In 1977 “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” hit the big screen. The title means humans observing aliens. This past weekend when I traveled to the coast and back I had the experience of “Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind”, which stands for humans observing humans.
There was the intoxicated fellow of asian descent who wanted to butt in front of me in the boarding line-up at YYC. I knew he had missed his Zone 1 cue, because he stayed too long at the bar. His pungent breath gave him away. I let him in. I was amused with his greying pony tail. Why is it men think a pony tail or top knot is cool?
Then came the ever so late stewardess who dramatically arrived behind me in in the security line up. Her exaggerated watch glancing, toe tapping, and head poking up and over the conveyer like a spastic gopher, got under my skin. She would inch forward, and I would inch forward, and she would huff again. “Tough time in traffic?” I wanted to ask. “Bad case of asthma?” The lady in front of me was so kind, and let the frantic stewardess run ahead. She could have asked, rather than play charades. Secretly I hoped when she walked through the full body scanner, Scotty from Star Trek would beam her up to another planet. Poof!
I couldn’t forget the red neck from the outskirts of Saskatoon, sitting behind me on the plane, who insulted the fellow coming down the isle to sit right next to him. Ole’ Red Neck blurted out “Look Martha, why do we always get someone REALLY BIG sitting next to us?” Thankfully for Red Neck, the Big Fella was very kind and didn’t use Mr. ‘mouth piece’ as a seat cushion. And to clarify Big Fella wasn’t big at all, he was tall.
On my way back to Vancouver there was a man waiting to board the Ferry at Langdale Station, who told a little girl in her stroller, to pull up her pants and say ‘no’ to crack. What was he thinking? His remarks were highly inappropriate! I was stunned. There are those people who should think twice about opening their mouths in public. Her mother did not respond, but stared off into the distance. If it had been my little girl the stranger was speaking to, I would have stuffed him in a crack between the board walk.
I spied a ‘stick figure of a man’ wearing blue jeans, a lumberjack vest, and a toque, carrying nothing but a plastic shopping bag. When we boarded the Ferry he disappeared, only to appear next to me in the elevator. I wasn’t sure which button to push to get us to the passenger deck, so I asked for help. He pushed a button and then turned to me and said “I have bad teeth…..and lung cancer”. “I am so sorry” I replied. “It’s okay, I smoke, but I am trying to quit”. It took a few seconds for me to recognize an opportunity for prayer, but the elevator door opened, and he was gone. After lunch I went to find him, before he threw himself overboard. I spotted him talking to another perfect stranger, only this time letting him know he was “paramilitary, and he didn’t like killing people, because of what it does to your insides.”
I found a place to sit on the warm side of the sun deck, just out of the wind. Along came a woman wearing a kid’s polka dotted blanket for a scarf, over a khaki rain coat, wearing floral rubber boots, with her pants tucked inside. She waddled, kind of sort of, or maybe that was the wind. I thought her idea of walking was better than my sitting, so I got up and circled the deck.
I noticed a charming down syndrome man who road the 257 Express from Horseshoe Bay to downtown Vancouver. He tried to talk to the lady next to him, but she said she couldn’t understand him. I could, and I was sitting across the isle.
I hid behind my sun glasses and watched. He removed his hat and glasses and rubbed his face, then ran his fingers through his hair. He eventually moved closer to a young woman, who had a large tiger patterned suitcase. He told her he liked her suitcase, and reached out to touch it. She nodded, then quickly turned away. Every once and a while a ball of white would protrude from his lips, and my stomach would turn, thinking it was saliva and spit. Turned out it was gum. I couldn’t help but think he was very courageous. Who did he belong to? Was it hard for them to let him ride the bus alone? Was he ever greeted warmly?
To my disgust I witnessed a very tall elderly gentleman ‘hack a lube’ (is this even the way you spell it?), on the skyline pathway, a few feet away from me. I almost threw up right then and there, but miraculously held my breath. I concluded he had probably been an orphan his whole life, with no mother to teach him manners. He was dressed like a businessman, with the behaviours of a barbarian.
Once I got seated on the Sky Train at Canada Line Station, I witnessed a middle aged man come running through the open door. His lips were pursed and he was making an odd breathing sound like a woman in labor. Once he was seated he continued to furiously push his air in and out loudly, his lips never changing shape. I quickly scanned his person for a backpack, a bomb, a terrorist? He pulled out a piece of paper and nervously flapped it around. He rocked back and forth in his seat. After some time I realized he may be mentally challenged in some way, but very brave, and able to navigate to his next stop. He took his backpack with him. Whew!
I was almost home, plane touched down and I paused from observing the human race, and looked into my heart instead. I asked myself “Do I love my fellowman without measure?”
My “Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind” made me realize something astounding. God is amazing. He loves us all without measure. He loves the drunks, the tardy. He loves those who put both feet in their mouth. He loves those who are sick and hurting, and those who commit fashion suicide. There is no intellectual prerequisite for God’s love. He loves those who mind their manners and those who are socially inept. He even loves me, which ever category I find myself in at the moment.
I want to personally thank Andrea Hawiuk and Friends for the generous and informative conference on Depression and Suicide, The Conversation Has to Happen (2017). Every story shared offered new insight for those suffering, and those suffering along side of. Thank you also for inviting several of the agencies in Olds to participate through a showcase in the Pomeroy Inn and Suites Foyer.
I was moved by Rev. Dr. John Pentland when he humbly introduced a friend to share about the loss of her Son Ty. I was also very inspired by John’s response to “Thirteen Reasons Why“. I want to follow his practice of writing thirteen nuggets of wisdom to encourage our children to embrace life.
I was in agreement with Mike Ryan when he brought our attention to society’s different treatment towards alcohol versus drugs. They both alter our mental state.
Jim Marland and his program Can Praxis is ingenious and so necessary for veterans and first responders.
Dr. Jody Carrington’s choice of videos were helpful in teaching us how to connect with one another.
Thank you Rick More, and family for sharing your story about Lindsey, and the Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation.
Terry Coles – thank you for your honesty and humility. Blessed to have heard your story.
One particular topic that was not discussed at great length was how some of our cultural entertainment trends are catalysts for further suffering. Violence, death, and fantasy, all contributing to darker mood swings, and often times an unrealistic view of life.
Thanks to Wayne McCracken and Don Matchullis, very tasteful touch with the musical choices.
Cindy Palin – Director of CAPCC – Olds Location
I have learned that no matter what I face I am never alone. When my parents were going through a divorce and my new husband couldn’t relate to my heartbreak, God could.
When my children left for kindergarten, then graduated, and one has married, no one could get inside of my heart and hold me like God could, and still does.
Now I am facing the third or fourth season of watching our youngest leave for missions, our second born leave for the sixth time for yet another skating tour – a second time in Europe. Our eldest and her husband moved to a different province a year ago this past April, with our two little grandchildren.
Who holds us together when everybody leaves? God does. I constantly turn to God’s Word and read the stories of those who have gone before me, and how God sustained them when they faced change and loneliness. The time I do not have with my family – is time for me to pray for them, and time for me to live a life of example.
Every change, every tearing, all the comings and goings in this world are opportunities for us to watch God’s faithfulness at work.
When it comes to our children leaving the nest, sometimes we can let the tearing overshadow the growth. Rather than focusing on the change, or the empty space, why not focus on the new strengths you see your adult children developing? Why not focus on the new skills they are acquiring? Take a minute and reflect on how you too are growing through it all.
I admire how all of our children are leaders. Each of them have a leadership position of some kind. In some ways I could say their Dad and I have raised strong independent people, but I give the credit to God. There is one thing I want us, and them to never forget…don’t be so independent you forget to depend on God. He will never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 31:6). You would do well to read the entire context of that chapter to see what kind of change Israel was facing.
It is very easy to talk to God about how our lives radically change over the years. Just find a quiet spot and call on his name. Ask him to reveal himself to you. Ask him to speak to you. Tell him how you are doing, and what you need help with. Wait for answers in the stillness of the night, or the quiet of the morning. Don’t look to the world for the wisdom that only God can give. Don’t turn to the right or the left (Deut. 5:32, 28:14), comparing your life with others perhaps? Don’t reach for the first thing that numbs your pain. Focus on His truth. Watch for Him to show up in the most miraculous of ways.
Watch for author interview “The Faith Keeper” by Cindy Palin, on Hope Stream Radio, June 20th, 2017
- Delete 14 outdated contacts on your phone, pray for the crew, 14 more, pray for the plane….quit at the 1 hour mark, sooner if you don’t have many friends.
- 14 ankle rotations, 14 shoulder rolls, and 14 knee lifts (14 minutes).
- Find 14 new songs/quotes, that relate to your next presentation, 1 hour down.
- Stand up and go for a walk or stretch (14 minutes).
- Write 14 notes of kindness (make sure to pack note cards) 1 hour down.
- 14 ankle rotations, 14 shoulder rolls, and 14 knee lifts (14 minutes.)
- Sleep for four hours (you may want to have ear plugs with you).
- Stand up and go for a walk or stretch (14 minutes).
- Write a blog post about 14 things not to do on a plane (1 hour).
- If you absolutely have to – watch a movie, preferably non-disaster (1 hour).
- 14 ankle rotations, wait – where are your ankles? 14 shoulder rolls, and 14 knee lifts (14 minutes).
- Eat and then Sleep (two hours).
- Refresh clothes, brush teeth, check make-up and hair, etc. preferably in the bathroom (14 minutes).
- Memorize and meditate on 14 verses to set the tone for your attitude throughout your vacation (last hour and several minutes).
….AND MAYBE NOT IN THIS ORDER
I came across a song I wrote ten years ago…. Changed by Love
“I hate it how the world creeps in, and tries to take me back again.
Just when I thought my mind was free, they come in through some door
And paint a picture of someone, that I no longer recognize,
with just enough blood on their brush, to bring me to the floor!”
…©Cindy Palin/March 30th, 2007
What kind of “world” creeps in and drags your mind out of His light? Is the world to blame, or are our bad habits and cyclical circumstances a result of our own choices? Has your curiosity left the door open a crack? For some, it is willful disobedience that has swung it wide. What kind of activities consume your days? What programs and games are filling your screen time? What kinds of “nano-bites” are eating away your morality?
Discipline in our lives is crucial. For our body we want to eat the right things and get exercise. How are we taking care of our minds? Our culture is more concerned about the outside, but the health of our mind determines what kind of person we truly are. The Bible is God’s food for a healthy mind, and yet our culture continues to turn to clever sounding manmade mantras.
Is it possible to have a free mind? It is difficult to understand what freedom in Christ means, until you experience it. To many, God’s commands and boundaries sound harsh, and unrealistic. Doing what ever “we want”, seems to be the current definition of freedom. The depression statistics in teens is evidence we have not taken godly truth and wisdom seriously. Doing “what ever we want” is leaving quite the bondage wake.
Most of the anxiety our medical charts are reflecting, comes from an unhealthy mind. That anxiety is often a sign of our need for repentance. The gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach may not be anxiety at all, but the muffled voice of the Holy Spirit calling you out of sin.
You do not have to remain painted with the sinner’s brush…..
If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth—we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin (1 John 1:7 MSG).
For at one time we too were foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to all sorts of desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not by the righteous deeds we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:3, 4 Berean Study Bible).
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2 NIV).
This week I was witness to a grievous situation. Much is expected of those who represent Christ, and whom are vessels of his love. Scripture emphasizes that those in leadership, who teach, are judged more strictly (James 3:1). The every day tasks we share together must never overshadow the value of another man’s soul. Our projects, and dreams must always be tested by God’s Word, lest we get a head of Him, and trample all over His children in the process. Do we know the people we are leading? Have we bothered to take the time to get to know them? Have we heard their stories, or have we settled for warm bodies filling chairs, to make it look like we’re doing something right? Are our words reflecting Christ, or turning people away – for eternity?
My Untitled Song
When did your vision become the goal?
Who put the ‘holy cause’ before the soul?
History reveals that nothing’s changed,
still marching on – using His name.
Pushing agendas that are worldly sound?
Caring for others, but the numbers count?
No mystery here, a classic case,
religious talk minus the grace.
What were your reasons to believe?
What high and mighty dream got up your sleeve?
Today is all some people have
What face did they see looking back?
Adding a rule or two, to up the game?
When did your faith become more about fame?
Tomorrow comes, it’s not enough,
because religion isn’t love.
Words and music by Cindy Palin ©January 27, 2017 All Rights Reserved
“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart” (Proverbs 27:19).