Thursday, September 29, 2005

Looking Through a Window

Looking Through a Window

Earlier this week Angela and I went to the cinema and saw a beautiful and magnificent movie called “March of the Penguins,” a fascinating documentary which closely tracks the life of a group (flock? tribe?) of penguins for a year, one feature of which is their 70-mile pilgrimage from the ocean to a winter mating ground, a trek that can take them up to a WEEK to walk. And you thought you had a difficult time in traffic evacuating Houston last Thursday.

But enough of this. I have put my family’s 13-hour drive to Austin in 106 degree heat completely behind me. I have reframed it into a thoroughly enlightening experience inasmuch as I now strongly suspect that the small town of Bellville, 40 miles west of Houston, which served as the locus of a 5-HOUR traffic bottleneck the likes of which no penguin would ever tolerate in Antarctica, is Satan’s dwelling place, aka Hellville.

September was a month dominated by hurricanes: Katrina at the start and Rita at the end. Now that it is “over” (obviously not for the people in hard-hit areas or for those evacuees trying to find housing, but for the average citizen who is now returning to the normal rhythms of his/her life), I would like to share some of my observations.

Perhaps foremost in my thoughts has been the whole notion of “security.” We strive very hard for security, and naturally so. We assume that a financial savings cushion, prudent planning, and wise action will help us avoid many pitfalls, and usually they do. But not always. If you were in the hurricane’s direct path, you were in the hurricane’s direct path. Period. If you sat in traffic long enough, whether in a Lexus or a Pinto, you ran out of gas. Period. If you are diagnosed with cancer, you are diagnosed with cancer. Period. There is a randomness to life’s events that cannot be totally factored out. Sometimes things happen.

I recall thinking how “secure” my life is (on the surface) with regular and nourishing routines and relationships and seldom a crisis worth mentioning, and looking around at the people in the cars surrounding me and seeing a glimpse of what happens when life’s bottom begins to fall out, and realizing that such a time is really when we rub up against the raw reality of faith and hope and dependence upon God and trust in his promises. And keep in mind that I am inside an air-conditioned car thinking this; I am only slightly inconvenienced; I have not lost anything or been displaced or even remotely experienced hardship. It is as if I am looking through a window into another room and knowing that someday I will find myself in that room and that is when certain faith claims that I make confidently now will be refined one way or another in the fire of that predicament

Which leads me to another observation. If you find yourself in that room wouldn’t you want people looking through the window from the other side to open the door and come alongside you there? We must continue being alert for opportunities to help even as we return to our “normal” lives, because had we been hard hit we would not want people who were not hit to consider the event over.

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