Tag Archives: dignity

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure

Found in the winter edition of Biblical Archaeology Review: “Garbage is among humanity’s prodigious physical legacies to those who are not yet born.”

Profound, huh? This quote was placed at the beginning of an article entitled, “Jerusalem and the Holy Land (fill).” 5000 years of trash have accumulated in and around the holy city. Mostly found on the slopes of the Kidron valley, the garbage is now being excavated to discover how people lived by studying their refuse.

I wonder what our descendants would learn about us from sifting through our garbage. One thing is for certain – they would find plenty of Styrofoam.

We live in a throw-away society. In spite of our larger closets, storage units, and second-hand (or my favorite, ‘gently used’) stores, we still have plenty to cast off. Dumpsters behind restaurants and grocery stores are filled daily with uneaten food. Clothes are discarded when they no longer fit or in style. Technology quickly goes out of date. Cars, appliances, furniture … the list goes on. We could clothe, feed, and house a lot of people with the stuff we throw away.

Speaking of that, the worst tragedies involve throw-away people. We don’t like to be reminded of our cast-offs. Like car junkyards, we like to hide them, abandon them, ignore them, or forget them.

As people of faith, we believe that every person is made in the image of God. We will never meet a person that God doesn’t love. I heard a phrase this past week I haven’t heard in years: “God don’t make no junk.” Do we?

Perhaps history won’t judge us so much by what we throw away as who we throw away. Oh, God, may we treat others as we wish to be treated!

Things in Common

Someone told me once that if you live in a big city, when you’re walking down the street don’t look people in the eye. I always thought that strange until I happened to be walking the streets of Manhattan last fall. I started watching people to see how they acted. Most of them were in a hurry. Many of them never lifted their eyes at all. Tourists were easy to spot; they were looking up or looking lost. What is it about the pace of life that we’re too busy or we don’t want to be bothered? Is it a lack of common courtesy? Is it fear? Is it self-absorption? Is it self-defense?

I tried an experiment at grocery stores, restaurants, and other places where I encountered service staff. Looking the person in the eye, I smiled and asked them how their day was going. Almost without exception, I got a smile in return and better attention. I think most people want to see smiles and hear kind words. I believe the Golden Rule works. When you treat people like you want to be treated, you get a better response … most of the time!

Treating people with dignity and courtesy opens all kinds of doors. You may find a kindred spirit. You may find a friend.

A little girl’s family had rented a beach house for a week. One afternoon she was outside playing in the sand, when she happened to look up and see an elderly gentleman walk slowly by. He looked lost in thought as he strolled by. Something drew her to him. He looked like someone who needed somebody to talk to.

She caught up to him and asked if she could walk with him awhile. He agreed. Soon they were lost in conversation. The stately gentleman and the little girl talked about a number of topics as the sun began to sink. As they returned to the beach house, the old man said to her, “If your mother asks where you have been, just tell her that you have been visiting with Oliver Wendell Holmes.”

“Okay,” she responded as she turned to go. Then she stopped, “If your mother asks where you have been, just tell her you’ve been talking to Mary Susanna Brown.”

What would a little girl and a Supreme Court Justice have to talk about? It’s amazing what happens when people realize how much they have in common. If we could focus on how much we are alike than how much we are different, we just might have a warmer world to live in.

Along the Journey – A Man of God

Cornelius Sawyer died last Wednesday. He would have been 96 in June. He was honored and remembered by the church he served and where his son, Donald, is now pastor – St. Peters Holiness Church – on Tuesday of this week.

Reverend Sawyer is survived by his wife, Margaret, four sons, two daughters, twelve grandchildren, and other family members.

Long-time Wieucans will remember Cornelius Sawyer. Not only did he have a church to lead and shepherd, he also served as the custodian for the Activities Building at Wieuca. He was a friend and mentor to a young guy trying to figure out what God was up to in his life. He was a man to respect and to listen to. He had an infectious laugh and keen wit. He was wise and godly.

Two of his sons, Donald and Lamar, came to see me this week to tell me about their father’s death. We laughed, hugged and talked about old times. We played a lot of ball together. Lamar was tall and rangy. Donald was a shifty little left-hander who had the strangest shot you’ve ever seen.

Cornelius was good for our community. He had a dignity about him that always impressed me. The Power of One … I’m grateful for the privilege of knowing such a man .. a man who influenced my life in such a positive way.