Wednesday, January 05, 2011


It’s dark down here this morning although there is also an unusually large number of people for a Wednesday morning. It’s generally an older crowd which now, unfortunately, I’ll have to admit to belonging to. Some days it still seems as if we’d just moved here, which would mean I was still in my 30’s. Other days, like this day, it seems as if that were a whole lifetime ago. Pink Floyd is in my headphones and I’m realizing that it’s now considered an “oldie”. Whatever….. It’s a new year and another year in which I can still live and work circles around my former age group.
Joanne and I celebrated the entrance of a new year by treating ourselves to a trip to Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island. It was actually our traditional Christmas gift of an experience that we began last year during our Advent Conspiracy campaign within our community o’ faith. Instead of shooting the moon with relatively short lived gifts, we treat ourselves to a memory building experience and then give the rest towards a new well being drilled for a village somewhere in the world without clean water. This year the well is in Honduras and our experience was in Victoria. It’s a beautiful city located on a beautiful harbor on the Island. It still has plenty of British influence, left over from days gone by, and was a very helpful lift over the hump of a new year.
While I was there I had an experience that I rarely have anymore.
Since it involved food, it was especially memorable for me, and since it involved diet Coke it was even that much more so. Enjoying lunch at a great little Mexican restaurant find that we made on the first day, I went through the entire meal without a refill on my diet Coke. There were two reasons for this. First of all, a small notation in the menu that refills were not free was the initial deterrent. Secondly, even if I had been so inclined to pay for it twice….which I wasn’t, even for diet Coke… the girl, who otherwise has most capably served us our lunch, never came back and asked if I’d be looking to pay to have my drink refilled. This obvious fact sealed the deal, and I ended up nursing the drink, unsuccessfully, through the entire lunch. You probably wouldn’t be considering this as one of the most impactful moments of 2010, but I really am. Occurring nearly a week ago, this event, which would reasonably not seem very significant to most, has not left front and center stage in my mind. So what in the world could the pressing issue be with an overpriced drink and inattentive wait staff?
What I have gathered is this, my very existence relies on free refills. Let me clarify. The faith that I profess and the life that I lead clings tightly to the promise of free refills. In fact, at certain points of the Book of Books, I am reminded to be continually filled…and with that is the constant reminder that it is free, it has already been paid for. I have, once I placed the order, free and unlimited access to the grace that God has laid out before me. No matter how many times that life and circumstances and stupid choices empty my glass, it can be and is refilled, just for the asking. Believe it or not, there are certain belief systems and faiths, some even sharing the name of mine, where this is not true. You literally have to pay for your refills. You want a refill? There is a price to pay, a discipline to complete, a prayer to make… call it what you want but it seems like $2.50 to me. As I’ve run this around my brain a few times I have come to understand why this tiny little event in the midst of an amazing experience is still like a pebble in my shoe. I might pay for it one more time, but that is about it and I happen to like diet coke almost as much as I like grace… I tend to need a lot of both. In fact, as far as restaurants go, refills are a deal breaker for me. With the abundance of establishments offering free refills, I won’t go somewhere, knowingly, where I’m going to have to pay for them. It has occurred to me that I and many like me are not likely to be attracted to faith systems where refills aren’t free any more than I would be attracted to a restaurant with that policy. I have been given grace and I’ll take all of the refills that come with it. I can’t even make it through lunch nursing a drink. Why would I think that I could make it through life?

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