I spent Saturday up in Craigavon at the ALL IN Conference. Invited speaker Neil Hudson, Director of Church Relationships at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity was the keynote speaker.
He used several practical illustrations to get his point across, and one of them, in particular, stuck with me. Drawing on the language of forensic scientists (think here CSI and all those crime programs we have grown to love through the years!), he mentioned the lasting presence we leave through every encounter, and in every place. As those in forensics are fond of saying: Every contact leaves a trace. We can apply this sentiment easily to our faith. Every encounter, every conversation we engage in leaves some trail – a legacy is left. Some of those, our deeper longer-lasting relationships have long-term significance. Others, the smile (or non-smile) directed at a checkout line cashier, might be only momentary.
It raises the question: Is our presence in this world a life-giving reality to those around us? Finishing this thought off, Neil suggested our arrival either enthuses people, or our departure does. When we're prayerful, sincerely and carefully acting and reacting to our sense of God's love and grace within and around us, we leave a trace that is Godly, life-giving, joyful.
Every contact leaves a trace. I used to play golf. Since Erin came along, some things have fallen by the wayside. Golf is one of those as the time and cost of the sport have become prohibitive. I remember that at one course I used to play the greenkeeper had a sign by each of the greens, but before I offer the sentiment of the sign, some further information. When you hit an approach shot into the green, it usually leaves a divot (a part of the turf that has been kicked up by the impact of the ball). Over time, if unrepaired, these little holes play havoc with the smooth surface of the green. Golf etiquette requires that you repair your divot to maintain the green. This sign suggested taking it one step further: repair your divot and one other.
I suppose there will always be players who either don't adhere to the etiquette or the simple, respectful act of repairing the turf. So the request is that you turn your attention to leaving the green in better shape than you found it. That's a great sentiment and, again, like the trace illustration, easily applicable across life. Leave each encounter, each person, each situation a little better. Make it that much more beautiful and more life-giving for you having been a part of it.
Every contact leaves a trace.