Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Friday, February 17, 2017


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter

At the fifty year reunion of my high school class, Kenny Liniger recalled the day Mr. Kell, our principal, summoned him and another student into his office and said, “You two will never amount to anything.”

Kenny said, “I think it was just a lucky guess.”

I’m not sure that actually happened, but Kenny raised an issue we were all thinking about, that each of us on an occasion like that thinks about: Have I really been successful? Did I do okay? Did I reach my goals? Did I live up to what my friends thought I would do? Did my life have meaning?

As I looked at those wrinkled and graying people, and assessed what I knew about them, I realized that those who have been successful had one thing in common: they were hosts rather than guests.

It is not as easy it sounds. There is always a conflict between hosting and guesting. Guests expect to be served, to be taken care of. Hosts expect to serve, to take care of others.

Ironically, both success and happiness come in the serving, in being the host.

One of our classmates—I’ll call him Ambrose because nobody in our town has ever been called Ambrose—has been more successful than any of us, because he failed so badly, and reinvented himself.

When he and I talked at our thirty year reunion, he was a bitter man. His wife had divorced him. His children were estranged. “All any of them want from me is money,” he said.

I was not real close to Ambrose in high school, but I liked him. He was always a good friend to me. I hated to see him like that. All I could do was pray for him.

At our forty year reunion, he was a different man. He had met a woman. She had taken him to church. He began to do stuff to maintain the church, cut the grass and such. She broke it off with him, but he liked the church so much, he stayed. He wanted to keep cutting the grass.

He decided to be successful. Yes, it was a decision. He decided to be happy. He reconciled with his children. Then he met another woman. She’s a delight. They’ve been married for a long time now. He stopped being a guest and became a host.

At our sixty year reunion he gave me a gift. I won’t say what it is, because that would reveal Ambrose’s identity, but it is something that says he understands the difference between being a host and a guest.

The great thing about being a host… it’s like prayer. Anybody can do it. Anybody can be successful.


I tweet as yooper1721.

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