May 27, 2006

My phone rang at 9 am, reminding me that I had an appointment at noon, at Scotia, with Kayla.* The bank had not to worry, I was not forgetting that I had a meeting to talk about my request for my first credit card. I entered Scotiabank, the bank with the slogan You are richer than you think, thinking that it should be quite simple to apply for plastic. Well, the blonde lady was kind, but my request was not so easy. It might be that her boss will allow me to get a card anyway, but as it stands my income is not quite high enough for the regular working-person’s credit card. I may be richer than I think, but I am not rich enough to receive a Scotia VISA on first request.

From the bank I went to the coffee shop for my almost five-hour shift. Early in the afternoon, I saw a bearded peddler coming to our door. His arms were piled high with boxes of pots and pans. Before he stepped through our doorway I had already decided that I wasn’t going to pretend to be interested in his wares. He spoke to me. I didn’t need a frying pan? Did my boss need one? I picked up some dimes from the floor and acted very uninterested. No matter, did I need a windup LED flashlight? A hunting knife? He realized that I was not going to buy anything. “You just don’t need nothing, do ya?” “Not really,” I said. He went on his way.

As he took his load to someone else’s shop, his words parked in my head. In the quiet of the shop, I realized that he spoke more truthfully than he realized. A friend’s e-mail this week reminded me of the verse in Ephesians 1:3 that says that we have been “blessed…with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Inspired by the same Spirit, Peter wrote that God’s “…divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness…” (2 Peter 1:3). It’s a pity that I don’t remember it more often, but I really am richer than I think. I don’t need nothing, to quote the peddler.

I don’t have enough, monetarily, to get a credit card on my first try. But what the blonde lady couldn’t know by looking at the numerals of my income, and what the peddler didn’t know from my closed wallet, is that I really do have everything I need. I don’t have a credit card or a pan set, an LED flashlight or a hunting knife. But I have everything I need. Every spiritual blessing.

May 20, 2006

The town yawns. The grass is lazy in the prairie wind and the cloudless sky stretches on endlessly. Quiet. Gravel crunches under the van tires and the brown-green ditches show the first signs of spring. It is late April 2006. Glimmering in the sunlight, the bike racks in front of the town’s only school speak of the children within the building’s double doors. The town ladies meet weekly for coffee and quilting. One year they gave a homemade quilt to every bachelor in the town. This is the town where everyone seems to know everyone else’s business.

Memories meet me when I visit the town of C. They link arms with me on the bush-lined school playground. They traipse with me by the church and toward Grandpa’s now-sold blue-and-white house. We saunter through the two-hill park and into the backyard of either of the cream stucco rental houses that once housed my family. I recall C-life.
I lived in C for two-and-a-half years of my life. The years I spent in C were not really years I treasured. C was my holding place until I could go back home; the year of greetings, coldness and travel between warm frolics south of the equator. Could I ever live in C again?
Main street holds a new store called the Whatnot Shop. Nearly every nook of the former dentist’s office is filled with second-hand goods. Volunteer-operated, the Whatnot Shop earned $20,000 in ten months. Community spirit evidences itself as the town members help each other by giving away their older items and purchasing what they need so that funds can go to the local Sportsplex.
A mechanic, motorcyclist and emergency medical responder, Kevin is also pastor of one of the local churches. In his simple, down-to-earth manner, Kevin shares God’s Word from the top of his stool. He begins the Bible study I attend by framing the Bible story--I am a little rusty on the book of Ezra, and thankful that he takes the time to explain the context of passage. Free of city-like time constraints, the pastor teaches for over an hour. My heart is warmed by the Word of God. Do I have to come to small-town Saskatchewan to hear the Bible taught with such clarity?
Grandpa’s apartment is furnished with those things that were left after he moved out of his house and had a garage sale. Some days must be pretty lonely, as the three dining room clocks tick and there are few visitors to occupy Grandpa’s time. Like the sun that wanes outside his window, Grandpa’s short-term memory is fading, but from his lips comes the tune Brighten the Corner Where You Are. He doesn’t forget the old hymns.
No, I sigh, I don’t want to live in C. But on the city streets swarming with cell phone-carrying individuals, I won’t be likely to find the same community spirit I see in C. I’m likely going to have to search through the massive church index to find that simple Bible teaching like I heard in the small town. To the corner where I am, I want to carry something I learned in C: helping others matters. One person makes a difference. Brighten the corner where God puts you.