15 April 2008

Seeing Jesus

I was raised by a father with stoic German leanings. He had a great sense of humor, but with his early years shaped by surviving the depression and considering his family's pragmatic and sensible northern German heritage, there was nothing that made him misty. He was a strong ex-military man who, although he was quick to praise, had high standards and had no time for complaining or giving less than your all in every circumstance.

Growing up, my mother had cancer for many years. It came and went, with chemo and/or radiation treatments each time followed by a brief period of health then relapse. As a child, it was an incredibly challenging emotional roller coaster and most of the household responsibilities fell on me. There was too much to be done to sit around moping.

As an adult in my profession, I often times was the only woman. Many times, I was decades younger than most of my male counter parts. Considering that many of these co-workers were themselves ex-military, I was at home with this very business-like mentality and used to keeping my emotions in check.

I'm no longer in that environment. Instead, I'm surrounded by kids who pull at my emotions every day. I've realized that my outward expressions of emotion had become slightly dampened and I've been trying to change it. I've been trying to see Jesus in others and let them see Jesus in me.

Last night as I was driving to a homeschool meeting, I passed an elderly man sitting out in a chair on the sidewalk in front of his house. I had never seen him before. He was wearing cover-alls, a black and red plaid coat and a grey and white plaid hat with the flappy ears. As I got closer to him, he seemed sad. The thought flashed through my head to smile and wave and try to brighten up his day. Waving isn't something I would have done in the past.

At the stop sign in front of his house, I turned to look at him, fully prepared to wave. When I glanced over at him, he was already smiling and waving at me! I smiled as big of a smile as I could and waved at him.

I hope I made his day as much as me made mine.


Kit Brookside said...

I love this post! I think the wave was awesome. We have a fellow parishioner who, IMHO, is either a just-functioning autistic or very Asperger-y guy. He's a 40-ish black man, rides all over town on his bike, and is one of our town's designated "crazies." He's laughed at and avoided by adults, and of course, rude kids.

He was asked by an unsuspecting visiting priest to be the lector at the regional Mass several months ago, and you could hear people groaning and hissing, and others snickering, when he stood up to read. I was disgusted at hearing all of this - in church - and prayed that he'd do no injustice to the Scriptures.

He was a fast reader, but he did a fine job, even with some tricky Old Testament names and locations. I, like others, had seen him around quite a bit, but had never spoken to him. After that Mass, I made it a point to find him and compliment him on his reading. He beamed at me, thanked me, and blessed me and the kids, especially the baby. Every time we go to the regional Mass now, he seeks us out to say hello and shake hands afterwards.

My 14 year old was horrified at first (her jr high friends torment her about it each Monday) that I'd made this new Mass-friend, but I asked her if she did not see the Christ in him - he is sweet, he harms no one, he comes to Mass faithfully and openly - and how happy he is each time someone is the least bit kind to him, when he's used to a whole town's derision. She says hi to him now, too. A bit iffy on the hand shaking, but we've made progress.

swissmiss said...

Great story, Kit. Sounds like you've experienced a similar situation. I think I was more affected by the wave than he was! It has really changed my attitude to look for the good in people and to try to let them see good in me. I just hope it's working :)

Kit Brookside said...

Oh yeah, forgot to mention, if I show your post to my husband and he sees Red Green, he will probably leave and move to MN. He LOVES him. I get it...just barely.

swissmiss said...

My parents-in-law love Red-Green. I don't really get it either :) But, much of what they do I don't understand.