There are times we need a little uplift.
A Short Story: “Stay Beautiful.”
The day was full of errands, a little of this and a little of that. So I’m entering a busy intersection and will have to stop at a lengthy red light. There he is again, I sigh, with an inescapable groan to myself. The same young man is on the same island, and I will be parked next to him for a few minutes. He knows how to do it well, panhandling with a smile — with a Chihuahua in his arms that has a cute neck-kerchief. I’m third in the row and have the car’s windows down due to my car’s AC being on the blitz.
He’s in his late twenties, has a great smile, black curly hair to his shoulders, black beard, and is dressed casual-messy. He chats with me a little and I mention his pet, he sees I’m not offering any cash but continues to converse with me until a pickup truck pulls up behind me. He smiles at me as he starts to leave and then says, “Stay beautiful” and down the line he goes.
He is friendlier than most, and I find myself smiling at the words he just said to me, “Stay beautiful.” I like them, of course they make me feel beautiful like I’m not in my sixties or in a car that is hotter than the blazes that makes me perspire. The words are like “Take care.” But they feel better to me. I have been down in the dumps and those two words lift my spirits.
I had a nostalgic moment on my way home today from seeing my folks. I decided to drive home a different route and swing by the walnut farm. One stretch of road, down Meridian Road, past Bell Road, heading north toward Wilson Landing Road, was one we as a family traveled when we went to church when my husband and I were raising our children. I passed the old farm house to the west by the railroad tracks and saw that someone had fixed it up. It wasn’t looking too good the last time I noticed it.
Then the thought crowded in.
Dear Christian Organization,
Re: Aggressive Solicitations
THIS IS A LETTER FROM AN UNHAPPY DAUGHTER
I do not appreciate it that you take advantage of the elderly by sending them more books than they can possibly read, calling them persistently and more frequently than is warranted and by constantly playing on their sympathies when you highlight how desperately you are in need of their money gift. Every communication is the same as you graphically show how great the suffering is and how their money is needed and will help through support of your charity.
The way of the cross is a call to love. Christians rarely see it as such, but it is. Love God, love each other, love our neighbor, and love our enemy and those who persecute us…that is a call to love, which removes us from safe places and comfortable enclosures.
God often calls us to leave what is safe–to let go of our prejudices, our biases, limited parameters, and well-defined boxes. God calls us to love. We don’t get to choose. He chooses for us. There are lines we must cross out of obedience to His teachings and message.