Archive for June, 2013

The Dilemma of the Ice Cream Cone


The Dilemma of the Ice Cream Cone

Have you ever eaten one of those ice cream cones that looks like it came out of a promotional magazine ad for Baskin-Robbins? You know what I mean.  There is nothing more tasty than an ice cream cone on a hot day.  It is to be savored and enjoyed and experienced as a thing of beauty and a blessing from God.  But let me rephrase the question.  Have you ever eaten an ice cream cone in front of child that wants one, but not only cannot afford one now, but may never be able to afford one?  Have you truly enjoyed that treat while a child looks at you eating it with a wish in her heart that is bigger than either of you are?  Would it even be possible to enjoy such a thing as it was meant to be enjoyed while you were being eyed longingly…and not even jealously…by a waif who can have no such blessing? Does that change the experience? Is true “enjoyment” even possible under those circumstances?

When faced with this dilemma, what do we do? I mean, we want to enjoy that ice cream cone, right? Enjoyment is the reason God created ice cream.  Well, that’s not ACTUALLY in the Bible, but no one had thought of ice cream at the time of the writing.  So what can we do?  As I see it, we have a couple of options.  We can go somewhere where that child cannot see us eating it.  Out of sight, out of mind.  We can lock ourselves in a closet where no one can see us and then we, existentially at least, don’t have a problem.  In that same vein, we can hire some security guards and build some fences and arrest any waifs who venture too close to our potential enjoyment.  We can make sure the bus line ends far away from the ice cream parlor. Or we can give the ice cream cone to that child and watch them eat it…but then, of course, WE don’t have an ice cream cone.  Or…we can share it.  Then not only do we get to enjoy some sugary bliss with a little less damage to our waist line, AND we get the added enjoyment of watching a child be blessed at the same time we are.  We even get to be the agent of that blessing, and THAT is a true joy.  So, what’s the best option?

We answer the question, but the dilemma continues because then comes those other nagging questions.  What about all the other children who can’t afford an ice cream cone?  What about them? Where does it end?  I mean should we even bother with one if we can’t give them all an ice cream cone?  We give this kid some, and what about the children in Ethiopia?  Rats! We might as well just eat the thing because we can’t fix a broken world.  But is there any enjoyment in that way of thinking? I doubt it.  There’s a look on the face of people who cope with this dilemma this way and it is anything but joyful.  It’s a scowl…a defensiveness. Somewhere in our psyches we logically know that if there are enough people without any hope of ever having ice cream, they will simply overwhelm our spheres of protection and take what we did not give them.  Waifs grow up to be thugs, don’t they? Scowls aren’t arrogant expressions.  They’re fearful expressions. There’s nothing really simple about the dilemma of the ice cream cone.

I guess the answers to these questions are really personal.  It isn’t about THE answer.  It’s about YOUR answer.  Where can YOU find a place of joy?

Of course, this post isn’t really about ice cream.  It’s about blessings and enjoyment…the visitation of joy upon us.  It’s about houses, and education, and spiritual growth, and cars, and clothes, and healthcare, and dental coverage, and food, and meaningful labor, and fun, and self-worth, and security, and choices, and the simple pleasures of this life.  Can we enjoy any of those as they were meant to be enjoyed while being watched by someone who cannot have them? What are our choices? We can cloister ourselves in smaller and smaller gated communities with more and more layers of security, and handle the problem existentially…sort of. We can make sure that the bus line ends at the county line.  Out of sight, out of mind, right? Or we can give everything away and have nothing ourselves.  Or we can share.  And where does that end? I don’t know. I have no idea where that ends.  Neither does anyone else, really.  But a better question that will actually lead to joy is not, “Where does this end?”  Rather it is, “Where does this begin?”  In the Kingdom of God, there is always enough if we share. Enjoy.