Tuesday was a spectacular day, high on blue sky and sunshine, low on humidity. A perfect ten! I was taking advantage of such great weather to repaint the steps to both my front and back porch. By 11:30 am, the front set of steps was finished and already drying. I moved onto the rear porch steps and began to scrape them. As I scraped the loose paint off, I noticed a car driving by that had stopped near the top of my drive and a little boy stepped out. He must have been about nine or ten. He took out a phone or camera and began taking a picture or sets of pictures of the little woods on the other side of my driveway. It seemed rather strange to me and I kept my eye on the car as I continued my scraping. The car did leave and another car quickly stopped in their place. A woman leaned out the window and began screaming at me. “Get inside!!! There’s a really large bear!!!” She repeated her strong warning again as her words sunk into my brain. I quickly jumped up, ran inside and looked out the window. The biggest bear that I have ever seen was ambling down my driveway just a few feet from where I had just been. He strolled down my driveway and into my back yard where he shuffled around a bit more before heading downhill towards another street.
The bear – taken from a safe distance!
As I processed the situation, several questions popped into my head. What was the lady in the first car thinking! Why did she allow her young child to get out of the car when there was an obviously large bear close by?! Did she think it was a cute little puppy coming towards her and her son? And the next thought, why did she fail to warn me? I do think she saw me because I looked up to see what was going on several times. Did she think that I would just figure it out as the huge bear got closer? After those puzzling questions, it struck me about how kind the Lord is. “THANK YOU LORD for the second lady!!” Thank you Lord for people who care enough about their fellow man to warn them of impending danger. The bear was not looking to eat me, but who knows what he might have done had I reacted unwisely in my own fright.
I can only guess at the first woman’s motives. Maybe she was too busy in her life to think about the consequences of her actions. Maybe she was just ignorant of bear behavior. Sometimes people are so involved in their own lives that they can’t see the needs of others. Self involvement creates a total lack of compassion for what others may be feeling or needing. Am I so self involved that I can’t see the need of another human being? Would I stand by while my neighbor gets attacked by a bear, either actually or metaphorically? Would I be the one to leave the Samaritan lying injured by the side of the road?
There are plenty of Scriptures that tell us that we are in fact our brothers’ keeper. We don’t have to be overbearing about it, but there are many ways to warn, advise, counsel or discuss with our brothers and sisters without acting like we’re somehow superior. Sometimes, when a threat is immediate, it calls for an immediate and clear trumpet blast. Watch out! There’s a cliff! Don’t go down that road! Don’t respond to those scammers! I can’t let you drive when you’re drunk. Give me the keys. I’ll take you home. Whatever it may be. Of course, other times require a soft approach. How can I help you? And even sometimes, just silent prayer. What we can’t do is just ignore people’s needs. I am certainly grateful for the woman who observed the situation, took a moment out of her busy day to stop her car and shout her warning.
If you see something, say something. It’s a good reminder in so many circumstances, both natural and spiritual.
Yesterday, on the way to work, the finale of Les Miserable came on the radio. This song always puts me in a mood of contemplation and profound reverie. It touches us all on a deep level of the simple love that we have for our Father. That love resides somewhere in all of us, though it may be covered up and rusty in quite a few. We all desire in our hearts for a world where we can live in peace, where all men will put away the sword. We long for such a place for our children and for their children as well.
Our present world bears no resemblance to that apparently far off desire. Today’s world is more a world of the barricade than a world beyond the barricade. We struggle with news reports of far off wars, local crimes and sad stories of corrupted officials that make us lose hope that such a world of peace could ever exist.
It does exist. We can achieve it. I, as an individual, cannot force anyone else to want or create such a world. I can only look inside of myself and eliminate the hate inside of me. I may proclaim, “but I am not a hateful person. I’m a nice person!” Wait a minute! What about that annoying person in the next cubicle? Do I hate him? What about the person that always rubs me the wrong way? How about the guy that cut me off on the highway this morning? Do I hate him? Or did I pray for him as he was speeding off?
There is a solution to hatred. Instead of avoiding that person, hoping that he or she will go away, think about his/her life for a while. What would be something that he/she would really like? Not a big flashy gift, but something small and simple, that shows you’re thinking of him or her. Maybe a cup of coffee or just a kind gesture. Something that would touch his/her heart. He might end up hating you for doing that, but you will have taken one further step toward eliminating the hate from your heart.
People don’t respond well these days to words and doctrines, but love, they can’t resist that. The song ends with the words, “to love another person is to see the face of God.” Love grows. Love is contagious.
Men have such an amazing ability to focus on one thing at a time. It is their strength. I’ve written about it before (1/20/13). However, at the time I first wrote about it, I didn’t add to it the perspective of how the strength of women is to see all of the potential results of their own actions and the actions of others. These two very different strengths ought to compliment one another, but sometimes they come into sharp contrast with the troubling result of starting an argument.
What happened around here this morning is a great example of how these abilities could try to divide us. This morning, my husband and I were going to go to a Bible study meeting. We usually bring a large pot of coffee along with us for the participants. Before we left, he wanted to wash up some of the dishes that were in the sink. However, it was starting to get late and I was thinking of the repercussions of being late. He was focused on finishing the dishes. Maybe you’re already seeing where this is headed. He picked up the rather large filter for the coffee pot and said that he was going to get rid of the grounds. I asked him not to. I had two reasons for that, both of which seemed valid to me and both of which seemed difficult to explain to him on the spur of the moment. I thought that it was getting late and I wanted him to finish with the dishes already so we could leave and also, the grounds were still hot and I didn’t want him to put them on my outdoor plants while they were still hot.
While those thoughts were still percolating in my brain, he was already reacting, complaining that I always tell him not to do this, not to do that. We carried on in silence for a while until a little light bulb went off revealing what had just happened. Like a man, he was completely focused on getting those pesky dishes done, convinced that he was making me happy by doing it. At the same time, my brain was visualizing all of the ramifications of him continuing with the dishes while time was moving on and of what would result from him throwing the hot grounds on my beloved plants. He was doing what men do best, focusing, and I was thinking like a woman.
Men and women both have their innate strengths. If we can recognize them for what they are, we can work together and become a stronger couple instead of reacting and resenting one another for being different. Men need to be able to focus intently on what they’re doing. It helps them to do a great job. And women need to be able to think of all the possibilities of what might happen because of their actions. Their precautionary wisdom keeps us from doing too much damage to ourselves. Using our talents and working together, we are really strong. In the case of what happened this morning, once we talked about it, we could each see what the other was doing and laugh at ourselves a bit, all the while appreciating each other for our differences. Vive la différence!