Monday, October 18, 2021

On The Side Of The Road

Rendering plants take dead animals and turn them into useful products.  Hot dogs and fertilizer are made from rendered meat.   Odor and status are inversely related in rendering plants.

Smells associated with the mix of bone, carcass and offal are overwhelming.  Working in a rendering plant is, according to Mike Rowe, one of the seven dirtiest jobs on the planet.  No one likes to see the blood, hides, intestines and bones.  Everyone likes the pet food, makeup, lard and leather.  We can't have products without process.

Process is preferred unseen and unmentioned, but rendering is one of many processes we eschew.  Children are celebrated but childbirth is cloistered and anesthetized.  Blood, water, sweat and tears are nowhere to be found when the first baby pictures are taken.  Without the awful, there are no offspring. 

The automobile accident was awful.

A jeep rear-ended the luxury sedan, crumpling the trunk.  Before she knew it, the jeep's pilot was running toward the wreckage and pounding on the window.  "Are you OK?" was the repeated question to her partner in the process.  Perhaps she persisted with the question because she was worried about more than the lady who gave her repeated thumbs up because she was fine.

She may have been worried about the impact of one more traumatic event.  Hospice nursing was a rough way for her to earn but she avoided speaking of the difficulties.  

"Are you OK?" 

Her own time in the military was pushed deeply inside.  Yes, the product of her distinguished service opened doors of opportunity, but there was a cost.  Crumpled metal rang in her ears and destruction on the side of the road might have stirred flashbacks.  

"Are you OK?"

Two children awaited her arrival and the delay revealed just how vulnerable the cross-country move left them.  They knew few in the city and fewer could understand her husband's seven tours in Afghanistan.  She and her husband avoided speaking of the difficulties.

"Are you OK?"

A chaplain, seeing her distress, offered a bottle of chilled water.  Seeing her distress, he began a process of crisis intervention and stress management while the officer investigated the accident.  Military service, dying patients, friends left behind and deep fears began tumbling out.  The process produced tears, shaking hands, snot and apologies.

The product was the first of many healing conversations.  

"I never talk to anyone about any of this."

"Will you call this number?"



"No worries chaplain.  I always keep my promises...yes I will call today."

We prayed as the officer finished the paperwork.  Through tears she read the writing but was left wondering, "What does all of this mean?"  The officer calmly explained what he'd written and headed back to the cruiser.  She expected a ticket because she rear-ended another but none had been issued.  More tears and disbelief opened a door for the explanation of grace.

"Grace is receiving a gift we do not deserve.  Mercy is avoiding consequences we do deserve."
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
An automobile accident, is a process we want to avoid.  If, however, the product is access to God's grace and mercy, to the side of the freeway we go.  

A crucifixion is a process to be avoided, but the product is access to eternal life through Christ Jesus.  

Crises are to be avoided, but they produce a team of prayer and financial partners serving in Jesus' name.  Cold water and crisis intervention training are available because the Lord provides.  Access to desperate people, weeping over unseen realities, is the product of the chaplaincy.

Must Jesus bear the cross alone, and all the world go free?  No there's a cross for everyone and there's a cross for the team.  Together we are trusting Jesus for changed lives.

No one likes to see the blood, hides, intestines and bones but everyone likes the pet food, makeup, lard and leather.  We can't have products without process.

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