Saturday, June 10, 2017

B137. One Puzzle, Many Pieces

A few months ago when a storm separated my gutter from the house, I didn’t know how to fix it. I’m not even comfortable with ladders. But I found someone who not only expertly reattached the gutter, but cleaned them out, and walked around and atop the house tightening anything that was loose. He was professional, honest, fair, and an all-around likeable person. I felt fortunate to have found him and will recommend him to anyone who needs construction / handiwork around the house.

I haven’t fixed them yet, but I have a couple of small plumbing issues too, for which I don’t  have the skills to fix, but I’m thankful there are people trained and skilled specifically in that area, who make their living being paid by people like me. When I’m ready, I will look for someone who takes pride in her/his work and is honest. Kindness is always the added touch that makes me want to tell others about them.

Next week I’m scheduled for my third eye muscle surgery. My strabismus and its related issues have been such a frustration to my everyday life, and I can’t fix them for myself . My surgeon is trained though, and strabismus surgery is her specialty. I am a little afraid, but so thankful to have her and her expertise on my side.

I’m thankful there are people scientifically trained and skilled to find cures for our cancers and autoimmune diseases. They give us new hope every day.

I love my technology, but there are times I need an expert to hook something up or set something up for me. I’m grateful there are people whose talents lie in computer and/or cell phone technology.

When I was teaching full-time, I paid someone to clean my house. A very important job that demands both cleaning skill and utmost trustworthiness. Once for just a few months I had someone who was an honest and trustworthy person but not an expert in that job, using harsh cleaning supplies that damaged the surfaces in the house.  She was a hard worker and meant well, but was a reminder of the importance of being as knowledgeable as possible in whatever jobs we choose to do.

I once had a garbage-collecting service that collected the garbage well but treated its customers rudely. I switched to a service that had both skill and kindness.

There are grocery baggers who know to bag the frozen foods separately, some even who pay attention to how heavy the bag might be, and some who smile and offer a kind word as they work. I appreciate them.

I pay someone to mow my grass, because, even though I enjoy mowing, I can’t seem to keep a mower in operating condition long enough to come out better.  I appreciate those who care for my yard and take pride in how it looks, including the trim work and edging.

I love fresh fruits and vegetables, but I can rarely even get one flower or one tomato to grow. I’m glad there are farmers and gardeners who know what they’re doing and who share their produce with the rest of us at the local Farmer’s Market.

I have a place to take my car for maintenance and the occasional problems, where the people understand and know how to keep it running well, and where I know I’m being treated with honesty and fairness. I’m thankful for these people and their expertise.

Some people possess skills that simply fill the world with pleasure. Imagine a world with no one to compose or make music, or no one to paint the masterpieces that adorn the art museum walls.  And don’t forget that chef who doesn’t just cook, but somehow makes every bite a mouthwatering celebration.

Others are trained specifically in spiritual matters – ministering to those passing through the challenges of life, and/or helping us all interpret the world around us and God’s place in it. Just like with housekeepers, garbage collectors, and doctors, religious leaders should be chosen with great care. We all know of some who have caused greater damage than good. I am so grateful for those who have positively shaped my life.

And then there’s that person who always sticks around after everyone else leaves the church lunch - washing dishes, cleaning the tables, mopping the floor. Imagine a world without him/her.

And the full-time parent who taught that sales clerk or that social worker to respect and care about all people.

Me, I was always a book person. I read constantly. I study, research, and dig into issues and stories – for pleasure - because I am almost addicted to learning!  My passion is learning and learning more. Wisdom and discernment, such as they are, seem to be my God-given gifts – thinking through things, seeing from multiple angles, understanding different perspectives.  Not very practical when the drains are clogged or the car won’t start. But God has a place even for those of us with the not-so-practical skills: jobs like teaching, writing, community/state/ national/world leadership . . . and while the world would be in trouble if everyone were like me – just as it would be if we were all electricians, or hairdressers, or orthopedists, together we fit like a giant zigsaw puzzle. We all need each other’s skills and talents.

I have often wished that in high school I had taken more of the “practical” hands-on classes, like auto mechanics, construction, and electricity. But even if we acquired a few more basic skills, the fact remains that we all need each other.

So, the point here is something very simple that we all know already. That none of us is more valuable than anyone else. That none of us could survive long without the skills and knowledge of each other. And that we can all make our world better by presenting our best selves in whatever we do, and by recognizing, acknowledging, and appreciating the gifts of everyone else.  If you are a scientific researcher, a Catholic priest, or a grocery bagger, and you do it well, I will not be so arrogant, with my expertise in other areas, to think I know more than you do about yours. And, especially if I disagree with you, I want to listen and really hear what you have to say, because, if there's anything I know, it's that I don’t know everything.

“There is one body, but it has many parts,” wrote the Apostle Paul to the people in first century Corinth. “The eye can’t say to the hand,’ I don’t need you!’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ But God has put together all parts of the body . . . the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.” (1 Cor. 12:12, 21, 24, 25, 26 NIRV)

Pieces of one puzzle, parts of one body . . . we are designed to fit together.


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