The story starts like this
“A man works in a restaurant and takes care of his wife and 3 children. He loves God and family and life. On one particular Easter he had to work, the restaurant owner reminded him how busy it will be. He was disappointed and even angry to miss Easter mass and time with his children. He went to work, though normally friendly and gentle, he was annoyed quickly and short with some customers when they complained about the wait.
A man came up to the order window and requested 2 orders to be placed on separate trays- 2 eggs, wheat toast, home fries, coffee and an orange juice. It came to $15.53. He handed the man $20 and said give the second meal and change to the man behind me. The orders came up and the man handed the first order to the customer who bought both. He then took the food and change to the man that was standing behind the customer. The old man was disheveled and clearly poor, his clothes were dirty and he hadn’t bathed in a long time. He may not have had the funds for more than a coffee.
The employee handed the man the tray and change just as he was asked to. The old man was beyond grateful, he looked like it was the most amazing gift he had ever received. They looked around to thank the customer, but he was gone. He was nowhere to be seen…
In that moment the employee thought about that old man’s Easter gift, and about that customer. He knew what he had just witnessed and been a part of- Jesus. That customer was Jesus. He started to doubt himself, thinking why would Jesus be right there at that moment?… but then again why wouldn’t He?
The man returned home and joined his family for the part of the celebration that was left. He hugged his littles and his son said ‘Daddy, Daddy I saw the Easter Jesus today!!!!’. He replied to his son did I little guy, so did I.”
But that isn’t the end… it’s only the beginning.
The world we live in is so confused, so broken and so in need of love. We all wonder how to make it better, neglecting the obvious and simple. The answer can’t be simple, that wouldn’t make sense, right? We need an overhaul, a big change, we need a quick fix. We need stricter laws, more rules, meetings to discuss what will make this world better. We need to find a person to blame, it can’t the fault of our own hearts and fear and the people we are building.
A couple weeks ago I went to a training session on Restorative Justice, I didn’t mean to go but the Creative Writing session was full so I got that one. As I sat and listened I heard an approach that is not necessarily new but the term is newer. It is an approach to communities to encourage relationships, accountability and building better. It is less of the punitive type punishments, more allowing a person to see how their actions impacted others. I think it is brilliant, and I see a lot of it in me already. A couple teachers from the high school were there and they were very interested in this approach but wondered how can they get more people on board to change the community. The school does some training but it is expensive, and so many don’t understand or want to change. That is the norm…
I raised my hand, like a well-behaved student, and asked if I could contribute. I am not an administrator, a lecturer, cofounder of the term Restorative Justice, or anyone that has anything big to contribute- but I told those teachers ‘Just go do it, leave here and change the way YOU communicate and create community. Go into your classrooms, homes and activities and just do it. Model what this approach can do. Model it. Practice it. Share it. Build it yourself. Be a brave one.’
That story about seeing Jesus in the restaurant, it is the same thing. How can we change this? How can we build a different way? How can we create better? How can we become communities that are safe and welcoming? How can we encourage kindness and courage and confidence? How can we make this place that we all share better?
Model it. Go out into this world, this confusing and broken world- fill in some of the broken cracks and create some order in the confusing. Don’t stand back and miss an opportunity to be kind or welcoming or supportive or brave. Go out in the world and do better… build better. In all the little ways, show others what kindness and love look like. Give love to the broken, the poor, the hungry, the lonely, the sick… model that for others to remember. There is no BIG fix, there is no BIG cure, no BIG fault, no BIG blame, no BIG overhaul… just each of us choosing to model better. I promise the snowball effect will start to change this broken world, when we each do the next kind thing, the next brave thing… it will grow.
Do the next kind thing, as tiny as it may be. Always do the next kind thing… others will follow suite.
Jesus is in those moments, and you NEVER know when you are doing the next kind thing for Jesus, but He is there. He is there in the broken, poor, sick, lonely and just our regular days… why wouldn’t He be?