Saturday, January 17, 2009

Random acts of blessing a curse?

To give you some background, I travel a lot through the downtown core during the day. My staff are scattered throughout several buildings in the middle of Edmonton. My day is made up of meetings in different buildings, and I scoot several blocks down Jasper Avenue to get there. When I am late I use the bus, waving my transit pass as I fly by. From practice I've found the bus faster than walking, light rail transit, or car.

So I am late and I scoot on the bus, waving my transit pass at the driver. I ask him if he drops off at 107th. He does. The bus is mostly full, only a few spare seats. I sit down beside a balding man reading his book. I haul my own book bag in my lap for courtesy sake and take out my own novel. Space Opera, delightful escapism, borrowed from the library. The bus rumbles off, smelling of sweet diesel and wet sand. The man looks up from the novel and tells me gravely, "God bless you."

Alllll right.

I look him in the eye and say, "Thank you." There is a tinge of madness in the corners. I swiftly look away and absorb myself in my own book. I am swamped with a feeling of violation, and vow to explore those feelings later. I also take sly note that he is reading a hardcover novel, not a bible. Unusual for someone so socially forward, he's wearing i-pod headphones. My stop comes, and I rush back out in to the warm winter day, full of slush and people rushing to their own purpose, office towers dropping ice and a meeting to get to.

I make a whole bundle of assumptions about that man's random act of blessing. He's likely evangelical. I understand that history. I've been there myself. He's passionate and he has a sense of mission. Though he knows nothing about me, he considered his random act to be blessing, to be an investment in the world's spiritual bank account somehow. Perhaps he hopes that I would absorb his message and take my own spirituality more seriously. I have a definite impression he does so not for his own benefit but for what he sees as a terrible lack in our society. I am in need of reforming, dashgnabit. Me and the rest of the poor, lost world.

But I'm not lost and I do have a firm sense of where I am. I am warmly comfortable with my God. And I do have a strong sense of purpose that transcends the everyday. I, too, want the world to be a better place.

But he would not know that because he did not bother to know me first. In his mind I must be no more than a caricature, a cut-out that he could pull from the book he is reading. I am not a person, I am a sounding board. I provided a a vehicle for his blessing, but he did not bother to know or care if I was primed to receive it.

Where was I in that blessing? Does the blessing fall flat if it is not recieved?

The picture I borrow from a myspace feed,