Sunday, July 08, 2007

If We Could Rip Up Agendas


Yesterday Tom and I attended block sales in the next-town-over, but his back ached so we drove home earlyish (and also because we'd both bought enough treasures). I microwaved sweet potatoes and made eggs and while Tom reclined in his recliner, happily viewing Wimbledon (which I'd rather munch on rocks than watch), I decided to go see a movie, maybe afterward returning to that 1950-ish hamburger stand I told you about. I felt restless, what with the whole afternoon stretching out endlessly.

So he'd not starve, I gave Tom a list of foods in the house to eat (a mighty short list since at our age, we're not allowed to eat anything anymore), and then I drove along with Carrie Underwood songs to that 1940's-like movie theater you're sick of me describing and I watched a scary movie which would shock you (hey, it was only PG-13, but your eyes would bug out if I named the title.... Suspenseful,indeed, I loved it, and I was the only person in dark theater #3--just me and my eerie, creaking chair. Delicious.).

Then back out in the made-me-squint sunshine, I avoided the main street and took the old neighborhood roads, instead, to that tucked-away hamburger stand by the river and nearly beneath an overpass. The one with the deck and the umbrella tables over the water and trees and an old house along the opposite side.

I ordered a strawberry-banana milkshake as I had last time (vowing to save half for Tom) and a diet coke and since the shake is made fresh, it took awhile so I stood at the outdoor window and watched the laughing, teasing teenagers inside... and I thought about my own high school days and my cleaning job in the town's A&W restaurant.

Lately my high school memories have been renting space inside my brain.

No rocket scientist is needed to discover why--my 30th high school reunion will be held the last weekend of this month (and yes, to those of you in your 20's, I'm officially old as dirt now). But for various and sundry reasons, I'll not be going--though if my old hometown were less than 2,500 miles away, I'd more likely attend. I've so enjoyed the emails sent to us all collectively, announcing the detailed party plans and naming a few memories, most which I did not recall, because I spent only my senior year at that particular school (I told you we moved around a lot). Can you believe we had only 55 in our graduating class?

So anyway, I carried my strawberry shake and soda over to the deck with its white round tables and white picket fence and tall posts with plastic frosty lights topping them--all glowing in the sun--and sat there alone, watching the water and feeling as though I, instead, was sitting in a foreign, exotic place, rather like I felt when Tom, Naomi and I took the ferry out to the San Juan Islands many years ago and lunched on a weedy hill behind a restaurant at its wobbly white tables overlooking the Pacific Ocean (that's as exotic as my life gets).

I tried to read my book, but my eyes were pulled to the dark green river and my head was pulled back to high school. High school--probably the ultimate of the ol' "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times" experience, indeed. Funny how most of us think back to high school as to how it treated us, not how we treated it. Instead of the broad picture, we tend to peer backward and recall only our own tiny corner and our own varied emotions inside that corner.

And well, that's a whole other post.

But here's my point: Much of my life is about obedience to specific tasks God asks me to do. You know, like when I feel Him saying, "Go over and help that woman pick up all the oranges which cascaded to the market floor when she took one" or "It's time to answer all the emails you've procrastinated" or "I'd like you to give away your _______ to _______ ." You know... the kinds of requests where He expects instant obedience... and where you feel unsettled and just-not-quite-right-inside if you disobey.

But this soon-coming high school reunion was one of those "I'll leave the decision up to you" things. I felt Him say either choice--going or not going--would be all right by Him. Either was ok. But with one catch--if I went, He seemed to say, I'd have to go with no agenda.

No agenda at all.

No plans to make my old school friends think I am more than I am... No aiming to impress one single soul. No butting into conversations with my own stories, memories or accomplishments. No hiding in corners because I've gained weight the past 30 years and even--no plans to share my Christianity(!).

No, God had a better idea. He said, if I went to my 30th high school reunion, I must go agenda-free. With no plans other than one simple plan: to be available. To attend the parties as a compassionate listener. To hear what was not being said --and to pray for that. To pray for everyone as I watched them drinking and dancing, as though with no cares, no history, and to gaze into their hearts--and love and accept what I found there. And then pray some more. And if anyone wanted to take me aside and talk, well, to drop everything and do so willingly... allowing God to speak through me, instead of sharing my own old, worn-out opinions.

Simply, to return to my old town--not as the scared, shy, needy kid I once was--but as the woman who's learning to care more about others' feelings than her own.

I loved that idea. But still, I'll not be attending the reunion.

But what if--even here now, even each day-- I could leave my own agenda at home, shred it up, actually, whenever I step outside my front door? What miracles might I see then?


***
2 Timothy 2:21
If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

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