Tiny Things

I hopped out of the car, arguing with myself whether I get wetter by running or walking in rain, and settled on a fast walk.  Winter was not relinquishing her fingers on our weather.  This spring it has swung from cold to temperate or hotter four times.  I marked each occasion with four rounds of the same allergies.

I kept the rain off with my Yankees hat and a down vest and layers on the sleeves.  Jill was not along, so I quickly hunted the three things I needed for dinner and returned to the entrance to Walmart, groceries in two of those ephemeral bags that someone should figure how to build houses using.

And rain came down heavier making people pause before heading into the north wind delivering rain that soaked in the cold to the bone.  Then I was out and in it and laughing that I had not used a cart as I opened the door and flung groceries ahead of my hurrying hulk into the driver’s seat.  I turned on the car and heater.

And I had parked right in front of the cart return corral so I watched him shove his cart into the corral while shivering.  Then the young dad shoved his in behind him, and the shivering lady trying to shrink inside her T-shirt against the elements wheeled by and around the end to push her cart in.

In the cold and rain, they were returning carts and I marveled.  I have seen carts stranded in Walmarts….in other cities and neighborhoods.  It is a tiny thing for people to return carts in the cold and wet, but it is perched at the top of a slippery slope.

The nigh before I talked to a friend from Syria whose family was nowhere near the gas attacks.  Okay, alledged gas attacks.  Right.  I texted another friend in Nicaragua where unrest was spilling into the streets, and in our little country, people were taking another minute in the cold rain to stack carts to return to service.

In the same instant, putting carts away was as ephemeral as Walmart bags; more stolid against the chaos than I have reason to hope.  Someone has smiled on us, but we seemingly attack tiny things that have made us great; like a tower of Jenga blocks, we wonder how many we can pull out without crashing down the whole.

So I sat there warming up as the heater kicked in and a cold spring wind blew — grateful that in the cold, these people’s character had them pushing carts into corrals thinking no one saw, on a day when others do not.

Wealth

I’ve flown to Norfolk to perform a wedding for Rachel Reon and Aaron White.  I’m staying at the Hampton in Smithfield and am amazed, again, to drive through towns that smack of history in both the Revolutionary War and Civil War, and that almost all hearken back to England for their original naming.

Don’t miss the five to ten ways I am wealthy in that first paragraph.

This afternoon at two o’clock I walked into the Trinity Methodist sanctuary with Aaron and his best men to watch Rachel and her best girls walk down the aisle.  No bombs.  No sirens.  No flack jackets.  A dress she will hopefully only wear once.  Tuxes.  Flowers.  Food at the reception.  Small jazz group playing at the reception.  People travelling from around the country.  No one detained.  People smiling in photos.  No one imprisoned.  People getting to know strangers.  No one shot.  Multiple ethnic groups sitting together and enjoying each other.

Don’t miss the twenty or so ways we were wealthy in that paragraph when insanity erupted 141 miles away in Charlotesville.

And Rachel, whose parents, and grandparents have all remained married, stood looking up into the intently focused eyes of her Aaron making his promises in front of his parents and grandparents who have all remained faithful and married — and she felt blessed.  In ways she can barely comprehend.  She will return to Illinois to finish her Masters and Aaron will find employment there, and they will pursue God’s will and their careers and family — unbelievably fortunate and blessed.

And we, as Americans must all become more intentional in how we say thanks, in how we become stewards of the astonishing gifts raining down on us.

It was humid outside the church as we exited, and I almost complained as the rain began before Mark and I could get to the car.  I winced.  How quickly I brandish a whine rather than a “hallelujah” in my days.

Sometimes wealth dulls my senses, rather than sharpens my awareness of the otherness, of the other-worldliness of the blessings cascading around me.  That makes me the pauper sitting at the feast, seething at what else I want, rather than kicking back and rejoicing with those around me.

I know.  Silly.

Surprises

I endure some surprises, as do we all, compliments of the weather, terrible service, grounded planes, or poor workmanship. 

They are the ‘given’. 

But somedays, if I stick out my neck and go out of my comfort zone, I get surprised.  Wonderfully surprised. 

Sunday I preached at Heritage Church in Shawnee OK, and told a beautiful story from Acts 20:36-38 to friends and new acquaintances there.  Jeff Goss does phenomenal worship work, Kim Bearden was back in because he loves those folks, and we spent the afternoon eating and attending a Board Meeting at Cargo Ranch. 

To go home I put on my bike shorts and shoes and we got in the car.  Jill had made me put in the bike, even though it was raining on the way down in the morning and I had soured on the idea. 

We got halfway home, stopped, I got out and half-heartedly geared up and headed north when I might have rather been taking a nap.  It was cool for a July in Oklahoma, 81 with a gentle breeze from the North.  I tingled as blood flowed and the cool hit my chest. 

Afternoon golds from the sun reached to push back dark blue grays from advancing clouds in the east that loomed from the ground to the stratosphere.  Slowly, as I peddled they were passing overhead and reaching west for the sun. 

Everyone driving was courteous.  And just before I headed down through two big curves into the valley that carries the Cimarron River I looked westward.

Getting up and turning to face me were forty Buffalo, tufted from behind by sun-drenched yellows, shaking shaggy heads to get a look at whatever this new threat on the plains was that was fleetingly passing by — and I was astonished.  Surprised.  I stared back as long as I could and picked up speed descending into the first large turn. 

And they were gone.

I had been by a hundred times and never seen them.  And this is where surprises yield more fun.

I angled away from the storms peddling west as often as possible, and had forgotten anything but water, so decided to stop at Aspen at Fountain Square for a hot chai.  I sat outside because I knew people inside, and didn’t want the smell to run off their business!

And the yellows and dark blue sky colors washed the flowers and freshly cut grass by the door there, as the thunder rumbled closer and the first drops signaled that I was going to be very wet before getting home.  I laughed.  The phone rang and Jill was already in the car looking for me.  First time ever. She does not like the idea of lightning getting me.  So I finished my chai and put the bike back in the car as she drove up, to cheat for the last few miles home. 

And we both marveled at the sun setting, sun showers, rainbows, cloud formations, and a green Oklahoma in July.  Surprises help you see everydayness somewhat better, I think. 

And this is where surprises yield more fun.  Jill and I were in to see Trish Prawl, our CPA on Monday.  We told her about Sunday and she related that she has one of her ranches close by and was able to tell us that the Buffalo herd was new to that owner.  I had not missed them, they were not there.

It was as if Someone wanted me to get a couple more of the details right, to know how surprising the surprise really was. 

Oh, and sometimes surprises help us with everydayness, too.