Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer Wonder

Somewhere along the line we lose our sense of wonder.  Actual wonder is replaced by "I wonder".  It's a classic step on the way to adulthood, one that parents seem to want to hurry, defer or ignore.  You won't be surprised to hear that I think it is something to be cherished.

A couple of months ago I was on a cruise ship and witnessed a delightful example of childish wonder.  There was an automatic door between two eating areas and an adorable little boy of about four walked to the door wanting to pass from one area to the other.  He wasn't tall enough to trigger the automatic door opening.  I watched him for a long time.  He was quite scientific in his attempts to open the door.  He tried approaching slowly, then fast, then at an angle.  Even backwards.  Finally in frustration he stepped toward the door and yelled abracadabra.  At that moment, some caring adult stepped forward from the other side and caused the door to open.  The wonder and delight on the child's face was worth the price of the cruise.

The world is full of wondrous things.  Our Creator has endowed this earth with amazing creatures, characteristics and conditions.  As the school year draws to a close and opportunities for lazier times with children approach I hope you will consider making it a summer of wonder;  along with roller-coasters, water-slides or special-effects movies, look for God-given wonders: fireflies, jellyfish, and shooting stars.  Your child will be delighted and filled with wonder.  And as you share these simple wonders with your child you will also come away with a sense of wonder as everything old becomes new again through the eyes of the child you love.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Grow Up!

The governor of California has an illegitimate child.  A mother from Texas kills, then abandons the body of her 6-year-old son.  Legislators all over the country are trying to balance their budgets by cutting school funding.  Every 32 seconds a child is born into poverty in America.  These are all news stories involving American children.  Which one is most important?  Why are they all bad news?  Who is watching out for our kids?

I am going to spare you a rant about the rest of the children of the world (for today) but I am going to rant!   Adults, it is time to step up to the plate and be grown-ups.  It is time for us to make the hard choices.  We need to put kids first in ways that matter to their future.  It is not OK that some kids will not have enough to eat this summer.  It is not OK that we are increasing class sizes and cutting teacher pay when we have not made any sacrifices at all.  It is not OK that we are playing our children so hard in sports for our own entertainment that we are damaging their growth plates and leaving them with pain for life.

Children are a gift to us from a loving God.  Our job is to help them discover the person God created them to be and to teach them what they need to know when they have to manage their own lives.  How many talents will a child discover when he is distracted by hunger?  How well will she do in school when she goes to bed hungry and then tries to concentrate in a room with thirty children clamoring for attention?  What will constant pain do to his ability to maintain strong and healthy relationships?

All of the news items I listed are a result of someone's selfishness.  A man commits adultery and 5 children are harmed by it.  A woman wants a good night's sleep so she overdoses her kid on cough syrup.  People are so worried about their pensions that they will vote against improving (or even maintaining) our schools.  Some CEO makes $5,000,000 a year while the person on bottom works for $15,000.

We expect children to take as much candy as they can grab.  Theoretically that is because they haven't learned self-control or altruism yet.  Adults, it's time for us to step up and exercise some self-control and altruism.  No child is hungry because of her own actions.  No child fails in school in spite of adequate resources for his needs. Children are hungry or fail in school because adults failed to choose what is best for the children.  This is something that can be fixed. Not overnight.  Not painlessly, but one of the privileges of being an adult is getting to choose.  Let's practice a little adult restraint and choose to do something for the kids instead of ourselves.

What can we do?  Start small! Make a donation at the cash register.  Bring a jar of peanut butter to your church.  Walk or take the bus or ride your bike somewhere.  Quit smoking.  Reduce the amount of medical care you consume.  Donate some diapers.  It all adds up like raindrops to a river.  If you can't spare another dollar or minute - smile or wave at a kid - you'll make someone's day. Flex those adult muscles.  The future depends on it!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

New wind in the sails

A primarily personal post today. . . On Sunday afternoon at 2:30 the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago will graduate the class of 2011.  A wonderful group of idealistic, hopeful, well-trained, savvy and mostly young people will move into place as leaders of this ship we call church.  As the mother of one of these graduates I feel a prickle of pride and I share her joy in the completion of the task.  As a person who devotes most of her workweek to the maintenance of this ship I am thrilled to see this fresh wind filling the sails of our vessel.  I praise God for their energy and hope.

I will be leaving for Chicago momentarily but wanted to offer my thanks to everyone who has supported my daughter or her classmates on this journey - whether with prayers, encouragement, or funding. In doing so you have supported the good ship 'Body of Christ', and perhaps lived out your own vocation.

The spirit is blowing new wind. . .

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Real life or reel life?

Last week tornadoes roared through about a quarter of the country leaving chaos in their wake. On Friday William, heir to the British throne, married his true love, Kate. Late Sunday night our president took the podium to announce that public enemy #1 had been killed in Pakistan by the good guys. The news coverage of the wedding and the killing were exhaustive and exhausting. With the media coverage of the wedding we were subjected to replays of the wedding that began the disastrous marriage of William's parents, and media coverage of the untimely death of his mother, complete with scenes from her memorial service. The death of bin Laden was accompanied by the too familiar images of the towers coming down,and the grief of the survivors. Footage from 2001 was interspersed with innumerable current interviews about "closure" with survivors of those lost on 9/11. Finally, bin Laden's burial at sea. It was truly overwhelming.

The tornadoes got the least coverage. No regular programming was interrupted to share the news of the death and destruction left in the wake of the tornadoes. Nobody important was much affected by it.

Yesterday I sat and chatted with a young man who is a student at the University of Alabama. He saw the tornado, he saw the destruction, and most of all, he saw the people. He described what remains of Tuscaloosa, (not much, by the way). And he told me about crossing the river to another town where there was still power but returning to sleep in a dormitory with no electricity and taking a shower in the pitch black of that dorm. He said he and his friends wanted to help, but they didn't really know what to do. So as he walked around and looked at what the storm had done, he helped people, mostly elderly, make calls from his cell phone to let their 'folks' know they had survived. Then, he packed up his dorm room, loaded his vehicle and made the 12-hour drive home.

He's young, and his thoughts rambled all over the place:
  • He has a lot of questions about what will happen to the people of Tuscaloosa.
  • He could see the silver lining of a week's head start competing for summer jobs in a bad economy.
  • He's not having any nightmares, but life is a little more precious - at least 8 fellow students died in the tornadoes.
My thoughts are rambling all over the place too. I wonder about:
  • the media obsession with celebrity;
  • our lack of regard for "ordinary" victims,
  • revenge.
And I have a lot of gratitude:
  • for the resilience of people, especially young people;
  • for the people who were spared;
  • for all those who have reached out a hand to help someone else;
  • and that my young friend is safely in the bosom of his family.
Lord in Your mercy:
Hear our prayer.