Wednesday, January 11, 2023

I wonder--January 11

I just had the most wonderful experience that I want to share with you. And as I share my story, I wonder if you can find your own way to share this experience in your day?

A short time ago I walked across the parking lot on my way back to the office. The day was cool, and the clouds formed a nice blanket that allowed me to be comfortable wearing a sweater to work. I was in a good mood. Listening to a podcast that I enjoy, I heard the activity bus from our Day Care pulling up behind me to drop off the children. 

I turned my head and saw the bus making its wide sweeping turn so the "after school" children can disembark and head inside to wait for their parents. Then it happened. . . 

There in the window I saw little smiles forming as small faces pressed themselves up to the glass to see me. Ethan waved. Tyler's eyes brightened. A new young lady in the program waved at me until I noticed her and waved back. Then she shook her head in satisfaction.  

Unlocking the door to the office I took my AirPods out of my ear, turned around, and waited. I wanted to say 'hello.' 

"Are you coming today?" one boy asked. 

"No," I said. "I will be there tomorrow to read you a new bible story." I smiled and said, "If that's okay." 

He laughed and said he would like that. He did not know that I come to the office every day--not just the days when I stop to read to him. 

I saw Minecraft shirts that were 'showed off.' Anna Grace waved as she walked by. On and on the parade of kids went; many of them had something to say. Most were excited to see me and some confused. I got the "doesn't he only work on Thursday" look, and I loved it. 

The whole experience blessed my day, and why is that? 

It is because I agreed to be present regularly in their lives. I agreed to walk over to the Day Care on Thursdays at 3:30pm and read to them. You see for these kids it matters that I come and see them. It matters that I take time to show up. And even if they cannot articulate this statement, their waves and smiles and comments prove my conclusion. 

So again I wonder, can you find a way to have a similar experience in your day? 

I bet it will bless your heart. . . 


Thursday, January 5, 2023

I wonder--January 5

I am getting ready this morning to go on a short walk with a friend. While we have not walked together before, Ms. Bert came today and asked me if I had already walked this morning. I told her not yet . . . She smiled and said, 'well we're walking after circle then,' and I happily agreed.  

So off after her meeting, we went. . . Ms. Bert and I. 

The warmth of the sun felt good on my face and the coolness of the breeze was perfect. I love to walk out in God's creation. And with such a perfect morning to walk together, Bert and I had a wonderful time walking a mile around the Bethesda Cemetery. We talked about a lot of things. 

We spoke about family--both our personal families and our church family.

We shared thoughts about life and grieving. We have both experienced the pain of loss so we talked about it some. 

We even ventured into some reflections on the state of our world and our inability to work together to accomplish even the most basic things. Neither of us could figure out why we can't seem to follow a communal mission in this world. 

Around and around Bert and I walked until we completed our 1-mile circuit in about 25 minutes. Then we headed our own separate ways and I felt blessed to have a friend to walk with on this cool Thursday morning

But as I sit her know I am thinking about the words that I read from Jean Vanier earlier today as I prepared for Bible study. He said: 

I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes.”

Neither Bert or I aimed to follow Vanier's guidance from above. We just allowed God to walk with us; to guide us and our conversation. As we let God lead us onward, we were able to share deeply from our souls and God was with us in this. 

So I wonder today, what would happen in your life if you took Vanier's words to heart? When we share our struggles more freely we find space and identification with other people. Perhaps in that sharing we even find God? 


Wednesday, January 4, 2023

I wonder--January 4

Sometimes things get out of hand. . . Not in a bad way; just out of hand. And even though we have good intentions as the day begins, sometimes, that best-of-intentions take us to a place that we do not want to go. 

That was my morning today. Let me explain: 

After taking my morning walk I settled at my desk and opened my devotional. I am currently finishing one book and beginning another so there is a bit of an overlap. So for one more day I read two devotions in the morning as I start each day. 

Finishing the first one, I closed it, slide it across my desk, and I write in my journal for a couple minutes. 

Finishing today's entry, I sighed. Task complete. 

Next, I opened my email, I grabbed my file folder from last night's meeting, and I started to rattle off tasks in my head that I wanted to complete before my noon zoom meeting. Instantly my fingers attack the keyboard to compose some emails. At the same time, I flipped through my iPad as I picked today's story for chapel with the children at the Day Care and I sipped some coffee. 

I was being very productive. . . or was I? 

Remember I have a second reading to complete this morning.  

Just behind my laptop, I could see the edge of my second devotional poking out, inviting me, to slow down this morning and read. I literally pushed everything else away and sat back and read the entry for today; these were words that I needed.  

There are times when the tasks of the day are so important, so necessary, that we cannot neglect them. But more often than not, a simple re-orientation is what God asks us. God wonders if we will just put away our quest for productivity; will we dwell with him? 

No one means to push our necessary God-time away, but that happens more than we like. I wonder how your day could be different? I wonder if you might push away that which could distract you from God and just dwell with him? How might that make a difference? 

Blessings. . . 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

I wonder. . . January 3

Sitting on my desk in front of me is a pile of seven books on the same topic. Next to the books is a handout from Hebrews 11 and the copy of a chapter from a book that was used in my Doctoral work by an instructor. 

I need to re-read all seven books and the extra chapter by this evening. (Or I should re-read them is probably more accurate of a statement). And like you read who this essay, I know that I will not finish the books and chapter today. Even though the subject is inviting, and I have read all seven before, the task is daunting. 

Several choices present themselves to me in this moment: 

First, I could just pound through the books. Skim away. Try and recall the main point of each book. Then force a conclusion to come together. 

Second, give up. Like I said, I will not get them all read and I could choose disappointment over persistence. 

Or maybe I just let the process unfold as it does. I could smile as I pick up the first book and know that whatever God and I re-learn together is enough. I am not being complacent but instead displaying trust. . .trust in God and trust in myself.

The New Year is already full of expectations that sit in front of you, on your own desk. These expectations stalk you and tell you, that if you are not serious enough in your attention to them, then you are a failure--or at the very least not faithful enough.

But that is not true. 

My morning scripture lesson took me to Luke 2; it was the story of Simeon blessing Jesus. As I thought about Simeon I noticed that he spent a lot of time not knowing, not understanding, and as I think about the pile of books in my desk, he spent a lot of time being stalked by expectations. 

Yet he gently lived into that tension and let God hold his attention. I wonder, could you follow Simeon's example? What would it look like in your life to trust God to help you manage all that needs to be done today? 


I Wonder--November 29

I wonder if you would pray with me for someone you have not met?  Today I had my yearly physical with my doctor and it went very well. Heart...