I kept looking at the price tag.  "I rarely ever wear a full on winter coat!"  I argued with myself.  "Why spend that on something I'll only wear when I go sledding?  And let's face it, there aren't that many sled worthy days around here."

*****

As I stood barefooted in that cold, wet grass a single thought pierced the euphoria.  "You can go inside any time that you want."  My mind raced to my friends.  Some of the very best, most loyal, most loving friends I've made here or anywhere; they can't go inside any time they want.  Suddenly that cold, crisp air didn't seem so friendly and invigorating.  The grass that I was playing with between my toes felt just a bit embarrassing.  I was slammed with a very sudden, very jarring change of perspective.  What I welcomed, what I loved is the stuff of nightmares for people I care about.

*****

For the longest time, I couldn't stand the thought of wearing suits.  I found them to be uncomfortable and constraining.  I like to be able to move; freely.  Besides, they kind of represented everything I wasn't.  But then I became a pastor and I bought some suits; nice, tailored, expensive suits.  I soon decided I liked them.  Besides, that is the uniform of pastoral types, right?  Put the suit on, represent Jesus, everyone is happy.  Changed perspective.

*****

I participated in a staff retreat a few weeks ago and during the "sanctified dreaming" part of the retreat, my dream was simple, "Climate control in the building."  At the time, I was a handful of weeks away from no longer being able to keep regular or even irregular office hours.  Too expensive to heat the building and the four space heaters I was running in my office last year just didn't cut it.  Today, I had to run one of those space heaters.  The time is quickly closing in when I will not work out of my office until Spring.

*****

Several weeks ago I sat with a group of pastors and said in my very straightforward, I'm told blunt manner, "You want to reach people with your church?  Go to them, get out into the street."  The looks that I got were akin to having farted loudly in polite company; I know the looks well.  Ministry rarely happens in sequestered offices, nor is it the exclusive domain of the buildings with crosses over them. From my perspective it begins in the streets, it happens outside.

*****
I take great pride that so much of my ministry takes place outside the building.  I like to walk and talk where few others would dare drive.  The savior I chase walked in the same type of places and I can only hope I walk in the same way; bringing love, hope, and dignity to those who do not tend to receive such things.  I walk in places where it is a very real possibility that an unseen needle will come through my shoes.  I walk in places where someone who considers you a friend one minute, might unwittingly and unwillingly morph you into something far different the next.  I walk over and through human waste at least a few times a week...to be with friends.  And I love it.

Suddenly, standing there in the grass, the nice suits, the pastoral uniform once again felt a little weird to me.  I've spent far more money than I care to admit on looking pastoral and yet I was balking at spending a very small fraction of that to be able to walk the path of a disciple.  I felt more than a little embarrassed and a whole lot of convicted.  Change of perspective.









No comments: