Sunday, July 24, 2005


God's Touches of Love

I wasn't up as late last night as I expected. It was the newly usual until Uru Music Night, and I was the DJ with selections ranging from Debussy to Peter Gabriel. People were dancing, others were playing around in this virtual neighborhood, and then it blew up. Software crash. We left, came back and crashed again, which wrote an early finis to the night.

So, I got to bed at a more-or-less decent hour. Which meant I was able to get up early the next morning and be first to the laundromat. The early bird gets the washing machine, and I was home again, clothes put away, by about 0730. So, what to do with the rest of the day?

The Holy Spirit whispered to me, in that quiet voice I'm now better at hearing because I'm not so afraid, "Mosaic." "You want me to go? Well, all right, it'll be an excuse for a bike ride, if nothing else." It isn't all that often that I get a direct hint like this. I went.

South through Marina del Rey, then east along Ballona Creek. The tide had turned, pushing up the estuary along with lots of bicyclists. I'm not used to this much traffic. I passed most of them on the upgrades out from under the streets; these flatlanders don't have my climbing muscles. I also remember why I ride a bike, and stopped at a couple of places to look at birds. Egrets, and then a family of ducks. The mother walked along beside the little stream, while her half-grown kids paddled like mad against the current.

It's high summer. Climbing the slow gradient with a tailwind, I got pretty hot. Even slowing down on the shady approach to the Mosaic meeting place didn't help, and I was pretty well running with sweat when I pulled into the parking lot. I stayed in the shade there for a few minutes and then found a place to put the bike and then walked in to get a drink.

The foyer had a nice breeze, so I leaned against a counter and let the wind draw the built-up heat away. Daydreaming, I heard a voice. Looked up, and there was Neocoach.

Now, until I met this man I'd never had anything good to say about coaches. My memories were all bad, junior high and high school sadists in white gym shorts. I kept my head down and survived. When I first ran into the man I'd eventually know as Neocoach the meeting did nothing to dispel the feeling: his job was to whip up enthusiasm in a group of men. I tuned him out to the extent allowed by the loud amplification.

A year later I planned to go to the same men's event but the roof fell in on me and I bailed. When Neocoach got back, he fired off an Email asking why. So, I told him the story, briefly and strongly, and expected to hear nothing more. To my surprise he wrote back, and that's when I discovered that I had made the wrong assumption. "Coach" moniker or no, here was a man with a real heart. A few more meetings, and some more Emails, confirmed the new image.

He and his wife walked up to me. We hugged. They had never been to this meeting before, and I came on a whim. God's little present to both of us. We talked for a bit, then went in and sat down for the celebration. At the end we made plans for lunch, so I rode home against the usual afternoon sea breeze and then met them at Casablanca.

Lunch was a delight. It's not often I meet people who are both humble and alive. We joked, we talked seriously. Neocoach asked me what I thought of the skit Mosaic had presented, and I said it was incomprehensible, as usual. His wife told us what she thought, and her mind was flexible enough to find a connection between the sandwich-shop skit and the pastor's message. Neocoach went on to say that the guy who played the proprietor gave his life to Jesus at the men's event I attended, and is now in charge of the performances at Mosaic Culver City.

What is friendship made of? Much more than planned meetings, and much less. Getting together to see what happens is a big part of it. I wish we lived closer to each other. I walked them back to their car and with a final joke we went on our separate paths, God having given all of us one of those wonderful little gifts that so delight Him to give, if I'll just be quiet and give him the chance.

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