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The Silent Mentor

Disclaimer.
The events in this blog post are factual.
The names have been changed to protect the innocent, as well as the guilty…  And also, in case the real life Jerry reads it, to prevent the unfortunate side effect of pride – swollen head syndrome – from afflicting him.

Jerry.
Jerry is in retail management.  Long hours.  Moderate pay.  Marked by demanding bosses, demanding employees, and demanding customers.  This is not a glamorous job, but someone must do it.  Jerry thinks he does a pretty good job.

He has strong opinions on just about everything – politics, religion, family life, and work ethic.  He believes he (and those under him) get paid to do what they are told, when they are told to do it, and how they are told to do it.  Neither Jerry nor his team get paid to complain, or argue, or even reason – execution is the goal.

If the powers that be decide they want the store to look like a cluttered, garage sale today; that is how Jerry will make it look.  If, after Jerry has convinced all the nay-sayers the cluttered, garage sale look is in, the powers that be decide the store needs the clean, less is more look; Jerry will retrain his team to be sold out believers in the clean, less is more cult.

Why?  Because the bottom line, core values of the retail company are: Respect, Service, and Excellence.  So long as those three things are not compromised – everything else is negotiable.

Mary.
Mary worked with Jerry for a few years.  They were partners, working third shift.  Mary is a working mother, a very busy woman.  Torn between the demanding bosses, employees, customers on one hand – and her husband and children on the other.

Third shift does not afford much for relationships, so those that are committed to it are a tight knit group.  Jerry and Mary became friends.  They would share lunch and discuss life, dreams, and goals.  Remember, Jerry has strong opinions on everything – sometimes sharing those opinions can cause friction.  Mary may or may not have been offended by Jerry’s opinions, she kept her thoughts to herself.  Eventually Jerry moved to another store, and they didn’t keep in touch.

She kept her thoughts to herself, until about five years after Jerry moved on.  Then, because she was moving out-of-state – Mary decided she should call Jerry and tell him exactly what she thought of him.
She said something to this effect:

“Hi Jerry.  This is Mary.  I know it’s been years since we spoke.  My husband just got a promotion so we are moving, and I didn’t want to leave town without telling you a few things…  First, after working with you for so long and listening to you talk about your family – I have decided my children are worth more than my pay check so I am becoming a stay at home mother.  Second, after listening to you talk about finances, I bought a book by a guy named Dave Ramsey and my husband and I have decided it is time we make good use of the money God has provided us.  And – thirdly, after seeing your faith in action, we have found a church in our new city and are committing our lives back to God.  I just thought you should know that you made a difference in my life.”

George.
George was an assistant to Jerry for a few years.  George was a pretty dedicated assistant.  He had his quirks, but he also had a desire to succeed.  George watched as Jerry demoted or (in some cases) fired other assistants that refused to do their jobs.  George did not want to be in that number.

After a few years, George transferred to a larger store that offered more opportunity to advance.  George left Jerry on less than ideal terms, but maintained a respect for Jerry and his strong opinions.  George took a temporary assignment at a challenging store to show the powers that be that he is in fact ready for advancement.  Jerry had spent a few months at the same store a year earlier, with much the same mission.

George was doing his time, trying to make a difference and give some direction that would help this store. A few of the employees told George what they needed to do was what Jerry had implemented when he was there.  George didn’t think about the Jerry he knew until a few days later when the name was mentioned again…  and then again.  George finally asked, “You mean Jerry from that other store?”

“Yeah, that’s him.  When he was here we did this, and that.  And this wasn’t a problem because Jerry had us do it this way – you know, work it the way it is designed,” was the answer.

So George called Jerry and said something like this:

“Hey, Jerry – It’s George.  I’m over here at this other store for a while, and I guess you were here a while back too.  I know a lot of times people do things and don’t realize the effect they have on others – we usually hear the bad…  So, I wanted to call to tell you that you sure did make a difference to several of these folks.  They were telling me all about how you did this and that and made their jobs better — and I thought about what you’ve done for me and just want you to know I appreciate it and these folks appreciate it.”

Linda.
Linda was looking for a job.  She used to work for the company Jerry worked for.  In fact, a couple of years after Jerry had moved on, she managed the same department he had.  She had not met Jerry – there had been several managers over the department between them – but anytime she would do something or asked for help it seemed someone would say:  “Well, Jerry did it this way.” or “Jerry would do this.” or “That’s not what Jerry did…”  Linda learned a lot from Jerry during her time in that department.

But she had moved away, and was now coming back.  She needed a job, so she called her old boss.  “Sure, I have an opening,” he said, “I’ll have someone call you for an interview.”

A few days later a man called Linda to conduct a telephone interview.  He introduced himself.  Linda couldn’t believe it.  “Jerry?  Did you used to work in that department at that store?”

“Yes…”

“Jerry!  You were my silent mentor!  Even years after you left they would tell me about you and I always tried to live up to the expectation they said you set.  Wow!  I always referred to you as my Silent Mentor.”

The Silent Mentor.
The point is not to make Jerry feel good – although, no doubt he felt like a rock star after getting these calls.  The point is no matter what you are doing, you are being watched.  So long as you have a job, or child, or walk outside to get the mail — someone is watching.

What will they see?
Something worth emulating?  Or something humiliating?
Something elevating?  Or something draining?

Romans 14:7, Matthew 5:16, Colossians 3:17 – and many more.

There is no doubt: You are a Silent Mentor.

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3 Comments

Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Musings

 

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Heaven’s Door

Heaven’s Door

Tonight, I learned a bit about Emily Dickenson…  There was a performance of “The Belle Of Amherst” at the library this evening, so we had a home school field trip to see it.

I am not into poetry, and never have been – mainly because I don’t get it.
A little Poe, a little Frost.  I can’t handle much else.

But I ran across this, by Dickenson:

Going to Heaven!
I don’t know when —
Pray do not ask me how!
Indeed I’m too astonished
To think of answering you!
Going to Heaven!
How dim it sounds!
And yet it will be done
As sure as flocks go home at night
Unto the Shepherd’s arm!

Perhaps you’re going too!
Who knows?
If you should get there first
Save just a little space for me
Close to the two I lost —
The smallest “Robe” will fit me
And just a bit of “Crown” —
For you know we do not mind our dress
When we are going home —

I’m glad I don’t believe it
For it would stop my breath —
And I’d like to look a little more
At such a curious Earth!
I’m glad they did believe it
Whom I have never found
Since the might Autumn afternoon
I left them in the ground.

I have absolutely no idea what she means with the third verse (or whatever you call it in poetry).  The first two, however, are pretty plain and I sure do get it – as sure as flocks go home at night/unto the Shepherd’s arm!

Emily wrote somewhere around 1,775 poems…  Maybe I’ll read them.
So far this is my favorite:

A Door just opened on a street —
I — lost — was passing by —
An instant’s Width of Warmth disclosed —
And Wealth — and Company.

The Door as instant shut — And I —
I — lost — was passing by —
Lost doubly — but by contrast — most —
Informing — misery —

 

When people pass by me, I want my door to be open – wide with warmth, wealth and company –

for the lost.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in Musings

 

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The River – Epilogue

The River – Epilogue

“With what was I moved when I touched your shoulder?  With what have I been moved as we stand here and speak?”  She implores.

There is no hesitation as I answer, my voice is strong, and clear – as I have not heard it yet:

“Compassion.”

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You may want to click the links to read from the beginning.
(Page 1  –  Page 2 –  Page 3  –  Page 4  –  Page 5  –  Page 6  –  Epilogue)
____________________________________________________________________________________________

Ever After.
“Yes.  Compassion,” her voice is young and sweet again.

“I don’t know much about compassion.”

“I’m still learning too,” she confesses, “We all are.”

“Really?  You seem to understand it pretty well to me.”

“I still have much to learn – let’s learn together.”  She extends her hand.

Hand in hand we wade the river.
Sloshing along; sometimes surefooted, oftentimes slipping and sliding.
Wading from soul to soul offering water to the thirsty.  Some drink others stare.

Analogy.
Paul, standing on a hill named for a pagan warlord, explained to spiritually parched philosophers:

27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being…” ~ Acts 17

John, after hearing it from the Source, wrote:

” 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.”
~ Revelation 21

Jesus, to the promiscuous woman, said:

14 Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” ~ John 4

The Spirit and the bride, to whomsoever will, say:

17…Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” ~ Revelation 22

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying:

37…If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” ~ John 7

Cutting the Mustard.
When I started this post I intended to write about a mustard seed.
The Kingdom & Faith were compared to the mustard seed by Jesus (Matt 13:31-32, Luke 17:5-6).  The worth of the mustard seed is not in its size.  Its worth is not in any characteristic it contains, but one.  Not its height, strength, beauty, prosperity.  The sole trait that gives the mustard seed its value is in what it provides to others, and how it quietly provides it – without seeking its own glory, instead bringing glory to its Creator.

A Mustard Tree

As it is with our faith:

“15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” ~ James 2

So it is with our compassion…  Seeing, hearing, and feeling will not change your world.  Acknowledging a need is not enough bring life.  It takes moving with compassion to change your world.

I still have much to learn – let’s learn together.  I extend my hand.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in The River Story

 

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The River – Page 6

The River – Page 6

Having lost balance and control the river carries me.  I come to rest not too far from an older lady.  She is standing firm in her place, unmovable as the rest, yet her eyes hold a bit of life in them.  She sees me and smiles.

“Sonny, that’s not the way to do it,” she says to me.
“The way to do what?” I ask.
“To get a man to drink.”

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You may want to click the links to read from the beginning.
(Page 1  –  Page 2 –  Page 3  –  Page 4  –  Page 5  –  Page 6  –  Epilogue)
____________________________________________________________________________________________

Growing.
Her voice has a familiar ring to it.
“He wants that river more than he realizes.  He would love to have the water rush over him,” she says.

“Oh.  Really?  You can see?  And hear?  And speak?”

“Yes sonny.  We are not all handicapped – well, not all completely handicapped anyhow..”

“Have you tasted the river then?”

“Oh, yes!  Long ago…  Long ago.  I had my fill!  I remember the day the wine skin crossed my path.  ”

“Then why do you stand here, immobile and stained?”

Photo from LATimes

“Along the way things happen… people grow.  I grew weary.  I grew frustrated.  I grew bitter.  I grew stagnant.  I looked up one day and realized my wine skin was gone.  Until, now, here I am in my place – relegated to drinking mere sips of the river from feeble cupped hands…”

“Tell me about the wine skin – is that why the man wasn’t healed by the water?  It didn’t come through the wine skin?”

“Yes, and no.  The river was offensive to him, not because of the water itself.  He wants the water.  He was offended because you were focused on the wrong thing.  His need – our need – is not the outward filth.”

“I thought he would feel revived as I was.  I enjoyed drinking from the wine skin, but I loved letting the river cover me and cleanse me…  and…  I thought he would too”

“Before the outward can be refreshed – the inward thirst must be assuaged.”

“And that’s where the wine skin helps?  Quenching the thirst?”

“Yes – now you’re getting it.  And that’s why these old frail hands are inadequate – sips cannot satisfy my longing…  But I let mine go – Sonny, don’t ever let your wine skin go, never.  No matter what comes along. Hold fast to it.”

“But this isn’t really mine – a girl gave it to me.”

The old woman chuckled.
“That’s just it, none of us has our ‘own’ really – everyone that has ever held it knows they have received it as a gift.  No one really possess the wine skin.  As for the girl, she still has ‘hers’ and that one is ‘yours’ now.  That is the mysterious thing about the skins.  You possess it.  It possesses you.  And, when you share it with another thirsting soul, you both leave full and each with a wine skin in hand.”

“Really?  That seems simple…  Just share it with someone else?”

“Sonny…  it wasn’t so simple sharing with that man, now was it?”

Now I chuckle.  “No ma’am, I suppose it wasn’t.  I was just compelled to do something and move.  How do you share the wine skin the right way?”

“Moving is right.  But, what were you being moved by?”

“The cold…”

“And?”

“…and  …and a bit of anger.”

“Exactly.  You won’t help anyone be filled by being moved with cold and anger.  Those are not cleansing motivations.  You have to learn to be moved the way the river wants you to move…”

“How is that?”

“Think of the girl.  What was she moved with when she reached you?  Did she thrash at you?  Did she fling the cold at you?  Was the river a weapon she wielded to whittle you into what she dreamed you should be?”

She stopped abruptly interrupted by a coughing spell.  “All this talking – my throat is dry…”

I hand her my wine skin.  She drinks.  The woman empties the skin, bends to refill it, comes back up – her hair no longer grey, but red… and long.  By long, I mean long.  Hands no longer withered, but strong – with fingers that look to be fitted to dance along piano keys.  Face no longer wrinkled but clean and young, shining bright green eyes.  Sharing a smile showcasing less than perfect teeth.  I look and see that we are both holding our own wine skins, but I remember handing her my own…

“With what was I moved when I touched your shoulder?  With what have I been moved as we stand here and speak?”  She implores.

There is no hesitation as I answer, my voice is strong, and clear – as I have not heard it yet:

“Compassion.”

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in The River Story

 

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The River – Page 5

The River – Page 5

Let the icy grip plunge me under…  Until the chrysalis is completely shed and washed away forever.

Even now.  As the cold challenges me.  Frigid fingers jab me and push me.  It is a bitter cold that demands movement for warmth.  Stay still and let the cold freeze you to death, or move and live.  Move I do.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

You may want to click the links to read from the beginning.
(Page 1  –  Page 2 –  Page 3  –  Page 4  –  Page 5  –  Page 6  –  Epilogue)
____________________________________________________________________________________________

Moving.
After coming up fully clean I cannot allow these others to remain dry and empty standing catatonic in the midst of their hope.  The injustice fills me with rage.  They must be reached.  They must be awakened.  They must be filled with the river.  With the water they long for and need all around them, I cannot allow them to perish in their desiccated state.

Fueled by cold and anger I move.  For the first time in my memory, my feet dislodge from their posts where they have stood sentry for days untold.  Each rising from the river bottom, a task as difficult as raising the twin pillars of Hercules.  It takes a moment to liberate them from their aquatic mausoleum.  As they are freed they find new life.  They propel me forward, toward the nearest of the thirsting throng.

There is no subtility in my approach.  As I travel I flail.  I splash.  I thrash.  I am moving.  The water is moving.  The river is being thrown into the air around me as I close the gap between this man and the life he needs.  The man, though, is oblivious to me.  The water touches him before I come within arm’s reach of him.  Drops of river spray cover his head, hit his face, wet his hair but neither affects his stare nor revives his vitality.  I take a step back and lower myself until my shoulders are under the surface.  Then I launch myself out of the water, fully spraying the man – covering him head to knee with the river, with what he needs.

His reaction is not what I expected.  He does not leap for joy.  There is no great awakening.  He does, however, grab fistfuls of my shirt and pull me close to him for a brief second.  In that second he tells me to leave his world alone and then thrusts me back into the river.

Having lost balance and control the river carries me.  I come to rest not too far from an older lady.  She is wrinkled, has a head covered with thin, grey strands of hair, and is wearing a bright flower print mumu that is two sizes too large for her aged frame.  Her face, arms, and dress are spotted with grime.  She is standing firm in her place, unmovable as the rest, yet her eyes hold a bit of life in them.  She sees me and smiles.

“Sonny, that’s not the way to do it,” she says to me.
“The way to do what?” I ask.
“To get a man to drink.”

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2012 in The River Story

 

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The River – Page 4

The River – Page 4

“They need someone to show them.  They need someone to tell them.
They need some one to touch them.  Will you?”

“Yes.”  The sound was raspy and garbled at first – odd for a single word to sound garbled.  But I heard it.  My voice.  And so I repeated it, until it was clear.  “Yes, yes, yes, yes!  I will.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________

You may want to click the links to read from the beginning.
(Page 1  –  Page 2 –  Page 3  –  Page 4  –  Page 5  –  Page 6  –  Epilogue)
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Feeling.
As I heard myself say the words, something changed in the water.  It sliced its icy claws into my calves – piercing deep into the marrow of my bones – nearly hollowing me out.  The cold slit its way into the arteries and vessels trying to blockade the flow of life that kept me standing.

Perhaps it was not the water that changed.  This crystalline, pure, refreshing river did not turn malevolent in an instant.  This eye-opening, ear-unplugging, life-giving flow did not metamorphosis into a tearing beast of tide by just a few simple words.  Maybe it was me that changed.  A revelation.  An unveiling.  An epiphany of sorts.

The river has not changed one iota.  Not in years.  Ages probably.  The river has remained clear, fully revealing what it holds.  Never hiding its depths.  The river has remained pure.  Never allowing the pollutants that cover me  (and no doubt those on the distant masses) to contaminate it.  The river has always held the power to illuminate, revive, and cleanse.  Although constantly moving and rushing to an end unseen.  Although surrounded by dirt and grime, the river does not bend according to the whims of the bordering earth.  Instead it carves and enlarges its own banks.  It engulfs the filth that attempts to encroach upon the river’s destiny.

The only difference here is in me.  In drinking of the river moments ago I have undergone the metamorphosis, not the river.   Perhaps the slicing and clawing I felt was simply the shedding of my personal chrysalis – not as the beautiful Blue Morpho or regal Monarch but more as the Twany Emperor. Encapsulated in a shell of my own creation just moments ago.

Was it moments?  Time does not seem to hold much weight in this place.  Moments, minutes, hours – it seems like a lifetime ago, a distant era where I was barely existing.

I was blind – seeing only shadows.  In a world as quiet as a catacomb.  Numb to both pain and joy.  Yet after consuming the water I can see, hear, and, now, feel.  A definite and sure cleansing occurs everywhere the water has touched.  I can only perceive this on the inside where I have ingested the river, but it is visible on the outside.  Where the water has spilled down my chin the skin is clear, dirt is erased.  Where I hold the wine skin my hands are clean as they have not been since my birth…  I’m experiencing a re-birth in these moments.

I am compelled to now let the water cover my whole body.  Wash me completely – outside now as well as in.  Let the icy grip plunge me under, until each hair is pure.  Until each wrinkle around my eyes is empty.  Until my whole self is as angelic as the girl who awakened me.  Until the chrysalis is completely shed and washed away forever.

Even now.  As the cold challenges me.  Frigid fingers jab me and push me.  It is a bitter cold that demands movement for warmth.  Stay still and let the cold freeze you to death, or move and live.  Move I do.


 
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Posted by on February 1, 2012 in The River Story

 

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The River – Page 3

The River – Page 3

Everyone of them have dry parched lips.  They look thirsty.  So thirsty – parched.
Dying of thirst.  No water in sight.  Alone.

Yet, I am both here – with them – and carrying the canteen.

___________________________________________________________________________________________
You may want to click the links to read from the beginning.
(Page 1  –  Page 2 –  Page 3  –  Page 4  –  Page 5  –  Page 6  –  Epilogue)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Hearing.
It is then I realize the sound.  Or the lack of certain expected sounds, rather.

I hear the water rushing.  I hear the gentle breeze as it winds its way through the trees on the banks, around the pillars of people standing in the river, and across the ripples of the river.  I heard the voice of the girl once I had tasted the river.

I haven’t heard myself though.  In conversing with the girl, it was only her voice I heard – not my own.  Nor do I hear any noise from the multitudes in the river with me now.  With this many people, my expectation would be to hear a cough, or cry, or laugh, or sigh.  With the water rushing past each one I would expect one to falter and splash, or shiver at the least.  Yet not a sound from them.

“See them now?”  It’s the voice of the girl.
Yes, I see them.

“Look familiar?”  She asks… although I still haven’t heard myself answer her first question.
No…  I haven’t seen them before.

“That’s not the familiar I was referring to.”
Why can’t I hear myself?

“You will.  You’ll find your voice…  Look familiar yet?”
No, should they?  Are you hearing my thoughts?  Where are you?

“Not your thoughts, no – you’re speaking.  Don’t worry about where I am.  Worry about yourself – – and them.”
Who are they?  Why worry about them?

“They’re just like you, and that’s why you need to worry about them!  They’re thirsty.  So thirsty – parched.  Dying of thirst.  Remember!?”

She almost sounds angry.  An odd and unexpected reaction to my questions.  I am still adjusting to this new world in which I live – I have no real understanding of what is happening in and around me.  It was not my intention to disturb my new friend.

So in response, I say… or think… or think I say to the girl:
But we are standing in a river.  Water is rushing all around our knees.  How can they be dying of thirst?

“Have you forgotten already?  Just as you were blind, deaf, and numb.  They cannot see it, or hear it, or feel it.  They need someone to show them.  They need someone to tell them.  The need some one to touch them.  Will you?”

“Yes.”
The sound was raspy and garbled at first – odd for a single word to garble.
But I heard it.  My voice.
And so I repeated it, until it was clear.
“Yes, yes, yes, yes!  I will.”

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in The River Story

 

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