Dust Bunnies You Are, And Under the Bed You Shall Return

It was surprising how much get hit with a water balloon actually hurt.

I was walking Wally about 6PM on a very nice day around the park at the end of my son’s street.  Right behind the park is a Boone High, one of Orlando’s largest high schools.  As I was walking in the direction of the high school, mostly lost in thought, I suddenly felt a heavy impact in my left shoulder blade that left me stunned and very wet. For a second I thought I had been shot, and was bleeding.  The perp must have got really close to me and did his best Randy Johnson imitation.  My head cleared and I saw the rear of a black SUV heading away from me towards the school, and a face from the passenger side was giggling at me like Frank Gorshin playing The Riddler in the old Batman TV show.  When our eyes met he hooted in derision “MOTHERF-ER!”  Like a true saint – conscious of this unique Lenten opportunity to imitate Christ – I yelled “COME BACK HERE AND WE’LL SEE WHO’S THE MOTHERF-ER!”  They sped around the corner and were gone, and I was left dripping and doing my best Leslie Nielsen impression while wondering who witnessed the embarrassing transaction.  My dog gave me that sad-eyed, crestfallen thing he does like when I yell at him for turning over trash cans, but I knew deep down he was glad I got water-ballooned and not him.

Another great Lenten moment was after gassing up at a 7-Eleven, I drove in front of the store and out of nowhere this middle-aged guy stepped right in front of my van to where I hit the brakes a little hard out of surprise.  He took it in stride – didn’t jump or alter his step in any way – and turned and yelled at me “Drive around the back of the F-ING store moron!”  I of course graciously acknowledged his distress by yelling “F- YOU!”  How was I supposed to know I could drive around the back of the store?  As I drove away it dawned on me I probably could have handled that better.  Ouch.

“Be perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect” Jesus directs us.  Wow, I’m not even in the same hemisphere as perfect, let alone being perfect.  I started Lent with some pretty ambitious mortifications, but I rationalized all but one of those away (e.g. “Michelob Ultra Light Dragon Fruit Peach is really more of a soft drink than an alcoholic beverage”).  There was a trend a few years ago to replace the verse in “Amazing Grace” of “saved a wretch like me” with “saved and set me free”.  You know, the “God doesn’t make junk” crowd doesn’t like acknowledging our wretchedness.  That seems to have gone by the wayside, and thankfully so.  I am a wretch, and it feels good sometimes to admit it.

I think one of the reasons people are so unhappy at work is because they feel they have to hide their wretchedness.  How many people feel they can actually go to their boss and discuss their fears and weaknesses, like their anxieties about a project deadline?  They smile and say “No problem”, and then go to the rest room and puke up their lunch.  And I think that’s why Lent – especially Ash Wednesday – is so embraced by Christians: they can go to The Big Guy and acknowledge their wretchedness.  And He says “Right, you are mess, but I love you anyway, so much I sent my Son to be one of you and share in your wretchedness, to show you the way back to Me.”

So there are two weeks left in Lent.  If Tiger Woods can come from seven shots back to almost take the Masters on Sunday, I can rally to finish Lent in a jam-up way.  “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now am found, was blind and walked into a tree.”  Or something like that.


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