Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Good Man Is Hard to Find

A good man is hidden away in the dark. Far away from the eyes of the public, who are a poor judge of anything beyond the fitness of his form, the cut or sloth of his clothes, the polished or crude sound of his speech.

The good man is hidden, far even from the colleague or the church member, who sit beside him in the shining goodness of daylight, where fine words, smiles and handshakes, a well timed joke or veneer of productivity sit like a thin vapor over the deep well of a soul.

A good man may well look good to most men and women-- he ought to in fact. But a good-looking man in looks or in deed, does not a good man make. A truly good man is hidden far away from seeing eyes, is made in the fiery dark places that are unseen. Because a good man will be quiet when others speak ill of him in order to put themselves ahead or cover their mistakes. He may burn with their marks against him, but he will bear the sin of others, believing that, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and Saint Peter, undeserved suffering is in fact redemptive. A good man is a quiet, sometimes silent worker of redemption. 

A good man is the strongest, the bravest, the most respectable when there is not another soul around to see, to praise, to appreciate, or to keep in check. He fights for his woman when she is nowhere around. He fights for every woman by honoring them all, even when no one applauds his fight or praises his valor. In a world that pants after recognition, "likes" and the applause of an ever present and connected public, perhaps it is no wonder that a good man is hard to find.

Flannery O'Connor wrote a deeply dark and provocative story of the same title, "A Good Man is Hard to Find." In a letter to a friend she described her theological understanding of her characters: that Grace can in fact be delivered through the vehicle of the hypocrite, the fallen, the most base of humanity among us. In that vein, it must also be said, that the means of God's work in and among us is never limited by the cracks in the vessel.

A good man, yes, full of cracks he may be.

We are a world full of masks, of facades and personas. And the good men are out there, shoulder to shoulder with these men-as-shells. A good man, hidden among the reeds, is hard to find. A good man, whose goodness is not proved by his appearance, his words, his personality or joviality, his smoothness or even vulnerability, is hard to see. A good man is made in the secret, the quiet place. It may be that few will really find him. To find these good men is no small work of Grace itself. There ought to be no applauding or back-patting for those who have found and have known the years of truth of a good man. Knowing they are hard to find we ought to fight all the harder to honor them, share them, give thanks for them, protect them, pray for them, and do what ever we can in all this waging war of a world not to pedestal or promote them, but preserve them.

And then, over and over and over, we give thanks for them.

giving thanks especially for one I share this life with~ who incidentally celebrates 37 years of a life filled with cracks and grace today.