Monday, July 19, 2010
My Apologies To Trigger
The sound rang in the air. At first I wasn’t sure, but there was no mistaking it. It came through loud and clear. I got in the car and told Luz about it – that ignominious greeting that had flavored many of our ministry experiences in the hard-nosed, rust belt cities of the Midwest and the polite and genteel haunts of the Bible Belt in the South. I heard it. Just as I stepped out of the post office, walking towards my car, in the dark of night, I heard it above the roaring engine of the passing vehicle and background noise of a near-by gas station. It came in a cacophony of voices, united in purpose and intent on delivering an age-old greeting that in one word delivered an avalanche of messages. “[N-WORD!!!!]”
My first reaction was actually one of satisfaction. I thought, “I must still look pretty intimidating if they had to use the cover of darkness, passing by at a high rate of speed, heading in the opposite direction to gather up the courage to say ‘it!’” I tried to process the occurrence to see if there was some action or attitude I had displayed that had initiated such a greeting. I took note that I wasn’t wearing a Vikings or Bears jersey and had no bumper stickers or paraphernalia that disparaged beer or cheese. Nope. It was simply a drive-by shooting off at the lip. As I put our minivan into gear, Luz nervously asked “What are you doing? You’re not going to chase them, are you?” “Nah!” I replied. I might still look intimidating, but I know my limitations and I doubt very seriously that the Lord would take kindly to my chasing down some misguided souls who had no better way to amuse themselves than to “call me a name that rhymes with the name of Roy Roger’s horse – ‘Trigger!’”
Nevertheless, it was still a noteworthy moment in our Wisconsin existence. I’ve now had an “N-Word” experience on every continent that I have visited and in every ministry venue in which I have served. I’ve had “N-Word” encounters feeding the poor overseas, in dangerous neighborhoods stateside and in places as classy as the Hotel Thayer at West Point, even as I wore my Full Dress Grey Uniform! There seems to be no rest or escape from its tentacles. Having said this, my latest experience has not angered or frustrated me. It has simply served as another reminder that in this land of warm greetings, cheese wheels, Kringles and the Green Bay Packers, there are people who need to experience the love and forgiveness that Jesus calls all Christians to display, and there is no time to go on vacation from loving, reaching out and forgiving, even if it hurts.
If the “N-Word” persists, we who know Jesus and all those who are committed to good will and peace among people must stubbornly cling to the way of truth, love, forgiveness and righteousness that Jesus exemplified. After all, even the noble “Trigger” - Roy Roger’s trusted equine collaborator - consistently displayed honor, integrity, good manners and good will towards all, though nothing more than a beast of burden. Unfortunately, it seems that when it comes to decent and loving behavior, some humans still don’t have horse sense. Trigger I apologize for my misguided friends, and commit myself to extend a hand of friendship and pray that others will persist in extending their hands too! Until next time…