Written by Rev. Keith Turman
Before walking up the hill to the breakfast room, we stopped by our sleeping room to grab the breakfast passes. Chan said, “The monkeys are on the roof. Can you hear them?” I definitely heard something over my head. The air conditioner condensation started dripping from the ceiling, which prompted her scream, “Eeew! The monkeys are peeing!” “It’s not monkey pee. It’s the air conditioner.” “Well,” she calmly said, “we should put a towel on the floor.” The white towel immediately turned yellow.
I grabbed my dictionary to figure out how say “monkey pee” in Spanish, and went to explain our dilemma to the nice young man at the hotel desk. He saw me coming, jumped from behind his desk, and beckoned me with great excitement to view the three-toed sloth that lived in the hotel trees. Really cool.
Then it was my turn to beckon. We stared at the ceiling, we stared at the yellow towel on the floor, and he just smiled. “It’s not a monkey, it’s a raccoon.” He just smiled and nodded his head, “It’s a raccoon.” Kind of like, “It’s no problem, it’s just a raccoon.” Like, “Isn’t it cool that raccoons live in our ceiling?” Not cool. Disgusting.
Disgusting in Spanish is asqueroso. Raccoon pee dripped, actually poured, onto my wife. His face betrayed no sign of worry, and with that fantastic smile, he walked away giving no indication that fixing our problem would make his to-do list.
Chan shared my disbelief at the inaction, but what puzzles me the most is our calm resignation to simply live with the problem. We moved snacks, cell phones and backpacks out of range, and spent the next two days trying to avoid another close encounter with Costa Rican wildlife.
It makes me wonder about my willingness to simply live with other, more significant problems. I can argue that the problems are too big and my life too small. What can I possibly do to bring world peace or curb gun violence? To end poverty or racism or homelessness is no small matter. And how can little me save big earth? On February 27, a six-ton sperm whale washed up on a Spanish beach with sixty-four pounds of plastic and waste in its stomach. A study scientists released last week revealed the effects of global warming in Australia: “We’ve seen half of the corals on the Great Barrier Reef killed by climate change in just two years. That’s like losing half of the trees in the Appalachian or Rocky Mountains in just two years.” Not cool. And, a slightly more complicated fix than getting a raccoon out of the attic.
I don’t know what to do about all of this. It can frighten me and depress me and paralyze me. But I do know this—much of our world is covered in pee, and just because it’s over my head and seems out of reach, I can’t simply put on a life is good t-shirt and try to avoid the mess. God has created me and called me for times like these. God has called you too, and I have discovered that you are unafraid of scary to-do lists and wild close encounters. I believe the living body of Christ is the world’s great hope, and you strengthen that conviction on a regular basis. So these days, I thank God that I’m not alone. I’m grateful that I’m in this mess with you, because I know that together, we’ll figure a way out of it.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
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