The Spur

The day couldn't have been more perfect. The sky was clear, the sun dancing off the water. The beach slowly filled with parents and children, out to enjoy a day at the beach. After an overnight camp out, my friend and I had brought a few girls from our church's Kids? Club to have a swim and a picnic. We stretched out on the sand and chatted as we watched the children play. Little ones were busy making sand castles. An older pair tossed a frisbee above their heads.

A little red haired girl caught my attention. She had wandered in front of us a few times, as she dashed from the edge of the lake to her mother, sitting in a lawn chair not far away. I watched as she stood still, her small head bent studiously over something in her hand. She turned and started toward us, stopped and peered at her hand once more, took a few more steps and stopped again. Her progress was slow as this pattern was repeated. As she approached, I could see a moth cupped in her palm. She tilted her hand each time it moved, stopped when it crawled dangerously close to the edge and moved slowly forward when it was secure again. Eventually the little girl reached her parent, holding her hand out for . . .

The newspaper headline was ominous. A potentially deadly virus had been detected in our area and health officials were concerned. It was unnerving because the virus is carried by a common rodent and can be contacted just by breathing in the dust in an infected area. The article gave specifics about what to do if you discover a dead rodent and later I went on the web to learn more. The information stated that it wasn't enough to just clean up the area. In fact, attempting to do so was dangerous, since sweeping would stir up the infected dust. Details were given on how to wet down the area with a solution of water and bleach, and caution was given about wearing gloves and a mask. It was a relief to know that though the danger was real, the prevention was relatively easy.

There are a lot of dangerous, even deadly things in this world. There are also a lot of pitfalls ? dangerous and deadly traps - that we can fall into spiritually. The Bible has a simple, three letter word for them ? sin. Sin can be unnerving because it's so common, so easy to slip into and so devastating if it is sustained. Sometimes, even when we try to clean it up, it seems like deadly dust results. But it's a relief to know there is a prevention. The guidelines are relatively easy to follow. All we need is the . . .

Picture three little girls, their blonde heads bent down as they walk along the seashore. Beach combing was one of our favourite things to do when we were in Papua New Guinea. The shells were numerous and almost all of them beautiful. My daughters and I spent quite some time walking the white sand and usually went home with pails full of treasures.

But we had been cautioned to be careful. There were certain kinds of shells there which contained a creature that was deadly. Tourists who weren't in the know had died because of them. We had to learn which were safe and which were not. We had to learn that some things, even though they look beautiful, can be dangerous. As I watched my daughters pick the shells from the sand, I was thankful for the warnings we had received, thankful that we could rely on the wisdom of those who knew the dangers.

In the same way, we sometimes have to be careful about spiritual things in our lives. We have to understand that not everything that looks and sounds good is true or even . . .

"What's Grandma like, Mom?"

My daughter's question caught at my heart. I hadn't seen my mother since before she suffered a stroke and I was fearful. Had the effects of the debilitation changed her more than just physically? I swallowed my apprehensions and answered the question.

"You?ll love her, girls. She loves you both very much."

I could see my response wasn't quite satisfactory. My daughters needed something more. I watched nine-year-old Katie do a pirouette. Her sister Laura, seven, did an attempt at a tap step. A friend had given us an old pair of shiny black tap shoes and both girls had laid claim to them. I smiled. "Grandma was a dancer, you know."

Two little faces lit up. "She was? Did she . . .
We were watching the portrayal of the last week of Jesus? life on earth. The actors depicted the Biblical characters with skill and the performance to that point had been flawless. Then a woman ran to a prominent place on the set before us. She was agitated and called out to Jesus, waving her arms to get his attention. The actor playing the Saviour turned and began to walk toward her. She continued to gesture and talk rapidly.

It was at that point that I realized there was something different about the way in which the woman was speaking. The other actors seemed to have no problem projecting their voices in the natural amphitheatre, but this woman's words were muffled and clipped, as though she wasn't quite finishing them. Then she began to move her hands as she spoke and I realized her voice sounded different because she had a hearing impairment. I hadn't expected to see a deaf person acting in the Passion Play, and it made me sit up and take notice.

As Jesus came within a few feet of her, he was facing the audience and his voice boomed out toward us. Then he did something that took my breath away. As he spoke, he . . .