I finally found some time and energy to get at the yard and garden work that surrounds me now that spring has arrived. I've been putting it off for at least a week now, pleading (with myself) over work in other responsibilities. It's not been over work though; more likely a case of lack of will. Lack of will has shown up all over the place and in many forms...the most common being procrastination. Anyway, that's not what I wanted to write about.
I was in the midst of getting my garden tractor up and running after a long winter of storage. I had kept the battery inside all winter and for the last two weeks, it had been on the charger to make certain it was powered up. I put the battery in the tractor and connected the cables. I jumped into the seat, stepped on the brake pedal and turned the key...nada. I tried several times, but with the exception of a small little less-than-second "burp" of ignition, nothing. I scraped a bit of crud off the positive terminal and cable and tried again - still nothing. I gave up and took the battery out again, resigned to a trip to Canadian Tire for a new battery. This one, the one that was "dead", is in its fifth year.
At Canadian Tire, the salesperson tested my old battery and came out to tell me it was fully charged and ready to go...nothing wrong with the battery. She told me to try giving the starter/solenoid a tap - maybe it was sticking.
I got home, reinstalled the battery and turned the key; nothing but a tiny wisp of smoke from the positive terminal. I got a screwdriver and, following the advice of the lady at Canadian Tire, I whacked the starter a couple of times. Still no go.
I pushed the tractor from the garden shed to the carport and then tried everything I had already done, again. Same results - no ignition. I was stumped. Finally, on a whim from I don't know where, I went into the house, got a small glass of white vinegar and poured it over the positive terminal. There was no visible reaction because I had already cleaned the terminal at the outset, scraping off what little corrosion there was.
I climbed back on board, turned the key and presto! Ignition! Go figure.
A tiny little bit of corrosion was enough to impede the spark of ignition; what's stranger, four ounces of white vinegar was enough to change everything. Why is it that most of the time, it's the small things that make the biggest difference?
Some of the books I've been reading lately have an answer for that question. The reason that small, simple things tend to be "game changers" is because they have been reduced to the essentials. All the trim and fluff have been stripped away and what's left is the kernel...the kernel of truth, of power, of knowledge, of progress, of action...you name it. Even the most complex concepts and processes can be distilled to these simple essentials, without losing the essence of the original subject.
I've tested this against what must be one of the most complex, nuanced structures I know - Christianity. Do you think Christianity is complicated? Here's what Marcus J. Borg wrote: "Christianity is a magnificent tradition...it's about truth, goodness and beauty. It addresses two great human yearnings - our longing for personal transformation and our desire that the world be a better place. The Christian message reduced to its essentials is: love God (as known in Jesus) and change the world. ..the central message is simple. It is about loving God and loving what God loves." pp.237/238, Speaking Christian, 2011, Marcus J. Borg.
There it is: truth, goodness, beauty...be transformed, make the world a better place, love God and love what God loves.
That's the Way. Simple.