Early last Saturday morning I walked out the front door of the International House at the University of Chicago, beginning the long trip home. Waiting for me was the Go Airport Express shuttle van. The driver loaded my bags, and I climbed in. Joining us were an international student returning to Columbia, and a friend accompanying her to the airport. They settled into the back seats of the van, telling us that their English was “very small.”
Erroll–the driver–and I talked non-stop on the way to O’Hare. Among other things, I learned that he’d met Barack Obama when he worked in Chicago as a community organizer. When I asked about his impressions of the younger Obama, he said that clearly Barack was headed places. He also said that another impressive person he’d encountered in those days was Rep. Luis Gutierrez. They were, he said, laughing, “Two flavors of the same person–chocolate and butterscotch!”
We talked a bit about politics. I expressed my thoughts about how hard it is for Obama to hold onto his “not blue and red states–United States” message in a highly partisan time. We agreed that sometimes it’s frustrating looking at the big picture, when it feels like no one of us can effect the big changes that are necessary.
Erroll said, “You’ve got to look in the mirror every day when you’re brushing your teeth, and tell yourself, ‘I’m going to be the best me I can be.’ That’s all we can do.”
Not a bad philosophy of life.
And not a bad way to think about ministry, and the mission of our congregations.
How would it be if we asked each other, “What do you need in order to be the best you?” And how would it be if we tried to provide what people need?
You can’t always get what you want. But if you try, sometimes you might find, you get what you need.
What do you need?