Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Saturday, October 28, 2017

40 Adventures for 40 Years, Part 9

As the actual anniversary day approached and we hadn’t managed to check off even half the things on our list, I was hoping we could knock off half a dozen on the big day--October 1. To start, we picked  #8: Visit Seven Sisters Falls, hoping we might also fortuitously accomplish some of the other things along the way.

The warm sunshine looked so promising that Sunday morning. We began with breakfast at our local A&W before heading east down the highway. Halfway to Winnipeg, the rain began.
And it rained.
And rained.

I was beginning to think we’d dropped ourselves into a weird time warp where, instead of marking forty years, we would be joining Noah for forty days and forty nights.

“No vehicles beyond this point” greeted us when we arrived at the big power dam, so our options were to get wet or to drive all that way only to miss what we came to see. So we got out, crossed the bridge on foot, read the signs, saw the sights, and snapped a few photos. It really was impressive, and we definitely had the place to ourselves. 

After dragging our drenched bodies back inside the car, we cranked up the heat to warm up.
“Now what?” I’m not sure which of us said it.
There were certainly more things to do in the area—on a sunnier day.
“Well, we came all this way. Might as well carry on and see Pinawa, too.”
We drove around Pinawa, then up to Lac du Bonnet, and back through Beausejour to Winnipeg—the rain falling relentlessly the entire time.

Finally, after stopping in Winnipeg for supper, the waterworks let up and we drove home to Portage to discover the sun had shone here all day.
We’d covered enough ground to get us to South Dakota and only crossed one thing off our list.

As I thought about it, the rainy anniversary made a fairly accurate metaphor for marriage. You head off down the road of wedded bliss in the glorious sunshine. But the rain inevitably comes. The challenges can be relentless. 

You have options. You can turn around and go back. Start again with a different person and hope for better weather. You can keep going and mourn for all you are missing, the unmet goals, the crushed dreams. You can stubbornly stay in the car and stay dry while your spouse takes the risk and enjoys the view alone. You can grumble. Cry. Curse your partner. Rail at God, the only one who can change the weather.

The one thing you cannot do is stop the rain.

But if you pay attention, you discover things along the journey, such as... 

  • There will always be a thief who wants to steal your joy. 
  •  Plans rarely turn out the way you hoped, but moving forward and staying together will still yield more than giving up. 
  •  The sun comes out again, eventually.
  •  And perhaps most importantly: there is still extraordinary beauty to be enjoyed on a rainy day.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

It's a Privilege...

You may have already seen this powerfully moving video.

A group of about two dozen young people—probably college kids—line up shoulder to shoulder for a foot race. The prize? A hundred-dollar bill. The runners are promised that the first to cross the finish line will walk away with the hundred dollars. First, though, they are asked some questions.

The leader instructs them to take two steps forward if the following statements are true for them. If the answer is ‘no,’ they must remain where they stand.

“Take two steps forward if your parents are still married to each other,” he says. Several take the biggest steps they can.

The statements continue, with some runners moving forward and some staying put.
“If you grew up with a father figure in your home.”
“If you had access to private education.”
“If you had access to a free tutor.”

By now, the starting line is hugely staggered. You can see mounting frustration on the faces of the people still at their original spots. But the leader continues.

“If you have never worried about your cell phone being shut off.”
“If you never had to help your mom and dad with the bills.”

The line becomes even more zigzagged, with some runners now far in the lead. But the organizer still isn’t ready to say “GO.”

“Take two steps forward if you don’t have to pay for your own college,” he says.
“If you never wondered where your next meal will come from.”

Finally, the statements cease and the leader asks the participants near the front to turn around and see how many are behind them.

“You did not get here by anything you did,” he tells them. “You still get to run this race, in fact, you must. Everyone must. But recognize your advantage. This is a picture of life. Nothing you have done has got you to this place. Some of us win in life mainly because of the head start we’ve been given. The others will need to run faster, harder, and smarter to win.”

I can think of still more questions that could have been asked, like being born in Canada and learning English as a first language. Like having a healthy body and mind. Like knowing you are loved.

The race begins, and an aerial shot shows that one of the advantaged runners does, indeed, win the prize. 

I watched in humility, realizing I could have taken steps forward with nearly all those statements. How about you?

“Whoever wins,” the leader said, “would be foolish not to acknowledge his unfair advantage and not to learn more about others’ stories.” The exercise, like this post, was not intended to induce guilt, but consideration and responsibility.

Something to remember next time you feel tempted to look with judgement on someone who is lagging behind you in the race of life. And then add to the remembering, acknowledgement. And to acknowledgement, gratitude. And to gratitude, compassion.