Saturday, April 19, 2014

Willing servant

Dinnertime yesterday was gloriously beautiful. I'd hesitated to initiate preparations because I was ensconced in my reading hammock on the screened-in back porch. I'd just opened a new book, my pick for book club next month, and was mesmerized. "Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain had me at the title. Our culture has been so tilted toward coveting extraversion that its opposite has been deemed a pathology in some decades. Perhaps not now, but there are times I have wanted to scream: "Stop making so much noise so I can think" or "Why do you always have to say something just to fill the silence?"

Getting on toward 7, I decided to rouse myself and figure out, exactly, what I was doing with the brussell sprouts and asparagus. As I was steaming the sprouts, not wanting to overcook them, there was a knock at our front door. No one we know well comes to the front door. They know we live toward the back of our house. I assumed it was a sales pitch and hollered out onto the porch that someone was at the door, not really figuring anyone else would answer. My husband went around front and met a campaigner – the ACTUAL person campaigning for office. That impressed both of us. He really liked the guy, which piqued my curiosity. Plus, there was a handwritten note on the placard he left in the door. Handwritten. Who does that anymore?

As soon as I got my veggies to the perfect point, I turned them off, stopped the rest of the cooking and perused the street looking for the political hopeful. Soon I discovered John and Ana Sheil. He, looking professional and she, ever the supporter in her crisp blue-and-white campaign t-shirt.
Ana and John Sheil in my front yard

They seemed genuinely tickled that I had looked for them. And we had a pleasant conversion, cut somewhat short by my awaiting dinner. He was executive director of a non-profit, Gary Burbank's Play it Forward, assisting musicians with health emergencies while attending law school, so a lot of his current business revolves around entertainers. He's a healthcare advocate and helps the disenfranchised – maybe that's why I was drawn to him. His office is smack off I-275 at Beechmont and a sister with Downs Syndrome inspired him to serve his community just as she has served hers. "Plus I think we can do better," he said of his aspirations for U.S. Congress. I asked if he had dreamt of reaching beyond congress. For now, he said, that's enough.

I loved that he was walking the neighborhood, knocking on doors, introducing himself in the old-fashioned way. Don't get me wrong, they're young and tech savvy. When I asked if I could take their photo in my yard by the street sign to prove they'd actually been here and post on Facebook, Ana offered me their hashtag.

What strikes me most about John (and Ana) is how approachable they are, willing to put it out there and connect personally with future constituents. This is exactly what we need in congress, not career politicians who serve lobbyists and every other interest beyond whom they are really here to serve: the people in their district, whether they voted in their favor or not. Not the best interests of the people, but the people.

As a journalist, I covered many local governments and never ceased to be amazed at how many politicians, even in the most insignificant offices, changed from sensible, representative-minded individuals to power-hungry, ego-driven politicos. Of course, there are still decent people unmarred by the sirens of holding office. When they began to say they were doing thus-and-such "in the best interested of the people" I knew ego had taken a strong root. They are here to act as their district wants not in the magnanimous way of monarchy, deciding what the people need.

John Sheil doesn't appear the sort to have his head turned by power or become jaded. That's what we need in congress. So I hope the young man I met on my street corner can get himself elected and retains his ideals to serve me, my neighbors and residents of Ohio's Second Congressional District. Please check him out at http://sheilforcongress.com/

• Where do I see the enthusiasm and energy of youth?
• What makes me hopeful about the direction of our country?
• What qualities do I seek in an elected official?
• Who exemplifies that?
• In whom do I see Spirit's spark of service?

rolling up his sleeves,
list in hand and
wife assisting,
the congressional
hopeful opted
for the grassroots

actually meeting
his neighbors and
potential constituents

pursuing office
because, as he said,
"to whom much has been
given, much is expected"

which is what Jesus
taught (Luke 12:48)
in our waiting
on Spirit

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