Monday, November 09, 2009

See The Goodness of the Lord -- Days 18-20

I have enjoyed a calvacade of sights the past few days. From road trip scenery traversing southwestern Indiana, to a mama deer and her youngster eating off the hazelnut bush in the front yard at Ploughshares -- undisturbed by my walking out onto the front porch to watch them, to Gracie the wonder cat taking on a dog four times her size (she's graceful, but not always grace-giving), to the faces of old friends.

This latter sight was especially enjoyable. I ventured back to Friends Memorial Church in Muncie where I used to be the pastor. It was their annual simple gifts holiday bazaar and I was invited to offer some of the smple gifts in the form of selling my books. So I sat with my buddy Alan Garinger (great books for young readers) in the Library/book-sales room and we drank coffee and told lies to each other (that's what writers do) and sold a few books. In between Alan and me telling lies, though, I watched people. Mostly people who were members of FMC when I was their pastor eight years ago.

Of course, they (unlike me) had all aged. Even the kids. I knew this happened, of course, but for some reason many of these good people were frozen in my memory at the time I left in 2001. And while some looked unchanged, others -- at each of the spectrum, old and young -- had changed drastically. But, regardless, I was blessed by seeing them all and by being back in a place that not only tolerated my quirks as a pastor, but actually (for the most part) embraced them.

The highlight that day, though, was when two people from the first Friends meeting I pastored arrived. They had driven 28 miles to shop and see me. I was touched. Marcella Keys arrived thanks to the driving her of her daughter Nancy and we spent a nice time chatting and remembering my days at Jericho Friends.

I look back on those days and I see the failings -- the young, know-it-all pastor who needed way more humility, compassion, and a heart for people than he had. I remember the harsh words I spoke and the times I didn't visit enough.

But Marcella and Nancy did not see those things -- instead they saw only the good things. At least at this 30 year remove. I was grateful. For in their seeing me as I had hoped to be, I saw their love and forgiveness and charity. I saw their gratitude for the good gifts I had offered whilst there and grace for mistakes.

I saw blessing and continue to feel that blessing from them.

-- Brent

The photo is of me in my young preacher days at Jericho.

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