The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

27 September 2010

Of redemptive bellyaching

It is very easy for me to enter the state of Woe Is Me. In fact, I spend so much time there, I'm sure it's an actual place with a zip code. I could have my bills and junk mail delivered there.

In my own mind, my problems seem to be much harder than anyone else's. The list of injustices and slights against me is long and repetitive enough to bore even me -- yet another unfairness, because my troubles aren't as interesting as what other people experience.

So, after a rather difficult week, and then weekend plans derailed by a cold, I woke up this morning to learn that there was no water. I took it personally and immediately packed my bags for WIM. I'm telling you, the border guards know me on sight I've been there so often.

Recounting my troubles becomes a comforting reassurance that I have every right to feel as abused/misused/refused as I want to. I settle into the woeful wallow right there in Woe Is Me and prepare myself for a good old pity party. I survey the landscape of complaints laid out before me, and count each one to make sure none have gone missing.

I exaggerate here for dramatic effect of course, but certainly there are times when I do dwell on my woes and treat them more tenderly than I should. However, sooner or later(sometimes more later than I would like) I remember that there are people enduring real trials and tribulations while I fanny about with the press releases (catch the quote?) and I offer my challenges for those people.

That's how God works. In the Divine Economy it is called redemptive suffering - the sacrifice of one person's suffering endured for the sake of another person's good. It's like a parent making sacrifices for their child to go to school, or giving up your seat to an elderly man on the bus, but with spiritual goods and services.

To joyfully and freely offer your own pain and suffering for another person's good is a heroic and difficult thing to do. Until I am fully able to do so and leave Woe Is Me behind, I offer my bellyaching - the whimpering and snivelling I do - and trust that God can use even that to help you when you stumble on the rocky path.

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The challenges of writing this post are offered for Anita and Colleen.

19 September 2010

Of days gone by

Where does the time go? How is it possible that summer is over already? (It doesn’t matter what the calendar says: school is in session, therefore summer is over.)
I recently had two weeks on my own at a beautiful house near Lake Ontario. This came after two weeks alone here in Sohoe while the Family of Nuts were on holiday elsewhere. The Beautiful House is a place of rest and tranquility... when the wind isn’t blowing it down, and if you can ignore the vuvuzela-like insistence of the chirping crickets.

The crickets were so loud, and so relentless in their song that I bought foam earplugs so I could sleep at night. It became part of my morning entertainment to hunt through the bed to find them; they were never in my ears, but would be in my hair, or under the pillow, or in the sheets somewhere around my knees. How does that happen?

The bed was rather hard, so after tossing and turning the first few nights, I decided to get clever and pad it with a few spare blankets under the fitted sheet. One was a downy comforter and the other was an itchy wool blanket. Guess which one I put on top? That’s right: the scratchy wool job. I figured that once I put the sheet over top, it wouldn’t matter much, but I was wrong about that. Did I do anything about it? Nope. I figured it was a reinterpretation of the hair shirt, and offered my sufferings for you, dear Reader. You’re welcome.

I sat by the water one afternoon, admiring a flotilla of geese body surfing the waves. There were dragonflies as big as helicopters filling the air, and I soon learned how it was they got so big – they were well fed with steady supplies of mosquitoes. I was able to ignore the pesky nibblers for a while in my blessed-out state of admiring God’s glory in the water and trees and sky all around me, but eventually not even the most beautiful of all sceneries could help me pretend I wasn’t in fact being drained dry, and I had to escape to the car and drive away fast as I might with what remained of my life’s blood.

Have you ever noticed that you can see the shape of the lake-bed by watching the waves? They run in long, smooth lines where it is flat, and shimmer in dimpled ripples over the smaller, rounder rocks.

For all it can be a fierce and mighty thing, wind has no sound, on its own. It needs the trees and water to give it voice. Or a building or corn field. Or a hole in the glass of the window it broke as it grabbed the frame, threw away the rock used to prop the window open, and slam it to, so hard the pane cracked from top to bottom and a piece the shape of Florida fell to the ground. Then, the wind can definitely be heard.

One particularly fine evening, when the sun promised a fine spectacle as it set, I took myself to the sandy beaches to watch the show. There were people scattered all along the shore, on either side of the waterline. We all faced the sun, giving it our full attention as it gently slipped below the horizon. It’s nearly impossible to witness such an event, and not feel healed at least a little of the hurts of the day; it is a very tranquil thing, though it testifies to the grandeur of creation. There, before our very eyes, we witness the travels of our earth through space, the cooperation between planet and sun, the surety of the laws of nature that keep us all in balance.

On a lighter note, while I was at home, back in Sohoe before going to the Beautiful House, my friend at The Tree sent me a birthday card. I was so excited to get it, that I couldn’t wait to open it, and stood right in the middle of the street to rip open the envelope. The front of the card had the usual lovely birthday card sentiments, and I opened it to see what personal message she had written to me. Right there, in front of all my neighbours, I opened the card to be greeted by the chorus to Mmmbop by Hanson. Do you remember it? I can’t bring myself to include a clip, but youschmube it if you would like to experience it for yourself. Needless to say I was taken by complete surprise and stood laughing like an idiot right there in the street for all to see. It gave me the biggest smile of the day. Thank you, Miss Tree.

16 September 2010


There's a lot of corn in the world. Three, as the van passed the seventh endless field of corn. Corn must be famous.

Daddy! Daddy! Come and see! Four, tip toeing up to the grownups in an exaggerated fashion, knees coming up high, arms held close to his sides. There's a spider! A mommy long legs!

Helping himself to some highly seasoned peanuts, Four ever so casually commented, "Mmm... I like these. I'm a grown-up now."

Five, on being given a sandwich for lunch, responded with, "Nooooo" (in ascending octaves) "I don't want a sandwich. I want ice cream!"

Several evenings later, icecream was part of dessert. The bucket sat empty on the table, and Five, not believing it was indeed empty, asked to see inside it. And so, he stuck his whole head inside to inspect it, holding it up to his mouth, in case there were any drops remaining inside for him to catch on his tongue. Then he looked over at his father and said, "Get more, Dad!"

Riding the slide at the park (which he could do all day long) Five would occasionally bump a knee or his head, causing him to cry out: "My body!"

One, telling the family over supper one night about the famous Egyptian Pharaoh, talked about 'Toukenhammon' and how he was bashed on the head... or poisoned...maybe he was murdered? Two just had to ask: "Touken-who?"

Hearing someone call the mushrooms on their plate marshmallows, Four was very upset to not see any white sweetness on his plate of pasta, and insisted he have marshmallows too.