Saturday, July 25, 2015

Looking for God in all the right places

(To follow is my column for the Waverly, Iowa newspaper.  It was published on Thursday, July 23, 2015.  I'm sharing it as I continue to process my experience of riding a bus from Livingston, Montana to Salt Lake City to pick up my son's car that had broken down in Utah last month.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015.  Salt Lake City, Utah.  I am writing this at 6:00 am Mountain Time, from the lobby of the bus depot. It's not the article I had planned to submit this morning, but it's the one that's on my heart - so please bear with me. 

A quick break in Dillon, Mt
I've spent the better part of the past 12 hours riding on a Greyhound bus with 10 strangers. While it is doubtful that we will ever meet again, my time spent with them has impacted me in ways that I'm still sorting out.

More than one is traveling with all of their worldly possessions in backpacks and suitcases. One young man is on his way to Las Vegas, his leg in a cast. He's hoping to get a fresh start but isn't quite sure where he will live once he gets there as the shelter he arranged to stay at won't take folks with injuries 'for liability purposes.' He lamented that they are a Christian place so he doesn't understand why they won't take him. I told him I'd pray for him, so now every time he sees me he asks how I'm doing and calls me sweetheart. I am old enough to be his mother.

Another young man just gave someone who was asking for help fifty bucks. When I asked him about it he said he had been stranded before and if he has extra he is glad to be able to help. "The guy seemed genuine, you can just tell."

There's a woman with dreadlocks sleeping across her luggage. She looks exhausted. When we had an hour layover last night she offered me her blanket to stay warm.

It's strange to feel connected to folks when we don't even know one another's name, but I do feel a connection, not just because we have shared an adventure. It's because I see Christ in their faces, in the ways they treat others. People who might not fit in back home in Waverly made space for me without the formalities of knowing what I do for a living or where I'm from.

It may seem odd but I feel very safe right now, even though I am way out of my element. I am at peace and that is more than enough. We are living in the moment, waiting expectantly for what's next in our journeys.

To be honest I am fighting back my mothering instincts. I'd like nothing more than to invite everyone over, cook a big meal and provide a shower and a bed so that they can get a good night’s rest. I wonder if this is what Jesus asked of Mary and Martha - open their home and extend hospitality at a moment’s notice to whomever was traveling with Jesus.

As I think about that I imagine it had to be exciting for them to be a part of the movement that was changing the hearts and lives of Israel. And so, when Jesus scolded Martha to come and sit down and just be, it seemed so out of place; there was a meal to prepare and beds to be made, and yet Jesus said softly, stop doing Martha, and just be.

This is what I have been invited to do this night. I can't fix anything. I can't change circumstances. I need to just be. Watch. Trust that God is present and doing the heavy lifting.

And so I pause and give thanks for God’s mercy and grace. I pray that those who are on this journey find safe places to land and that their lives are a blessing to the world. And I wonder how I (and the community of Waverly, too, for that matter) can be a part of the movement that changes hearts and minds in Jesus' name in new ways.