A sign of the presence of God

In the Image

June 2, 2021 | Opinion | Volume 25 Issue 12
Ed Olfert | Columnist
(Photo by David Marcu/Unsplash)

Several months ago, I bleated piteously about a diabetes diagnosis. That has moved forward well, managed by diet, exercise and pills. Alongside, however, has come a new struggle with balance, dizziness and nausea. (To you medical folks, no, it’s not a sugar low.) A doctor and a therapist are working with me. Again, moving forward quite well.

Of course, a story comes out of that.

On a morning walk, which now includes a distance that requires country roads, I spotted an empty whiskey bottle. This isn’t good glass in a field. I scooped it up and continued my stride.

As I approached our village, I could feel those balance issues coming on. My need of the road grew somewhat broader. Soon, I needed a quarter of the road width, lurching from side to side. I carried my phone, but no, I said to myself, I can do this.

A car came from a yard. It stopped well back, and as I staggered by, tightly gripping my 26-ounce jug of Wiser’s Special Blend, I noted eyes wide and staring. After I passed by, the car slowly turned onto the road, making as wide a berth as possible, still with the shocked visage pointed my way. My journey carried on, but now I was giggling maniacally, and hoping that the driver recognized me as a retired minister. I await juicy gossip.

That hour-long morning walk has become an important time of reflection. Come along with me as I walk, as I ponder.

As I have never attended a Mennonite-connected place of learning, and with only the tiniest measure of study at any theological institution at all (Anglican), I feel free to follow in whatever direction that I sense points me toward holiness. Again, a story.

On the same walk, last week. This is a good day. I need very little road width. I hear a vehicle approaching from behind. Normally, I wait till I hear gravel stones hissing, then raise my arm to greet the passer as they go by. But this time, there is no hissing. There is little indication of approach. I turn, and note, still some distance back, a tractor trailer unit coming at me. The operator is slowing, patiently going through most of the 18 speeds, no impatient “brapp” of the engine brake. By the time the truck goes by, and I see it is carrying three large tanks, presumably to nurse a field sprayer somewhere ahead, it is barely moving.

As that truck begins the slow climb back up through the gears, I sense the presence of holiness. I picture the driver, he or she, being aware that on this desperately dry road, the dust they raise is blowing my way. To reduce that thick wall of cloud moving south, the driver chooses to slow the heavy truck to a crawl.

A lifetime of living with receptors wide open has taught me that when kindness, consideration or respect is present, that is always a sign of the presence of God. There are no exceptions.

A little unorthodox, perhaps. The upside is that God can be experienced many times a day, accompanied always by a sense of awe. I didn’t recognize the truck, but if and when I encounter that driver, we will have a conversation about blessings.

Ed Olfert (p2peho@gmail.com) gives thanks for moments of grace experienced.

Read more In the Image columns:
Saying goodbye, then hello again
A precious gift
We are now family
‘Our framing story’
The kingdom of heaven now

(Photo by David Marcu/Unsplash)

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