Wednesday, 28 January 2015

All Clean Again

Don’t tell my husband, but I just took our car up the street and paid twelve whole dollars for the carwash staff to scrub off the filth. It’s an extravagance we rarely allow in our family’s money management, but our white Honda Fit was covered in dried mud and it’s a beautiful sunny day so I splurged. 

I was a novice at the local carwash so I shamelessly asked the driver waiting in front of me how it worked. She sweetly explained without sneering.

I smiled at every worker I encountered, all men, and without fail they glared stone-faced back at me, poor things.  I wouldn’t feel smiley myself if I were in their boots.

When I reached the cash counter a young woman took my receipt and we chatted. 
Since there was no one waiting behind me I thought it was a good chance to get rid of the heavy coins in my wallet. I took out a $5 bill and emptied my change onto the counter. After finding only five dollars in “loonies” I apologised and started to put my change away, digging for another bill. 
She stopped me.
”No, No, wait, maybe it’s here.” The two of us went through the change together, counting out quarters and dimes.
She was right. We found $7 in coins. Satisfaction, hers. Gratitude, mine. Happiness, shared.

 I moved outside and watched five men towel off my shiny car, with nary an answering smile to my own appreciative grin. Oh God, help them, these cherished sons of yours.

Driving the clean car along in the sunshine felt almost as good as having freshly washed hair. How exciting to be able to see clearly when you’re driving. 

It seems there are metaphors everywhere for spiritual profundities. 
Do I notice them due to my saintly eyes of Christian faith (not), or because a retired person has the time to pay attention, or is it just the effect of my long ago studies in English Lit.? Whatever, I'm grateful.

In Jesus, God offers us the free car wash of redemption (weird religious word). 
Although the process feels painfully slow, God patiently welcomes the worst messes, carefully cleans up what can be used, and sluices away the detritus to bring new clarity and joy.
We get to choose. 
We can grimly endure whatever splashes us, or take it to God, smiling at each other with hope that, one day, the change will all add up.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Playing with Desert Goats and Habakkuk

"God is my strength, giving me feet like the feet of a deer, 
enabling me to go on the heights."
 (Habakkuk 3:18)

It was a California desert trail between the brownest of mountains, no northern evergreen trees or snow-capped glory. The ground was dry, dry, dry, and the steep rocky slopes were covered in gravel. 
There, above us, wild goats, old bearded ones and newborn kids, tapped out a hollow percussion as they hop-skip-jumped from rock to rock. They could turn on a dime, running swiftly up daunting hillsides. It looked like they were having fun and occasional stumbles didn’t take them down.
(If you look hard at the centre-right of the photo you may see a white adult goat looking tiny compared to the huge boulder jutting out from the left.)

God of Jesus, please give my spirit the agility of a mountain goat, the kind of confidence that Habakkuk expressed above, after his lament at the mess in his world (Habakkuk 1:2-4). 
Let me believe, as he did, that with You I can hop, skip and jump over everyday bumps and unwelcome news from near or far. 
Let me hear Your wise direction for my next turn. 
Help me stand firm or take action with a peaceful heart and a playful optimism. 
Remind me, as you reminded Habakkuk, that with You, unimaginable things are possible.

"I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe, 
even if you were told." 
(Habakkuk 1:5)