Mar 27, 2011

A story and a message

Carl was a quiet man. He didn't talk much. 
He would always greet you with a big smile and a firm handshake.  
Even after living in our neighborhood for over 50 years, 
no one could really say they knew him very well.  
Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning. 
The lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us. He had a slight limp from a bullet wound received in WWII.  
Watching him, we worried that although he had survived WWII, he may not make it through our changing uptown neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence, gangs, and drug activity.  
When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers for caring for the gardens behind the minister's residence, he responded in his characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed up.  
He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always feared finally happened.  
He was just finishing his watering for the day when three gang members approached him. 
Ignoring their attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked, 
"Would you like a drink from the hose?" 
The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, "Yeah, sure," with a malevolent little smile.  
As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two grabbed Carl's arm, throwing him down. 
As the hose snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl's assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled.  
Carl tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his bad leg. 
He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came running to help him.  
Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window, he couldn't get there fast enough to stop it.  
"Carl, are you okay? Are you hurt?" the minister kept asking as he helped Carl to his feet.  

Carl just passed a hand over his brow and sighed, shaking his head. 
"Just some punk kids. I hope they'll wise-up someday."  
His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. 
He adjusted the nozzle again and started to water.  
Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, "Carl, what are you doing?" 
"I've got to finish my watering. It's been very dry lately," came the calm reply.  
Satisfying himself that Carl really was all right, the minister could only marvel. 
Carl was a man from a different time and place.  
A few weeks later the three returned. Just as before their threat was unchallenged. 
Carl again offered them a drink from his hose. 
This time they didn't rob him. 
They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched him head to foot in the icy water.  
When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just done.  
Carl just watched them. 
Then he turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked up his hose, and went on with his watering. 
The summer was quickly fading into fall Carl was doing some tilling when he was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him. 
He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches.  
As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors reaching down for him. He braced himself for the expected attack.  
"Don't worry old man, I'm not gonna hurt you this time."  
The young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl. As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and handed it to Carl.  
"What's this?" 
Carl asked. "It's your stuff," the man explained. "It's your stuff back. 
Even the money in your wallet." "I don't understand," Carl said. "Why would you help me now?"  
The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease. "I learned something from you," he said. "I ran with that gang and hurt people like you we picked you because you were old and we knew we could do it But every time we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn't hate us for hating you. You kept showing love against our hate."  ; 
He stopped for a moment. "I couldn't sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back."  
He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say. "That bag's my way of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess." And with that, he walked off down the street.  
Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it. He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at the young bride that still smiled back at him from all those years ago.  
He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people attended his funeral in spite of the weather.  
In particular the minister noticed a tall young man that he didn't know sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church.  
The minister spoke of Carl's garden as a lesson in life.  
In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, "Do your best and make your garden as beautiful as you can. We will never forget Carl and his garden."  
 The following spring another flyer went up. It read: "Person needed to care for Carl's garden."  
The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the minister's office door.  
 Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the flyer. "I believe this is my job, if you'll have me," the young man said.  
The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl.  
 He knew that Carl's kindness had turned this man's life around. As the minister handed him the keys to the garden shed, he said, "Yes, go take care of Carl's garden and honor him."  
 The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had done. 
During that time, he went to college, got married, and became a prominent member of the community. But he never forgot his promise to Carl's memory and kept the garden as beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept it.  
 One day he approached the new minister and told him that he couldn't care for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy smile, "My wife just had a baby boy last night, and she's bringing him home on Saturday."  
 "Well, congratulations!" said the minister, as he was handed the garden shed keys. "That's wonderful! What's the baby's name?"  
"Carl," he replied.  
 That's the whole gospel message simply stated.

Unfortunately, this isn't the gospel message simply stated.
The gospel message is that Christ died on the cross and rose again the third day, conquering sin and death and making a way for us to once again be in full communion with God.

It's a beautiful story.
Yes, we are told to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.  
But the gospel message is that God loves us and we can now live. 

Just a thought...

Word of the Day: Confusedly 

Quote of the Day: *Shattering glass*

Mar 24, 2011

Ten days later

This whole publishing a post every ten days thing really needs to stop.

Life in a nutshell:
- Homework
- Classes
- Eating
- Pooping
- Sleeping

The reality that I will be finished my third year of University in one month is a little scary. I loathe the idea of having to pack everything up again... and to find the room for it all...

This weekend, Cousin Steven will be joining life at Redeemer. Hopefully I will get some laundry done before that happens.

I know it's short, but at least you know I'm still alive.

Word of the Day: Latinly

Quote of the Day: "But as I raved and grew more fierce and wild/ At every word/ Methoughts I heard one calling "Child!"/ And I replied, "my Lord." - George Herbert, The Collar. (1633)

Mar 15, 2011


My apologies for a very quiet couple of weeks on the blog-front. It has been pushed back on my priority list to the point of complete neglect. Sorry, readers. I'll try to do better.

I made some difficult decisions this weekend involving the future of The Crown (Oh, I am now officially the 2011/12 Editor in Chief - hurrah -). I've been interviewing students for various positions, and tonight I made some decision regarding staffing. Let's pray they were the right ones.

I hope all is well with you, readers. I'll try and keep up on your blogs too.

Word of the Day: Amalgamate

Quote of the Day: "That blasted comma splice!" Peter

Mar 4, 2011

Upon Return

It takes a bit of time to come back from a trip like the Mexico Missions one that I took on Reading Break. I don't know about the rest of the team, but I felt incredibly complacent. Coming back to Redeemer is usually exciting (and it was at 6am last Sunday morning when I finally made it to my bed), this week has been a week of going through the motions.

I have been to Juarez/El Paso before. Many, many time before. It was wonderful to see some of the people down there that I have missed (it had been nearly 3 years since I'd been down), and it was wonderful to see the communities growing and projects expanding. It was heart breaking that LCI had lost many staff members due to the threat of violence. It was heartbreaking to hear stories of people taking refuge in the USA after being shot by the cartel, or after having family members shot.

I realized, this trip, that the problem is on both sides of the border, something I had never really paid attention to before. I've always done a trip like this on the Mexico side, staying in compounds in one community or another, but always in Juarez. I had never had the opportunity to really experience the shelters or people in El Paso. I had never heard the cries of people on that side of the border. It made me wonder: Which side of that border is God calling me to?

So, as I process the stories people have told me regarding their situations, as I continue to do research on the political construction of this area, and continue to see the hope of the next generation that Juarez may be a God-glorifying city, I come back and struggle with myself and my ambitions.

I had my interview yesterday for Editor-in-Chief of The Crown, and it went well. Assuming Senate approves my name, I'll be the EIC for the 2011/12 year. I also wrote two midterms this week and completed an art project for my History of Mathematics course. But this whole week, I have been asking myself, "What's the point?"

I was talking with one of my friends today, expressing my frustrations. I know that God wants me down there. I know that it is where I feel most at home. It is the place where I truly saw Christ for the first time. It is the place where God is leading me. So, why, I asked her, why am I here? It's a questions we've all been asking. She made me recall that my first year here, I felt like I needed to be. She reminded me that God has a plan for me here, too. She reminded me that He has put ambitions and goals in my heart to be educated, because He is preparing me. She reminded me that, as pointless as it seems right now, God has a reason for it.

But I still don't understand, when there are people who simply need to be loved, why I am here. All I can do is offer everything I am to my God, and trust that I'm still at Redeemer for a reason. And know that next year, my calling is to make The Crown a student newspaper glorifying to Him.

So, here are some pictures from various cameras on the trip. I don't think any of these were actually taken by me.

Word of the Day: Pretense

Quote of the Day: "I wonder if that dog understands English, or just Spanish." Kory