Lost, Found & Faith

 Point Reyes Presbyterian Church – January 28, 2018

Point Reyes Presbyterian Church – January 28, 2018

"Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." –John 3:5-8


I never understood what Christians meant by being "born again." The concept itself defied all logic and reason. Didn't Nature dictate that we were all once born through our mother's wombs? How, then, was it possible to be born again? What did it mean to be "born of the Spirit"? 

Earlier this year, God answered my questions by having me directly experience what I had so deeply doubted: I was baptized. And, yes, it is possible to be spiritually born. (I felt it myself, although, I realize that some things are better understood through experience rather than explanation.) 

The Spirit does indeed blow wherever it pleases. It can come upon you when you least expect it, as it did for me. You don't know where it comes from or where it's going, but when God is calling, you know it's Him. And then, when you look at your life, it starts to make more sense. 


"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.'" –Luke 15:4-6


He found me.

Let the Night Stay Young

Tom Wesselman.jpg

After spending a full day perusing booths upon booths of international galleries at Art Basel last weekend, we were invited to a group dinner in the old town of Basel. The pleasant summertime temps and lingering daylight were further enjoyed by the fact that we were dining al fresco in a cobblestoned square surrounded by quaint Swiss buildings. It was, by all measures, a perfectly fine gathering. There was a mix of familiar faces as well as new–exhibitors (them) and spectators (us). The conversations ambled along in an entertaining enough manner yet marked with the expected distance of a professional tone. As the evening winded down, everyone gently indicated in their own way that it was time to return to their hotels.

"I have to pack for my flight in the morning."

"I've had a long week."

"It was so busy today. I can't wait to go back and decompress." 

But, then, somebody decided to strike that dreadful, off-key chord: 

"Wait, let's get a nightcap after this! C'mon, we're in Basel! Let's check out the scene! Where should we go?"

Cue the silent groans and grumbling heard 'round the table–all except by the perpetrator, of course.

Some nights are ripe for spontaneous extensions into the wee hours of the morn; others, however, are not. The key in distinguishing between the two involves being highly attuned to the underlying vibes of the people around you. Don't be the oddball who, after a lovely dinner, insists on one more nightcap when the group is clearly ready to call it a night. (The absolute worst suggestion I've encountered is when someone desperately tried to round a group into going to a karaoke bar.) This will only lead the evening into inevitable decay.

You'll find that the people to whom you said "It was nice meeting you" at the end of dinner have now become–to your dismay–the people you never ever ever want to meet again. And by this point, they're asking for your contact info.

Trust me, the best thing to do is depart on the heels of the night's crescendo. Abandon any fear of missing out and leave on a high note. Preserve whatever mystery was in the air. You don’t have to become new besties with the person who sat across from you. In most cases, it's best to let the night stay young.

In Search for the Perfect Response

 
  Untitled  by Martin Kippenberger (1990)

Untitled by Martin Kippenberger (1990)

Last week, I found myself in a bit of a pickle. I had to pick up a few packages from the post office, but none of the parking spots nearby were open. It was drizzly and I didn't want to carry an armful of boxes in the rain.

My eyes settled on the handicap parking spot across the street, clearly painted blue with a handicap sign posted in front of it. I'll just park there and do a quick in-and-out, I reasoned. I figured it'd take no more than five minutes. So, I parked the Jeep, ran across the street, asked for my packages and ran back out. 

As I was packing the backseat of the car, I noticed an old woman staring at me from her parked car. I hurried along and ran to the driver's door. 

"You're parked in the handicap spot! Can't you read?!" she screamed at me. 

"Yes, I'm just about to leave," I said, flustered. 

"You've been parked there for a while!" she screamed back angrily, "Next time, READ!"

Her car screeched off. 

The level of hostility that was spewed at me in that brief moment shocked me to the core. I mean, it really disturbed me. It continued to bother me for the next hour or so as I drove. 

What a mean old lady, I thought. If the situation were flipped, would I have behaved the same toward her? Certainly not. And, given the chance, how should I have responded? "Sorry you're having a bad day"? That would've been patronizing and sarcastic. No, no, I wasn't prepared enough for a response. It was probably a blessing that I was bewildered and tongue-tied.

I had a stomachache the whole time I thought about it. Her message was indeed warranted–her delivery of it, however, was not.  Don't let this ruin your day, I told myself. Nothing that came through my mind made me feel any better. I just couldn't fathom directing that sort of anger towards a complete stranger. After being involved in that awful exchange, I had an even stronger conviction never to inflict such a behavior on anyone else. It was the ultimate reminder that, while you can never control the circumstances, you can always control how you react to it. Eventually, as I went about my errands, the angst subsided. 

As I got back into the car to drive home, I thought about it again. Truth was, I knew I shouldn't have parked in the handicap spot. I could've parked further away and walked to the post office. Maybe she was handicapped and I had robbed her of her spot.

Then, the perfect disarming response came to me.

I should've said: "You're right. I'm sorry. Thank you for pointing that out. I'll be more aware next time."