Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lessons from a Small Town

Tuesday, 1:22 p.m. - Someone reported there was a freqeunt problem with people drinking alcohol in public and harassing bicyclists at River Park. An hour later, someone called to report five people were drinking in River Park. Police responded and determined they had open bottles of root beer. Someone called an hour later to report that an individual who looked like a mountain man was drinking in the park. Police responded and determined the man was drinking Sprite.

Burbling with laughter I called out to my husband, "Listen to this one in the police blotter!" But, almost immediately my laughter stopped. Living in a small town frequently provides moments of life clarity and this was quickly becoming one.

Someone in our town had spotted these "people" and reported what they thought they saw. What a "mountain man" looks like I haven't the slightest idea but it got me thinking about how we make assumptions based on looks.

I wondered if Jesus was sitting in the park as well with these root beer, Sprite drinking hippies. Repeatedly we read in the gospels that he is caught eating with people who don't "look" like they're appropriate and so I imagine that this group, reported to the police, were probably exactly the type of crowd he would enjoy!

It's gotten me thinking again how I make assumptions without knowing, without discovering, without caring. Once a young woman showed up at my door. She looked the part of the alternative lifestyle I had grown familiar with in another one of our small towns. If anyone had seen us talking they may well have thought she was asking for a handout.

This woman, however, had a passion--sustainable energy. She spoke clearly and respectfully and looked directly at me. She was confident but not belligerant and knew what she needed to exact from me. She was looking to the future and believed that significant changes needed to be made today.

Signing her petition and affirming her passion I prayed that she went away feeling encouraged. I could have been her mother, perhaps the very image that she desperately wanted to avoid. But, for a brief moment our worlds touched and a lesson was reinforced that what is seen with the eyes definitely isn't the whole story.

Jesus would have loved the moment. Hey! Perhaps Jesus was the "mountain man" drinking Sprite!

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