Digging into life
Sometimes, when I stand in front of others and relate my journey, I begin with my family and the communities I’ve lived in, and I recount a partial history of the jobs I’ve held. Sometimes I relive relationships I’ve had. Once in a long while I’ll tell the story of the time I was buried alive up in Pass Creek in ’98.
Despite our years as neighbours, I only had a passing relationship with the men who dug me out. We didn’t know one another all that well, had only gotten together for the purpose of putting in the water-line. But when the banks caved in, they didn’t hesitate for an instant. There is nothing quite like being smacked in the head with a shovel.
The thing about my journey is –once in a while –I seem to benefit from the timely application of a shovel. That day in Pass Creek was far from the first time ‘d been saved from the consequences of ill-considered actions by friends, neighbours, co-workers or just random people on the highway. People with better driving skills, people with tow ropes, people with shovels.
People with insight. Where would I be without people with insight? People who take the time to sit with one another, to sit in community, to participate in consideration and conversation about who we are and where we might be headed. People who are kind, people who are passionate, people who are joyful, people who are open, people who are patient, and wise, and caring, people who are on the journey. As I am, as you are.
Maybe it’s a function of age, perhaps it’s some prescient sense of my own mortality, maybe I’m just wary of shovels, but lately I’ve been taking more notice of the intersections in life. A conversation at the bottom of the waterslide at Silverwood; a moment around the campfire at Syringa; a second or two in the lounge at Church; a telephone call from a friend; a casual encounter in the aisle at Zellers; an image on facebook; an emailed insight. In each contact a nudge of relationship.
Life, as I discovered at the bottom of a ditch along McDaniel Road in Pass Creek, is relationship. It is impossible to survive without others, and it is impossible to realize ourselves fully, without others. When I am most open to the presence of others, I am, somehow, most open to the possibility that has resided in me since the moment of creation, since the moment the Creator put the breath of Spirit into the clay that is also part of me.
Some deny the presence of the Spirit, some deny the grace of a loving creator, but it is not possible to deny the presence and grace of other living beings in our lives. They can be ignored, cast aside, and misunderstood, but they will not be denied. Some of them carry shovels. And sometimes, we might be glad they do.
Keith Simmonds is a diaconal minister in the Communities in Faith Pastoral Charge serving Beaver Valley, Rossland, Salmo and Trail.