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The Spur

I saw a stunning painting a while ago. It was done by a man whose work reflects a lot of religious themes, but I think this is one of his best. It is a portrayal of one of the encounters with Jesus told in the book of Luke, chapter 17. Ten lepers had cried out to the master for healing and he did not disappoint them. But they disappointed him. The painting shows the group, all dressed in rags, but turning away, renewed. All except one. That one is turning back, his hands outstretched, the look on his face a picture of ecstasy. Ten sought and received healing but only one returned to say thank you.

The stories of how Jesus healed are powerful. I believe they touch a place of longing in us, because we all need healing in some way. Some of us need it physically, for our bodies are vulnerable to the diseases of this earth. All of us need it spiritually, for our spirits are vulnerable to the distractions and sin of this world. Most of us have experienced healing in our lives in one way or another but sometimes we fail to recognize it. We pass it off as normal, something accomplished by the skill of a doctor or the effectiveness of drugs, something that slips by within the passage of time and almost goes unnoticed.

My mother-in-law was in a car accident some time ago and suffered a serious back injury. When she went for her first physiotherapy appointment, she stared at a short sloping ramp leading to the area where she would be treated and thought to herself . . .

The rider-less horse prances, restless in the midst of the crowds and the noise. It leads a long procession through thousands of people who are watching, thousands who are weeping. If you are old enough to remember that image, you will know that it comes from the funeral procession for John F. Kennedy, the American president assassinated in 1963. It was a powerful image of loss, an image of death.
We all have images of funerals in our minds ? images we have witnessed as the rituals of death are played out. I watched another ritual on television once and sat up to take notice. The funeral procession wasn't led by a rider-less horse, but by a band major tossing his baton and a trumpeter playing his heart out. I like that image. When I die I want a parade.

I want a parade that doesn't signify loss but victory; a parade where the band leader tosses his baton high and steps lively. I want those watching to take notice, not of one whose death is causing sorrow and mourning, but of One who has conquered death and made it into a celebration.

I know that's possible because I believe in . . .

I stood in the bare white room and sighed. Paint cans, trays, rollers and brushes were stacked in the middle of the floor. Every breath I took reminded me that I'd been here for a number of days, but there was still work to be done. These walls were still white. By the time we were finished painting the downstairs floors of two houses, I was tired, but I was getting pretty good at painting. I was even enjoying it a bit. It was satisfying, watching the paint flow onto the walls, turning them to a warm comforting colour.

I grabbed a new pail, gave it a bit of a shake and opened it up. I knew as soon as I passed the roller over the wall that something was wrong. I looked at the label on the pail. It was the same colour. I looked at the paint inside. It looked the same as what I'd been using earlier in the day. But I looked at the wall and frowned. I dipped a brush into the paint and immediately realized the problem. It needed to be stirred. It took quite a while, and my arm was starting to object, before the consistency was right and I could use that paint, but once it had been stirred enough, the rest of the work was . . .

Sewing is one of those domestic skills that I was taught when a young girl.  I learned it at the home of friend who convinced me to join a 4H group.  It was a lot of fun getting together with six other giggly girls to try and make items of clothing for ourselves.  When the course was over I thought I would continue to sew, but I soon discovered I had a problem.  I loved material.  Now you'd think that would be an asset for a person who wants to sew, but in my case it worked against me.  You see, I liked the big lengths of material as it came off the bolt - the full stretch of the pattern, the feel of it.  I liked it so much I couldn't bring myself to cut it.  What if I made a mistake?  What if the whole thing was ruined and I had to throw that lovely material away?  I just couldn't do it.  So the material sat - in a box in a closet.  I bought all my clothing ready-made.  Years later when I did decide I wanted to make something, I realized I'd forgotten a lot.  My sewing skills hadn't developed.

Fear of failure often stops us from growing.  We don't go for that promotion . . .

Dropping in on a friend unexpectedly is not always a good idea, but some of us live a bit spontaneously and that's just the way it seems to be. I decided to drop in on my friend, Lynn, one day, when she was living in a small apartment above a shop. The location was out of town and isolated enough that the owner, Mike, had bought a watchdog. When I arrived, the dog, called "Puppy," got to his feet and barked. I told him, "Go lie down," and headed for the side door of the building. You see I knew Puppy. He was anything but the cute cuddly little thing his name implied. He was massive and ugly, but he had always been friendly when I had visited on other occasions.

On this occasion, however, I did not know the owner had left the dog on guard. I was a bit surprised when Puppy suddenly appeared at my side just as I reached the door. He didn't growl, just peered at me with doleful yellow eyes. I patted his head and put my hand on the doorknob. Puppy wrapped his vice-like jaws around my wrist, applying just enough pressure to . . .

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