Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Windshield Wipers and the Kingdom of Heaven

Last week, while running errands one day during the rain, I noticed that my windshield wipers were badly worn and needed replacing. I knew I needed to get them replaced before I left this past Monday for a seminar in Little Rock, Arkansas. But, as often happens, life intervenes, and I just forgot about this necessary task until late Sunday afternoon. Then I panicked--weather reports indicated I had a long drive in the rain in front of me and it was very likely that those worn wipers presented a real hazard.

I headed out to a local auto parts store, praying that I could get what I needed and that I could figure out how to change them out (I really am mechanically impaired--this is not a joke). Now, auto parts stores are really foreign territory to me--I just don't know the language or the layout. With great trepidation, I opened the door and hoped for the best.

Within seconds, a nice young man offered to help. He quickly checked to see what kind I needed, and then asked to look at the car itself just to make sure that the current wipers weren't some sort of propriety device that a standard replacement wouldn't fit. He then explained the various options and made suggestions as to price and quality. When I mentioned I was concerned about actually replacing them, he said, "I'll be happy to do this for you."

A few minutes later, I had paid for the wipers and we headed outside. This kind young man explained the process of replacing them, showing me what he did and how he did it. I took a bill out of my purse to offer him a tip and he said, "you don't have to do that." Of course I didn't, but I had just experienced a moment of real grace and wanted to return that grace to him. I told him how much I appreciated it, and that it was my privilege to offer him a small recompense. He then agreed to take it and laughingly said that I had bought his dinner that evening.

The next morning, I headed out to Arkansas, driving in a light mist almost all the way. As the wipers kept my windshield clear, I kept thinking about how simple this kingdom of heaven stuff is sometimes: be kind, gain expertise in your workplace and offer that expertise freely to others, and be graceful in giving and receiving.

Life is not always that simple, of course. Most of us face big challenges, sometimes on a daily basis. But practicing these kingdom principles of kindness and expertise and grace in giving and receiving will affect everyone around you. Small ripples can become big waves, a breath of wind can gather speed and blow fresh air into stale crevices, enough tiny streams coming together can turn into a mighty river that changes the countours of the earth. Just a place to start learning a new habit. . . and we all need a starting point.

No comments: