Okay. It’s a questionable sequeway. Perhaps more accurate, a brutal sequeway. Read this morning that a high ranking North Korean officer was executed for falling asleep during an event when the Ruler of North Korea was speaking. Anti-aircraft guns were used and hundreds observed the execution. Guess the strongest weapon is used against the ones with the highest rank. Great world? No. It’s not.
Friends often say to me, even when they wade into the quicksand of personal Good Fridays, “All is good.”
NO! It isn’t all good! Not for a moment, let alone faulting heartbeats. Even when people have developed, honed close to perfection, self-taunting to being the smallest they can be, in terms of ego-strength and self-regard, can it be that “no self-regard” cannot take root?
What occurs to me…and may it be at least a morsel of our DNA…to be aware of the needs of others is more than fashionable. I wish it to be ingredient of who we are.
I’m no authority in reading body language, but wizardry isn’t required when someone refuses to look you in the eye, droops the shoulders and never answers with any clarity. I consider it the muffled cries that all is not well. Even if a person never before or never after met, a kind word, an appreciative word. Might help.
We are not the answer to everyone. But in the breathing and stepping space of our lives, can we at least be alert? And when it occurs, send a note of, “am thinking of you in hopes….” And finish the caring declarative with an affirmation?
I started with the “questionable sequeway” phrase. I thought…early in ministry…how unsettling it would be when someone would fall asleep during worship, ESPECIALLY during the sermon. Yep, I used to take it personally. Oh no. Never to use anti-aircraft weapons in response. Then one day, think it was Ernie Hunzinger, a dear clergy colleague in Illinois, who made this comment, “Mark? When they fall asleep, give a prayer of thanksgiving to God.” I found that incredulous, until he said, “Just realize one reality is maybe your sermon is a cure for insomnia.”
One more tag on the sequeway…have shared this before but it pops through my computer tapping fingers now. The Barlow family helped found Hudson, Ohio. Don Barlow, in his early 80’s at the time, always sat in the same pew, and more than not, would fall sleep during worship, always before the sermon. At times people would wake him after the postlude. No one was bothered. Don Barlow. One of the kindest people you could ever meet. He was loved beyond love. On my farewell Sunday, Don greeted me during the reception and proudly offered, “Mark! I’m happy to share that I’m going to the Akron Hospital Sleep Clinic next week…they think I have sleep apnea. They’ll want me to go asleep.” Not hesitating, “That’s great, Don. Let me give you 3 sermon cassettes…to help you sleep.” He didn’t hesitate, “Oh Mark, thanks. But I’ll only need one.”
I know. Not the best sequeway. Yet, the deeper point is not about sleeping. And throw away any intentions of executing. But, realize the deeper issue is to regard one another, eyes opened or closed, that in each heart is a need…a need to be recognized…a need to be affirmed…a need to be valued…and a need to realize that falling asleep isn’t all bad. For rest and new energy could result. And people could then be awake to their own way in which they can regard others…