Learning to respect another’s experience
Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 10:03 am
One of the enjoyable aspects of the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” is getting caught up on the kind of reading I don’t make time for the rest of the year. I devote July and August to novels that have caught my eye on the best-sellers lists over the past year.
For example, I’ve just finished Canadian author Joseph Boyden’s award-winning The Orenda, an engaging tale of hostilities between the Iroquois, the Huron and the Catholic Church in early Canada. Over the recent long weekend, I devoured another 500 -pager titled Natchez Burning by Greg Niles, a fascinating tale of racial prejudice set in the American South. By the time you read this, I will have completed Jodi Piccoult’s brilliant Sing You Home, a captivating work exploring numerous topics of current intrigue: infertility, gay marriage, American “religitics,” musical therapy, among them.
Piccoult’s novel prompts significant thought on my part regarding the ease with which we assume our experience of life is the “norm,” that it’s everyone’s experience of life, or even that our experience should be everyone’s experience. Assuming it’s even possible anymore to define what’s “normal” in our society, Sing You Home cleverly immerses readers in a trauma with implications for Airdrie’s population.
Something we often hear about our delightful community is its youthfulness, that it’s home to so many young families. Indeed, a recent assignment that took me through a local neighborhood aptly reminded me that most houses here are homes where children live. The evidence was ample – sidewalk chalk, water-guns of jaw-dropping capacity, bicycles with training-wheels, street-hockey sticks, etc.
The couples of this city are indeed a fertile demographic. That’s partly what makes it difficult to remember that infertility is a burden for some among us who would give - and are giving - virtually everything to conceive. The sound of children playing, the cry of a newborn baby – that which brings smiles to most faces instead brings stabs of pain to the hearts of those who suffer in soul-sucking silence. What comes easily for most has proven frustratingly elusive for them.
I know this because I’m in ongoing conversations with some from this segment of our population. They tell me how hurtful it is to hear nonchalant chit-chat about abortion and birth control, how quickly tears come when they see or hear parents “lose it” with little ones.
So, remember: the noble ideal of loving your neighbour like you love yourself begins with considering your “norm” isn’t everybody’s “norm.”
Tim is pastor of Faith Community Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org