Climbing ladders over a certain age is like playing Russian roulette, or so I’m told. But gutters have to be cleaned and with water tanks at their lowest ebb and rain forecast, a task that I’ve been able to put off, and off again, suddenly becomes urgent.
The way my roof is designed it’s actually easier to climb up on the roof itself and work from there rather than stay standing on the ladder. It’s messy work and the corrugated iron overlaps the gutters a bit too much in many places which makes it difficult to get my hands in to remove handfuls of rotting leaves and small sticks.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world:
the unreasonable one persists in trying
to adapt the world to himself.
Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
George Bernard Shaw
As with so many things in life, I am faced with the dilemma of just “making do” or trying to make it structurally easier for all the “next times” this job must be done. But of course to do that will take even more time and effort. Today, the balance tips to “let’s make it easier”, so we get the angle grinder, extension lead, tin snips, straight-edge and marking pen, gloves and safety glasses, and set to work.
Surprisingly, it seems to take less time than I thought, the gutters are clean, the job’s easier next time. The hard part seems to be getting over the inertia of “that’s the way it is” to making a start towards “the way it could be”. There are many things in my life that I’m tempted to say “that’s just the way it is”, it can be troubling to admit that it’s not the way it must be. George Bernard Shaw said that, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
At times I can be that unreasonable man. Preserving the status quo has never been my strong point. I’m never very happy just doing things the way they have always been done. I’ve always liked the stories of Jesus upsetting the authorities, breaking the rules, casting over the money-changers tables and so on. The modern continuous improvement philosophy actually dates back to St Jerome’s “Good, better, best. Never let it rest, ‘til your good is better and your better best.” This was drummed into us at Sunday School. It is this constant desire to be better, to improve, to innovate that drives progress. Sometimes that can be unreasonable. Most times it takes effort and requires deliberate choices. These days there is always more to be done than we can fit in to our days. Sometimes these choices will cause conflict.
And when I get a little too carried away with myself I need to hear Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.
This is the gospel, and it’s unreasonable.
Brian Spencer, Minister