Too Nice to Help?

The story begins familiarly enough: a young person on a service trip to a poor country is rocked by the poverty and the suffering she sees. Upon returning home she finds that she can’t carry on with life as usual. The knowledge that, even though she lives in relative comfort, others suffer profoundly from a lack of the most basic provisions is too much. It’s hard to settle back into ‘normal’ life. Where this particular story takes a different line than most, is when the young woman decides to return and volunteer at one of the charities making a difference. And where the story gets even more surprising—and for a time inspiring—is when the young woman decides to start her own charity. She was 19 at the time. The needs were obvious. The people back home were generous. God was in it, at least that’s how it appeared. Continue reading “Too Nice to Help?”

Inhabited by the Word – a short story (183)

The group left the lake behind and pushed further into the bush. They needed to make camp, but staying by the side of a lake was too obvious. The thick ice made the water virtually inaccessible anyway. There were seven in the group, in various states of health and fitness. If you were to cast a group on the move, you would not cast a group like this. Among them there were no weightlifters, no action stars and no lanky beauties. Only two of them could have even been described as young, Dorcia was about twenty and Andy was fifteen. Phoebe, who had a persistent cough, as well as Eunice and Matt were all over 50.  Mary and Simon were somewhere in between, but nobody new exactly and it hardly mattered. Dorcia walked with obvious stiffness; you could see the lump of a bandage under her winter layers.

By most standards the group appeared leaderless, which is to say, nobody barked orders and none of them new this country particularly well. Only a few could even tell the full story of how they had come together. They usually just said they “met along the way.” Continue reading “Inhabited by the Word – a short story (183)”

The Dust of Cardboard and Old Boxes

My hands are dusty from packing up my office. I don’t know why that is. Where does the grit on these brown boxes come from? Most of what I’m packing is books. I pack the majority without thinking about them too much. They’ve been friends on the shelf; they will get along in a box for a few weeks. A few, though, find an intermediary resting place on my desk. I need companions for a little while longer.

A copy of Jim Reimer’s posthumous essays docks there because I owe a review of it to a Canadian journal. I’ll think it over when we drive through Reimer’s home province of Manitoba. I keep out Robert Louis Wilken’s book on patristic theology too. I love the church fathers for their ignorance, that is, their ignorance of the divide between practical and academic theology. I’ll need mentors in a few months. Buechner’s memoir of vocation also finds an open slip. The back cover says he was a Presbyterian minister. dbonhoefferAnd then, I add a pair of books by Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Life Together and Letters and Papers from Prison. I have the new blue and white volumes, with the footnotes about the footnotes.

[Read the rest of the essay on the Collegeville Institute website here. Check out the rest of their site while you’re there. It’s full of good stuff.]