Skip to main content

mine [not]

I was on the subway last week and observed a man in a business suit get on one of the trains, look around briefly at the seats which happened to be all full, and give a disgusted little huff like someone had insulted him. I thought his reaction was astonishingly self-centred, like no one on the train deserved a comfortable place to sit as much as he did.

Two days later I found myself on that same metro line, riding down to my French class early one morning. I was tired and not quite awake and just wanted to sit alone and read a book and not be jostled or have to stand pressed against other commuters. I happened to catch the train before it filled up and got a seat at the end of the car, away from the rest of the people; my most favourite seat. I love this seat, my special seat, I thought to myself. And then I realised how silly that sounded.

That was not my seat. Hundreds of people sat in that seat every day. I planted my bum on it for 15 minutes that day, but that hardly made it mine. I was just a traveller, a momentary sojourner, and many had come before me and many would come after me. I had no particular claim on that seat, even though I was especially happy to be in it that morning. Yep, I was pretty much like the man in the suit with the huffy attitude. Perhaps he also thought that there was a seat that was his, a train car that he owned a part of in some way, if only because he happened to be in a certain place at a certain time and wanted things to go well for him.

Most days I do wish the world would be more accommodating to me, but in truth, I am just passing through and I am slowly beginning to realise that my expectations are often unrealistic and embarrassingly ego-centric. The huffs I heave as I travel along are not self-righteous; they reveal how impatient and childish I can be as I claim things as "mine" that I really have no right to grasp at. I have had no part in building any of this - I share this world, this space, and this time with millions of others.

Dean was telling me about a podcast he heard about thankfulness the other day. The speaker was talking about how the early saints were examples of this grace, how even in their suffering and in the midst of some pretty horrible persecution, they exhibited an attitude of joyfulness at being given the gift of living for one more day, no matter how painful it might be. This life is a gift and no matter what hard things come with it, it is still a gift and we should be thankful for each moment which we are given. I think they knew a bit more about real joy than we do in our consumer-driven world.

This life is not mine, that I should demand things go a certain way - it is a gift. Each day is not mine, that I should expect a certain measure of happiness and success to be bestowed on me just for showing up - it is a gift. The seat on the metro is not mine, that I should imagine my name stamped on it and always reserved for my comfort when I have want of it - it is a gift to be shared with many.

May I be free from that all too funny and horribly familiar incessant cry (mine, mine, mine, mine) of the seagulls in Finding Nemo. It is not mine. And the sooner I realise that, the more true thankfulness can burst forth in my life.

This is the ever generous and giving Nelly, always thankful to see everyone.

Comments

Anonymous said…
matte...
It´s amazing how you can talk deeply, on just simple things we all go thru either any time of our life`s. It´s good to think about certein choses thru God`s point of view.
And always jugde ourselves, besides judging others.
love in Jesus,
Vanessa - Brasil

Popular posts from this blog

fun with hermeneutics

I am a reader. The stacks of books in my bedroom, living room, and office, many of them still waiting to be cracked open, testify to this fact. I love to read, but I also know that not all reading is the same. Some is more work and some is more pleasure. A light work of fiction requires little of me but to engage my imagination and be carried away by the story. Online reading requires a bit (or a lot) of discernment to make sure the sources are reliable and the facts check out. Academic reading requires me to reason through the arguments being made and connect them to what I already know or have read in the field. Reading an ancient text requires that I suspend my 21st century perspective as best I can and learn a bit about the worldview and language of the time. Acknowledging a text's context, intent, and genre enables me to hear the words and ideas in such a way that my view of history and the world are enlarged.

Reading, interpreting, and understanding the Bible are important …

stained and broken

Recently, I was asked to speak at another church, and the passage of Scripture which was assigned to me was John 1:6-8. "There came a man commissioned and sent from God, whose name was John. This man came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe [in Christ, the Light] through him. John was not the Light, but came to testify about the Light." (John 1:6-8, Amplified Bible)

The first question I usually ask when reading something in the Bible is this: What does this tell me about God? Two things are immediately obvious - God is a sending God and God wants to communicate - but there is a third which merits a bit more attention. Though God could communicate directly with humanity, sending truth and love to every individual via some divine mind-and-heart-meld, God chooses to send messengers. Not only that, instead of introducing Jesus directly to the world as the main event, an opening, warm-up act appears as a precursor. What is the point of incorporati…

what binds us together?

For the past few weeks, I have been reading a book by famed psychiatrist M. Scott Peck which chronicles his travels (together with his wife) through remote parts of the UK in search of prehistoric stones. The book is part travel journal, part spiritual musings, part psychology, and part personal anecdotes. A mixed bag, to be sure, and not always a winning combination. At one point, I considered putting the book aside, not finishing it, but then Peck started writing about community. He is no stranger to the concept. He has led hundreds of community-building workshops over the years, helped start a non-profit organisation dedicated to fostering community, and written a compelling book about the topic, one which greatly impacted me when I read it oh so long ago.[1]

In preparation for a course I am teaching next year, I have been doing quite a bit of study on unity and community. Once you start thinking about it, you see and hear evidence of it everywhere. (See my blog on the impact of b…