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Casual Paint

Recently I was driving down the highway and saw this big bill board advertising Dutch Boy paint. Displayed was this father painting his house. Standing in his shadow was this little boy, maybe four or five, watching with admiration his father. Almost unnoticed, this father was getting casual paint all over his son. This reminded me of the two metaphors used by Jesus in chapter five of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 where Jesus says "You are the salt of the earth," followed by the statement "You are the light of the world." Whether intentionally or casually we are called to be salt and light in the world. More often than not we have our greatest influence without any awareness of it. Without even trying we get casual paint not only on our children but on all our friends, and sometimes on strangers. God does his greatest work through us when we are truly his servant. Often we never hear about the blessings we bring to others. If we are faithful in serving God it doesn't matter that we hear. There is, of course, the flip side of this story, too. We sometimes get the wrong kind of casual paint on family members and friends, and it is not easily washed off. Actually, I had a similiar experience many years ago while standing at the foot of my mother and father's graves. I was mediating and lifting my soul to the Lord in thanksgiving for the influence they had on my life--, when just as clear as the sound of a bell I had this vision of my mother and dad painting--, and here I was, a little boy, standing in their shadow and watching. They were getting casual paint all over me. But they were not painting with paint as was the father in the Dutch Boy bill board. They were painting with their behavior, their attitude, the way they related to people, how they went about their work, and the way they loved one another and hugged their kids. All the while, without any awareness on their part, I am standing their in their shadows, getting casual paint all over me. I was so overjoyed by this vision I began to think about all the other important people in my life who had helped shape my faith and character, many of whom were also buried in that cemetery. So, I began to walk around the cemetery and stop at all the gravesites of those who had so richly blessed me. I would express my gratitude and go on to the next. It was like the Catholic ritual on Good Friday of the Stations of the Cross. Every time I go back to my childhood church where I was nurtured in the faith I go through this same kind of ritual of thanking those who have touched my life so deeply. It is how I get in touch with my sacred history. Max A. Eller