Dear Catalytic Convertor Thieves

Dear Catalytic Converter Thief,

When I started my car and heard the engine growl at me like I had done something to offend it, I never suspected that someone had crawled underneath it with a hacksaw and gutted a piece of my vehicle. In fact, at first I thought the sound was because I had left the car sitting still too long while I was away. But, when the sound didn’t go away, I assumed I somehow got a hole in my muffler. So, I was going to do a quick fix and slap some muffler tape under there until I could get to a mechanic. Then imagine my surprise when I saw the jagged mutilated remains of my exhaust system and realized I had you to thank for this situation.

I’m not going to lie, I was initially disappointed in you. I thought about how someone tried to break into my brother’s vehicle and was stopped by one of them good ol’ boys with a gun. And even though, I am not a gun owner, I did for a moment feel a twinge of what I bet some of my open carry brothers and sisters feel. After all, when you made the decision to do harm to my vehicle, you put my family at risk. And I totally get the impulse to do whatever I can to take care of my family. Besides that, you took food out of my family’s mouth because now, at a minimum, I have to pay my deductible which is a considerable amount. So, you can see why I’m not too thrilled with you. But, because I roll with Jesus, I decided that, despite the fact that a part of me wanted vengeance, I was going to pray for you instead. And that’s why I want to thank you.

As I was praying for you, I started to think about you as a person. I wondered, what was going on with you and your life that stealing catalytic convertors seemed worth the risk of possible jail time or worse. Do you have a family that you need to feed? Did you steal food out of my family’s mouth in order to feed your own? Are you on drugs and need the converter to feed your habit? Are you just poor? And I also wondered if I met you under different circumstances, would I share what my family had with you so that you wouldn’t put yourself in this dangerous position? I hope that I would. But maybe, I would ignore you like you’ve probably been ignored many times before. Only God knows.

After I wondered about these things, I started to wonder about our society as a whole. After all, as much as our society pushes the lie of individualism, all of us are born, live, and die within a larger societal context. And while this is not an excuse for people to resort to thievery, I can understand how one could if they feel they have no other option. Maybe I would if I am honest with myself. Although I used to pride myself on being stronger than the conditions I was reared in, the truth is that if I didn’t have exemplars that guided me and an awareness of God’s love for me, I might be right there with you jacking car parts. And on top of this, I realize that if you are the one doing the stealing, you are probably not the mastermind behind this operation. That means that there is a system in place that facilitates you doing this. Probably someone in a suit somewhere that, if they get caught, will probably claim plausible deniability and get away with it because, well, America…

Realizing this, I decided that since I don’t know your story, I am going to suspend judgment. Your thievery wasn’t personal. It is simply the outworking of a series of messed up circumstances that led to you being you and me being me. That’s why I truly live it when Jesus says don’t judge others. So, I have decided that rather than minimize you to the act you perpetrated, I am choosing to retroactively see this decision you made to take my catalytic converter as a prescient awareness on your part that I was the right person to steal from because I forgive you and will consider what I have to pay to get my car fixed as a donation to you and your family with the prayer that you find a better way to make money and then go back and teach others where you can.

My hope is that somehow you will come across someone who steps into your life as others stepped into mine. I hope that they show you that there are other options out there. And I hope that you discover that, because you are an offspring of the Divine, you are always more than the worst thing you’ve done. (Still, I’m hoping that stealing car parts is the worst of it.) I pray that you connect with the part of you that remembers what it is to be in childlike wonder of life’s possibilities and that, since you clearly have a capacity for risk, you use it in a way that is empowering rather than diminishing.

Lastly, I wanted to ask you to pray for me too. Right now, I find myself on an intentional journey of self discovery. It has been my practice since age six to try to listen for the Creator’s guidance in the choices that I make. Since I listened and left my position as a pastor, I have been in deep wonder about what’s next from a ministerial perspective. The word that has continually come up for me since I left is CATALYST!!! Without getting too much into the backstory, even before you received my catalytic converter, I have come to realize that my calling is to be a CATALYTIC CONVERTER. In other words, I feel called to transmute negative and harmful outputs into less harmful and perhaps even hopeful outcomes. That’s pretty much what the component you stole does. In fact, I think that the fact that so many catalytic converters are being stolen in America is indicative of the fact that many of us are called to be Catalytic Converters but we have been robbed by a system that doesn’t know our value and we have gone along with our diminishment as you have.

You all steal Catalytic Converters because there is something precious in it that you want to get out of it. Well, my fellow child of God, there is something precious in you–in each of us–that if we knew how to let it out, we wouldn’t have a world where so many of us give up our Divine Inheritance of infinite value for scraps. I pray you discover this for yourself. And because, the Creator has brought us together through this unplanned circumstance, I will pray for this in your life.



*Note – I know that some people will either think I am either full of BS, naive, or just stupid. But, I submit to you–especially if you are on a spiritual path–to be a Catalytic Convertor when offered the opportunity. Take the junk that comes in and transmute it. (Like the Hawaiian concept of Hemolele) We are all witnessing many outcomes that are detrimental to our societies’ relational functioning. Some of us are going to have to be stronger than many of us in order to create new possibilities for human flourishing. So I am inviting you to join me.

**Shout out to my new friend, Shannon Lucas, at Catalyst Constellations who is creating spaces–along with her partner Tracey Lovejoy–for Catalysts to find one another.

4 replies »

  1. Pedro, what a stunning example of WISDOM, thank you for sharing it….so deeply thoughtful and thought provoking…..The Roofless Church is a wonderful venue for your Spirit to shine it’s light out to all LV2U and your family, Ann (and Bob Murtha’s Spirit)

    Liked by 1 person

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