Lynn Patterson (right) died suddenly and unexpectedly Tuesday night. He and his family run Red Acre Farm CSA in Cedar City, and we have worked closely with all of them over the years. Lynn was an amazing man, always helping someone – sometimes us.
I spent yesterday with the family, who were still in shock. There were plenty of people around, so I was as supportive as I could be, and I did my best to be useful. I helped put their weekly farm shares together, moved heavy stuff, and went on an unsuccessful quest to find Lynn’s Sawz-all. (“I can’t believe I can’t just call him up and ask him where he put it!” his wife Symbria said.)
Later, when I got home, my concerns shifted from the family to (as they too often do) myself. Lynn was three years older than I am. He never drank, smoked, or drank coffee He was thin and active, and ate an astoundingly healthy diet.
I can’t claim any of those attributes.
Recognizing my own mortality caused me to reflect on what I’m doing with my life. What am I contributing? Who am I helping? Have I cleaned up my messes? Who am I serving with my life?
The answers were unsatisfactory. I’m an accountant, helping people to “render unto Caesar.” No matter how you slice it, I help the government collect what people owe them. Yes, often I am able to get someone a nice refund – but only in the context of the tax law, the purpose of which is to fund the government and its corporate buddies. And no, I have not yet cleaned up all my messes.
What do I do with this new awareness? I’m committed to tax work until April 15. But today, I helped the Pattersons find their son, whose location has been unknown. (He doesn’t know yet about his father.) I made an amends that has been lingering for several years. And I practiced playing “Amazing Grace” on the piano – not for the Pattersons, whose daughter plays piano better than I am ever likely to, but for myself, and if it’s not too corny, for God.
It is said that a person cannot serve two masters. So long as I serve the government, I am not serving God. But I have expressed my intention to find a “new employer,” and I believe that will work itself out over the next few months.
In the mean time, what can I do to serve God today?
(Donations for the Patterson family can be made here.)