Monday, November 29, 2010

A Thousand Little Things

Now, I am just as much a romantic as the next gal, but I've learned in my marriage that the little things do tend to add up more than the grand, romantic gesture. Don't get me wrong - Backbencher does the flower and candy thing as well as the next man, and he's been known to surprise me with Christmas and birthday gifts that I'd mentioned once or twice in passing months ago. (The "months ago" thing sometimes means I had forgotten I'd wanted that item, but it is so endearing!) But overall, I think I appreciate the everyday things Backbencher does to let me know I'm on his mind.

Here is just a selection:
- He always turns on my seat warmer when we ride in his car, usually long before I would have remembered it's an option.
- He has been known to walk the dogs when he senses I need a lazy morning.
- He got me a gift certificate to 1800FINDASPA for our first wedding anniversary, because traditionally, the first anniversary is "paper" and, well, gift certificates are made of paper. (And he knows I love massages.) Naturally, he also gave me a book.
- He will read a book faster than he normally would if he knows I want to read it, too.
- He suggests that I take the first shower when we have to leave early for childbirth class. (And he often showers the night before, too!)
- He folds towels, even if I'm the one who washed them.
- He remembers to buy my favorite kind of ice cream when we run out.
- When we got back from visiting his family at Thanksgiving, I had to run over to the church (20 yards away) to turn up the heat for Sunday's worship service. I took a shortcut past the side of the house, not bothering to go in, and when I returned to the house 5 minutes later, he had already turned on the back porch light. He also does this when I have evening meetings (we have a one-car garage that I use, and it's behind the house).

It's that last one that really gets to me. Even if our paths don't cross after the morning, and I get home late in the evening, there is always a well-lit back porch welcoming me home. He never fails to remember to light my way home. In the day-to-day living with another human being, it is the small, everyday things Backbencher does for me far more warming to my heart and soul than the rare grand gesture.

This Advent, a new year begins, and I'm so lucky to share it with Backbencher.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

White Crosses in Yards

In our little town, a number of white crosses have appeared in several front yards. At first I thought it was a rash of pet deaths, but I soon learned that it was the effort of our local Methodist Church. A sweet effort for some reason I wasn't really clear about. To proclaim the household's (presumably Protestant, since it's not a crucifix) Christian identity? To be a safe haven for wandering Christians? A testimony of faith?

Today I learned that it was in response to this story, about an incident in Frankenmuth, Michigan a couple of years ago. Of course, in the version told to the ministerial fellowship, the ACLU got dragged in. (Doesn't it always, in these cases?) Le sigh. I checked it out on Snopes, and was gratified that at least the minister didn't play up the complainer's supposed "atheism." But as a card-carrying member of the ACLU, I am always so annoyed when they become the bogeyman for all the "persecution" Christians face.

Later, it made me wonder: what happened to the man in the story? No doubt he was a pot-stirrer, and it sounds as though he might have been a newcomer to town. Perhaps he was not the most sympathetic character. But as much as the Christians in this town claimed "victory," I wonder how this man felt ministered to by his Christian friends and neighbors. Did he learn about the love of Jesus from all those crosses? Did he experience the grace of God from their overwhelming opposition to his (admittedly rather petty) complaints?

Or was he confirmed in a belief that Christians tend to lord it over non-Christians and Christians who don't share their views of church-state separation? Was he treated as an outcast, a collaborator with the enemy, and unclean?

Jesus sure ate a lot of meals with people whom the "majority" looked down upon or disdained. I may be preaching to the choir here, but I pray that when we are bold to proclaim the Gospel, we are focused on proclamation that opens hearts and minds to Jesus, not on pummeling others to get our own way.