Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Rose Man

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord . . . (Colossians 3:23).

He stands on a little concrete island at West Paces Ferry Road and Northside Parkway. There on that little patch of cement where I pull up to make a right hand turn he carries out his vocation. He probably wouldn’t call it that. But he’s there often, and as best I can tell he’s been doing this for years. Surrounded by buckets of roses and a makeshift piece of signage that reads “Roses $15.00,” he stands and rocks back and forth from one foot to the other. There’s no place to walk on that little island of concrete, but he doesn’t seem to mind.

In fact, that’s what strikes me. He truly enjoys what he’s doing.

I have no idea how his sales figures look, but he doesn’t seem too worried about that. Too much else is happening. There are people in cars, the traffic, movement, energy. The rose man is into the scene, occasionally directing traffic, nodding at cars like a self-appointed greeter. This man looks like he’s having fun, whether he sells any roses or not.

I sometimes roll up to where he is to make my right hand turn onto Northside Parkway. I might wave. He always nods or waves back, pleased to be acknowledged. I saw him last night, and a question came to my mind. Did I enjoy what I did today the way he seems to enjoy selling those roses?

Every day at the intersection of West Paces and Northside Parkway thousands of people navigate the traffic as they face their day. Some are on their way to stores or car pool lines. Others are making their way to work downtown or in Buckhead. Some of those commuters sit at the light dreading their day, stressed and tense in their jobs, late for a meeting, kids screaming in the back seat. And right next to them on a concrete island is a guy selling roses from a bucket and having a big time of it.

Of course, I really have no idea if the rose man is enjoying his time on the concrete island. All I know is what I see, and it makes me wonder what others see when I’m making my way through the tasks of an ordinary day.

The rose man is a vivid reminder for me of what it means to see my daily life (the 95%) as holy. There’s more going on in any given moment than the task at hand. Selling roses from a bucket is just a small piece of the daily drama at West Paces and Northside Parkway. The rose man seems to relish the whole experience, not just a task.

And so God is always working, doing things around us that we easily ignore. God wants to use us in ways that go beyond the mere completion of a task. Each day invites us into a sacred drama. The stage can be a simple as a concrete island.

What stage have you been placed on today? Are you consumed with the tasks or are you relishing the drama unfolding in your home, in your office, in the lives of those around you today? God is at work right where you are, and someone might be watching you. Enjoy!

Too often, O God, we allow the demands of our work to obscure the drama of your work. Teach us to see your presence in the tasks you’ve given us, in the lives of people around us, and in the setting where you’ve placed us. Help us to embrace with delight the gift of this day and the work we’ve been given to do. May our work be a witness we pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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