Monthly Archives: May 2010
Graduation events begin today. Parents flying in from out-of-town. Family gatherings. Proud moments for children, parents, grandparents. This is a big day.
The students, young adults, walk across the stage and receive their graduate degrees. Three or four years of hard work brought them here. They feel a sense of accomplishment, completion, pride. They should.
As a teacher, I am proud too. I see the growth in these students over the course of their time here. From struggles and new beginnings — to confidence and moving on to another new beginning. They embark now on new careers.
The teacher is left behind. Students move on. I find I am reflective, melancholic, about sending these students off. Pleased for them. Sad for me.
They have enriched my life. They helped bring out the best in me. They helped me become a better teacher.
And so, I pray from the Psalms for each of these students.
Show them where to walk,
Let them give themselves to you.
Rescue them from their enemies, LORD;
Let them run to you to hide them.
Teach them to do your will,
for you are God.
May your gracious Spirit lead them forward
on a firm footing.
For the glory of your name, O LORD, preserve their lives.
Because of your faithfulness, always bring them out of distress.
In your unfailing love, silence all their enemies
and destroy all their foes,
for they am your servants.
Psalm 143 (modified)
Do you have a teacher who you left behind as you moved on? What about that teacher enriched your life? Do you ever wonder whether you enriched that teacher’s life?
“Faith receives God’s gifts as gifts; gratitude receives them well.” – Miroslav Volf
So often I have failed to receive God’s gifts as simply gifts. Rather, I accepted the gifts, but took the recognition for the gifts as though they resulted from my own doing. I took credit.
All the gifts come from the Giver. The one who loves.
So, I struggle to receive His gifts well, even when I acknowledge that all I have comes from Him, the Giver of Life. In my imperfection, I stumble through the receiving, the gratitude. I don’t know how to say, “thank you, I am grateful.”
I seek His face and let His love embrace me; I stand in a posture to simply receive and to give thanks. And then, in those moments, He transforms me. He is present, as always. But I see Him and feel Him in everything. And, I know that I am dependent on Him for it all.
His love and compassion envelop me. I understand what it means to truly love and be loved. And, I am fully, completely, grateful.
I know Peace.
Join me in receiving God’s gifts well, along with the Gratitude Community.
May 24, 2010
88. For every breath
89. For knowing love
90. For knowing I am the object of that love
91. For knowing and trusting that my husband is the object of Your love
92. For Your word
93. For knees that are able to drop to the floor
94. For aches and pains that remind me that I am alive
95. For spring rain
96. For the green and colors that follow
99. For the sun breaks that give hope of new life
100. For gentleness
101. For peace
I picked up the file and headed down the elevator towards the parking garage. Who was this young woman I had agreed to meet with? I say a little prayer as I head down to the garage to retrieve my car. Lord, help me to listen—to hear—what she needs. Speak through me. I won’t know what to say.
Twenty minutes later I arrived at the low-income apartment complex. I rang the bell and a warm, but tired smile greeted me. I stepped into the small, dark, run down, cluttered apartment and left the rest of the world behind. I listened. I looked at pictures. I heard her story.
She, a dying mother, needed peace of mind. She had six young children, most of them soon-to-be orphans. A few would still have a father. She needed help planning for the children. Planning for guardianships and custody. She needed to know her babies would be placed in loving homes. To know her babies would, if possible, still know their brothers and sisters.
That meeting and my next—and final—meeting with that young mother were extraordinary. Sacred. I could expect to receive nothing in return. And, what I had to give felt as though it flowed directly from God through me. His words. His compassion. The courage and love He showed me in this woman. The gifts He gave me to help. A few profound, extraordinary moments—sacred moments—because of God’s hand in it all.
Those moments reminded me of something Mother Teresa once said about being like “a little pencil” in God’s hand. “That is all. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it. The pencil has only to be allowed to be used.”
Sacred moments serving as the pencil in the Creator’s hand. Those are the moments—the days—that faith draws me toward. Those are the moments when God the creator and redeemer shows me that everything comes from him. Every breath.
God the giver of life took what could have been an ordinary meeting and made it sacred. Paul, in his letter to the Romans talked about becoming a “living sacrifice.” The translation of Romans 12:1 from The Message says it nicely:
Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
God makes the ordinary life extraordinary. Lord thank you for your unconditional gift of life. For the seemingly ordinary life that You promise to make extraordinary when we seek You, when we acknowledge You, and allow You to live in us and flow through us. What an incredible gift to be the pencil, the instrument, that You use to write the story of Your kingdom–Your sacred script.
Yesterday, a thief stole several artworks from the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. The New York Times reported that “a lone, hooded intruder, clad in black, managed to break into the Art Deco building by the Seine overnight Wednesday.”
The works, by Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Léger and Modigliani are considered masterpieces. Art created by artists with incredible gifts. And, up until yesterday, the public has been able to enjoy the beauty and intricacies of their work.
Now that the works have been stolen, few people will see and admire them. Detectives speculate that the work was stolen as collateral for black market loans. And, because the pieces are so well known, they will not be sold–at least publicly.
And so, these beautiful masterpieces, painted as an expression of life, will be hidden away from public view. Art that honors the Creator. Art that reminds us of the gifts He provides. Art that displays His creativity and the beauty of creation. Concealed and secreted away.
The thought makes me sad.
God took up His paintbrush, His color palate, His voice to create this beautiful world. And then, in His image, He created us. He gave us the gift of creativity. Not to hide. But to share as a reflection of Him. To express passionately in response to Him. Even as an act of worship.
So, today, I open my eyes and heart and seek beauty. I write as a response to Him. I seek beauty in the world around me. And I am reminded that He shows us that beauty and creativity come from Him.
I stand in awe and wonder. God. First painter, potter, dancer, writer, poet, singer, songwriter. His creation gives me hope.
And so, to the lone, hooded intruder, clad in black, I pray that you will cast your eyes on God’s creation–His masterpiece–and that His grace and hope will become real to you.
A sea of papers sit in piles in front of me. Papers to grade. Words written, thoughtfully. Hopes that the teacher will find brilliance written there.
Silence surrounds me. My mind wonders and I look out on the sea. The ocean, set out before me this mid-May day. Soft clouds loom over head, gray. Sky and sea become one canvas of grays and whites. Surfers wait, patiently. Small dark specks bobbing in the waters.
I return to the papers, but I feel the sea and sand beckoning me. I can’t escape the lyric voices. Birds calling. Wave’s rhythmic roar. Like the Sirens, lyric voices.
I must walk. I bundle up and close the door behind me. Sea air. Damp mist. Wind at my back. Creation. God’s beauty.
This is life.