Dignity, education and ice cream
I am reasonably well-educated, having earned more than one degree and a bunch of diplomas. I also have a certain amount of dignity, as I serve as a bishop in a sacramental/liturgical denomination. I am also the pastor of a church.
If that were not enough, I preside as the patriarch of my family, which includes 11 grandchildren.
I also like a Dairy Queen ice cream once in a great while.
Recently, I was driving to Manchester, Ga., a little over an hour away, to officiate at a service of confirmation. Deciding to redeem the time, I spent most of this journey on the cell phone.
Upon reaching Manchester, I located the church, realized I was about an hour early and, not yet having had dinner, I opted to go through the drive-thru at the Manchester Dairy Queen, where I ordered a small ice cream cone for $1.70.
When the attendant gave me the cone, I asked the person on the line to hold and placed the phone in the cup holder. Then, needing to fish around in my pockets for the $1.70, I placed the cone in the same cup holder.
As I started to pull away from the DQ, I reached into the cup holder, eager to continue the conversion, and promptly put the ice cream cone into my left ear.
I yelped from the shock of the sudden coldness on the left side of my face and, realizing what I had done, began to laugh like an insane man.
There I was, an educated bishop, pastor, and family head, dressed in the distinctive purple clerical shirt of the episcopacy, with ice cream dripping from my left ear.
I could imagine the conversation in the car behind me as the little boy says to his mom, “Mommy, how come that guy up there just jammed an ice cream cone in his ear?” “I don’t know, honey, but as Forrest Gump once said, ‘Stupid is as stupid does.’”
One of the scriptures at the service that night was from Psalm 119:130: “As your plan unfolds, even the simple can understand it.” Apparently, I qualify as one of those understanding the plan. One has to be pretty simple to jam an ice cream cone in his ear instead of a cell phone.
These are what I call “humility moments.” I am pretty certain that God, once in a while, says to a nearby angel, “Watch this.” Then all of heaven gets to guffaw at the expense of the educated, dignified, simpleton with the ice cream dripping from his ear. Of such stuff I imagine that the Pharisees were made.
But, as I have discovered, nothing is wasted, nothing is truly pointless. Later that evening, a person said to me, “I’m just not sure God could ever use me.”
To which I replied, “Have you ever stuck an ice cream cone in your ear?”
“No,” the person warily responded , giving me a strange look.
“Well, I did stick an ice cream cone in my ear and God still uses me.” I can be an example, even if it is a bad one!
It is always good advice not to take one’s self too seriously. A preacher was droning on one hot, muggy morning and, in his prayer, he said, “Lord, we thank thee that Thou art mindful that we are but dust!”
The little girl on the front row tugged her mother’s sleeve and loudly whispered, “Mommy, that man called us ‘butt dust.’ What is ‘butt dust’?”
Humility moments. They are out there just waiting for us.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]