Lessons from the Mailman

I just have to say that one of my favorite people at work is the mailman. They should use him to overhaul the whole postal image.

His name is Scott and he just rocks. He is always so cheerful and happy. Everytime I hear him coming I run to the door like most kids run to Mickey Mouse or the ice cream truck. I can be having the worst day and he always makes me laugh. Before he leaves, he hugs me and tells me I’m his favorite person on the route, who doesn’t need that?

Our time together is short. We usually end up chatting for 5-10 minutes. We talk about family, vacations, weather patterns, natural disasters, and possible career changes. He is about to retire (at 55) from the USPS and wants to go back to nursing school.

One of our favorite topics is stories from his route. He told me that one day he arrived to pick up the mail at one office and the receptionist (an older female), whose computer screen faced the door, was looking at porn on the office computer. He laughed and asked her if she had hotter looking guys saved. Oh the things the mailman knows. You can really find out about your neighborhood if you talk to them.

Other days our conversation isn’t so happy. I learned today that his mom died when he was 18 months old and his dad died when he was 7. After that he lived for while in an orphanage until another member of his family took him in. He grew up in the Mormon Church and he was excommunicated from it and his family when he came out. His philosophy was that Jesus, who surrounded himself with 12 men, couldn’t be as judgemental as the Mormon Church. I was ashamed to think the Christian church wouldn’t have reacted much differently to him. He went on to join the army and eventually became a Major but decided to leave because the pressure of living two very different lives was too much.

I told him today that next Friday would be my last day at Lug Nut land. He asked me the requisite questions of where I was going, what I would be doing, etc. I told him that I was going to be working with a church. He stopped and was speechless for the first time since I met him. He looked at me and said – “I never once thought you were a religious person you’re so real.” At first I didn’t know how to respond to that. On the one hand as Christian, aren’t I supposed to be different than non-Christians? But I realized that today all anyone is looking for is what is real, authentic and genuine. That statement broke my heart and yet it was a huge compliment. How sad that the people I have to differentiate myself from are other people in the church.

So it got me thinking about the difference between the religious and the non-religious.

The religious are those who can’t truly love because it goes against their rules. They are more concerned with saving the status quo, by using their own measuring stick for determining what is right and wrong. It certainly isn’t based on the message that Jesus came to preach. Perhaps this is done out of their own fear of being truly known, what are they hiding?

The non-religious are ones that have room in their life for everyone because they realize that no one is perfect. The essence of being human is that we’ve made mistakes. It is only by the grace of God that we have been forgiven. I don’t believe in tolerance, but I do believe in allowing a wide berth for God to move and that no one should be treated less than someone else, or that they are not part of the club. God’s ideals don’t change but how we deal with people has to be different. It’s not about being patronizing and preachy from an arm’s length away. But its about being there in the mess of life with someone caring about who they are. That is much harder to do.

I’m strive not to be a religious person. I religiously brush my teeth and take a bath, but I’m not religious about my relationship with God. Scott and I went on to chat for a minute or two about God and his experiences with him. In the end, he seemed shocked to think that someone who went to church could be caring and accepting. The very foundation of who we’re supposed to be.

I’m not a street preacher, nor do I have WWJD on my keychain, but he helped me to see that me being me in all of my issues and my damaged, broken humanity is still better than pretending to be perfect and have all the answers. I’m gonna miss him.

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Posted on October 6, 2004, in Spiritual Formation and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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