I’m trying to be, well, less of an ass during Lent. I should try to be less of an ass all the time, but I think it’s especially appropriate to focus on it now.

The main thrust of my not-so-assiness is a campaign to speak kindly of people. I have reserved for myself the right to speak critically of organizations, lest my head explode. I’m also praying more deliberately for those who irritate me. Toward that end the timing of Dick Cheney’s heart attack really couldn’t be worse… better… oh dang. My head? It just exploded a little. Let me go find a moist towelette.

The pastor where I work has recently presented me with a box of towelettes for my computer screen and a can of air. I appreciate this. I have been using my own laptop at work, and it has a lot of diet coke and cat hair on it. And crumbs. And Churchrat hair. And beer.

I’m working on a newsletter now and, because the issue’s theme is a weird melange of the Olympics and my abortive run at Girl Scouting, I’m interviewing a number of old and new members. I just spoke to our oldest member for about an hour. He’s ninety-four years old and has been an Our Kind of Mainline Protestant for ninety of those years.

He’s kind of an old fart. I love old farts. I’m looking forward to getting old so people will fully appreciate my curmudgeonliness. Spell check, by the way, suggest “curvaceous” for “curmudgeonliness.” Thanks, spell check. Anyway. He’s grumpy and wears his sweatshirt tucked into his pants. He is, however, passionate about the future of our church and of Christianity in general. He talked a lot about the importance of being relevant without being silly, of remembering that Christianity is a transformative thing. He talked about how some people are idiots and how some people go ’round acting like idiots. He spoke thoughtfully and critically about a lot of issues, about a lot of the things that irritate the holy crap right out of me and him too. But he spoke with kindness, with affection for the idiots and the people who go ’round acting like them. He spoke with hope. Then he told me to email him the article I was writing about him before I published it.

I warned him the email would come from my personal address because my work computer’s in the shop.

What do you have, computerwise?

I told him, and he chuckled.

Does it take its power from steam? Whoo boy. What a dinosaur.

This is the sort of old person I want to be I think. And the sort of young one too. A person who remembers a personal and corporate past but who casts eyes forward. A person who hangs onto a sense of injustice, a sense that the world isn’t how it ought to be, a sense that we’re sinning and falling short like sinning and falling short is the new black. But a person who laughs about it and who stays kind. I’m not always that person. I wish I were.

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