I’ve been asked to offer a mid-Lent reflection on my particular journey through this season. I’ve been blogging at www.kevinalton.com where I know I have a smaller audience, but that’s partly also why. In person I’ve been pretty good about not talking about it much and most of the “hey, Stinky” jokes have subsided in the halls of the church on Sunday morning. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can check in on my site or just read my original Youthworker Movement post here. So a few halfway point reflections:
Nobody cares if you wear the same clothes every day. Really. They won’t notice. Even my youth have said, “We just forget that you’re doing it.”
Honestly, I think if I was shaving nobody would even notice. I’m wearing a hat on Sunday mornings because my hair has become a force of nature, but other than those two indicators I don’t think there’s a lot of evidence. One of my favorite interactions (apart from one at the dentist that I’m saving for my blog) came just last Wednesday. I got a call from a social worker in our church to let me know that we’d received a concerned call from someone in our church about a couple that was homeless and living behind our Waffle House in a van. Would I mind going to check that out?
It was pretty warm last Wednesday, and I was on day 3 for me being clean and my shirts were on day 5, so I was feeling a little murky. I stood in the parking lot of the razed hotel behind the Waffle House next to a road-rusted Ford van from Michigan listening to a lot of words about why they were there and what people seemed to think that wasn’t true and how nicely in general they were being treated by our town. They weren’t homeless or even poor; they were simply stranded. When they travel their preference is to not blow $100+ a night on a hotel, so when they go on road trips they just stay in the van. In this specific circumstance, the van had broken down and they were paying a cook from the Waffle House to fix it. By the weekend they should be gone.
Oh. So I offered they use of the church showers, a couple of blocks away. We drove to the church and I headed to my office to work. An hour later we headed back to the car. On the way, she said this:
“The shower is the thing, really. We’re comfortable in the van, but there’s no shower. Eventually you have to be close to people, and if we’re on the road for a few weeks you always wonder if people can notice or not and if maybe they’re just being polite and not saying anything.”
Correct. I was wondering that about myself at that very moment.
I’m learning lots about myself in this process, and genuinely feel more attached to the person, ministry, and experience of Jesus through all of this. I’m still getting my head around a lot of it. At a minimum I’ve realized how important I’ve made some things that just don’t matter. I’m sure I’ll shower again. I’ll definitely be shaving. I’ll still probably care about what I wear a little. But I bet that I’ll worry about it all a lot less.
How is it with your Lenten soul?