I had the privilege of serve alongside a cluster of world changers today. As many of you know, southern Alberta (the region where I live) experienced significant flooding during the third week of June. Many residents suffered damage to their homes, lots of infrastructure was destroyed, and even our beloved green spaces experienced change during this natural disaster.
My band of change agents & I headed to one of our local green spaces to help in the cleaning efforts with the goal of helping restore a communal oasis for public use. We got started in our efforts much later than we had hoped, but by the end of our experience each one of us left with a different souvenir of sorts (other than filth laden clothing).
It was humbling to see the damage caused by flooding first hand: 30 foot trees uprooted, erosion of the river bank, damaged fencing, debris and other sorts of clutter. But within the layers of chaos, there were still signs of great hope. Hope that this emerging generation recognizes that they have a role to play in the over-arching and unfolding story of humanity. Hope that all things can be restored, improved and re-purposed even though they have been wounded or damaged by a flood. And hope that there is always an opportunity in every obstacle.
I met a local city worker named James who was passionate about flood ecology. Near the end of our day, James offered us a story that has captivated my imagination. James explained that the poplar trees are a flood species. When the water table is saturated, poplar trees release their seedlings (similar to how pine trees release their pine cones during a fire), allowing the species to continue to grow, thrive and mature over time. James asked us what we had seen during our cleaning efforts. We pointed to uprooted trees, dirt, silt and other debris as a result of the flood. Bending down to a patch of greenery I had walked past half a dozen times throughout the day, James asked us to look closer. As we looked down and more closely at the ground, James pointed out thousands of tree saplings that had begun to germinate. These saplings were unnoticed by those of us who were focused on cleaning and helping our city recovery little by little, and yet these same saplings serve as a reminder that great good can come out of great disaster in time.
The story of Joseph (read more here), a biblical character, has a similar ending. Joseph endured much pain in his life (slavery, abuse, betrayal, etc.), and yet still had the courage to view his circumstances through the lens of an opportunity instead of an obstacle.
Life isn't a series of disconnected chaotic random events. Life is an intricately stitched, elaborate and unfolding story that has a rhythm and design. It's our choice to discover the silver lining during perceived times of chaos. So how are you discovering opportunity in the obstacle that you might be facing?
How can we navigate through the uncertainty of conflict in relationships? Where do we start?
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