Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Relying on the Mercies of Others, Learning about the Mercy of Christ

I went to the cannery yesterday.

Ordinarily, I love the cannery. I love the spirit that is there, a spirit of industry, unity, self-reliance, and obedience.

We were cruising: 50 cans of orange drink, 140 cans of white wheat, many cans of sugar, 50 cans of red wheat....

"How much wheat are you putting in those cans?" the missionary asked the sister across the table from me. She was weighing cans just as I was.

"Five pounds," was her reply.

He proceeded to tell her that she wasn't putting enough in. The chart read 5 pounds, 13 ounces. (How did we all miss that?)

Feelings of panic and dread came quickly.

"I only put five pounds in the white wheat cans, too," I confessed. I was the one who had told the sister across from me how much to load.

"You're kidding?" was all the shocked sister missionary could manage.

I hoped the woman across the table from me had been smarter than I on the white wheat. No such luck.

Suddenly, there was a flurry of activity outside the room as the missionaries huddled together to figure out what to do. The activity in the canning room nearly came to a halt in the meantime.

I felt rather sick. I heard talk of remeasuring, refilling, redoing. That would mean discarding nearly 200 cans, lids, and oxygen absorbers. That was not exactly a negligible potential loss that I felt was largely on my head.

They got us going on carrots. We joked about making sure we had the right weights this time, but it was hard for me to laugh (or to even smile, for that matter). For all my detail-orientation and hard work, I'd goofed, and goofed pretty badly.

I was wishing I'd stayed home.

The sister missionary could tell I was discouraged. She came and put her arm around me, and told me not to worry. As silly as it sounds, I was fighting back tears. I. HATE. TO. GOOF.

But her kindness and love helped. She bore the burden with me, saying that it was as much their fault as mine. (Yeah, well, how hard is it to read a dumb chart?)

I stayed late to help clean up. Call it self-imposed penance. That wouldn't make up for the lost time and effort, though.

I came out to find one of the sisters who worked in my group, cheerfully purchasing every one of those goofed-up cans.

As I looked at her a bit incredulously, she simply said, "Oh, we have our truck out there and we can load it up and I'm sure our ward members will snatch these up in a hurry. Don't you worry one bit about it." (She said it as though purchasing nearly 200 cans of wheat was simply like sweeping up a few spilled kernels.)

As silly as it sounds, I'm fighting back tears.

If fallible, imperfect people can show the kind of love and mercy that these people showed, what of the mercy of a perfect, loving Savior and Father?

I think I am glad I didn't stay home.


Ardis Parshall said...

Aw, m&m, your writing moves me more times than you can know! This is a real keeper.

M&M said...

Ardis, thank you. And same backatcha!

Anonymous said...


-Adam Greenwood

Karen said...

I've been to the cannery recently so I could vividly imagine you there. Thanks for sharing this story.

Connor said...

My wife and I were just there last week. We would have gladly bought some of your special cans, too. :)

M&M said...

Adam, Karen, Connor, thanks for your comments.

M&M said...

Something else that was interesting about this, Connor, is that at one point, the whole group was willing to split the cost, but the missionaries had decided they could sell the cans at a discount, so everyone just sort of let that be.

So this couple offering to purchase all of the cans was not only a symbol of love and service for me (whether they meant it to be or not, I think they knew I was upset, so I hope they could tell what it meant to me), it was clear that they were also just wanting to do the cannery a service. It would have been one thing for me to buy them because I had contributed to the problem in a big way. It was a completely different story for people to just do it out of the goodness of their hearts, with a spirit of love and cheerfulness and 'it's no big deal' that was just amazing to behold.

There comes that knot in my throat again....

It's something I will remember for a long time.

Ginny said...

what a great story...I love good people...good people who serve and those who serve those who serve, and so on!!!

SilverRain said...

That is beautiful. It is wonderful when another's loving service teaches us about the love of a perfect Father.

annegb said...

I love your writing, M&M :)