I have been in Jackson since the end of June. During that time, I have been in at least 30 or 35 meetings. If it was an open meeting, I showed up.
As such, I have sat in meetings of the school board, various neighborhood associations, people’s assemblies, businessmen’s network meetings, liberal groups, conservative groups. I have sat with white supremacists and black nationalists. Queer folks as well as people who think they don’t know any queer folks. I have talked to people experiencing homelessness and “social entrepreneurs.”
And I listened, and I took notes, confident that the intersection of my gifts and the world’s needs would intersect, as they do for each of us. I have almost filled two composition books with notes.
Why? Because I am trying to figure out what is mine to do here. Because the easy thing to do would have been to use my white and male privilege to swoop in as The Great Hughsis and launch my six-point plan to fix whatever, but the right thing to do is to see what is already happening and see how I can bring my gifts to bear there*.
Basically, my whole theory of ministry is that it is about looking and listening, and then, when a need shows up, being willing.
In the movie The Shootist, John Wayne plays an aged gunfighter, John Books, who is eaten up with cancer. The movie is all the more poignant because while he was filming this movie, Wayne himself was eaten up with cancer.
My favorite scene in the movie comes when the young boy, an aspiring gunfighter himself, remarks about how fast a draw Books must have been when he was younger. Wayne looks at the boy and tells him,
“It’s not always being fast or even accurate that counts, it’s being willing. I found out early that most men, regardless of cause or need, aren’t willing. They blink an eye or draw a breath before they pull the trigger–and I won’t.”
More and more, my prayer is less that I am good, and more that I am willing.
*41 days after we got here, I think it hit. It’s early days yet so I won’t say more, but this week three separate threads all came together and said, “Hey, whatcha think of this? And more importantly, whatcha gonna do with it, now that you know?”