Refuse to Participate
I'm wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Yes, I live in Michigan and, yes, it was 39 when I left home at 7:30 this morning. No, I didn't wear a jacket over my shirt -- which is a thing of beauty, by the way, replete with red and green flowers, the word 'Aloha' a dozen times or more, and something that looks like a passion fruit that has suffered grievous bodily harm in some unspeakable incident. Why would I wear such a shirt on such a day? Simple, my friends: while winter may not have relinquished its strangehold on Michigan, I refuse to participate in it any longer. You can find me in "Spring", thank you very much.
I will confess that this is nothing new. I have never in my life received a little happy hace drawing in the box beside the line "plays well with others." Irascible, ironic, laconic and said to be in need of a colonic, I have played on the outskirts of humanity, never once being tempted to leap into the conga line of normality. I choose not to participate.
I'm constantly being told that I have to watch this or that show on television, or that I have to hear this or that speaker. I remember the TV tease blurb that announced, "Tonight, Barbara Walters and Brad and Jennifer. This is the interview that you just can't miss!" I proved to them and to the interview that I, indeed, could miss that interview... and not miss it at all. (I hope that wasn't the cause of their breakup...)
At a lectureship a few years ago some men came up to me after my little speech. I knew they were preachers for they wore lots of polyester (I'm serious. You take preachers of a certain age and rub them against the carpet and stick them on a wall) and carried supersized Bibles. They told me that there had been problems with some churches in the area and wanted me to come into an adjacent little room and give them my take on things. I told them, "No, thanks." They then repeated their story and request as if I wasn't there two minutes ago. I waited for them to finish, smiled politely, and said, "No, thanks." They asked me why not and I told them: because I don't have to. Sacred gossip is still gossip and I don't have to participate. Besides, what do I care what some preacher said to some church in Texas or Tennessee? I'm trying to convert Detroit and that keeps me a little busy!
I don't have to participate in church gossip. I don't have to have a nice day just because you told me to. If you want to argue with me, I don't have to participate. If you think church must be a solemn affair, sorry, but I'm not going down that dark road with you. Just because Kohl's or Penney's has a sale, I don't have to go look at it. I don't have to go mad in March.
And just because it is (now) in the mid 40's in Michigan, that doesn't mean I have to act like it. So I'm going to sit here in my office with my shirt that is louder than an AC/DC concert and slightly less tasteful, strum my ukulele between phone calls and emails, and refuse to participate in winter. I have a choice. I'm making it. Aloha.