Thinking Out Loud

September 22, 2018

Handicapped Access: Mixed Feelings

Filed under: Christianity, writing — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 12:14 pm

Depending on how search engines pick up today’s headline, this could be blogging suicide. How much of a Grinch do you need to be in order to deny people in wheelchairs access to things to which everybody else has access?

But the fact remains that as we as a society try to do to the outdoors what we’ve already done to the indoors, certain compromises will be required.

That’s what was in my thoughts were a few weeks when we returned to an area which has always held very strong memories known as the Waterfront Trail. We live on the north shore of Lake Ontario. Well, actually we live in a house on the north shore. Uh, technically we’re more like 2-3 miles north. So we have access to beaches and parks along the shoreline, including a section of partly wilderness-y trail. It’s been far from ignored; much work has gone into maintaining it over the years, but you do get the effect of being removed from everything urban.

So it had been awhile, and some friends had never seen it, so we went for a hike.

The changes were more shocking than anything. In order to provide a fully accessible experience, many trees had been cut, paths had been widened, and the entire route had been reconfigured at one point. To me, it had lost much of the heart of what had made it special over the years.

Yeah, I was being a jerk about the whole thing.

But here’s the key point: To our friends, who had never seen it before, it was beautiful. These are the memories that they will always have, having never seen it before…

I write all this because they’re now doing the same type of thing in a beautiful section of ravine that I’ve always held as the best place to experience a worship moment. One of my favorite places in the world. I know it’s never going to be the same, and I lament the loss of its natural look. Hopefully they don’t go as far as to put down asphalt or add artificial lighting, but I realize we do need to share the space with those who otherwise wouldn’t get to see it.

Plus, given different circumstances, that could be me in the future.

And I would probably want to see an approximation of what I remember, than never get to return again.

So the conclusion is: Ambivalence. It probably applies to much of life.

 

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February 5, 2018

An Unexpected Blessing

Filed under: Christianity, family — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:03 am

After dealing with Saturday morning’s flat tire fix — see Saturday’s post — my wife returned from worship team practice to remind me that her sister and her husband were arriving within the hour, something that had slipped my mind in the busyness of the morning.

The plan was for them to bring us some Thai food ingredients available where they live — Canada’s capital city — but not available where we are, and then to cook them for us in our kitchen.

We’ve done Asian grocery shopping in Toronto, but nothing they brought was anything we’ve ever used. It was a morning of new taste sensations and textures, something we’re quite open to. And yes, it all sat well as the saying goes.

You can’t make it all out in the picture, but the meal included:

  • Philippine spring rolls called Lumpia. (We love these; there are many variants.)
  • Hot and sour soup with enoki mushrooms and gigantic red shrimp
  • Thai eggplant and Thai green curry and calamari with coconut milk on basmati rice.
  • Dredged and deep fried butter fish with a lime juice, vinegar, shallots (type of onion), chili pepper sauce.
  • Jasmine tea and saki (which my wife provided)
  • Peanuts (my lame contribution; I was the only one who ate any, but peanuts and cashews do go well with Thai food.)

Awesome!

And we got to keep all the leftovers.

They drove 3½ hours and spent over an hour cooking everything and then drove 3½ back just to bless us.

And they did…


…One of the hardest things I have had to deal with in my life is accepting hospitality. This one was especially different, since it was our house, but they brought all the fixin’s. I’ve known other people in my life like this where they had to be the giver, the provider, the person helping the person in need.

I had an employee once who would never go to the store next door or across the street to get change for the cash register because she thought being a Christian meant that we were the ones meeting needs, not the ones in need. I tried to suggest that it was a wonderful context in which to get to know our neighbors; that we could build a relationship out of a contact that began when we had a need, but she would hear none of it, and would drive to the bank each time she ran out of quarters or $5 bills.

A friend and I were in Pennsylvania very late night one night and a family that we had met at a Christian music festival offered us the couch to sleep on. But I was so taken up with my own self sufficiency and so unfamiliar with accepting hospitality in this type of situation, that I insisted we leave at 12:30 AM and press on to Virginia, a strategy which nearly got us both killed, as the state freeways there fill up with fog on June nights like that one.

I was told later that I had obviously never learned to accept hospitality…


…So if someone offers to cook a dinner for you, let them! Plus now we get to put our creative energy to use to see if there’s a way in future we might return the blessing.

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