Time to Measure Up


February 14 2024 Meme from Ivan Pits -Measure of a Man

Some folks would say I did not get the assignment; it was a meme, a sticker, not an essay prompt.  However, I have benefitted by treating the memes and stickers, that my friend Pastor Ivan Pitts posts, as points of departure for deeper and sometimes even scriptural meditation.  The above challenged me to reflect on the true measure of my manhood and I concludes it is that I don't perceive any man as inferior, but an equal in being worthy of The Divine's grace. Rudyard Kipling defined the measure of a man: 
"If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;"*
In the day prior to seeing this meditation prompt, I sat next to a man who was wearing a hat that symbolized a person and political ideology with which I do not agree. Seeing me reading his hat, the man turned to me, and we began a conversation, not a political argument. Within minutes, I recognized what we have in common. We both had experienced a cold winter in Colorado snow. His was right before being deployed to fight in the Vietnam War around the same year, I was born in Colorado. My father was stationed in Colorado with the United States Air Force when I was born.  In that moment sitting with this older gentleman, I remembered all the Vietnam War veterans I spoke to while working at the VA Medical Center in Long Beach.

Once during our conversation, I realized he was not hearing me because he had turned away. I saw the hearing aid in his hear and realized he needed to use total immersive communication because he was hard of hearing. I empathized with him because I was once hard of hearing, but by grace my hearing was corrected by two surgeries to correct bilateral otosclerosis. When he turned to me again, I made sure to clearly annunciate my words and keep my mouth movements distinctive so that he could perceive what I was saying.

He was older than me, but in that moment, we were equals, just two men sitting on a bench at In-N-Out waiting to get a cheeseburger. However, when I got my burger, before I left, I shook his hand in appreciation for him being someone who had put his life on the line to serve our country.

In-N-Out Sign at Harbor and Gissel in Costa Mesa, CA
  • *Excerpt is from Rudyard Kipling, "How to be a Man."

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