Whenever I see an old lady slip and fall on a wet sidewalk, my first instinct is to laugh. But then I think, what if I was an ant, and she fell on me. Then it wouldn't seem quite so funny.
(Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts)
We humans are pretty selfish creatures who live in our own little world without giving much thought about how our lives effect the lives of others--the ripple effect. The ripple effect is a fairly simple concept as demonstrated by the above picture. A drop lands in a pool of water disturbing its peaceful serenity and creates a wave that drifts outward. This continues until it meets another object and then it crashes into it. We are all big old drops of water that hit the pool and radiate outward, much like the picture above, crashing into one another. It has an effect on us. Our actions in life do effect others whether we realize it or not.
Everything we do effects someone or something. Who knows when the waves of an other's ripple will cross path with ours. For a while my little pond had been pretty still and calm. Not too many waves crashing in. Then about six weeks ago things began to change--not because of anything I did, but because the waves of others ripples began to intersect with my own. Intersections were created, new areas of relationship were born, and a new adventure was placed before me. None were of my own design, some were newly created by the actions of others, some were set in motion years ago.
This has made me have to do a lot of thinking, praying, and waiting to hear the voice of God. It is a process of discernment. In one situation life will be completely changed and neither the wife nor I have any control over the situation--it is in the hands of those who created it. As much as we want to be involved in this new adventure we have to wait to be invited. This all happened so suddenly and unexpectedly that the ripple washed across us and no matter what happens it has changed us.
The other ripple was started long ago and involves the most fragile of all gifts--family. In the story of the family there have been divisions, rifts, and hurt feelings that created a shattering effect upon the family. Relationships were broken, words were spoken, and lives ere changed forever. Some of the characters in the family story are long gone never having had the opportunity to mend the hurts or to restore the relationships. Goodbyes were never uttered. And, now, years latter the effects of that ripple have crossed my own.
My youngest uncle who I have seen or heard from in over fifteen years worked hard to discover where I was in order to reconnect and hopefully restore some sort of resemblance of family for himself. I have known the story for years from those on one side of the family, and I have now heard his side of the story. As with any story told from different perspectives there are vast gaps between the two. But, I have also heard the voice of a lonely man seeking to restore some connection--some relationship--as he and I enter into those so-called golden years. There is a sadness in the situation because it calls for forgiveness and reconciliation on the parts of the two primary characters in the story at this point--him and me. Something not easily done as I know that whatever I chose to do will create ripples across the lives of those other family members unwilling or not ready to forgive, forget, and move on.
It is up to me . . . this uncle, only two years older than me, has made the first move. He has reached out across the loneliness and pain of the past to invite me to consider restoring a relationship. Thus far I have not been sure what I should do. The waves of his ripple pound my mind and heart every day. On the one hand, my faith clearly shows me the way--embrace the gift and restore the family. That is what Jesus would do--welcome home the prodigals. On the other hand, I want to respect and honor the family--my family--who still feels the hurt of loved ones turning away. The waves pull in all directions.
As I wrote earlier, our lives effect others. The waves come rippling across us whether we are prepared for them or not. Some are positive, some are negative, but none of them come without effect. The choice is ours as to how we will respond or react to them. From reaction to response--that is my prayer. The choice is mine. With the first, I wait patiently and pray that the invitation will eventually come and allow the wife and I to be a part of the journey. With the second, well, that is also my choice and I seem to be leaning toward restoring family even though it will cause a ripple with the rest of the family. Neither one seems simple . . . I guess it is my turn to create the ripple.
"We must be the change we wish to see in the world"