15 April 2007

Sneakin' Jesus...

Something has been bothering me for about three days now, and sometimes when I write stuff down, it becomes clearer to me - so, here goes.
My office has a new manager. Where I work, we call office managers - Unit Chiefs. Our new Unit Chief is known by all of us and honestly, there is some concern that she may not be the easiest person to work for. I think we all have our doubts about her management style but some of us are willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and see where she takes us. I for one, am just going to do my job like always, keep her aware of whats going on on my desk and let the chips fall where they may.
My Unit Chief left the office in the middle of this past week to go on personal travel. At about 10 o'clock on the very next day after she left, our Program Manager - a young woman in her mid-twenties came to my office and knocked on my door. When I told her to come in, she was holding a bottle of extra virgin olive cooking oil and halfway grinning. "Are you participating in the anointing?" My answer was a well thought out, "Huh?"
It turns out that she had brought in extra-virgin olive oil to conduct an anointing of my Unit Chief's office and she was rounding up the Black people in the office to participate. BTW - My Unit Chief is White. {This will probably be my ONLY racial reference here, because I don't 100% think race was really a major issue here - but I want to paint the picture as clear as possible.}
I told her I didn't understand why she was anointing the UC's office. I asked, "Are you saying she's 'evil' or something?" She said with a guilty childish giggle, "No, it's just that a lot of important decisions have to be made from that office and I..." she shrugged her shoulders and smirked. When I looked out of my office towards the UC's office I noticed two more of my co-workers standing there talking and chuckling and waiting for this 'anointing.' I asked were they are part of this too and they said, "I guess." I asked the Program Manager, "Why do this when the UC is out? Why not ask her if she wants her office anointed?" She shrugged her shoulders and said it was no big deal. I told her that I wasn't going to be a part of this because I don't "play with Jesus..." I closed my door and went back to working.
She came to my door two more times that afternoon trying to justify what she wanted to do, but I just told her that I didn't like the joking tone and the sneaky feel of her actions.
The next day, two of my co-workers asked me was I still mad about the anointing, and I am the last person in the world to mince my words so I told them that I was not "mad" per se, but I was bothered by the sneaky way it was done. Our UC is Catholic and while I'm NOT Catholic, I understand that they strongly worship The Virgin Mary where Christians strongly worship Jesus Christ. I don't think it was right to anoint with oil and pray in a woman's workspace in Jesus's name when you DID NOT ask her if she wanted it and then you choose to do it the morning AFTER she leaves on travel. I felt that was very underhanded and I felt that it was disrespectful. Then I come to find out that some other people associated with my office, but in another 'unit' did the exact same thing to their Unit Chief's office when he was on travel [same racial and religious lines - BTW].
This is my whole opinion on this. I'm a Christian. But, I'm not a Gangland Christian.
"Gangland Christian" is my personal term for Christians that carry their religion like a 'gang' member carries his gang affiliation. If you aren't down with their 'gang' then you are the enemy. If you aren't a Baptist, or a Holiness, or an Episcopal or an African Methodist or a whatever - then you ain't NOTHING! I work with SOME people that have a bible on their desk, a psalm on their screensaver, angels on their calendars and a gospel station playing on their radio and they will curse you out and stab you in the back in a heartbeat. I work with some people that have the mindset that "MY GOD IS BETTER THAN YOUR GOD, BECAUSE AT MY CHURCH WE DO THIS AND YOU ALL DON'T! AND I'M A BETTER CHRISTIAN THAN YOU!!!"
I basically told my interested co-workers that I didn't feel that Jesus had to be sneaked into any environment. If these people truly wanted to ask for the Lord's blessings toward my Unit Chief, then I think they should have had the heart to walk up to her and tell her what they wanted to do. If she was against it, then they should have respected her wishes - but this whole "sneaking" and [half] joking approach seemed so fake and so childish.
One person tried to explain her participation in this "anointing" by saying, "Well, sometimes the devil can work through people, and we just wanted to make sure that the devil wouldn't be able to work through her or her office..."
I knew then, that it was time to walk away.
Before leaving, I told her that while our UC might become a micro-manager and a few other bad things - I was doubtful that satan was really excited about taking over our office. Now, I must be honest - I don't know what the devil's list of priorities are, but I don't think my UC is evil or on the devil's "must do" list. Some of the people I work with have to check their egos and skewed religious interpretations and except the fact that in a world of heartless leaders, bloodthirsty warlords, and brutal criminals that rape and murder and terrorize, the true EVIL IN MAN is present - but it's most likely NOT in the form of an office manager that won't approve your over-time.

06 April 2007

Star gazing with Mr. Wayne...

A few months ago, I found myself in a second hand CD store outside of Washington DC looking for something interesting to satisfy my musical cravings. After finding something with Etta James on it, I went to the register to pay up. While waiting for the heavily tattooed cashier to ring me up, I noticed a box with Bushnell 10 x 50 binoculars in it and a $5.00 price tag. I asked if $5.00 was right and the guy behind the counter said, "Yeah." I checked them out and they were an older model, but practically unused. I knew $5.00 was a steal for these, so I got them. The cashier said some guy brought them in and wanted to trade them for a CD and nobody knew how much they were worth. I knew they were worth at least $50 so I made out pretty well.

From an astronomy class I took a few years ago, I knew that 10 x 50 binoculars were nice for star gazing, so I was looking forward to checking out the heavens. It amazes me that you can look at the night sky with a naked eye and see hundreds and hundreds of stars, but with just an inexpensive set of hand held binoculars you can see thousands more that are just outside of our naked eye range.

A few nights ago, I went outside with my binoculars and leaned against my truck and began combing the sky for star clusters my naked eye missed. I stared a long time at Rigel and Sirius, the two easiest stars to find in the sky after the trio that comprises Orion's belt. I like Sirius because of all that I have heard about the Dogon tribe in Africa and their amazing knowledge of this star.

After a few minutes, I lowered my binoculars and just stared up into the sky - lost in its vastness. I guess 10 minutes had passed before Mr. Wayne came to mind and after 20 years, the quiet man who was the neighborhood enigma when I was growing up had suddenly had the answer to it all.

Let me push back the clock a little to the mid-80's in east Baltimore. One of my buddies had a step-dad named Mr. Wayne. Mr. Wayne was a modest man, very quiet and very polite. The thing that made him stand out to all of us neighborhood kids was the fact that whenever the night sky was fairly clear, Mr. Wayne would lean against his car and just stare at the stars for hours and hours and hours. Some of the knuckleheads would crack stupid jokes, and call him crazy and call him names and tease his kids. But, for those of us who were close to his children, we were told that 'something' had happened to him in Vietnam. I never really knew for sure, what had happened and I don't think his kids knew either - but we knew that it was probably something horrible and he should never be disrespected for it.

But, I always wondered, "What was so important about looking at the night sky?"
  • Did the stars guide him away from a life threatening situation?
  • Was he tortured under a night sky?
  • Was he held captive and all he could see where the stars?

I'll never know. I haven't seen Mr. Wayne in 18 years and I have no idea where he or is family are now.

However, while I was standing in front of my house looking up into all that God created - I felt small. I felt downright tiny. I felt like a single little molecule in a universe that was as it was supposed to be. I felt like at that very moment, I was doing what I was supposed to be doing among the grass, and the trees, and the wind, and the earth and the galaxy and the universe.

When we look into a dark sky and see star light, we are looking back over time. The light we see at any given time was generated millions of years ago and is just reaching us now. Some of the stars we see shining bright every evening are no longer even in existence - having burnt out and collapsed while dinosaurs ruled our planet. The universe is vast, it is magnificent, it is humbling. And therein lies what I believe Mr. Wayne understood. I think that whatever happened to him during the war left him scarred inside and I think that part of him needed to find perspective in the madness of war, or the madness of the world. I think that when he looked up at the stars, he could put the past in the past and he could find comfort that he was now among the grass and the trees and the wind and the earth and the galaxy and the universe.

I think the stars made his universe as it should be.