Between mainstream and social media, it’s easy in our connected world to feel pretty hopeless and helpless about the state of humanity. There is so much anger and hate. So much angst and division. Sometimes a bit of perspective – a step away – is the order of the day.
I’m writing this in the passenger seat as we make our way back to Maricopa. Our family has spent time in three states in the past 10 days and I’d like to share a few observations that I will be holding close as I prepare to start the coming work week. These will be my reminders that we must be staunchly vigilant in finding and being the good … there’s a lot of it there despite the narrative that drones on.
Albuquerque, New Mexico – Balloon Fiesta
Our family got up bright and early to check out the balloons. Let me tell you, this event is ALL about hope. It’s an event that is completely weather dependent and often results in balloon teams never lifting off and attendees waking up early only to find that the weather nixes their ability to see the beauty of the ascension.
Balloon teams and Fiesta visitors come from all over the world for this event. Everyone works together toward a single goal while fiesta attendees mingle about. Everything is up close and personal. It’s the perfect scenario for tension, one-upmanship, and less-than-stellar human behavior. Guess what? There was none. The balloon crews were gracious, attendees were engaged and supportive, and everyone was cordial. It was a beautiful thing on every level.
As we drove west from Maricopa on I-8, we witnessed a young woman lose control of her car, spin around twice, slam into a wall of boulders, and flip over. God was watching over her, I’m certain of it. This happened in a place where there was significant space to pull out to assist without causing more danger for everyone involved.
The young mom and 2 infants were largely uninjured (thanks to correctly secured belts and car seats). But the thing I will remember is how many folks stopped to help. The support offered by complete strangers – without thought at what they would find as they approached the car – was immediate and instinctive and grace-filled.
Part 2 of our fall adventure took us to the amusement parks of southern California – with about a billion of our closest friends (OK, that might be a slight exaggeration). It’s the land of “Do we have everyone?” and kiddos too tired to know what they are doing. It’s also the land of giggles, pirates, princesses, squeals, and imagination.
I was sipping frozen cherry lemonade from an awesome BB8 souvenir cup while giving passing Stormtroopers the side eye when it hit me. This place should, by all rights, be the angriest place on earth. Think about it. There are endless lines, people of every walk of life imaginable congregating en masse in a relatively small area, kiddos sugared up and running everywhere, motor vehicles, horse-drawn carriages, personal belongings of all types left in stroller parking areas, and boatloads of sensory input.
Somehow, the human race (with the help of some amazing planning by Disney) turns the madness into a place where people say please and thank you, hold doors for each other, are mindful of those around them, strike up conversations with people they don’t know, help each other find their way (or a family member), and where an impressive, unspoken parental honor system acts like a force field for protection over stroller parking areas.
My point in all of this is that we have the power to do some amazing things and there’s substantial evidence that we can work in community together – in fact, there’s evidence that we can do this very well. We can have our differences and still work toward the same goals with grace, humility, and love.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.(1 Peter 4:8-11)
Blessings and grace,