Friday, September 28, 2018

Meet Joe

I am not in a chatty mood and I feel like I’ve already met my daily kindness quota by allowing him to fill my bags his way - quickly and efficiently.  Still, no point in being rude, so I respond with all the eloquence I have left in me:

Hi Cris.

He must have gotten the message of my downward inflection, because next few shovelfuls happen in silence.

But, as I said, he is a friendly, sincere giant and he can’t help himself:

What a wonderful day the good Lord has given us!

The whole hell may be breaking loose at a different place at this time, and the same might have been true of us in some moment in the past or coming our way in the future. But right here right now I can't argue with Cris. 

The sky above us is a glorious shade of cerulean blue.

Both of us drove to the landfill in our respective vehicles with enough gas to get us here and back.  Enough food in our stomach to have enough strength in our bodies to carry not only our own weight but a loaded shovel as well. 

What more can one expect from life?!!??  

The Lord indeed is good. 

I grunt an affirmative, Uh-huh, reaching for another bag from the trunk.

He sees this as an opportunity and jumps in with both feet.

Do you know the Lord?

It’s a simple, yes or no question, but like a witness in a senate hearing, I find myself fumbling for a simple answer. Saying ‘yes’ sounds rather presumptuous and kind of arrogant. I can't even say that I know myself! 

But I can’t say ‘no’ either.  

While I am still pondering the best way to summarize my 30+ tumultuous years with Jesus, Cris proceeds with his own answer to his question:

I met Jesus five months ago! I am going to the best church in town! Come to visit us on any Sunday! Our pastor is …

His 600wpm soliloquy is blissfully interrupted by another truck that backs up into our pile. Two men in work-worn jeans jump out, each of them with a shovel in hand.

My friendly giant stops both the soliloquy and shoveling, to greet the newcomers.

Hi there! I am Cris.

Hi Cris. I am Joe. And this is my friend…

But his friend is already furiously at work, shoveling dirt into the bed of their pick-up truck.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Meet Cris

A truck rumbles in, backs up into the compost pile. The driver jumps out, slams the door behind him, shovel in hand:

I’ll help you fill up your car, a mound of dirt stacked high in his shovel all ready for delivery.

I look up at the burly giant with a huge smile wrapped around his entire head. It’s the kind of face that knows no strangers – friendly, boyishly sincere and utterly disarming. But I have my own weapons too.

I’m good. Thanks.

It will only take a minute…

This is not a suggestion. And it’s not asking permission.  It’s a statement of irrefutable fact with the loaded shovel to prove it.

No. Really, I am good. I have time. I have a system going… I point at my earbuds and the playlist on my phone.

He tilts his head to one side examining the strange animal with iPhone, a small shovel and time on her hand. The fact that he is probably three times my size doesn’t help my case either.

It’s an unusual standoff.  Two people intent on doing good, no matter what.   

Two people, same goal but vastly different ways of securing how it is accomplished.

It's remarkably obvious that the friendly giant needs to help. All that friendly giant sees is my empty trunk and my tiny shovel. He is a smart giant who puts two and two together. Help needed! His shovel is ready, whether I am ready for it or not. He wants to help, whether his help is helpful to me or not.

What the friendly giant doesn’t understand is that my coming to the compost pile is not only to fill up my trunk with good dirt. It’s a sacred space of reflection and a reliable escape route from my stretched out, stressed out world. I need this reminder of the basics of life. Dirt. Seed. Love. Time. Growth. Repeat. 

I seem to be able to digest these basics only in bite-size chunks. Not a dump truck load, but one small shovelful at a time. 

I look at him again and something tells me that in this very moment, the giant’s need to help is far greater than my need for solitude and whatever escape the mount of dirt provides. So, I stretch out my hands holding the bag and he happily loads it up.

Hi. I am Cris.