I'm a bit late with this post, but - in all fairness - I have been a day early all along. So, technically, I'm not really late....
I'm still battling a cold, and between the normal pace of life (which hasn't really abated) and the constant sneezing / hacking / coughing, it's been a bit of a struggle to stay focused lately.
But there are moments, daily, and I find no small amount of joy in making note of them. Lately, there has been a unique duality of joy and sorrow mixed in with some of those moments. All too often, it seems, the human experience comes in all its fullness, with the good and the bad mixed together. One man's treasure is another man's trash. One person's delight is another's mourning.
I am well aware, in some cases. In others, you hardly realize, until it's over, that someone's heart had been breaking right in front of you.
I would not wish these things away; we are in the midst of a push to consider it joy, a sheer gift, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. "You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors." So there is the promise of fullness, of knowledge and wisdom and a fuller faith.
It just comes, almost always, at the expense of some thing, some trial, some hard moment.
That is our human experience, the gift and curse of our walking this earth. It makes us who we are. Clinging to that, wrapped in the grace represented by Jesus - that is the essence of this faith that blooms in me with tenacious, extravagant ferocity, in every halting, trembling step I take. I am learning to embrace the mud-covered mess with no less gratitude than the bright and shiny beauty.
And so, in the midst of the chaotic rhythm of human noise, there are these faces:
They are specific and unique, each one important to me in individual ways. I love these people.
They have come into my life, one by one, due to various circumstances. Connected through family and through the church, I have met these men and found a deep sense of love and respect for who they are and what they mean to our community.
And that's the thing I'm noticing, that people just come. For whatever reason, we meet people, and our life journeys intersect and we get to play a part in one another's stories and that doesn't change. It becomes our history, for good and bad, for joy and sorrow, for the clean parts and the messy stuff as well.
More and more I am understanding how vital this is to my understanding of my faith and the life I live as a follower of Christ. That whole "love your neighbor as yourself" can't happen unless you have some neighbors to love.
I'm glad these are some of mine.