Saturday, January 9, 2010

Interdependence

Over the more than quarter-of-a-century that Beve and I have been married, we had many times when we needed home-repairs, remodels, or other services done for us.  This is always the case, especially the moment, married or not, that people put their initials and and names on the sheaf of papers that certifies home-ownership.  Before we even owned a home, a friend from Beve's grad school days helped us build a futon frame.  He was quite a carpenter, that friend, and we re-used his skills when we needed to put in a wall in the first house we owned.  In that house, one of my brothers and an uncle helped Beve move our front door, replace a sliding door with a window, and my dad helped us build the steps to that new entrance.  In the next house, Dad built a deck for/with us, as well as helping my brother frame our garage.  A teacher Beve worked with happened to have a background in cement, so he helped Beve add a sports court to that back of that garage.

We've had friends willing to let us use their giant pick-ups to move hot-tubs, others who let us store our earthly belongings in their garage.  A dad of one of E's basketball team-mates, also worked in the cement-pouring industry, and he widened our driveway for us a house ago.  There's an electrician in town who used to own Jackson, and still feels a little guilty about making us take the big oaf (not that we' regret it for an instance) so this man did all the wiring on our front patio.  A different friend did the lion's share of wiring in our bathroom re-wire.  

My point is, we've had so many friends with exactly the right cocktail of skills we've needed at exactly the right time, it's been a joke between us that we only make friends with those who can do something for us.

I'm thinking about this tonight because J went to the doctor again this afternoon about his tonsils.  He texted me this morning that they were not only bleeding, but also pussy, and were practically touching his back molars.  We immediately called the doctor again, and Beve went with him this time, because J can barely make his voice heard.  The doctor said that J's tonsils are the worst he's ever seen.  So J will very likely have them removed.  When the dr. said he was going to send J to an ENT, Beve said, "Tom."  Tom, you see, is an ENT in town.  Also the father of three of Beve's former and present students.  Just a month ago, Beve took Tom's middle son out to lunch.  This son was the star of Squalicum's basketball team, a team that won the state title last year and is expected to repeat.  But this boy had rotator cuff surgery last month, and won't be a part of their victory lap, except from the bench.  So Beve wanted to check in with him. 

And I was in a Bible study with Tom's wife a few years back.  We were actually meeting one Tuesday morning when Beve was back in Pennsylvania, suffering from a Meniere's attack.  Right in the middle of that Bible study, Tom's wife called him for me.  A wife can get through to her husband more easily than a patient can.  And Tom went on a mission trip to Mexico with us one hot August.  He worked side by side with J, building a medical clinic in a tiny town on the Baja Penninsula.  He told Beve and me later that J was a remarkable young man, a really hard worker, and that he'd be glad to help J someday.

He meant, of course, help J get a job. But tonight I'm thinking how that help will come a different way.  Beve's going to call Tom tomorrow, even though it's Sunday.  And Tom will agree to see J.  I know this because I know Tom. 

We don't, of course, ask for resumes and skill sets when we are looking for friends.  But this sharing of gifts--without counting the cost--is what the Body of Christ is about. Or what it should be about, anyway.  I've helped many of my friends' kids with their college applications.  Beve's baked cinnamon rolls for practically everyone we know.  It's the sharing of our talents, our skills with those who need them...and we all need each other's talents, don't we?  We've lived this way mostly as economy.  We can't afford to hire such experts, as others can. But this economy-life has made us stumble into the best way to live.

A hundred-plus years ago on the prairies and farmlands of this country people didn't call a contractor when they needed to build a house. They called their friends.  Then they helped their neighbors bring in the harvest.  Not for pay, but because through such giving, such neighborliness everyone prospered, which developed community.  In those days people didn't try to be independent, but interdependent.  And I'm thinking tonight that this interdependence is what living Kingdom-lives really means.  It's faith in action, as James says.

The last time we moved--into this house--27 people showed up to help us.  Seriously, 27.  Even thinking about it now (6 1/2 years later)  makes me tear up, I'm so humbled by it.  That's a Kingdom-come blessing we can never repay.  But repaying isn't the point--giving what God's given us to give is.

"For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us." Romans 12: 4-6

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