I’m enjoying a few days way from reality while I recover from a mystery illness that has annoyed me for the past few days. As it is completely possible that one of the causes may have been stress related, I’ve chosen a few days away from the source of said stress, namely my office. Anyway, something within me thought that perhaps a trip to the beach and a grande drip from the new purveyors of instant caffeine drinks would be somehow relaxing….. must have been the drugs talking. I forgot that the Tuesday crusaders against peaceful coffee existence would be in force….namely the retired group that has pursued me through numerous caffeine excursions over the years.
One humorous episode that came from them this morning was their insistence that the music be turned down as it was just too loud. This, in the midst of them driving everyone, who didn’t have the benefit of headphones, far from them to the other side of a fairly spacious room. Personally, smooth jazz was far more appealing than a boisterous medical report of recent physical exams. Whatever….I can turn up the headphones, but it took some fairly intense vocals from Mick to drown them out this morning.
I find it interesting that we as a culture are so quick to notice what annoys us, while missing the whole reality of our own annoyance to others. We’re a culture devoid of mirrors I suppose. Here in the kingdom of nice, we strive for consensus and tolerance while we refuse to extend them ourselves. What results is the surface look of agreement and harmony, while underneath, resentment and frustration are festering. I come from another land, far, far away where consensus is not valued as much and sometimes it seems as if rudeness is the native language. While I make no excuses for rudeness, could it be that much of what gets classified as rudeness, is actually honesty that we’d rather not deal with? It might just be an inconvenient truth…..sorry Al. It might simply be an unscheduled look in the mirror. The result may not seem harmonious, but everyone knows where they stand. There are exceptions to that, to be sure, but as a whole, I had a fair assessment of where I stood. You knew your friends and your enemies and could adjust accordingly. It also helped in the humility department. Rarely did I get a chance to think that I was all that, for very long anyway.
I seem to have lost my footing here trying to stand in the midst of so much shifting sand. I imagine that part of what makes leading a community o’ faith in this environment so difficult can be attributed to this whole consensus harmony thing. When I read in the Book of Books about Jesus and his message, he was never one to build consensus. The refreshing thing about him was that you always know where you stood, and you always knew that he was leading in his direction. He had this concept called truth that was, and is in fact, inconvenient to many. Looking in his eyes was looking in a mirror, and as a result, lives were changed. The reality of our lives cannot be altered by turning up the headphones or by reaching consensus with that which seeks to keep us from the mirrors. I may be irritated by retirees who enjoy keeping loud company, but I’ll be there one day, and somedays already am.