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Week 1 September 2023, Devotion Part 1

Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little… enter into the joy of your master. Matthew 25:21


Did you hear the one about the not-too-bright kid who left home to join the circus? Surprisingly, he got hired on the spot and his occasional letters glowed with pleasure over his show business career. He was with the elephant act and could not praise the gentle creatures’ cleverness enough. When the circus came to town, his kinfolk flocked to the opening performance. Imagine their chagrin when their late bloomer turned out to be in charge of elephant droppings. “Isn’t show biz wonderful?” he enthused when he came around to greet them afterwards.


God might be tickled pink if the Great Ecclesiastical Talent Hunt would produce a rash of such enthusiasts. How marvelous if someone would love hauling raw meat for the great cats and bananas for the monkeys. How splendid if tent rips were stitched and clowns’ pants patched with panache. Too bad most applicants want to be shot out of the circus cannon or rest their head between the bear’s molars. Bravery has such a nice ring to it, although the glamour of being ringmaster sounds rather enticing. (Part 1of 2)


Comment: It must have been decades ago when I came across this kid and the fun story that endeared him to me. It did not sound anachronistic then, having loved the circus as a kid myself. Members of the Zirkus Knie dynasty had been touring Switzerland with their big tent since 1919, and when it was pitched near my home town, few could resist the excitement. It was easier to digest than that of America’s three-ring productions, and over time I came to detest the wild animal acts and the cruel caging it involved. Cirque du Soleil, founded in 1984 by street performers, achieved fame precisely because human skill, not animal abuse, formed the main attraction.


However, I’m sticking with the kid who was happy to pick up elephant droppings, because as a first-grader I helped an older neighbor boy pick up “road apples” and loving it. A farmer gave him some pocket change for the horse manure, and my road-apple-picking buddy rewarded me with barley sugar from his mom’s candy shop. A neighborhood grandmother liked to give me real apples, until we discovered that she also put the dead mice she collected into her deep apron pocket. I survived spending hot hours picking potato bugs in fields with other school kids. When a severe Maikaefer invasion in 1944 threatened crops, I armed myself with a paper bag and the determination to fill it with the big bugs. I did, but when I got home, decided not to turn them over for a bit of money. Instead, I opened the bag and made them fly away. World War II had come closer because of my town’s proximity to Nazi Austria. I was suddenly gripped by sorrow over the misery and destruction that hung in the air, and so took comfort in the thought that the bugs were spared their death sentence.

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