Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Canals, Rice Fields and My Life
Yesterday I walked along a very small canal that delivers water to some small rice fields and to a hotel and a few restaurants near Qinghe. I walked on the wall of the canal that separates the river and the canal. The river was noisy in places but the canal, being almost level, was very quiet. I walked between these two forces and thought about my life. I thought about some things I’d like to change. I thought about how you can want to change something and yet sometimes these things do not change. Finally, I came to the spot where the river and the canal join. I could go no further for the river was wide and at that point and I could not cross the canal. It was time to turn around and walk back. I tossed a leaf into the canal and watched it travel. I found a small plank of wood – a “two by four” ( 2 inches by 4 inches) (5 cm x 10 cm) about 18 inches long (about 50 cm). It was smooth all over from being in the river. I tossed it in the canal and wondered if it would reach the hotel I was staying in or if it would get hung up in the weeds and branches that intrude into the canal. I also found a yellow hard hat with a hole in the top of it. I threw it in the canal too – just for fun, just to see what would happen. It filled with water but still floated (mostly under the water). The hard-hat and the plank had a race. The hat was so far behind I thought it had sunk. I watched the piece of wood and thought about my life. I thought maybe my life is like that piece of wood. Sometimes I flow nicely down the river of life and sometimes I get hung up in the weeds. I thought about some of my problems and felt, at times, a little helpless. Then the piece of wood got stuck in the weeds. I watched it try to free itself but it failed. So I found a stick and gave it a little nudge. Maybe this is what God does for us. Maybe we don’t always need big dramatic changes in our lives, maybe we just need a little nudge. Maybe that is what God does for us. Maybe that is what God will do for me.
I continued to watch the piece of wood float as I walked slowly beside it in the hot summer sun. Then from behind came the hat – the yellow mostly-submerged hard hat. It seems that because it was traveling mostly under the water it avoided some of the branches that snagged my piece of wood that had become a metaphor for me and my life. With a little wind from behind my piece of wood / boat took off and was traveling faster now. Again some branches that reached into the canal snagged it and slowed it and finally stopped it. I tried to interfere as little as possible. I stuck my foot into the water and made just enough waves to get it going again.
But eventually both the yellow hard hat and my boat went under some bushes where I couldn’t see them. I waited but they did not come out. I walked on slowly – feeling confident that God would indeed help me and that in time it would rain hard again and the yellow hard hat and my boat would both come out of their stuck places and float down the canal again and yes they would pass the hotel where I was staying.