Friday, June 4, 2010

Lesson from a Praying Mantis

This week has been pretty light at work, which is always a mercy. My primary managers are traveling in our client's South American offices, so I only had to deal with my regular tasks that I do every week, without a lot of the extra noise. I took time to write, I got home at reasonable hours, I ate lunch away from my desk- all the little things that I miss out on in the throes of crazy work. Today, I was glad to have a little busier and more enjoyable schedule. I was going into the McLean office, and I got to sleep in a bit and work from home a while in the morning. I talked to my sweet friend DL on the way in and remembered how much I missed her. I got to the office, had an appointment with my counselor to figure out our year-end strategy, and then worked on some necessary little nothings. My head was feeling the pressure from my sinuses more and more strongly, so I went ahead and cancelled my plans for the evening. There was a telecom event that I was helping to run, and I went to the room and helped with the set up. The panel went really well- I learned some new things. I went back to my work space and finished the things that had to get done today. Then I packed up my things to go home and made my way to the elevator. A mass exodus from the building happens between 3:00 and 5:00 on Friday, so it stopped at almost floor, pushing me to the back.
Finally, we reached the upper lobby and I exited at the back of the pack. As I walked to the breezeway, I saw this tiny figure moving towards me through the throng. The well dressed yuppies scooted to the left and the right to make way for the woman coming towards me.
She was impossibly small. She was Asian, ancient, and clad in spandex from head to toe. She also had a metal hiking stick in each hand, hunched over them, using them to propel herself forward in tiny steps. Her face wasn't set with determination, or pluck, or bravery. Her face was normal. As she crept along, using her foreign appendages to distribute her weight, she didn't look like a tragic hero or a triumphant survivor. She looked like a person going about her life as usual.
She didn't want my help and, really, what help could I have offered her? I am not strong enough to carry her myself and I have no walking stick skills to impart to her. Her body was supported entirely by the two poles that she mechanically kept moving. And that was how it had to be. This was her walk, not mine or anyone else.
It made me think about hope. Whether or not she realized it, that little woman was literally walking out what it means to live with hope. It means perseverance because you have to. You have to because you believe in the core of who you are that there is something more, there is something better. Watching her, I realized the amount of effort it took her to just walk from the parking garage into the building. She must have been tired and wanted to sit down, but she kept going to get to her goal- wherever in the building she was trying to get to. It's a micro-hope, maybe, but it's the same drive that makes us keep going through the times when things are hard, confusing, unclear, or just plain old sad. Suicide is really the alternative- so the vast majority of us learn to live off the hope that it will all be right someday.
That is the hope of Christ. Whether or not you believe He's there or that you needed what He did for you, that is the seed that keeps you going. The belief that this world is not right but that it can be made right. That it can be made whole. That you can be made whole. His hope is the big picture. The woman's walk from the garage to the building is the small picture.
Where do I fit in? What does it really look like to live out of the hope that I have in Christ? Well, I'm still learning that. It means looking back and remembering that He has been faithful and will be again. It is looking at my current situation and realizing that He does not repeat Himself and that whatever I wish things looked like now is probably trying to limit Him to doing the same thing twice. It is looking to the future and living in the confidence that He will give me good things- things that I can imagine and things that I can't.
I'm not sure why that sweet little lady made me think about all this. But I'm glad she did. So here's to you, Mantis Woman. I hope you got to where you were going.

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