Sunday, February 25, 2007

Love has frostbite.

I spent Saturday morning and early afternoon helping a bunch of Jr. High and High Schoolers sell Nelson's Chicken. The youth group is raising money to travel to Mississippi this summer and help repair Katrina damage. I wasn't going sell chicken, but a meeting got canceled so I was available.

If I had realized how utterly frozen we were going to be I probably would have told Andy that I could help till a certain time...and then jetted off to a coffee house where I could be warm (which is what I did do after we'd shut down) and plan for youth group (which isn't happening tonight anyhow). But it has been warm lately and I thought it would be fun to help the childies raise their funding.

When I got there they were already on street corners waving signs and screaming desperately at passing cars. One girl had bravely donned a chicken suit.

We were fortunate to have a convention going on in the next building over...because there was a lot more traffic than there would have been. But for most of the day we weren't even covering our costs.

I was put to work at another intersection. Holding a sign that said "$5 Chicken - Send us to Katrina" I wasn't quite sure what to do, but I began making eye contact with all drivers without tinted windows and smiling at them while I held out the sign. I probably smiled more in those two hours than I did all last year. People smiled or waved back. Some of them laughed. I'm pretty sure it was out of pity. After I'd had a lunch break one man stopped and rolled down his window...worried that we'd been out there for quite some time in the freezing cold.

Towards the end of the afternoon we finally made some money on our investment...Celeste announced that were five dollars ahead. Totally worth all that time.

We did have some really good moments. Several people tipped us for Sara's dancing around in the chicken suit and one man bought$100 worth of chicken...and then came back for more. Twice. We got kicked out of the convention building, but they couldn't keep out the smell and vendors came to buy lunch from us.

At one point, I was watching the kids on the other corner. They were jumping and screaming. They cheered when people turned in to buy chicken and they kept screaming when they were ignored. They got down on their knees and raised the signs above their heads...still screaming of course - but in pleading tones.
My lesson tonight was going to be on love...how we love God...how we love each other. At the end (as prescribed by the handy book I bought -I'm not this good) we were going to write down one way we could love people this week, with the idea that they would commit to doing that one thing. And I thought: Jumping around in the bitter cold to raise money for people you've never met has to be love. And then I wondered if it really was. I know I wasn't there because I love the people in Mississippi. I was there because I love the kids in my church and because it's a good cause. So why were the kids there? Was it because they have a burning passion for the people Katrina hurt...or was it because it's a good cause or because their friends were there?

Don't get me wrong...I'm not saying we should only do things if our motives are pure. For one, it's impossible. For two, what is right and what is wrong are not defined by our motivations. But, this whole thing of figuring out what love looks like is complicated to me. Perhaps it bothers me because I, like most people of western culture, define love as a feeling rather than an action. Maybe it is helping people no matter what the day is like or no matter how you feel about them...maybe it's doing the right thing because it's right.

3 comments:

Jonathan Erdman said...

Pure motivations strike me as the ever-elusive goal. We always strive to have them, but rarely do we achieve a 100% pure motivation for doing good (or for loving others). Of course, the minute we have a 100% pure motivation we typically think something like, "Dude, my motives are are good...." At that moment we are usually proud of ourselves and those darned "pure motivations" slip away from us once again!

Melody said...

Mmm, yes, like that one Seinfeld episode...

samlcarr said...

Sounds like the Derrida bug got you, nice start to deconstructing love...

 
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