The soothing cool temps and rain have moved on and in its wake lingers bright sunshine and heavy humidity. It may sound strange for a Sunday morning to make a trip to the mailbox; however, not having checked it in a few days, today seems as good a time as any. Back within the comfort of air conditioning and with a stainless steel mug of ice water, I sorted through the junk mail and focused on the one personal piece in the bunch. I opened the letter and quickly scanned the contents.
The letter began in typical fashion, an apology for not having written more often and a justification that there is nothing to write about. Nothing changes in his monotonous life. He rises between 4:30-5:00 AM, waits for count down at 6:00 AM and is at work by 7:30 AM. Some days, he is allowed to begin work at 5:30 AM. The work shift ends between 8:00-10:30 PM. This is his schedule Monday through Friday. Weekends are spent sleeping. Age, obesity, diabetes, extensive work hours and heat contribute to his lack of energy. His circumstances and lack of faith/hope contribute to his lethargy. He is a prisoner at a state correctional institution. All in all, this particular letter is the most sensitive letter that I have ever received from him. He asked relevant questions about my life, plans, and goals based on previous letters. He ended with “Love ya”.
Sorting through the changes that are evident in the letter and the emotions that they invoke, I logged online and began streaming my favorite radio station, “the home of contagious encouragement”. The program being played is Keep the Faith. The songs speak of the difficulties of life and the strength that faith provides. They are songs of worship.
Sorting through the emotions of reading a letter from a prisoner and settling into an atmosphere of worship within the comfort of my home with me, myself and I, I reopened an e-mail that I received yesterday. I had already read the brief lines of the e-mail but had not opened the attachment.
The newsletter was an update from a friend and former colleague. We met at an induction conference of a missions organization. We left for different countries and eventually both of us left the ministry. She went on to accept a position with an NGO. The letter I received from her tells of her life in Afghanistan with the challenges and restrictions within a foreign culture. Her passion for the people and contentment for where she is in life are black-and-white obvious. Her faith undergirds her passion and contentment. “Everything rides on hope now” so the song proclaims from the radio even as I type this post.
The photos in her newsletter are of a recent holiday in a land green and vibrant, in a land where she walked in peace and in freedom. For me, the photos were bittersweet, full-color reminders of where I temporarily called home a lifetime ago.
Worship on this Sunday morning within the comfort of my home has been an adventure from one extreme to another, from one end of the earth to the opposite. It has been a revelation of Truth, a challenge of faith, an expression of hope and above all, a journey of Love.