Friday, September 13, 2013

are you kidding me?

Concordia University, library building just visible on the far left
There are days when I am glad I am not a brain surgeon.  Well, that's pretty much every day because those surgeons start work really early, but yesterday was one of those days when I was thankful that when I have an "off" day, people's lives are not at stake (don't mean to offend any surgeons or theologians by that statement). So, yeah, a lot of little things went wrong yesterday, many tasks ended up being much more complicated than they had to be, I was not at my best, and the combination was not pretty.

Yesterday I had a meeting scheduled with my supervisor at the university, there was a book I needed to read at the library (only available on a 3-hour loan), and I had a few errands to run, so I thought I would pack up my laptop, a few supplies and books, and spend most of the day at school. The first thing I did when I got downtown was to head to the post office to send a money order. The nice gentleman at the counter informed me that they could not process my request and I would have to go to a bank.  Oh well, I had no time for that at the moment. My meeting with my supervisor went swimmingly (British for 'very well') and then I did the 10 minute walk to the bank to complete my first errand.  After that was done, I walked back to the school and picked up the 3-hour book (flashbacks to Gilligan's Island, anyone?).

I headed up 2 flights of stairs to the graduate study room only to find a sign posted on the door that said the access code had been changed and I would need to get the new code from the circulation desk.  Okay.  Back down 2 flights of stairs to the circulation desk which had bars across it...what? It was closed! At 3:30 in the afternoon! (I actually said, "Are you kidding me?" at this point, very softly of course because I was in the library.) The sign informed me that the employees were voting on something for their collective agreement so they had been given 2 hours off. Okay. Change of plan.  I found a quiet study carrel on the third floor, set up my computer, pulled out my book, and started reading.

All my study notes are on dropbox, an online storage service which allows me to access my stuff from anywhere and serves as an automatic backup as well.  I tried to sign into the university wireless network but was unsuccessful.  Something needed to be configured in my computer. But wait! I had my iphone with me so I went to the university's IITS website where I knew the instructions were posted. Alas, the steps would not open up when I tapped my finger on them; obviously the site was not mobile-friendly. Sigh. By this time I was aware of stomach grumblings and plunging energy levels and realized that I had better eat something. Since there is no food allowed in the library, I packed everything up and headed across the street to the coffee shop where I had a quick bite to eat.

After I had some calories in me, I went back into the library, found the circulation desk open, acquired the new access code (which was the exact same as the old access code????!!!!!???). Obviously, I should have tried the "old" access code when I was there the first time. Silly me. Anyway, I was not in the mood to trek all the way to the graduate study room, so I plunked my stuff down in a nearby study carrel and cracked open the book once again.  I took notes without getting online and managed to finish the first chapter before the volume was due back in the reserve library. Not as productive a day as I had hoped it would be.

As I was leaving the library with my loaded backpack (laptop, several books, jacket, water), I glanced at the computer stations on the 2nd floor. Then it dawned on me that I could have used one of the computer stations at the university, gone online, and accessed my file. I hadn't really needed to drag my laptop downtown. Sigh. I was low on energy again, so I went to the cafe in the university and ordered a smoothie which listed the ingredients as yogurt and fruit. Yay! I love yogurt and fruit! I watched the guy make the smoothie and noticed that he poured milk into it and added no yogurt. The smoothie he handed me was runny. I asked him if he had included yogurt and he said yes and asked for $3.50. Well, I didn't want to accuse him of lying, perhaps he was using special yogurt-infused milk (yeah, right), so I took my runny smoothie and started the 40 minute walk to my next appointment: a bible study/discussion group.

It was nice afternoon for a walk, but my backpack soon got heavy and my legs got tired. I stopped at a used book store for 15 minutes and browsed but they didn't have anything I really wanted, so I arrived at my friend's house 15 minutes late. But I did have a bag of lime and black pepper potato chips in my hand to share with others! We had a good evening reading sections of the book of Luke and praying for our province. At the end, I told my friends about my day and they graciously offered to pray for me. I told them that what I was most disappointed in was not all the little things that went wrong or my inefficiency, but the agitation I felt rising up in my soul.  Why did a few little (okay, quite a lot of little) inconveniences cause such unrest in me?  If I couldn't handle a bit of a messy day with peace and grace, then how would I respond in the face of real pressure or real trouble?  This was my concern.

In truth, dealing with really big trouble and tragedy often seems to be easier because we know we have to draw on reserves bigger than our own, we surround ourselves with prayer and supportive friends, we cry out to God, and we focus on the important things, becoming more mindful of our thoughts and actions. But with everyday annoyances, we forget to practice this path to serenity and we end up being reactionary instead of thoughtful and intentional. We forget the habits of serenity and peace.

Today I found this in Jeremiah, a book packed with doom and gloom and trouble:

But blessed is the man who trusts in me, God,
the woman who sticks with God.
They're like trees replanted in Eden,
putting down roots near the rivers -
Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts,
bearing fresh fruit every season. (Jeremiah 17, The Message)

And this is my prayer, that I would be serene and calm not only on the outside (yesterday I appeared pretty calm externally) but on the inside, in troubles and inconveniences big and small, in drought and heat as well as storm and rain and wind.  May I stick with God, put my roots down deep into his Life, and from that source bring forth good fruit in every season, not just the pleasant ones where everything goes well.  And may God bless all brain surgeons with steady hands, quick, alert minds, and serenity in high-pressure situations.

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