Thursday, April 23, 2009


Since I titled my last post "Hat", I think I'll call this one "Shoe" since it touches the ground, which is the root word for "humility".

Last week my daughter Casey had her 10th birthday celebration, delightedly hosting 10 similarly squealing girls at a local park pavilion which I had rented for the day. What turned out to be a valuable life lesson for me began when we arrived to set up the decorations and found a large group of people gathered under the very pavilion I had reserved.

I quickly noticed they were praying and so maintained a respectful distance. When they finished I walked into the throng with my orange "RESERVED" notice in my hand and asked to speak to whoever was in charge. Eyes and fingers pointed to one man and I informed him that we had the pavilion and they needed to leave. As the crowd began to disperse I added "and please clean up after yourself".

When I began lugging ice chests from the car, one young man from the dispersing group asked if he could help me. "Wow!" I thought. "These folks are the good kind of Christians!" However, as I went back to move my car closer I'm pretty sure I heard one of them mumble in a voice just loud enough for me to hear, "asshole." I didn't blame the person or get upset, since I figured I would be saying or at least thinking the same thing if the roles were reversed.

The group was obviously already near the end of their gathering (I subsequently learned they were affiliated with some sort of church softball league) and most all of them were piling into their cars, saying good-bye to each other and so forth. With this potential crisis thus averted I turned my attention to figuring out the lay of the land.

I walked into the nearby activity center to inquire about the bathroom set-up, since that came with the pavilion rental. The woman behind the desk checked her records and told me that she had no record of my reservation for the day. I looked at the orange form I was still carrying and noticed.......

I had reserved the wrong date!
Somehow in my perpetually addled brain I had made the reservation for the following Saturday! My knees started to buckle and my head went all swimmy as I struggled to keep panic at bay.

The very nice staff member checked the reservation forms and determined that the prior group had reserved the pavilion only until noon, so our 2 o'clock party did not infringe on their designated time span to be there. She then told me that since I had already paid the money and nobody else was scheduled to use the pavilion for the rest of the day that it would be fine to go ahead with our party. She even took out a felt-tip pen and wrote the right date on my precious little orange form which I had only moments before used like a mighty talisman and which now tagged me as an oafish and officious little man.

Tragedy was thus averted on two fronts: that I was able to bring about a party for my excited daughter and that I had not thrust out God's pious children from their rightful haven like some evil idolater in a Biblical morality play.

This incident serves as a reminder to me to walk with a humble and soft step through any adversity or opposition that exists either in the world or (more often) between my ears, that wide and barren expanse where the seductive, tenacious and cunning tyrant that is my ego repeatedly bids me to blindly march headlong into brick walls and over perilous cliffs.

40 years in the desert seems like a day trip compared to my own personal quest to reach the Canaan of my soul.

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