Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Nobody Flies for Nothing

"How was your trip?" Sadly, I often interpet this question in light of snafus and annoyances - troublesome weather, lost luggage, late arrivals, missed flights, and so forth, and if there wasn't much of this, the trip was "fine." But perhaps a better, more important, more active question is this: "Who did you encounter along the way?" This is one of those things I am (slowly) learning from Mom - to really look around and see the many people with whom I am sharing these in-between moments in life.

"Nobody flies for nothing." That's what she told me after she and Dad spent many hours stuck in an airport far from home after severe weather disrupted air travel all across the country. There were a lot of tired people, with the frustration, irritability, and discouragement which often accompanies such times. Mom was not oblivious to the problem, but also was not oblivious to the opportunity. The airport particularly needed a loving spirit that day, and she had one to offer. She reached out, made friendly conversation, invested herself in their lives even if only for a short time. She gave the people around her opportunity to share some of their stories, particularly about where they were from and where they were going. People often fly for weddings, funerals, honeymoons, adoptions, family times. And nobody flies for nothing.

The crowds have begun to arrive for the 27th General Conventions and Assembly of the Global Church of the Nazarene. By Sunday, there will be tens of thousands gathering from around the world to worship, learn, reconnect, and take care of business. I want to see this opportunity through Mom's eyes of loving curiosity, and I wonder who I will encounter along the way.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cartoon Murder

I learned many Bible stories as a child. These were often accompanied by kid-friendly pictures to look at and pictures to color. Those drawings helped us remember the stories, of course. But they also became my mental images.

The first two chapters of Exodus briefly describe how the Israelites' status among the Egyptians shifted from favored foreigners to oppressed slaves, and how Moses - an Israelite - grew up with favored status even while his people were in slavery. But that changed, too, when Moses killed an Egyptian and fled for his life.

The kid-friendly images in my mind don't show slavery very well. They break down completely when it comes to murder. "[Moses] saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand" (Exodus 2:11-12) It's like interrupting my mental show on the Cartoon Network with a gruesome scene from CSI.

It is good to see this, because I (and you) resemble this very human, clearly fallen person more clearly than the two-dimensional character I seemed to see in childhood stories. The complex character of Moses is one I can relate to.