Dear Inner Circle,

Beautiful weather and a clear diary on Saturday enticed me to go for a walk. Lisa and I found ourselves at the Parramatta River near Sydney Olympic Park. It was a glorious day and many hundreds of people had obviously thought the same thing, and headed to the same place. There was a place to hire bikes doing such fabulous business that I think every bike had been hired and was cycling around the expansive tracks. I saw one family who had hired a little bike with training wheels for their toddler. The little kid threw his leg over and instantly took off like he’d stolen it. Dad yelled out to him, but was busy trying to fasten a much younger child into a seat on the back of another bike. The younger child had astonishing lung capacity and began to cry, “Let me out, I wanna get off”. The father didn’t have time to calm the smaller child because he was clearly panicked about where his older son had taken off to. In a few minutes the father shot past us to the sound of, “Let me out, I want to get off” which was now at a volume that might register on the Richter Scale. Eventually a woman joined this frantic parade, riding a bike like she’d never ridden one before. We kept walking and about fifteen minutes later, we came across the family again. They’d found the boy on training wheels who still was showing little interest in anything but breaking some kind of speed record. The younger child was still yelling, “I want to get off” and Mum was following about one hundred metres behind, looking like all she cared about was staying alive while being on two wheels.

I said to Lisa, “Imagine these people got up this morning and said to each other, “What a beautiful day for a family adventure in the park. Let’s hire some bikes!” It was impossible not to smile with sympathy and good humour. I’m grateful for the reminder that sometimes the pursuit of happiness requires perseverance, patience, and grit. I often ask people in our church gatherings to share an ordinary moment where in some way they were, ’captured by the awesome’. It’s lovely to hear people talk about a cat, a child, a tree, a smile or something that gave an ordinary moment spiritual significance. So Lisa said to me, “What in this moment causes you to be captured by the awesome?” I said, “With one child trying to get away as fast as he can, and the other yelling, “I want to get off” while the father did everything he could to make them comfortable; things rarely go to plan the way that we hope for, and sometimes our ideals just can’t be met. Still this man has given us a deep insight into the heart of being truly present, and keeping steadfast on his path to make his family happy – even though it was a bit wobblier than expected!

I was met in a park in Kings Cross near the fountain this week by someone whom I’d only known as a cranky fellow. To be honest, with this particular fellow, smaller doses are usually better than large. I’d never been aware of doing anything to upset the man but always he seemed unhappy with me. As soon as I saw him this week, I knew there was a difference in him. He told me, “I found out that you can be a carrier of more hurt and disappointment than you know about.” He acknowledged that he’d been quite rude to me in the past but that, “Something about you reminded me of all that I’d lost…and even of things I didn’t even know I’d lost.” Nothing I’d done had brought about this change and when he left, I still wasn’t sure what had set him on a better path, but was grateful to have witnessed a moment of transformation.

Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle,

Jon

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