Monday, October 20, 2014

Snow

Tonight I sat with my eyelid twitching the way it does when I've had little sleep or lots of stress and thought about the coming chill in the air. This made me think of winter, which made me think of the coat I need to drop by the drycleaner's to have buttons replaced and a good cleaning given, which made me think of bundling up, which made me think of snow, which made me think of Africa. Obviously.

One of the best memories I have of snow actually involved no snow. When Katherine and I went to Kenya, we got the chance to work in a school. The children were sweet and smiley. Shirts were tucked and the students were all uniform despite the age range of each class. Some children had to sit out of class until their families could afford to pay the school fees or the children received a sponsor. We brought pencils and various school supplies. They had never seen manual pencil sharpeners. Mind you, these were the dime and quarter kind, the kind you rotate the pencil yourself instead of winding a lever. Can you hear the gasps of children seeing a pencil sharpener that is not a knife and the astonishment of the sharpened and smooth pencil?

Those gasps were slight in comparison to the explanation of snow and the airplanes that brought me to the children. I tried to describe the fluffy, powdery white. I tried to say that sometimes it is icy, always cold. I tried to describe the making of snowmen and throwing snowballs at siblings or friends. They had no concept of ice, no concept really of cold. "Oh, do you mean cold like yesterday?" No, child, I do not mean when it was 71 degrees Fahrenheit. I mean when people bundle and they can see their very own breath breathed out into the air in front of their faces. That seems impossible to those just miles from the equator, to those who also put on parkas when the temps dip near 70 degrees but sweat near 80. Their threshold is small.

And I think about the areas of my life that could use a bit of expanding and challenging, the areas where my threshold is too small. The areas where I learn and discover what I never had seen or known. Or even what has been beyond my imagination.

So, that conversation about snow with the squeals of delight and disbelief--the way they receive and learn new information is something I need to embrace. There really isn't more to this story. I just thought tonight about those sweet little faces learning of snow and airplanes and learning to sharpen pencils and my need in embracing my unknown.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Justice, mercy, and humility

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.--Micah 6:8 
I have no doubt you have seen this verse more often in the last few years. It's likely you have seen the last sentence or portions of it on t-shirts or other memorabilia. It is often even written in or by an outline of Africa.

So, this justice we speak of...

I have noticed a surge in caring about causes, taking up arms, and encouraging others to give and do. Is this rally for justice real? Do people care more or is social media an outlet for them to appear to care? Are people talking about giving and doing because there has been a change in their being? Or is this a fad? It is pretty trendy to care about what is going on in Syria, human trafficking, or Ebola. Caring about causes. Everyone cares now. It's easy to care when the ice bucket challenge happens in August. What about February?

Should we not care why others cry out for justice and mercy but be thankful they are crying out? Should we care if their causes are diseases, or war and peace, or basic necessities? I think we all have something that pricks our hearts, makes us tender and responsive. We should be sensitive to that and respond and know that others are created and shaped differently and are formed to care about other issues. (I don't always do the best at the latter, but I'm working on it.)

Now I'm going to go consider what justice and mercy the world needs that I can be a part of bringing to bear. G'night.






Thursday, October 9, 2014

You are a miracle.

You. You are a miracle. I don’t know if I have told you that, or when you gave me change in the checkout line and handed me bags whether my eyes conveyed that message. When I passed you on the street, did you sense love and miracle or did I make you feel unimportant in my diverted eyes and hurrying?

You were once a cell, dividing and differentiating. The miracle. Conception is a whole miracle all on its own. And before that, you were a dream and a hope. A mere twinkle in your mama’s eye, a flirtatious glance from your dad. It is a miracle those two met and kept meeting, and then came you. You were nine and learning fractions and growing adult teeth. A miracle. And at twenty-four, you were learning to live on your own and be self-sufficient. A miracle. And at sixty-four and welcoming grandbabies into the world, living and loving your own miracle while you yourself, also a miracle.

Every day we've been given the grace to finish out with the stars peering through the window and our head hitting the pillow, and there's grace come morning, too. You find your alarm and your coffee and call them a miracle, getting on with your day. But the day, and everything in it, and you--it's all a miracle. Yet we take ourselves and those normal, nothing-big, plain ole Tuesdays for granted. We forget that life is a gift and a miracle. We forget that gravity holds us here. We turn our face toward the sun and forget what a miracle it is that it stays where it is and us where we are. We forget the intricacies of life and life processes and growing and aging and changing. We forget that we are not the center of the universe. We're still a miracle.

And sometimes I forget that about myself, and I forget that about you. But I am and you are. We should live it.