The character Ron Swanson, a paragon of Midwestern values, delighted NBC’s Parks and Recreation viewers for seven years. One of Ron Swanson’s values was his commitment to truth-telling. In one episode Ron says that the things he finds most intolerable are “lying and skim milk, which is just water lying about being milk.” Indeed.
Ron’s old-fashioned values also leak out in his frequent use of the words “Please” and “Thank You”—often in the same sentence. As in, “Waiter, I think I’ll have that third steak now. Please and thank you.” While Ron’s eating habits are not to be admired or duplicated, his use of those simple words, “Please and Thank You,” certainly are.
Our American way of celebrating Halloween provides an interesting case study in the use of these significant words. As every kid-in-a-costume knows, the magic words of Halloween are: “Trick-or-Treat!?!” In other words: “Candy, please!” This simple request begins the sugar acquisition process. After the treat is dropped into a pillowcase or plastic pumpkin, the transaction is best concluded with an enthusiastic “Thanks a lot!” Trick-or-treating leans heavily on “please” and “thank you.” Ron Swanson would heartily agree.
I experienced this Halloween as a happy, cheery day. Could this communal, carefree attitude be the result of all of the “Please and Thank You” exchanges that happen? I wonder, is “Please and Thank You” all it takes to make us a more polite, content and happier people? Perhaps Ron Swanson was onto something. And perhaps Ron’s technical know-how and craftsmanship helped him realize this. After all, there is a positive energy, a spiritual circuit, that gets completed whenever “Please and Thank You” are present. As Ron would tell you, an electrical circuit works like this: electrons flow between two charge points, a source and return, with a “load” in between. A load can be anything from a light bulb to a refrigerator. As long as the circuit is closed, the electricity flows
Please and Thank are the two charge points of the spiritual life. “Please” is the posture in which we come seeking God, asking for his help, his mercy, his presence, his power, his blessing. We believe that God responds to our cries, prayers, and pleas—often in mysterious ways. When we perceive God’s nearness and involvement, we complete the spiritual circuit by responding with “Thank You.” Our thanks consists of worship, praise, songs, laughter, obedience, and glory.
This November at Elmhurst CRC, we will be practicing the art of making complete spiritual circuits, starting with “Please” and concluding with “Thank You.” My hope is that this practice will lead to our lights shining a bit more brightly. The days are growing short and the sunlight diminishing. The season for spiritual brightness is here.
Glory to God - #g2G