You probably don’t know him. But, if you did, you would sense that he’s different.
He’s one of the most loving guys I know. And we can all learn from him.
When he wants to talk to my wife or me, he will call and call until he gets a hold of us. If he can’t reach me, he’ll call my wife. If she doesn’t pick up, he will call me, then her, then me, then her again. And if he still can’t reach us, he will wait a few hours then call us again, even if we don’t call back.
When he finally reaches us, he will ask to see us. There’s no shame or guilt in his tone; he’s not upset that we didn’t pick up or call him back. He seems genuinely happy to talk to us. And while my wife and I are deliberating on when to see him, I will look at my wife and she will look at me, while Uncle Rick is still on the phone–waiting. He’s not pestering us. He’s not shrinking or embarrassed that we are taking our time. He quietly waits.
And then when we eventually say, “Yes, it would be great to see you!” he’s delighted. Even though he had to wait minutes for us to figure out the timing, he didn’t interpret it as us not wanting to see him. He gives us the benefit of the doubt.
When he shows up, he blesses us. He loves on us with his words, big smiles, and kind gestures. He brings gifts for our kids; he wishes us well.
And that whole series of events from calling to showing up hasn’t just happened once, it’s happened multiple times, in one form or another, since my wife and I married.
See, Rick’s a pitbull of love. He doesn’t take no for an answer. He’s not deterred by our indecision, upset by our uncertainty, troubled when we don’t call back. He just keeps coming.
He doesn’t think, “Oh, these people have disrespected me by not calling me back or not picking up or making me wait.” No. He just keeps on loving.
And I love him for it. I can’t help but respect him for it. I admire him and try to imitate him. He inspires me. I’m far from being like him, but I’m trying.
I hope he inspires you, too.
In a world that is broken relationally, we need that type of behavior. We need people who fight for each other, take the initiative, reach out, and give generously. We need more generosity. We need more Uncle Ricks.
What would this world look like if people were more resolute, resilient, resolved, tenacious, unwavering for others? What would we as a people be like if we loved each other through the awkwardness, the pauses, the silence?
We should all be more like Uncle Rick.
Let’s try today.
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A choir of birds chirp outside my window each morning. And the melodies breathe a refreshing breeze into my soul that helps me face the day. It’s a simple sound, never ceasing to surprise and delight me, reminding me of something greater.
Taking pleasure in the every-day moments, common yet majestic, can bring mirth even in the darkest times. But first you need to hear them.
It’s easy not to notice them. Some mornings I don’t because I’m too distracted or worried or something.
Awareness is key. Take note of the world around you. When you do, it makes all the difference. Noticing those small details can have big effects on your life.
Hearing the chirps helps me reframe my mind. It reminds me that there’s a whole world out there that’s still chiming, dancing from branch to branch, living as it has for thousands of years.
And just because a pandemic has struck human life, some creatures go unperturbed, singing the song of life, as they eat worms and fly and soar, freely going about their lives.
And I’m reminded that someday we will be free too.
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Everything is in flux. The future is unclear, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have hope.
Yes, a virus is ravaging our world, our countries, our neighborhoods, our lives. Fear is everywhere.
Last week, I saw a woman open the door with one hand and the other one looked like it was cupping something small like a baby hamster. And, when she crossed the threshold, she put her hands together and started to rub them. That’s when I realized she had hand sanitizer with her cupped hand.
Our world is changing. We now have to distrust everything we touch, thinking that it might be infected.
The world has changed. And we have no idea where it’s going.
But you can have hope.
You can know that the sun will rise again. You will feel the breeze on your cheek, watch the buds blossom, smell the sweet spring air. Summer is coming.
You don’t need to live in fear, believe the worst. You can still see that things can get better, will get better.
Humanity will learn. Humanity will grow.
So will you.
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From our windows we would see long lines of people, snaking around the modern white building, waiting to absorb contemporary art, as the sun set spraying its varied colored glow over the city with sea breeze air wafting in and around the west side streets.
Now it’s empty. The Whitney. The streets. The city. All of it.
Before we moved from NYC last Wednesday the virus case count was still relatively low, under five hundred. Now at this writing it’s mushroomed to over twenty thousand, with no sign of it slowing down.
Life can change in an instant.
A pandemic apparently does that. New York was thriving. Full of life. Alive. Now it’s on life support. Sure, it has buildings. But they are shells without the people inhabiting them. The sidewalks, once teeming with feet, are bare.
Barrenness is everywhere.
One moment you live in a city swarming with activity, the next moment the same city is quiet as death.
I don’t write this to make you sad.
This is about remembering what life was like in a city I love, that was filled with mirth, possibilities, dreams, hopes.
These words are about not forgetting, reminding myself—you— that things were not always filled with fear, sickness, nor will they remain as they are.
They will improve.
See, it’s easy to get swept into the pain, the loss, the panic, the scarcity of toilet paper. It sweeps you up and takes you wherever it goes like a raging river.
But, remembering a different time, better times, in these moments of agony is an act of defiance against the darkness that wants to take any shred of light you have.
For me, hope is best cultivated in faith. In dire times only an infinite God who took on flesh and suffered as I suffer and bled for me, you, us, so that we can be in relationship with Him is a balm to my soul and wings for my heart. With that, I can fly, even in a starless night.
But even if you do not believe as I do—fair enough.
As we remember, we shouldn’t live in the past. That is gone. It remains as a relic of a bygone time that can never be resurrected, but it can be referenced. It allows us to see what could be in the future.
Humanity has survived horrible times; history is riddled with them: other pandemics, The Great Recession, The Great Depression, World War II, and so many other wars, diseases, disasters.
Feeling like the world is teetering on the edge of a dreadful abyss isn’t a new experience.
Yes, at the moment we are swallowed in the blackness of night. But the dawn always comes.
And one day we will see the streets bustling with people buzzing around to swim in the beauty and majesty of the city.