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Friday, 25 May 2012

Blind Spots

   When you learn to drive, you’re told that there are blind spots in every vehicle.  To be safe, we need to do shoulder checks before changing lanes or making turns; the consequences of ignoring our blind spots could cause great harm to others and ourselves.
   In life we have blind spots too, but they are not as easy to compensate for.  Other people can often see them when we cannot.  If they try to point them out, we often react defensively.  Last weekend one of my blind spots came into view, and it has been hard to process. 
   In most areas of my life I do not take matters into my own hands—I don’t cut off other drivers to get in first, I don’t butt into lineups, I ask for permission when my actions will affect others.  Yet I acted quite differently when it came to a plot in a community garden.  Last year we had planted vegetables in a particular plot and without making much of an attempt to contact the people in charge, I planted seedlings in the same plot on May 12th.  It was planting season, I reasoned, I’ll work out the details later.
   Last weekend I was “busted” because the people running the garden had rented out this plot to someone else (who had paid the fee and signed an agreement according to a new policy).  There was a cardboard sign asking us to move our plants.  My blind spot caused distress to another gardener, not to mention the volunteers trying to coordinate things.  In their eyes I was a squatter, a lawless individual who planted on private property without permission.  It all seems so obvious to me now—how did I think I could get away with this, becoming over-familiar with this plot and considering it my own?
   This experience and the need to make amends have renewed my awareness of having blind spots.  I’m sure this is not the only one!  I think I’ve come to a place where I’m more open to hearing about my blind spots and working on them.  And if I see one in others, I will not be as quick to judge.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Easy Go, Easy Come

   One of the advantages of living in a city is the possibility using a bike as a primary means of transportation.  This has been true for my husband, who cycles a round trip of about 14 kilometres to his job every day that the roads are not covered in ice and snow.  He bought a used road bike when we first arrived in the city and used it until we received an interesting telephone call from the Pinery Provincial Park.
   A few months before we had spent almost a week at the Pinery and participated in the “One Park Challenge.”  The challenge was to park your vehicle once, at your camp site, during your stay and either walk or bike to wherever you needed to go inside the park.  In a park greater than 6,000 acres in size this was no small feat.  When we left, a ticket was put into a draw for a new adult bike.  This phone call told my husband that he had won this prize.
   He donated his other bike to a local non-profit group, which helps low-income people obtain a good form of transportation.  This fall, after about one year of using the new bike, he discovered it had been stolen from his workplace, the lock destroyed by bolt cutters.  First there was shock, which gave way to appreciation.  Within 24 hours, a friend brought over a bike he could borrow for as long as he needed it and a co-worker gave him a bike he could keep.
   It can be easy to be bitter about things like this and resignedly say, “Easy come, easy go.”  We chose to see this, rather, as a situation where the generosity of friends trumped thievery.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Providence & People Bent on Evil

Why doesn’t God stop evil people from carrying out their wicked plans?  When we hear details of crimes committed, we may wonder why God did not intervene.  It’s not that he is not powerful enough, for he is almighty.  It’s not that he doesn’t care, for he is full of compassion.  Maybe a true story can help.
   King David, well known for being a godly man and writer of many psalms, was guilty of adultery and murder.  We might say  “Why did God not stop him.”  If you read 2 Samuel 11 carefully, you will notice that things happened which could have turned David from his evil intentions, but he pressed on.*  There was a servant’s question, “Isn’t this woman the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” to probe his conscience.  The faithful actions of Uriah when called home from the battle should have put David to shame, but he decided to put this trustworthy soldier into the heat of battle so he would be killed, thus making his widow available to add to the king’s harem.  I believe God is intervening all the time to prevent harm, but a person bent on evil hardens his heart and ignores such things.
   What was the aftermath of all this?  When confronted David realizes how far he had strayed from God’s ways, resulting in Psalm 51, a prayer we can all pray when we have seriously messed up our lives.  In the depth of David’s evil, we see that God’s grace is deeper still.  This woman Bathsheba becomes the mother of King Solomon and carries on the line of promise that is leading to Jesus as the “son of David.” 
   As prevalent as evil is, we are not left to ourselves.  God is at work turning peoples’ hearts to what is good and right.  He sees the big picture and can use even the worst events to bring people to realize how much they need him.

*Thanks to Pastor Darrell Bierman who pointed this out in a sermon I heard him preach.

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Limits of Tourism

Recently I was telephoned and offered a resort vacation in Mexico for two adults and two children at 80% off the regular price.  I am always a skeptic of such offers, but this time I told the caller that even if it was legitimate I had no desire for a resort vacation in Mexico.  He then wondered if I would prefer Orlando, Florida or the Bahamas.  Call me weird, this type of vacation has no appeal for me whatsoever.  It is not part of my wish list for my retirement either.
   My best vacations have involved more than seeing tourist sights.  The beach is fine for a day, but after that I’d like to know what life is like for the people whose community I am visiting.  A road trip to Western Canada was made more meaningful by speaking with the local people in the places where they shopped and worshiped.  Even a weekend visit with family had added benefit to me because my son and I got involved in helping out with some of the farm chores.