Tuesday, November 30, 2010

These are the the bags that I generally carry as I circulate around New York City from one apartment to another. I find it easier to have a series of small bags than to have one big, heavy bag. However, on a recent transfer between apartments I realized how unwieldy one of the bags was. Nothing impossible, but nothing that would make it easy to transfer between subways at 42nd Street during rush hour. I would be moving at a snail's pace while everyone rushed around me. A few stops before 42nd Street I began strategizing how best to make the transfer. I was not coming up with any excellent ideas. Just then, someone I know got onto the subway car. Out of all the trains and all the cars on my train, she got on mine. This was someone I met at a one-day event over a year ago and have only seen once since that day. Yet she immediately said hello. And we chatted. She'd left work earlier than usual to make it to a show that night. And she was making the same transfer at 42nd Street. I told her to go ahead because I'd have to move slow. She said she'd carry half the bags. And she did.

God often works in mysterious ways, but that day God's work was abundantly clear to me.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Signs of Life

Don't walk.
One way this way.
One way that way.

Usually traffic signs are clear about what to do. They keep us on track. They keep us safe.

But there are times that you get conflicting messages. That's when you have to look around at the potential hazards and make a decision. You draw upon what you have learned in the past. You consider where you need to be in the immediate future.

Is it best to stop? Is it best to go? This way or that way? What will keep me on track? What will keep me safe?

Don't just stand on the street corner waiting for one sign or another. Sometimes it won't be clear no matter how long you wait. Assess the situation. Go or don't go. This way or that way. Make a decision. And then, whether it was right or wrong, learn from it and make an even better decision next time.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pleasant Views

I visited a planned community in Texas that was deliberately built with no straight roads and no distinctive buildings along the main roads. None. It was a planned community, so they could do that. Driving through the area, all you saw were trees ahead as the road curved away. The buildings and homes were all tucked away on side streets, hidden among the trees. As a visitor trying to find my way around, this became frustrating. Apparently the developer thought it was more pleasant to look ahead and see trees. If the road always curves you always see trees straight ahead. If there are no buildings along main roads, you always see trees. So many trees! Where is the church? Where is the school? Where is the house where I am invited to dinner? Somewhere behind the tress. 

Pleasant views are great if you know where you are going. I didn’t. And all I saw were trees.

I understand the appeal of creating a world made up almost entirely of pleasant and consistent views, but sometimes pleasant views shield us from finding our next destination. To find a new place, you have to slow down and look among the trees. How often do we commit to pleasant views at the expense of missing important destinations that are hidden among the trees?
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