What to believe
In January of 2008, Albert Dumont led a writing workshop for the National Capital Region branch of the Canadian Authors Association on “Tapping the Creative Spirit.” That day he shared a story that went something like this:
Near the area where a man grew up there was a raspberry patch that produced an abundance of berries — more than anyone could pick, with plenty left over for the birds. One year, the cycle of life meant that when this man went to the patch to being picking there were few, if any, berries. He reported this sad turn of events to a neighbour who said, “I know where there are plenty of berries. Come with me tomorrow.” They got up at 5:00 a.m., got into a rowboat, paddled across the river and walked for miles, until they came to the raspberry patch. There were no berries. Sometimes someone says that they know where to find something. They say, “Follow me. I’ll show you how to find what you’re looking for.” But they’re wrong.
We have to be selective about what to believe.
Recently I spent part of a weekend volunteering at my son’s Little League baseball tournament. JJ Clark, the local weather man on CJOH-TV, promised that it would rain—not what you want for a weekend of baseball. As I barbecued hot dogs with a fellow parent volunteer, the clouds hung low over our heads, but the rain held off. Around noon, though, a few raindrops began to fall.
Beside me, the barbecuing baseball dad said in jest, “Did someone spit on me, or is it raining?”
I said, “The world is spitting on you. Nothing personal, you understand.”
When raindrops fall gently, we accept easily that rain is just . . . weather. We don’t assume ulterior motives or assign blame, and we barely give it a second thought. But when the raindrops come tempestuously in a flooding torrent, accompanied by tree-bending winds, that’s when stories start to become creative, varied or even fantastical.
It was easy for two barbecuing baseball parents to accept that our gentle rainfall was just that. Weather and nothing more.
The stories about Hurricane Katrina, however, get a little more interesting. Some people tell a story of an unusual weather pattern. The story for others is all about climate change. Still others, from both within and without western society, cry with alarm that Katrina is a story about the wrath of God seeking revenge on the sins of our hedonistic ways.
When stories grow in number and variety, each one of us individually must be mindful about choosing what to believe. We must remember that our choice ripples out into the world, either positively or negatively. When we choose, we would do well to ask ourselves, as Nancy Reeves in The Emerging Christian Way urges us to do:
Which decision releases the most love into the world?