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No Parking: a faith based story from the Story Powerline
Wednesday, June 10, 2020 by Becky Cerling Powers

Sometimes we ignore what’s right in front of our eyes.

One of my grandfather’s workers saw that happen in the 1950s when the Cerling Construction Company won the bid to build the YMCA in Elmhurst, Illinois.

The company was supposed to build the YMCA on a big lot that had been vacant for many years. The train station was close by, and a lot of people used the vacant lot to park their cars when they caught the train to work every day in Chicago.

NO PARKING

The first task for building the YMCA was to dig a huge hole for the basement foundation in that vacant lot. Of course the workers couldn’t do that if there were cars parked where they needed to excavate the hole. So the day before work began, Cerling Construction barricaded both ends of the alley giving access to the lot, and they posted signs saying “NO PARKING.”

But when the excavator arrived the next morning to begin work, he found that a man had removed one of the barricades and was driving onto the lot to park his car.

“Hold on!” the worker told him. “We’re going to be excavating here today. You’ll have to remove your car.”

The entitled driver

The man was angry. “I have been using this space for many years,” he said, “and I intend to keep using it!” Then he parked his car, set the brake, and walked away to catch his train.

The excavator didn’t argue. He just watched the man go.

Then he used his forklift to pick up the man’s car, being careful not to damage it. He placed the car out of the way of the excavation site and started digging. Then for the rest of the day, as he excavated the big hole for the building’s foundation, he carefully dumped all the excavated dirt into a complete ring around the stubborn man’s car, six or seven feet high.

When my father told me this story, he said he never did hear what happened when the man returned to his car. But I bet he wasn’t too happy.

Taking a gift for granted

All day every day big gifts and little gifts come our way. For years this man received the gift of a convenient, free parking place in an unused vacant lot. But instead of seeing this privilege as a gift and expressing thanks, he took the gift for granted and began to think of the vacant lot as something he was entitled to – something that, somehow, somebody owed him. (Who might that be? He never stopped to think.) So when the gift disappeared, that frame of mind made him get angry and do something very foolish.

Jesus said

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

Today’s prayer

Soften my heart and open my eyes, Lord, to see – to really see – the gifts You give me today: those good things that come that I did nothing to earn or buy. Open my heart and open my mouth to give You thanks all through the day. Amen.

 

©2018 Becky Cerling Powers

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