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I AM NOT A FAX MACHINE*$&%&%$*

I have been receiving calls from a fax machine for…oh…for about 5 or six weeks now. The calls happen pretty much everyday, Monday to Friday, sometimes starting as early as 7:30 am and usually in a sequence of 5 or 6 calls at 5-minute intervals as the machine is obviously programmed to automatically redial when it does not get through.

After a few days of this, I was getting slightly annoyed so I pressed *69 and got the number and had my husband send a fax asking them to stop calling me and letting them know they had reached a residence and not another fax machine. It was no use. The calls continued. I tried to look up the number on the internet but only got a location…no name or address because the number was being serviced by a third-party phone provider. Two weeks into this, I called Bell and told them about my problem. They promised to sort it out, but it would take a few days. That was about 3 weeks ago and I have begun to make peace with the possibility that the fax machine and I might develop a long-term albeit one-sided relationship. One can only stay annoyed so long before resignation sets in. It is becoming part of my daily ritual like brushing my teeth and making the bed or cleaning out the cat litter.

Last night my husband figured out a way to get our computer to accept faxes, so this morning, when I picked up the phone and heard the familiar beeping sound, I rushed over to the computer and set it to receive a fax. Predictably, five minutes later, the phone rang again and I was uncharacteristically excited about it! After pointing and clicking a few times, I was receiving a fax! Finally, the mystery would be solved, the information received and the fax machine able to rest from all its labours! Yes!

No!!! The fax was a list of service calls completed by technicians for Home Depot in the last 15 days. There was a company name at the top of the page (a division of GE) but no other information. And the fax machine called me 6 times this afternoon again. Argh! I suppose there is another all-important list that it is sure I must read, and it won’t rest until I get it. And I suppose that every few days it will send another list as it wants to make sure I keep abreast of all the happenings of the technical department of GE Mabe.

I don’t know what the point of this is. I am not one to believe much in coincidences and can usually assign profound meaning to the smallest incident in my life, or find an important life lesson that I must learn from the mundane and occasionally extraordinary events that make up my days, but this remains a mystery. I only know that I am not a fax machine and someone else is convinced that I am. I was hopeful that once the message was transmitted, once they got through, all would be sorted out, but it has solved nothing; it has only given me more words to type into Google in my search for the anonymous sender.

I suppose I could spiritualise this by saying it might be somewhat like God trying to communicate with us – we as earthly beings often cannot interpret the heavenly information he is trying to send and therefore, ignore it. We can even get annoyed because it seems intrusive and meaningless and senseless…until we tap into the spiritual “fax” realm and finally receive the message – but unfortunately, that does not solve our life problems or make things any easier…it only leads us down another road in an effort to decipher the mysterious message. I could say that God is persistent and will keep sending messages to us, even if we do not get them, but I would stop short of saying God only sends messages Monday to Friday. Frankly, I am hesitant to go down that whole spiritualization road because at this point, I really don’t have a sense that I get what any of this might mean, other than even when I get the message, I don’t get the message. I am clueless, but the good news is, I am a more patient clueless person. And perhaps that is something.

Last week I attended a well-produced high school Christian theatre production where, predictably, the hero got into trouble, repented, everything turned out all right and he got the girl in the end! It had a profound effect on me, for I was struck with the oversimplied and dumbed-down rewrite of the struggle of faith we as North American Christians have embraced, and I cringed at the thought of having any of my friends without faith view this rather shallow version of Jesus' message as an accurate presentation of truth. Not everything needs to be explained and worked out neatly, and we do the mystery of truth a diservice by assuming that we can and we must.

I cannot tell you why a fax machine calls me everyday and I cannot tell you why God speaks in parables and I cannot tell you why there is suffering in this world and why one person dies and another lives. I am not God. I am not a fax machine, either, but I can tell you that in my experience, the neverending, sometimes painful and humbling and often frustrating pursuit of truth, of Jesus himself, is most days a blindingly sweet and bright and mysteriously beautiful and tasty endeavour that leaves me breathless and changed.

NOTE: The day after I wrote this, I received a fax that included a cover letter complete with the sender's name and phone number. I spoke to Jackie at GE and everything is sorted out now, but I must admit, I miss the fax machine just a tiny bit - the phone is awfully quiet these days.

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