Monday, September 18, 2017

Mercy Me

Our son Pete usually calls to chat during his long commute to and from work in the city and it was during one of these conversations recently that I mentioned having the gift of mercy.

He loves to tease me about what he describes as my "random mercy," and says that I'm always able to "ferret out" the good in people. A particularly flattering choice of metaphor, I thought. 

He launched into his "axe murderer" routine, saying he imagines me saying, "Well, on the good side, he always cleans up after himself. And he keeps his tools nice and sharp."

He muttered something about not many people wanting me on a parole board--getting carried away now--he was on a roll--I was laughing so hard I could hardly catch my breath--the fuel to his fire.

Pete may have been exaggerating for dramatic and comedic effect, but when I told my granddaughter Tori about his teasing, she said, "Omie, remember that terrible dream I had a few weeks ago? There was someone trying to kill me, and you didn't believe he would do it." 

And my art student granddaughter, Tippy, who only just retired her nose ring and Mohawk haircut this summer said that she would describe herself as a little more on the "conservative side" than me. The evidence in Peter's favour was mounting as I thought about it.

But this is the beautiful thing in the Kingdom of God--although we are exhorted to exercise our gifts for the common good, none of us carries our gifts in isolation--others have balancing gifts--wisdom and discernment, for example, see Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.

I am married to Paul, who has a great heart of compassion, but also great wisdom. He often tempers my strong emotional reaction to something, with considered and careful caution. In one another there is safety--and challenge when it is needed.

We didn't talk to Pete on his way home on Friday because Paul and I were out for dinner that evening. But I told him on Saturday that when we were driving home late the night before, I said to Paul, "We should call Pete." 

Paul said, "No, he'll be home by now," and I said, "Exactly--he can talk us home!" 

"But," as I said to Pete, "We had mercy on you." 

"Augh!" said Pete. 

Touché! thought I.

Humour isn't mentioned in any list of spiritual gifts that I can see, but it is sprinkled like seasoning through the feast of wisdom in the pages of the bible--a gift indeed in which truth can be delivered with laughter.

Note: I read this to Pete, to get his permission to press "publish," and he said, "It's very well written. I'm glad you've been sharpening your writing skills." I did have to tell him to stop. :)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Naturally Imperfect

It was midsummer when I drove for miles down roads that wound up hills and down, to buy some apples for my small pie business. As I was leaving, the woman behind the counter of the rural country market told me that they were the end of the line and there would be no more until the new crop came in.

The three large boxes I managed to get represented quite a few pies, but one by one they all found a home before the new crop was available from my supplier. When my freezer was finally empty, I went to my local No Frills, which is a little more expensive, but I looked for the apples in bags labelled, "Naturally Imperfect." These apples lack conformity in size or shape--they aren't quite "perfect," but are perfectly delicious in the pies.

Recently as I was thinking about a fault that was obvious in an acquaintance, I thought of the "naturally imperfect" label, and how appropriately it could be applied to humans. In that moment, instead of persisting in my critical thinking, I thought instead: Why shouldn't that person have faults? Don't I? Don't we all? Isn't it part of the human condition to be imperfect?

Later that same day I was in a meeting when a topic was raised about which I had some strong feelings. When I had a chance to give input, I went on far too long, went into way too much detail, was too emotional, and, in retrospect, I realized how pompous I must have sounded, as though I thought I was some kind of expert on the subject we were discussing.

When Paul gently confirmed my suspicions after we got home, I felt so embarrassed. That was when I remembered--I am Naturally Imperfect. It was helpful to remember and accept that about myself. Sure, I embarrassed myself a little--maybe even more than a little, but so what? My friends in the meeting simply got to see that I am very human.

One area I do have some expertise in is pastry, and in my hands, even imperfect apples turn into a perfect pie. It's not a great leap to realize that it isn't about me, but about whose hands I am in. God can use me, even in my weakness and imperfection, just as a well-known old poem called The Old Violin (The Touch of the Master's Hand) describes:
But the Master comes, 
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand, 
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought 
By the Touch of the Masters' Hand.

2 Corinthians 12:9