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For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
The type of shoe spoken of here is a horse shoe, so the setting is a battle in the middle ages where a missing nail in a horse shoe ended up spelling disaster. I shared this poem with my Grade 4 writing class this week as an illustration of a pattern poem. Reflecting on the idea of a chain reaction beginning with one simple event, I recalled how a series of events began with a pork chop.
Twelve years ago this summer, my husband was an adult leader at a boys camp out. The boys aged about 7 to 13 years of age were part of a church-run club that annually took part in an overnight camping trip. One particular boy, who I'll call Buddy, was going through some struggles as a result of his parents getting a divorce. At supper time, the leaders and some of the boys had prepared pork chops and potatoes, but Buddy was later than everyone else to get to the table. When the pork chops were being divided onto the boys' plates, only one small one was left for Buddy. Feeling that he had been cheated out of his rightful share of meat, Buddy not only became angry, he decided to leave. It turns out that Buddy lived within walking distance [but more than an hour's walk] of the area they were camping in.
Because Buddy decided to break away from the group, my husband as a leader went after him on foot. He informed the other leaders where he was going and tried to catch up with the boy, hoping to convince him to finish up the weekend with his friends. When he caught up with Buddy, the boy did not feel much like talking, but certain things spilled out including that his "life sucks." Eventually, Buddy was close enough to home that he convinced my husband that he did not need to be accompanied anymore.
Now some distance from the camp, my husband noticed it was getting dark. He assumed that one of the other leaders would come pick him up in a truck, but it took quite a while. Since he did not have the opportunity very often, my husband sat down in a patch of grass alongside the country road and watched the sun set.
As he did so, he felt the close presence of God, not just in the sunset but in the whole situation. He was all alone with God in nature, and various things spoke to him about making a change of direction in his life. What had pushed Buddy to anger and distress was a broken family, so my husband began thinking about the kinds of things that could help prevent such break ups.
Although he enjoyed his work in the family business, he felt God calling him to do something different that might have a greater impact on families in general.
When he got home from the camping trip, this experience led to a conversation with me. As he expressed what had happened and the sense of calling, we explored various options together. We had three preschool children, and everything pointed to leaving the community my husband had spend virtually his whole life in. A few doors closed and others opened. Eleven years ago we moved two hours west so my husband could go back to school to get some training in the field of relating to people.
Although his current day job deals with a variety of people, he did not become a counselor. He finds it very fulfilling to help others through the food bank where he is employed. Some years ago, we found another couple passionate about giving tools to couples that will help them weather the storms of life together rather than parting company. We have jointly facilitated marriage preparation classes and the marriage course through Alpha Ministries.
I acknowledge that we live in the city where we do and that we help lead marriage preparation classes at our church "because of a pork chop."