He walked in through the doors from the narthex of the church, where I had just started working as Music Director, and he looked grumpier than usual.
“Oh, good.” I thought, sarcastically.
I looked up from the piano where I was arranging my pages of music before the service that day. I had not been with this congregation very long and was just beginning to put names with faces, and dispositions. This man’s disposition, face and name was a combination I learned quickly. He was never happy about anything. From the building’s roof to sugar cream pie, he had a opinion, and it wasn’t a good one.
My bad habit of labeling a person (and in some cases then writing them off as someone not worthy of my time…forgive me, Father) had quickly labeled this guy as someone to avoid, someone whose opinion I guessed with every decision I made, whether he was present or not. And so, he crippled me. For every fifty or so people who thought I was wonderful, there would always be him. It was his review, imagined or otherwise, that judged me.
And here he walked, down the aisle, quite possibly to let me know of another disappointment he had in me.
In a moment of weakness, and displaying a rare attribute of “agape” (love actions, despite how one feels), I said: “Hey, how’s it going?”
“The day could’ve started better.” Was his succinct, grim, reply.
OK, here we go.
“I have two identical-looking tubes in the medicine cabinet,” he continued, as my thoughts tried to imagine where he was going with this, “one of them is hemorrhoid cream, the other is Polygrip…I’ll leave the story right there.”
At this point I had an epiphany: this guy was funny (which meant he was intelligent), and suddenly I saw him in a different light. It happened in a millisecond, but it happened.
He passed me, on his way to take care of something (it turned out to be a leaky baptistery) and as he passed he said one more thing.
“You’re doin’ good…don’t let the b*&%+ds get you down.” (as it says in the Scripture…somewhere, I’m sure)
That was one of three compliments (assuming THAT was a compliment) he ever directed toward me, always in private. I have remembered it all these years. He and I also shared some memorably irreverent moments during board meetings, when we sat in the back, side-by-side.
He taught me that I cannot judge the moment or my choices based on one-out-of-one-hundred people. I cannot base my choices on the reaction it will have on someone who wouldn’t like ANYTHING I do. He also taught me that irritating people aren’t what they seem…
…they are often “lonely porcupines”, afraid to get close and determined to keep you away.
Every moment has its time.
Every person has their place.
Do not brush away either.
In doing so, you may brush away God’s wish for you
To either enjoy, or be the miracle.
THIS is PATIENCE.