Jim Furlong – A Pull to the Left

Jim Furlong – A Pull to the Left

My snowblower pulls a little to the left this winter. We have had one storm and there is snow in our future. 

During the December storm I noticed that my snowblower didn’t stay on a straight track. Every couple of seconds you need to use force to straighten it up. It’s hard on the arms. I might have been concerned about that, but I found perspective and perspective is what it is all about.

A Strange ‘Caste’ 

A friend of mine died in December after a short illness. He was a bit younger than me. That must have been a difficult Christmas for his family. I have some experience with someone close dying at Christmas. It puts a strange “caste” to the holidays that never quite goes away. 

I also have another very close friend who has an adult child currently going through drug rehab. That must be a very large burden to carry and that gets particularly heavy at Christmas.

I watched with interest as well over the holidays the lineup at the food bank at the church I attend. It seemed longer this year. You know what always shakes me at the food bank? You see a lot of people there with “issues.” Perhaps it is drugs, perhaps it is something else. There is a part of us that looks at that and without verbalizing it comes to the conclusion that “we aren’t like that.” 

There is another group that is really quite upsetting. They are ordinary people just like us. They could be our neighbours. They could be volunteering at the food bank but they aren’t. They are leaving with a bag of groceries just like the people we smugly identified as having “issues.”

That was forcefully brought home to me when I found out that a friend of one of my sons had been to a food bank more than once. He was going because he had a very low paying job and responsibilities and didn’t have enough to eat. 

The Fate of Humanity  

This Christmas in St. John’s the Salvation Army had several hundred volunteers fill and distribute 1,600 food hampers to the needy. Think about that number.

John Bradford was an English Reformer in the 16th century who, having watched a group of prisoners go to execution, wrote, “There but for the grace of God goes John Bradford.” 

In the 20th century, folk singer Phil Ochs wrote a variation on that; “There but for Fortune go I.” 

Both expressions really say the same thing and it is that the fate of humankind, including you and me, is in the hands of God or, if you prefer, Fortune. Most of us, but not all, are very lucky.

I expect you know where this is going. It is back to my snowblower. It is pulling a little to the left. For that, as the calendar ticks over into 2019, I am eternally grateful. Every time I look at it I will be reminded.

NTV’s Jim Furlong can be reached by emailing: jfurlong@ntv.ca

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