I first met Mike on a cold spring day in New Haven. Unsure if the blazer and tie were indicators of a young professor seeking to question my theological moorings, I was quickly put at ease by Mike’s dry humor and direct reassurance that he too was a prospective student. Some eight years after that prophetic encounter, our friendship continues.
This past year Mike undertook an ambitious adventure to customize a pickup truck and drive, or as Mike put it, “overland and off-road” through all 50 states. A very impressive journey you can read more about here .
Throughout the course of my relationship with Mike, Mike’s definition of work has been interwoven between head and hand. Mike’s intellectual gifts of visioning, learning a new craft and then ultimately creating something new have started as intellectual pursuits that culminate in tangible products. I would argue the first journey for Mike was learning how to effectively customize his truck followed by the adventure of then taking that truck off-roading across the country.
I spoke with Mike while he was on his trip and noted the weaving of the dual journeys at play. There was the immediate present adventure of driving and living in his tangible creation and a meta-narrative of seeing the world around him more clearly. As the truck performed and Mike weathered physical obstacles the awareness of discovering, or rediscovering, Mike’s own unfiltered view of the world around him emerged.
The theme of sight or seeing clearly is one that littered the literature of the first century Mediterranean world. Metaphors about correctly viewing images reflected in murky mirrors or becoming blind to then rediscover new sight permeate story, text and legend. One of the lessons that Mike’s gifts have imparted to me centers on seeing, in a refined way, others and the world around oneself. Perhaps it is the combination of intellect and physical labor that produce such a vision. Whatever the reason, I would argue checking and rechecking our view of work, our world and what see in and from others is a valuable skill that offers a clarity in places we may have become blind to see.