Monthly Archives: October 2013

Shopping Cart Scrum

A week or so ago, Mary Helen sent me off to do grocery shopping while she took care of other business. Now, I enjoy shopping for groceries. It’s probably something to do with being born in the depression when bananas were a luxury. Chocolate unheard of. Or it may be due to spending 16 years in Pakistan where we had no supermarket.

Anyway, with anticipation I corralled a shopping cart and plunged into the experience. The huge store was in a town where we don’t usually shop, so I wasn’t prepared to do battle. I’d hardly begun to ponder which variety of grapes to buy before I realized I was taking this shopping thing way too lightly.

All around me grim-faced rivals determined to cut seconds off their previous records zoomed around the store using their carts as menacing missiles. Someone reached over my shoulder for grapes. I was blocking them in. Like the polite Canadian that I am, I mumbled sorry and moved my cart into the scrum.
Congestion was serious. Woe-betide anyone who blocked an aisle. No one smiled. Harried housewives and grim seniors jockeyed for position around the bargains. My attempt at a light comment, must be rush hour, was ignored. Brows were puckered, lips set in grim lines, eyes focused ahead. It was almost like being in an elevator with no one acknowledging anyone else. Before I could say, we will not be unsold, I found myself metamorphosing into a grocery store Jekyl.

Charge! Time is short! I’m so important and my life is busy! I’ve got to get to the check-out before these plebeians.

Wait a minute. This is crazy. Surely, not everyone has a deadline to attend the funeral of their best friend. We live in an age with more disposable time than any other. We own scores of labour-saving devices. Few of us have to work from dawn until dark in farm fields or on a job site. Or haul water from a well. Or use an outhouse. Or cut wood to cook our meals. Or hunt for food.

Then can’t we relax a little? Take it easy. Smile at one another. Make cheerful comments. Life is too short to look on grocery shopping as if it was grim race to the finish.

“A happy heart makes the face cheerful”(Prov.15:13a). “The cheerful heart has a continual feast”(Prov.15:15b). “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up”(Prov. 12:25).

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Developing a Grateful Lifestyle

Becoming a thankful person is always in season. With the US thanksgiving aheadColour across a hay field and Canadian thanksgiving behind an emphasis on gratefulness is especially appropriate. But as soon as we mention national entities, patriotism sometimes triumphs over thankfulness. Humility reminds us to look beyond national stereotypes. As Paul points out to the Corinthian church, boasting is not only a form of ingratitude for God’s gifts but a form of stealing the credit from God for the good things we have and are. For “what do you have that you did not receive”(1 Cor 4:7)?

Am I a Canadian? Yes. But I have nothing to boast about. Is my wife, Mary Helen an American? Yes. She has nothing to boast about. Why? By God’s providence, we live in this geographic corner of the world. By God’s providence we are the benefactors of the efforts and interaction of a myriad of people, ideas and happenings over many years. This includes ideals of freedom and morality inspired by the Bible. In many ways, we are of all people most blessed. So, let me ponder some of the overlooked things we have for which to be grateful.

Our government. In spite of occasional scandals or inefficiencies, by and large, our governmeYe olde pumpkin patchnt officials seek our welfare. Our armed forces protect us from external enemies who would destroy our democratic way of life. Our governments give generously to programs in other countries. Mary Helen and I both receive pension and old age security benefits, without which we could not pay our bills. Besides we receive various rebates. We are very grateful.

Our municipal and provincial governments. We drive on good roads with just a few potholes. We enjoy parks. Our grandchildren go to good schools. Our home is protected by firemen and police. We love our local library. Electricity makes our lives convenient. We are grateful.

Our health care system. Debatable? Rarely to us. We gratefully make appointments with doctors, labs, and go to the local hospital. It is all free. We pay $6.11 per prescription after a reasonable yearly deductible for necessary medicine. A bargain indeed!

Local and national businesses. We are grateful for technicians who fix our furnace, repair our telephone connections, and our car. We’re thankful for relatively reasonable Internet connection, and for banks, grocery stores, coffee shops, bookstores, and many more busin???????????????????????????????esses.

Our farmers. We are grateful for the hard work and productivity of our farmers and for local markets where we can buy fresh produce.

We could, and should, make many additions to this list: the volunteers who raise money for charities and medical research plus the churches where we can worship freely without fear of harassment. Truly in this corner of the world we are blessed. Thank you Father!

Mankind: Evolved Animal or Created Custodian?

I love to watch the antics of our local wildlife. The chipmunks are eCheeky squirrel 11xpert tunnelers. I’m never quite sure where they will pop up next. On the other hand, their cousins, the squirrels, weave sturdy nests high in some of our trees. I’ve never know them to be blown down in a storm. The wrens and hummingbirds exhibit amazing skill in crafting and hiding their nests. And who can thwart a raccoon that wants to get into a compost bin?

There is, however, a qualitative difference between their skills and that of humans. A couple of days ago a dental surgeon extracted a troubling molar. He was skilled and personable! I’m quite amazed at the continual development in the field of dentistry—so much improved over the clunky drillWTripTrainMt smalls scared me as a child.

The whole range of human achievement is astounding: in medicine, in engineering, in computer science, and in avionics, to name a few. While all creatures show skills suitable to their environment, humans continually invent, create, and imagine, as well as modify their environment. Non-human creatures have little or no ability to innovate or create. Arguably, thOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAeir ability to create music, literature, or art is non-existant.
Why is this, if we are but evolved animals? Where did consciousness come from? How did we learn to communicate, invent, dream? From God, of course.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
What is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet….
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:3-9)

God made us just a little lower than the angels and gave us the responsibility to be His stewards on earth. He gave us glory and honor and as custodians, He expects us to useB our faculties to do good both to one another and to the earth.

Inspired by this creativity, much good has been done in medicine, in dentistry, in agriculture, indeed in every field of human endeavor. But sadly, much evil has also been invented and perpetrated on others and much destruction has been visited on the good earth God gave us. When we do good, we live up to our mandate and bring God honor. When we do evil, we do much more damage than raccoons or sharks.

Let’s use our creativity to do onto others (including the environment) as we would have them do onto us.