|photo from davidblaikie.ca|
Sometime last year I was the recipient of a random act of kindness at Tim Horton's. I pulled in as usual, made my regular order and prepared to pay. But at the window I learned that I owed nothing. The driver ahead of me had paid my bill. Really? But who was it? How will I say thank you? Things happened fast. My bagel and coffee were in my hands and I was on the road before I wished that I had paid the bill of the next driver. It was such a simple, anonymous gesture. One commuter to another. One stranger to another. Except we were, somehow, no longer strangers. It was such an unusual act in a culture that rarely builds community among strangers through anonymous generosity. Yet it has happened to me twice more since then. Now I am among those who pay it forward in the Tim Horton's line up. I feel as if I am part of a silent, subversive movement. I often now pull away from the window lifted, grateful to be a recipient and a giver in this hidden economy of grace. It causes me to wonder about the shape of such little hidden economies of grace from here to London, New York, Santiago or, well, you name it. If such a sub-culture can be cultivated at the Tim Horton's on the #10 highway during rush hour then counter-cultures like it must take shape all over the place. I wonder how often they begin with one person. I imagine that the answer is all the time.
It reminds me of the way in which the gospel is shared. One person freely passing on the Word that has been passed to them, the Word that God in Jesus is in the saving, redeeming, healing business. There you are, traveling through your days, paying your bills, earning your keep, trying to be the kind of person that God would be proud of, that you would be proud of, but somehow it is never enough. Somehow anxieties about letting others down, letting yourself down, letting God down silently work their way into your soul and set up shop, turning into an aching cancer of despair, shame, worry. But one day someone's voice, someone's care gets through to you that it has already been paid, that you are beloved, that you can live out of this gift of love, not live trying to earn it. Then that lovely, surprising messenger of God's grace is gone, moved on, out of touch. But she has left behind another messenger. For now you, too, are a participant in the economy of grace called the church of Jesus Christ. Now you too, are a messenger, a missionary, a good news story teller and, in your humble way, a revolutionary.