“Prom? Yes”?!

English: Duluth box car number 18052 on displa...

English: Duluth box car number 18052 on display at the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom. Photo by Sean Lamb (User:Slambo), October 10 2004 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Prom? Yes”

That’s what the train said.  It was early this morning.  On my way down Cumberland to have breakfast and prepare for the day ahead, I heard the sound of an oncoming train.  Just before I reached the crossing, lights flashing red, the barricade dropped, blocking my path.  One, two, three, four engines headed up the slowly moving freight train.
This is gonna be a while I thought.  What to do?  I started counting the cars but soon lost count.   I began trying to read the sides as one by one the graffiti embellished cars rolled past.  Were these graphic displays the work of gangs, an attempt to create art, or something else?  Then it caught my eye.  Amidst the graffiti on the side of the boxcar I could clearly make out, “Prom? Yes”.
I understood that.  A question.  From whom?  Was the yes an answer or was it a hoped for response?  I thought, “Why, in this age of seemingly unlimited means of wireless communication was the side of a box car used?”
We are told that the amount of information competing for our attention has doubled in ten years to something like 35 GB of data.  We are not built to process that much and the overload takes a toll on us. If we are going to pay attention then the communicator better do something special!
Golden skies, billowing clouds, autumn leaves, soft new fallen snow, the tiniest peep of a newborn chick, the cry of our own new baby, the anguished cry of His Son dying for all of us.  No one would or could have done more to get our attention.  Are we listening?

Littered Landscapes and Love

English: Roadside litter bin Why do they do it...

English: Roadside litter bin Why do they do it? The old logging road off a lay by on the A701 is littered with garbage. There are no litter bins in the lay by but surely they could take their rubbish home with them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Littered Landscapes and Love

Relationships are like a beautiful landscape. When they are newly discovered, there is much wonder at the beauty all around. Everything seems to be bursting with color, fragrance, light. The experience can often take our breath away.

Sadly, over time, litter begins to accumulate. Harsh words. A broken promise. Unforgiveness. Records of offenses kept. Soon we see that our once beautiful landscape is littered with trash, debris, and worn out rusting junk. The scene can once again take our breath away; not for its beauty but rather for the tragedy of what has been lost. That once beautiful place where we lingered over coffee and time itself seemed to stand still, that place of holy conversation, has been littered by the trash of life and this sacred space nearly destroyed.

Yet look closely. The beauty is still there beneath the litter and debris. It is often tempting to look around and be overwhelmed by the mess we see. Rather than contemplating rolling up our sleeves and getting to work on trash removal duty, we dream of escaping to a new landscape. The tragedy in this is that this is a denial of the beautiful landscape we once beheld with such joy. What does it say of us that we are unwilling to pay a price to restore even a small piece of it? The temptation is to walk away in search of greener pastures, an uncluttered landscape, and a fresh start. The problem with this is that over time, the same litter seems to have followed us to our new and improved location……wherever we go, there we still are.

The true test of love long born is not in the initial beauty we find in the landscape of our love, but rather in our dogged determination to clear away the litter of our thoughtless passing. It is in learning new and better ways to tend to that love. It is in learning about the ways in which we litter and destroy our beautiful landscape and somehow learning to avoid them.

Yes, it is easy to abandon what was once a sacred space in search for fairer ground. But that is not what our Lord did for us. He did not leave us in our littered landscape, He redeemed us. He did not abandon us in the mess we made, but rather took on human flesh, became one of us, and lived among us. He showed us how to live, modeled love and forgiveness, and taught us the importance of preserverence until the end. Amen

Two Shells

Shell Searching Not long ago, while walking along the beach, I found a beautiful shell. It was perfect to my eye in color and symmetry. I placed it in my pocket and continued down the beach. As I made my way further along, I noticed many more shells which I stopped to examine. These shells I found to be flawed with various imperfections such as chips and holes. I threw them over my shoulder and back into the surf……

As I continued down the beach, I noticed another shell seemingly full of imperfections. Yet, as if I had been given new eyes to see, this shell struck me as beautiful. It had a large hole in the middle and was worn ragged along the edges. The end of the shell was missing altogether. It was apparent to me that this shell had been beaten and tossed by the power of the ocean and drug along the bottom by many terrible storms before being washed up on the shore. Its very survival, though in a battered state, seemed to render it beautiful.

In retrospect I realized something about my quest for perfect shells. Shells, like people are judged by their external appearances. When weexamine people, we often judge them by their lack of imperfections. The perfect silhouette of a runway model, the striking smile of the cover girl, the immaculately dressed eecutive- all these we examine and judge to be good. Like beautiful shells, we judge them worthy and place in our pocket to keep. Others- the homeless in their threadbare garments, the elderly woman in the nursing home in her housecoat, the toothless gentleman who pours our coffee at the diner in the morning- these are imperfect and therefore cast aside unnoticed from our vista.

Could it be that the very people we cast aside like imperfect shells are the ones that are most needed to show us true beauty in this world? Oh that we might be given eyes to see the beauty of proven character! What a gift to be able to see the beauty of perseverance, the value of patience, the valor of submission, the radiance of longsuffering. God in His endless love and grace, has shown us perfection in the battered shells washed ashore at our feet. Our task is to see them for what they really are. Our job is to recognize their true beauty. Our calling is to deem them worthy and carry them home.