Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I flopped onto the couch with my laptop, glad to be in the cool of the air-conditioned house. It had been such a hot day.

I was checking emails when the doorbell chimed--soft, melodic, Big Ben tones.

Opening the beveled glass front door to the heat outside, I found a young man, wearing a baseball cap, shorts and tee shirt--holding a heavy a rucksack.

He explained that his job was giving away/installing energy saving equipment for the gas company. He showed me the large I.D. tag that hung from his neck and I was reassured to recognize a familiar business name. He handed me a shower head and tap attachments for bathroom and kitchen--as well as foam water pipe insulation.

I thought that perhaps this was a summer job and that he was a university student.

He handed me a form to sign for his records and to account for the free equipment handed out. No problem. But there was a second space to sign, confirming that he had installed the equipment.

"I have a problem signing this," I said.

"No, no, it's all right," he said, "This is just to say I was here."

"Yes, but it says you installed the things and you didn't," I said, "My signature means something to me. It's an ethical thing."

"Well, I can install them for you," he said, "No problem."

I led him to the furnace room where the water heater is, to put the foam on the hot water pipe. On the way down the stairs he said, "Hello," to Tiffany-Amber and Victoria, who were playing on the floor. I sensed a tenderness in him.

He switched my shower head and said he'd been trained to install these properly--and he had me check for leaks. There were none.

In our sun porch, I signed the paper, and he said, "This my first job. I new to this country."

"Then welcome to Canada!" I said, "Where are you from?"

He said, "China," and he told me that it had taken four years to get here.

"Well, this is a wonderful country," I said, motioning to our beautiful home, "If you work hard, God will bless you." And I told him too, about the Chinese young man who goes to our church--telling him his name--as if hearing another Chinese name would be a comfort.

I found myself telling him the story of how, when Paul and I came here from England in 1969, with no money and no car, we stopped at a home in Clarkson, to ask directions to a factory where Paul had a job interview. The woman who came to the door had taken off her apron, got her car keys, and driven us to the interview. A kindness such as that you never forget.

"You are such a nice lady," he said, "You are so kind."

I thought to myself that maybe my efforts to be more gentle since the assertiveness training course I recently took, were bearing fruit.

"I honest," he said, motioning to the paper I had signed in the end.

"I know," I said.

"I don't want you to think I not. Most people don't want me to come in their house and install things."

"I wish you the best in your future," I said--he thanked me, smiling. He seemed not to want to go. I wished afterwards that I had offered him a drink, asked him to sit for a moment.

How much we take for granted--friends, family--living in this wonderful country of ours. How blessed and privileged we are.

Lord, my evening reflection is one of gratitude. I thank you for the riches you've blessed us with here. Help me always to be generous with what you have given, as you are generous. I pray for that young man, who I only know by his five digit I.D. number on the duplicate copy of the form he left behind. You know his name and you love him. Please bless him with friends in this land--and I pray that if he doesn't know you--that he will--for you are the source of all true blessing.

2 Peter 3:13-14 (New International Version)
13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

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