The title may sound funny or even slightly irreverent. Read on, we may re-learn the art of keeping our eyes, ears and minds open to scenes, relegated to the ordinary folder. Moses found it out with his second look at the burning bush! See my blog post Earth is Crammed with Heaven, dated 5 August 2013.
Here is what happened to prompt this post. Grace and I normally take Bristol Road in Newmarket to do our grocery shopping. On the north side is John Denison Public Secondary School. Within the school property, close to the curb, is a garbage bin. Its four sides are painted in large black letters the following lines:
Side 1, “Wisdom’s worth more than jewels”
Side 2, “Live simply so others can simply live”
Side 3, “Calm seas never made a skilled mariner”
Side 4, “And the Truth shall set you free”
I did not make much of it the first time. Since it is not a private or a Christian school, I thought the authorities would sooner or later scratch it off or paint over or even replace it. Yesterday on the way to Walmart, I meant to check it out and took my camera. You guessed it; it is still there and I got my four points for this post. Don’t worry, I will stay within myself imposed limit of 1000 words or there abouts.
First we have “Wisdom”, the quote is from Proverbs 20:15. The Bible has a lot to say about it. In fact, in the Canon, books accepted and included in the Bible, two books are almost wholly dedicated to Wisdom and subjects close to it.
The Book of Proverbs with 31 chapters is accepted as the best Old Testament example of wisdom literature. King Solomon, known to have spoken 3,000 proverbs is the principal author. On a lighter note, students will do very well to read Proverbs 31:10-31. It may become handy when time comes to find a future spouse! Our daughter Lalitha and son-in-law Jeremy, preparing to join the Celebrant Singers many years ago, took a course by Institute for Basic Youth Conflicts by Bill Gothard. They said the course had a lot to do with Proverbs.
The other “Wisdom” book – Ecclesiastes – with 12 chapters, also written by Solomon by ascription, is more philosophical. Our second daughter, Vin Lawton, took as her text for her Huron Heights High School Valedictorian speech, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
St. James wrote “If any lack wisdom let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him“.
Second, “Live Simply so Others can Simply Live” is a quote from Mahathma Gandhi. I grew up in India during the nonviolent independence movement led by Gandhi. I admired his simplicity. Already an old man during the struggle, he did not depend on youthful personality or charisma. He owned very little except a pair of eye glasses, which he kept together with a wire. Seldom he gave long speeches and did not claim any healing gift. He disliked long introduction, and no fanfare or drum roll. Compare his simplicity with today’s leaders, politicians and even religious leaders. Yet he moved millions. That is the real power of simplicity. I believe Gandhi learned a lot from Jesus by walking and not talking. Please read my post “Dynamic Simplicity” dated 25 July 2013.
I am no good at jokes. My preacher friends have a joke among themselves. It is called the KISS principle: keep it simple stupid! Some substitute the word simple for short.
Thirdly, “Calm Seas never made a Skilled Mariner” is an old English proverb. Three pictures come to my mind about stormy seas and sailors. The first is the actual experience of the disciples caught in a storm crossing the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:37-41). The storm was so fierce that even the experienced fishermen feared they would perish. Jesus gently rebuked them of their fears and calmed the sea. He still calms our storms of life.
Then there is this famous British artist Holman Hunt working on a sketch of St. Mark’s version of the storm of Galilee. As an artist, I believe, he added in the passenger list, besides the disciples, a woman and a child. This, I believe, ironically drew some controversy.
The third picture is by a modern artist, Warren Sallman. The background again is a stormy sea, with a young man at the helm and Jesus guiding him from behind. One can conclude Jesus, instead of removing the storm, guides us through it, teaching us to hone our skills and gather valuable experience . I like the old hymn, “Jesus Saviour pilot me. Over life’s tempestuous sea, Unknown waves, before me roll. Hiding rock and treach’rous shoal. Chart and compass come from thee. Jesus Saviour pilot me”.
Finally, “And the Truth shall set you free”. This quote is directly from Jesus. It begs the question, Freedom from what? The picture is that of a person bound with chains of fear, despair or guilt. If I can epitomize the whole gospel, the good news of Jesus into one line, I will write; “If therefore the Son (Jesus) shall make you free you shall be free indeed”.
Amazing Grace is perhaps the most famous hymn. The main theme is, “I was once lost but now am found; was blind but now I see”. The writer of this song John Newton (1725-1807) was a sea captain and a slave trader leading a riotous living. While returning to England on March 10, 1748 he encountered a fierce storm and hope for survival was dwindling. It was then, this wretch (as he wrote about himself), whose mother was a pious lady, surrendered his life to Jesus. Jesus set him free. He became a famous Evangelical Preacher of his time.
May the Garbage Bin in front of John Denison Public Secondary School with its quotations, become a blessing not only to the students, teachers and staff but also to the passers by on Bristol Road, Newmarket, Ontario.
God bless, Danny Paul