Maybe this time of uncertainty will give us exactly what we have been looking for all along. Maybe we are on our way to the best places we once knew -- peace, trust, real community and practices of kindness and justice? I am not romanticising hard times, but maybe we are on the long road here into more wilderness, faith and trust. Where good things have always happened. Maybe we are heading back to where we started, to a creator, loving God?
Paula D’Arcy’s beautiful little quote rings true for me, ‘God comes to us disguised as our life.’
Being a university type and a recovering worrier, I am far more comfortable in the world of abstractions, parades of shadows and words that are, ostensibly, road maps into true life. I have become an expert (my delusion is that I am endlessly fascinating) in abstractions about Christianity. My sense of well-being seems to be wrapped up in my other delusions, that my parade of shadows, my ideas and abstractions must be better than anyone else’s! Yet, worry still shows up; a quieter but still constant companion. Some days it feels as if I'm just trying to survive between worry surges. What if nothing were to change in this current virus situation, and this is our new normal, our life. Is God disguised as my life, really? Okay, but where is money going to come from? What about my family and a soon to be born fourth grandchild? Our living situation? The Edmonton Oilers not being able to claim their rightful place as Stanley Cup champions? (just seeing if you were still reading, and you were).
Here is a quick story….
The Mayflower Family Centre was a church of England run mission in the heart of Canning Town, in East London. Cockney markets, kids growing up tough and people growing old lonely. Young people grew up never seeing a tree or blade of grass. I ended up there in 1975, weighing 118 pounds, sick with filariasis and messed up in just about every way you could imagine. At the time I came there were over thirty young men and women, some on gap years, others just wanting to be a means of grace (the most common expression used around the dinner table) to people in the neighbourhood. A few others were like me, in transition and needing fixing. Not a nickel to my name, sick and lonely.
Everyone there had to find work in the neighbourhood or in the Mayflower Family Centre. Roger and Jenny Sainsbury were the Rectors and leaders of the mission. The dining room table was our altar. You would not been able to have enough buckets to hold all the fun and laughter we had telling our stories of working with the youth at nights in ‘youth club,’ or the senior folks living in the tenements. Knowing the right stuff was not important. Loving on people was, different people of every ethnic, economic and religious background alongside. Treating inequality 'unequally', and practising love trumped practising right theology. Right relationships trumped correct ideologies of right and wrong.
After a few days I tore up my airplane ticket to Canada and ended up staying for six months. An African hero adventure was about to be replaced with a different kind of adventure. The medical people gave me a clean bill of health. My experience at the Mayflower was about to give me something more important -- a head start to a new way of thinking. Today we call those minds sets. As is the case with most ‘experiences’ this one would reveal its meaning later in life in surprising ways. Over the next four decades, new possibilities followed along the ruts and grooves laid down in my mind, in my concepts about just about everything.
God did come to me, disguised as an adventure that I would never have chosen, a new future that was never planned for, new and better futures. Possibilities and ways to be in the world that were better for me, for my wife, children, friends and church.
So what? Now what?
Let’s build good memories for our children, during this time. When they look back in later years, perhaps even as adults, the difference maker in their life may or may not be the ‘preaching’ we delivered to them to not worry or be anxious. The real difference maker will be our example -- your example, of modeling trust and faith in our God.
God bless you as you set about to help your children find their way.
Bernie Potvin, MSCS Principal