Doing the next right thing

I heard a small part of an interview this morning on a sports radio station with Laurent Duvernay-Tardif who plays for our Kansas City Chiefs.  He graduated from medical school in Canada and opted out of the 2020 season to stay in Canada and help with the pandemic crisis there.  I had in my head he was probably treating patients and doing research and all the “big deal” doctor-y stuff that we all need.  And then he said without hesitation when the question was asked, that he was an orderly in a long-term care facility and did whatever was needed from bedpans, to giving direct medical care, to delivering food trays.  Wait a minute, whaaaaaat?!?  He left our little Patrick unprotected in the Super Bowl to clean bedpans and deliver lunch trays, not to perform miraculous and life-saving brain surgery?  My academic bias and educational privilege came tumbling down on my head in one fell swoop!  Seriously what a grand story that few of us might ever have guessed.  Jesus washing the disciples feet much, pastor nanette?!!?

It hasn’t left my head – the juxtaposition of a highly paid, highly gifted professional athlete choosing to serve in a time of need to those most in need in whatever way needed, was a needed pull back to the reality of Jesus’ definition of shared humanity and service.  When we wonder if social media has totally isolated those who have come and are coming of age without knowing life without electronic connections – we can be reminded that the human heart’s desire to be in direct service spans the generations and the particularities of progress of each period of history.

Nothing he said in the part of the interview I heard was overly intense around his decision being a sacrifice of great proportions.  In fact he talked about being able, because of his financial resources, to create a kind of gym on his deck, the only place he was allowed and could lift weights or do any kind of workout. That while it was a bit cold in Canada to lift weights outside, he was glad for the privilege to be able to do so.  And in essence that he knew what was a choice for him, to opt out of a year of NFL football to serve in the medical field, for others was simply their way of life and providing for their families.  I might call him a hero and a witness of the way of Jesus, I doubt he would claim that for himself.  It sorta called into question my whininess at the loss of “normalcy” we experienced in the last year and the concern about what the road ahead looks like when no one has the complete book of answers, or maybe even a book with, oh I don’t know, ANY answers?

Maybe, like for Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, having all the answers about what being a Dr. is supposed to look like is less important than doing the next right thing, which may be delivering a food tray to an older adult who is hungry.

We are smack-dab in the middle of June, and I’m worrying about what October, November, and December will look like.  It’s one thing to plan ahead which is important and foundational.  It’s another thing to worry about what is going to happen if . . . if a variant arrives not covered by the current vaccine, if we all simply decide to keep staying home and not reconnect human to human directly, if we continue polarizing more and more until we self-destruct.  And in those moments?  We all, pastors too, need to be reminded to plan ahead AND do the next right thing today for someone’s benefit and betterment; do the next right thing today to lift someone’s spirit and encourage them on the journey; do the next right thing today to care for the environment from air, to land, to sea; do the next right thing today in relation to the next person so they see in us the best of God’s heart in community.

I’m guessing Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (I love saying that whole name aloud, btw) does not read random blogs from random pastors.  AND I still want the universe around him to let him know that this random pastor who’s a bit of a fan of the Chiefs is thankful for his service in an older adult living care center with non-famous folk who sometimes loved him for his service and my guess is sometimes took their frustration at their isolation and loneliness out on the big guy who delivered their tray that day regardless of his financial portfolio or the name of his professional football team.

Sometimes the next right thing today is a true minute of grace!