Saturday, June 15, 2013

SHOVE OVER

     From June 12 to 15 writers from across Canada have converged on Guelph, Ontario for the Write! Canada conference. The opportunity to learn more about their craft from gifted teachers and from each other draws them together. Friends reunite. New friendships are forged. It's a celebration of creativity with words by like-minded individuals.

     My feline buddy and I extend the celebration beyond the conference schedule to after-hours visiting with friends who stay over. At the beginning of the week Mr. Whiskers was sleeping off his early morning shift on the gold chair in the master bedroom... and I was thinking that the door to that room might very well be closed keeping him out once our guests arrived. 

     When we've given the other rooms to our friends, the bunk we sleep on is a single. Mr. Whiskers is large and, sure enough, the first night we moved into that room, there he was plunked smack dab in the middle of the bed. He had no need of words to communicate his message... What? You plan on sleeping here too?

     Special friends are welcome. It is not a hardship to shift things around to accommodate them, but how about people I don't know or ones cut from a different mould? If I shift the focus to my church home, am I willing to relinquish my comfort zone to ones who are not familiar with my worship culture? Will I be selective about whom I welcome?

     The religious folk of Jesus' day did not welcome people who were outside of their code of acceptance. Matthew the tax collector did not make their guest list. Neither did Zacchaeus who was willing to execute an undignified scramble up into the branches of a sycamore so he could check out Jesus. The lady who washed Jesus' feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair and poured perfume on them had not been invited to the home of the Pharisee where Jesus was having dinner.

     Jesus had no problem with any of them. He preferred their genuine desire to know Him and be with Him, to the proper adherence to rituals and rules of the "in crowd". He never fudged on what was okay with his Father. He loved each individual, told them the truth and extended mercy.

     Should a lady of dubious background dare to enter uninvited will I have a heart that embraces her? If an eager Zacchaeus pushing to the front means I'm denied access to my favourite chair will I gladly shove over to make room? Father, give me Your love for the dear ones who are intrigued with what they know of Christ. May they feel so welcome that they will choose to stay over.     

Saturday, June 1, 2013

FRAGRANT CONNECTIONS

     What fragrance entices you? Not, I suspect, the pungent aroma emitted by those furry black critters with the white stripe during the first spring nights mild enough to leave the bedroom windows open. But sweet ones like that of the Lily-of-the-valley have treasured connections.

     Even in her nineties, when the Lily-of-the-valley bloomed by the walk, Mom picked a few stems on her way to the car. Especially if they were a bit wet after a shower she loved to flick them under my nose as we drove to Alma for lunch. When Pat brought a plate of "Mrs. Waind's special chicken" to her place, Mom would hand the sweet stems over to her server/friend to enjoy.

     Bouquets of fresh lilacs graced each window in the church at Hanna and Steve's wedding. Bushes loaded with lilac blooms line the hiking trails and roadsides just now. Along the river banks the breeze carries the perfume of Dame's Rocket and Honeysuckle.

     The distinct smell of wet sand, laundry dried in the sunshine, burgers on the barbecue, bread fresh from the oven... these and many others trigger associations.

     In 1881 Charles W. Fry wrote of the Lord Jesus, "He's the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star. He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul." The Apostle Paul said followers of Christ spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. (2 Corinthians 2:14 NIV) The response of the person touched by association with the believer determines whether the fragrance attracts or repels. I want my life to give off a fragrance that draws others to Christ, not a scent that sends them running like those unwelcome visitors that have us jumping out of bed to shut the windows on a warm night.