Sunday, April 22, 2007

Living in 1% Hope

There have been several times during these past few years that I have encountered a situation where I spent a weekend, or a day, or an hour, living in the 1% chance that a situation would reverse itself "at the 11th hour." Most notable was the weekend before I was formally terminated from my MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) voluntary service in Canada, slightly more than 2 years ago. I had been told on a Friday that my 2-year service agreement was being ended after a mere 1 1/2 months, and I was being "sent home" for unexplained reasons. My requests for conflict resolution and mediation were denied, even though this organization is a reknown leader in these peacemaking skills. I had already taken the matter to my supervisor's superior. As a final effort to redeem the situation, I asked to speak to the director of MCC Canada. I was told there was little he could do given the stage to which the decision had progressed, but that he would meet with me on Monday.

Monday can be a very long way from Friday, when one's entire living circumstances hang in the balance. How easy it would have been to spend the weekend in seething resentment, assuming that the situation was a "done deal"--or to obsess about that upcoming "last straw" interview with the director--or to replay the events leading up to the situation over and over in my head, second-guessing my every decision. There was a 99% chance that I would be "fired"; I could spend the weekend in that 99% or in the 1% of uncertainty and hope. Fortuitously, I had made arrangements to attend a retreat with some Quaker friends at Riding Mountain National Park. I decided not to breathe a word of the situation to anyone--to live entirely in that possibility that all would be well. And I enjoyed every moment of the weekend with new friends. I hiked alone in the snowby the frozen lake, found out what songs Canadian Quakers sing around campfires, slid down the hill on an inner tube with a spry 80-year-old ex-American gentleman who now lives "in the bush" in a remote part of central Canada, stayed up until 1 in the morning working with several others to complete a jigsaw puzzle that had been deemed "impossible" at the previous year's retreat, and rode home in a blizzard. What a wonderful weekend! And without fretting, obsessing, seething, etc., a clear answer to the situation came to me effortlessly: If they were firing me, they couldn't tell me what to do anymore. And therefore I could choose to stay in Canada and have a vacation, and see what other sorts of service I could do, without MCC. If I was going to be homeless and jobless, I could at least turn it into an international, cross-cultural adventure! I'm sure I never would have found that calm, clear answer if I'd been living in the 99%.

Tonight I'm living in the 1% again. I came home from work, after dark, and the flock of ewes who have already lambed--10 ewes and 17 lambs--weren't in the barn. Nor were they bedded down on the corner of the pasture I'd cordoned off for them with portable electric fence. Where WERE they? Had they been stolen? Had they somehow gotten off the property?

And then I hear a quiet "baaa" from the vegetable garden....

An obscure gate in the barn had been left unhooked, and they had somehow realized they could PULL it open and find their way into the garden. And sheep are supposed to be stupid? Lucy wasn't even implicated in this, since she and her lambs are in a separate pen (though I suppose she could have observed the gate and suggested the advantages of the situation to her cohorts, even though she couldn't actively take part in the breakout).

I couldn't really even see them out there in the garden, just sensed that there were more pale and dark shapes out there than usual. A few quiet words to the Border Collies, a rattle of a feed bucket, a call of "Come, sheep," and they quietly gathered into one of the garden lanes and came to me in the barnyard with a minimum of frenzied tearing through the garden. I've learned from past experience that trying to get them out of the garden quickly can damage the garden worse than anything. I let them back into their barn pen and counted ewes; I didn't hear anyone calling for lost relatives so assumed that no lambs were left behind.

Tonight I'm living in the 1% hope that they did not destroy the few crops that survived the hard freezes last week. It's too dark to see much, I'm tired from this morning's Farmer's Market and driving the bus this afternoon, and there's nothing much I can do about the situation anyhow, except more replanting. So I'm going to eat a bowl of Extreme Moose Tracks ice cream and go to bed.


Catlady said...

First of all, I want to know more about "Extreme Moose Tracks Ice Cream" :)

Second - I know that 1% - I've been there before. Thank you for reminding me of the healing and the pleasures that 1% can provide. This is why reading your blog has become a daily ritual for me. :)

Third - I'll keep you and your garden in my prayers - but I didn't have to tell you that part, right?

BC hugs...

Natalya said...

Extreme Moose Tracks describes itself as "Rich Chocolate Ice Cream with Moose Tracks Fudge Filled Cups and Famous Moose Tracks Fudge". That means it's about the most chocolate you can get per bite of ice cream, with lots of crunchy, chewy texture! The brand name here is "Private Selection"; I think up there in Canada it's "President's Selection" or something like that just a little different than our brand name. The carton is burgundy and black, with a red diamond "PS" logo.

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to let some of my other Canadian friends know about the blog...and make comments so I know they're reading it!