Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Common Ground in Differences - Donna Mann
Summer is camp weather — and we’ve done a lot of it through the last few months. We often contact people in the areas we’re travelling to see if they have time for lunch or maybe a coffee at Timmie’s. Such was the case in our recent trip.
It was a situation where we recently visited old friends of the Mennonite tradition while travelling east. We had known one another for many years; trust and friendship had developed between us. In the past we’d learned about our mutual churches, congregations and groups within faith communities, and at times discussed biblical passages and God’s expectations.
We looked at photo albums and listened to stories from the past decade. As I coloured pictures, read stories and laughed with the children, it was like having my own grandchildren around my knees. As the father/husband asked God’s blessings on us individually before our meal, it was truly drawing us all to the same table. Indeed, we shared common ground in the oneness of God’s care and love, as well as our faithfulness and return of gratitude.
On our second day, we were scanning the roadside for a rest area, when we noticed a rural United Church building with a big empty parking lot—big enough to turn this rig around. As no one was there, we couldn’t ask permission, so I just put on the kettle and opened our lunch packages. Within the half-hour several cars came rushing in. As it turned out, the women’s group had arrived to practice a skit for an upcoming event. Later, as we talked together, it reminded me of coffee hour after church. Again common ground in location, witness and mission.
My last experience was one of urgency: later in the day, we parked in a mall lot and as Doug checked the hitches and lights, a tall foreign man came up behind him and asked for a screwdriver. “Straight” he said. At first, my fear heightened. Doug gave it to him without looking back. We watched him walk toward a huge loaded transport, to stand facing the passenger door. He obviously attempted to open the lock. Doug ventured over to offer further assistance and it happened the driver had requested permission from a grocery store to unload, but wasn’t granted consent because he was not wearing safety boots. His newly purchased boots were now in the cab, but so where his keys.
With a clothes hanger from the trailer and a little fancy manoeuvring, Doug opened the huge truck cab door. Even with a language and culture barrier, a pressing need, and established trust (albeit short-lived), the driver was able to deliver his load before the deadline. The men had found common ground in the differences: a need and a willingness to help.
We laughed as thirty minutes later, we saw the same truck cab, minus its long trailer move in a circle around our RV, heading for the exit—his way of saying thankful.
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