Years ago Pam and I were serving as summer interns through the Duke Endowment in a rural North Carolina community. We benefited from the wisdom and humor of a wonderful mentor, Jim Faggart. Jim stood with me when I was ordained as an Elder. Participating in this same way in a friend's ordination in June brought to mind that relationship and an experience from that summer.
Jim was visiting with one of the cantankerous older members of the parish one afternoon, whose name I cannot recall. The gentleman was possessed with a complaining nature, and in conversation Jim asked if had he met the new student interns, and how he felt about them (us).
He had met us and was somewhat noncommittal, and so Jim explored this.
"Well", the older member commented, "I do have a problem with Ken's beard."
Jim listened. He had served the community for a number of years, was very relational, and decided to respond in a creative and playful way.
"You know", Jim replied, "I have seen a number of paintings of Jesus, and in most of them he has a beard.
"The fellow was silent for a moment. Then he responded, "You know, you are right, and I have always thought less of him because of it!"