Have you been to the toilette in a public washroom? The ones with the sensors that flush after you move away from the toilette? Have you ever been occupying one of these when suddenly the toilette flushes while you’re still going? The loud flush, the high intensity water twirling around and rising in the bowl. Meanwhile, you are still sitting there in the middle of your business. In that second you find yourself inconveniently forced to make a decision. Stand up in a moment of panic or stay seated and risk the water rising high enough to touch your butt. Either way, you risk getting dirty. Not fun. The other day I experienced this ordeal (not for the first time) and it got me thinking about how life doesn’t always flush when it’s convenient.
Yes, as much as we like to live under the illusion that we can schedule and control everything, the reality is that at any moment the toilette of life can randomly flush and destabilize you. Life’s sensor is totally off. One moment you’re quietly taking care of business and the next you’re thrown a curve ball and left scrambling. The sensor is supposed to detect when I move away from the toilette therefore signalling to the toilette that it is time to flush. When I sit on that toilette seat I trust the sensor to do what sensors do. But life is much more random than that.
It’s a good thing to realize. Too much of what we buy into, whether it be via religion or the latest self-help book, tries to sell us a vain attempt at fleeing the randomness, the chaos and the pain of life. As though we could somehow actually escape those things and create for ourselves a life where the sensor never fails. We try and we try hard. Sometimes we even manage to fool ourselves with the illusion; until the toilet flushes unexpectedly and the water rises.
Happiness, deep abiding joy and peace, are actually found when we embrace the randomness and chaos of our lives. Whether it be the chaos around us or the one within us. Rejoice during the days when the sensor is working well but it’s when the sensor malfunctions that we can actually go into the darker corners of our existence, face what is there and own it, learn from it, grow into or out of it and find peace.
I’m reminded of Jesus when he says “I have come that you may have life to the full.” Interestingly enough, this life to the full, according to what Jesus says elsewhere, requires a certain taking up of our cross and following him. The notion of taking up a cross doesn’t sound very pleasant. It actually even sounds like death. Yet, if we are to take Jesus’ word for it, it is in some way the path to abundant life.
Today when you sit on the toilette, whether it has a sensor or not, think about that.
(bonus random thought : have you ever looked at one of those sensors and asked yourself if they have cameras in there?)