Just another day in paradise

Hey, how ya’ doin’? Feels like spring today! But, remember a week or so ago?

Walking back to church after a coffee warm-and-wake-up, I find myself hunching up my shoulders, bending over a bit at the waist, holding my hood so the wicked wind doesn’t peel it off my head. It’s brutally cold, even without the wind, which does its job of driving the frigid air right through my wind-resistant, very warm coat and into my rapidly-chilling hide! “Yikes, it’s cold!” I say out loud to no one in particular. I think that’s what I said.

I come around a corner and three younger persons are exiting one of the little shops in the strip across from the church. We make eye-contact and I feel obligated even in these miserable conditions to say, “Hi.” That’s all I’ve got.

One of the three, a guy, replies, “Hey, how ya doin’?”

Again, obligation takes hold and I respond not quite truthfully, “Not so bad. How ‘bout you?”

He comes back with, “Hey, it’s just another day in paradise, my man!” What? This was not at all what I expected. And, as humorless as I felt, I had to laugh! “…It’s just another day in paradise, my man!” Really? It is certainly a well-disguised paradise today!

Whoever that guy was, what he said had such natural energy, and directness, the grin on his face and the life in his voice convinced me of what he was saying – momentarily…almost. His good humor and grace caught hold in me and I walked the rest of the way back to church giggling to myself, in spite of the wind and cold. That’s no small thing.

I’m still thinking about that amazingly brief encounter that is frozen, or rather thawed and thawing me from within, in my memory. It is working on the ice and snow, the wind-chill that threatens to add injury to insult and aggravation. It is trying to take the wheel of commutes that are frustratingly long and messy simply because a couple inches of snow have fallen in a very short time, at almost the exact time that the entire driving population of the Twin Cities is out traveling to or from work, or school, or a diversion that was supposed to make them forget their frustrations. How funny is that?!

And it is trying to find a lasting place to lodge in me, this person I am who can be challenging at times to appreciate. I know. I get that. I can see it sometimes in people’s faces. And some have told me as much. That’s just life. We all get that in some form at some time or other. But I digress.

Here’s the thing: If I let in that little bit of light that that young guy shone my way, am I not choosing to participate in a larger brilliance that is present in all and obvious in some? Am I not joining a wonderful little revolt, putting some warming, lightening leaven in the frozen lump of January? Or, put it this way: If I try to embody the Spirit of God (that is breathed into us, poured out upon us…) as only I can, with integrity and authenticity, not allowing disapproval or animosity or wind-chill, to stifle it, there will be a light that shines forth, that isn’t mine, but that comes alive and shows through me.

And as my buoyant brother helped me see, I may well help you or someone else to see “…It’s just another day in paradise, my man!” So may it be!
Shalom,
Jeff