Thursday, March 17, 2005

Four Years

I've been stopping at a Circle K in the early morning to get coffee and little chocolate donuts for breakfast. Every morning she is there at the register. She looks like one of those drawings of the big, sad-eyed urchin kids that were popular in the late 60's. Every morning I say, Good morning... How are you today? ... Thanks! ...See you tomorrow!... Every morning she slowly looked up like a beaten dog and dropped the change in my hand. Not a word.

After three years she'd say hello, goodbye. The last three months or so she's actually spoken full sentences. This morning we had an actual conversation. She is training a new clerk. I said something like, "Don't do too good a job, he might replace you!" She actually smiled and said he's going to be working the night shift so no problem. "See you tomorrow" she says as I leave.

Transformation. It only comes through relationships, it seems. We might sometimes change through a catastrophic instant meeting with someone, but more often its through long term relationships. Its like the difference, as I say at work, between 20 years of experience or one year of experience twenty times. Change happens when someone pursues us persistently and relentlessly and draws us toward a place we fear or even might secretly desire. I look at Lent and think, God is talking to me. How long has He been visiting me, speaking, drawing me into Himself, and I just stare at Him. I acknowledge His coming and going, I take His offerings. How long will it take for me to speak a word, a sincere hello, or maybe even "see you tomorrow" as if I really want to see Him again. And am I willing and able to see Him in all the people He sends to me, all in His image, all "the least of these" that represent Christ to me. Who will say hello to me tomorrow that I will just stare at and miss God again?


Elizabeth Mahlou said...

I have seen that kind of slow transformation, and I have explained to teachers that there is a major difference between ten years of experience and one year ten times (so I was tickled to see you mention that concept here). I especially enjoyed (well, maybe enjoyed is not the word, perhaps "took to heart" is more accurate) the thought that our relationship with God is like that. I know that there are times when it is difficult for me to open up to Him and other times when it is difficult for me to listen to Him and to accept where it is He is listening. I try not to listen, obey, follow, but I know I can be obtuse and obstinate at some times and just plain incapable at others. The wonder of it all and the wonderful thing is that God never gives up on me, no matter how frequently I stumble. That creates a strong sense of commitment to try to listen better, follow better, love better (not just God but all of His creation); it also develops a needed sense of humility and gratitude. Thanks for the post.

Colleen said...

I love this! A great message on conversion and perseverance. So many of us want instant answers, instant change. Instant transformation. All in God's time.