The unexpected gift

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

“Where are the bears?” the young man asks, his stride matching mine. His vowels rounded that only someone from a land across the ocean could perfect.

“Oh I’m not sure you really want to see a wild bear,” I replied in typical Canadian polite and honest manner. “You can really get hurt by bears. My sister was a nurse in Jasper and she’s seen enough bear mauling injuries she won’t even tent anymore.”

“Really huh? Well, where can we see them?” I glanced over at the young man, a helmet of some kind (rock climbing maybe?) set upon his head, his quiet companion walking beside him. A backdrop of rocky mountain glory  and the chatter of others, some languages unrecognizable, surrounded us in this popular tourism spot in Banff, Alberta.

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How could I deny them any information to see something new in this place they travelled too, maybe even planned for many years?

I gave them what giving I had.

“If you head to Lake Louise and do the hike up to the Tea House, you may see the grizzlies running in the gullies below. And the black bears hang out up there but usually at night when the tourists aren’t there. But the staff can tell you stories about those bears. You may even see some bear tracks.”

“Great mate. Thanks!”

As they picked up their pace I called after them as had to do my due diligence after all. “Make sure to have bear spray and bells!”

He turned, gave a quick wave of acknowledgment and the two paraded on to their next adventure. And I could feel myself being glad for them. Their excitement, their fresh eyes in this Rocky Mountain town I’d been to many times, gave me joy that only a giving can do.

It was just a little giving, a connection I allowed in when matching their stride on the path we both travelled.

And maybe, just maybe it was also a giving forward, a result from another giving that happened soon before.

A giving from an unexpected conversation due to a kindness thought needed. A need seen, an opportunity seized.

I’d spent the morning hours walking the loop of Minnewanka Lake, in solitude. At times I paused, knelt and took pictures and video of a beauty that my camera cannot fully express. Intentionally I tried not to fill my mind with words, with thoughts, and analysis as I often due on my walks. A smile or said ‘hi’ would occur from time to time between passer-byes. But overall, even with the lake’s rippling, the tour boats motoring, and the tourists conversing, it was an alone silence I heard within.

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I’m one who can be alone when travelling. I have never hesitated, either, to sign up for a course alone or a weekend retreat not knowing anyone going. Or buy a concert or a theatre ticket for one. An old friend of mine recently called me fiercely independent, elaborating on how I just go and ‘do stuff.’  And, yes that’s true.

But doing this ‘stuff’ on my own doesn’t necessarily mean I want to always be alone. It’s just that if I didn’t go “do stuff” on my own, I may never “do stuff” at all.

The alone silence I heard within, on the rocky mountain lake path, was a familiar alone silence, one I have navigated through before. When the thoughts came in that I wouldn’t mind to be sharing this time with another, I’d accept them with patience and grace. I’ve learned how to be content in the alone silence. But the need for connection is a known fact and never withdrawn.

Because God made us for community.

It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

So later, when I stopped at the snack shack and sat down comfortably on a stool, placing my water, purchase and backpack on a high counter, the magical view of Lake Minnewanka ahead of me, I welcomed in the question, the connecting, from the man devouring a vanilla ice cream cone beside me.

“Are you from here?”

Just a few hours north, I told him. And over the next half hour I learned about northern England, about a son moving across the sea to begin a prosperous farming career in prairie Canada, and a grand daughter who showed off her welsh words over Skype. I laughed along with this gentle man and his wife perched beside him as he told me the response of his doctor when he complained of his foot giving him so much trouble even after a life-style of healthy eating and exercise. ” “Mr. Reed, she said, “things just wear out.” ”

But it was, unexpectedly,  the story he shared of his neighbour back home in England that most gave. And later gave forward. “He lives alone, you see. And I knocked on his door one day to say hi. He told me he hadn’t talked to anyone in two days! Now I try to talk to anyone I see alone, you see.”

I do see.

I see a man who seized an opportunity of a needed kindness learned unexpectedly from a giving act of loving on his neighbour. And then loved on me, this neighbour who sat in a snack shack at a busy place of roaming tourists, alone.

Giving isn’t about what you have in your hands; it’s what you have in your heart. Never doubt it: an act of kindness…. can be more powerful than a sword in starting needed revolutions. Ann Voskamp, The Way of Abundance

I wonder now, if those two young men ever did see a wild bear during their time here in my home province of Alberta, Canada.

What I do know though, our connection when transversing the same path, gave them an unexpected gift that what they hope to see just might be possible.

Lynn J Simpson, Certified Professional Life Coach at INSPIRING HOPE IN YOU

Linking up with # TellHisStory

                          Recharge Wednesday

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Soaring with Him Ministries

A death and an invitation

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split. Matthew 27:51

Have you ever stood, feet bare or protected, in a river’s rushing water? The river’s rocks slippery under your soles, the water colliding with your body somewhere between  ankle and knee? The river’s water pressure as it rushes by you feels strong enough to sweep you away too, taking you unwillingly along it’s travels downstream.

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Yet you stay placed, as the water sweeps by. Your body stronger against the current, your confidence deepening in your stance as moments pass along with the hastening river.

As the calm confidence settles your mind, the once roar of the rushing waves becomes a symphony to you, and the greasy rocks now glisten with polished colours like sun illuminated stain glass.

And you breathe, breathe freely and openly in this place now that the fear is edged out, replaced with the assurance that your posture will hold you from being swept away.

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My friend, I believe, know that is what God wants for you too. He wants you to breathe even when those thundering waves of difficulty threaten to sweep over you, to take you places along the currents you swore you would never go.

Sometimes these threats are pressures from relationships, where convictions and obedience are strongly opposed. That friendship, that mentor, that boss, that potential romantic partner you seemed to have waited for forever, is now asking you to join in to activities that once was the old way of living you turned from when cleansed that day in baptism, in acceptance of His way.

Sometimes threats can be from circumstances we never imagined we’d be in: a divorce, an estranged child, disease, a crime against us, and injustices.

We may even create our own threatening waves from our brokenness leading us to seek solace in things of this world that harm rather than bring life.

Yet Life is where we can turn to–no threat can defeat it.

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We celebrate this weekend the Hope that was given to us, the new way of freely living that opened to us with the tearing away of the veil.

Paul reminds us in Hebrews:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10: 19-23

This gift of freedom, this forever grace from our transgressions is due to the shed of blood on that cross of an innocent Man by ones who were slaves to their pride and self-righteousness–ones who felt threatened by the freedom that was being offered to them.

But you, my friend, can accept this freedom gifted through His offering to have your heart cleansed with the sprinkling of His grace, and your body washed to purity.

There is no barrier between You and the One who will not let the threatening rivers sweep over you. Will you accept His invitation to draw near to Him, the forever faithful One who will be your help, your protector, and your strength giving you His peace no matter how thunderous the rivers waters rush around you?

Will you, my friend, accept the invitation of an unconditional Love that surpasses all our understanding?

Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God, that you died on the cross to rescue me from sin and death and to restore me to the Father. I choose now to turn from my sins, my self-centeredness, and every part of my life that does not please you. I choose you. I give myself to you. I receive your forgiveness and ask you to take your rightful place in my life as my Savior and Lord. Come reign in my heart, fill me with your love and your life, and help me to become a person who is truly loving—a person like you. Restore me, Jesus. Live in me. Love through me. Thank you, God. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen. Retrieved from Ransom Heart

 

Good and kind

“You made it seem so…” Hannah’s voice on the cassette tape.

Clay pulls off the headphones. “Easy? Is she kidding me? I was s— myself. She’s not telling the truth about the way things happened.”

Tony. “She’s telling her truth.”

(SPOILER ALERT)

The above scene is from 13 Reasons Why, a Netflix original series about a teen’s suicide, Hannah, and the tapes she recorded before her suicide. Clay’s tape was number 11. However, the late Hannah’s voice on his tape tells Clay he doesn’t belong as part of her reasons why as he is “good and kind.” But he needed to be part of her pre-suicide recordings to help explain why she did what she did. “I didn’t deserve you,” her voice tells Clay through the tape. “I would have ruined you.”

Clay wrestles with his insecurities that stopped him from pushing in, finding out why Hannah aggressively told him to go away before she died. He pictures a scene where he does probe to find out what is really going on instead of walking away with an ego bruised, and hurt feelings.

This past summer I found myself the centre of a Circle of Trust. Based on Parker Palmer’s teachings, the circle is a sacred space where one can show up exactly as they are. At first I was uncomfortable with the idea of no eye contact when speaking, yet the freedom from not judging or trying to read others while I talked let me show up in an authentic way I had not experienced before. And when I respected the space of others by listening only, I allowed them the safe space to be open, vulnerable, and true.

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Continue reading “Good and kind”

A Loving Reminder

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Usually I just scroll by or hit the delete tab, but this time I didn’t. Maybe the picture of an international city on my bucket list to visit or the tag line appealing to my growth mindset were the draws. Regardless, I clicked on the embedded video link in this email from the advertiser that I’d still not yet ‘unsubscribed.’

You know you are loved, she says, this beautiful woman gowned in a dress that flows gracefully to the top of her knees, and wearing such high-heeled shoes that I wonder if she practices walking on stage prior to addressing the few hundred woman that attend her conferences.

The camera spans across the women at white-clothed tables, women eager to better themselves and their businesses, of different nationalities and faith.

Her bracelets dangle as she sweeps her arms up and around as if to embrace someone. You are absolutely loved and it is from knowing that love, that you can give your best to the world, she continues.

Continue reading “A Loving Reminder”