Saturday, September 24, 2011

S- was a cutter

Journal for Christa—
S— was a cutter. Now at that time, we didn’t even know what that was. There were adults who tried to help her. But, I think, even they were over their heads. It might have been nice if one of them would have tried to explain to us. But, they didn’t. When she started stealing, the college had little recourse but to send her back home. I have wondered what we all sent her back to. Whatever it was, she didn’t stay long. She was soon back in town and shortly thereafter married. I hope that things eventually worked out well for her.
How little I used to know, and how little I realized it. I think I started realizing how little I knew after I had kids. From potty training to driving, as each year passed, I felt like I knew less and less.
There is one thing, though, that I am learning—and that’s to listen. I listen best to my grandchildren. Whether it’s a conversation over “Loot Loops” or 3-year-old instruction on how much Kool-aid is “okay” to drink with popcorn on movie night or watching the swans gently float beneath a bridge in Stratford-upon-Avon, it’s easy for me to linger and listen. I wish I’d learned to listen earlier. I wish I listened more often.
If I had listened years ago, what would I have heard? If I listen now, what will I hear?

I think I learned to hear when I learned I didn’t know. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Listen for the Angels

Today my uncle is dying. He isn’t expected to live beyond the day. My uncles were people who looked on me fondly as a child and an adult—and teased me whenever they had a chance.  Uncles are proud of you and wish you the best in life. This day takes my thoughts to what that I’d written earlier this week regarding something Angela had said—
I’ve been thinking about what Angela said at lunch yesterday—that the children see angels. Her friend who works with terminal children speaks of how common it is for them to see someone that catches their attention the day of their death. “They might mention, ‘Mommy, there’s that lady again’ wherever they go during the last day.” Angela’s friend believes that these visions are angels—angels the children see, that we do not.
And if the children see them when they approach that most terrible translation—to leave all that one has known to go wherein all our hope lies—then they are here, but I don’t see them. Is it that I cannot or that I will not? Yet, the angels are here. They are sent by God. And, if I cannot see them, then let me feel them—to know they walk on each side to guide the path I trod—their only purpose, a messenger of the Most High. And if the angels be near, can His gaze be not far away?
“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” Mt. 19:14

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. after that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words."  I Thes. 4:17-18
This day, seen or unseen, the angels will make way.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Living Today

When Breck was little, and once when Helen was a baby, on a few occasions people mistook me for their mother. Jay always reminded me that these incidents usually occurred in dimly lit restaurants when Joel and Kim weren’t around, and that the three of us do share certain resemblances.  It did, however, always make me feel good. It’s been a long time now since Breck and Helen were babies, and those days are gone forever.
Monday evening as I walked the greenway, a small girl pointed at me when she and her mom approached and said, “Grandma!”  Eventually, time passes, and all the firming cream in the world isn’t going to dial back those decades.
I firmly believe that people should live in the present. The past cannot be recaptured, and if we long too much for the future, we can end up tossing away days or even years. It’s easy for me to live in the present when things are going well. Labor Day was a wonderful day. Jay and I rose early and went to Memorial Park to see the hot air balloons. It’d been years since we’d done so. At some point the kids got old enough to vote for sleeping in, and then there just always seemed to be something else to do, something to work on. But Monday, we pushed that all aside.
I’d forgotten how fun it is to wander among the balloons and watch the owners fill them with air and lift off. After awhile we wandered over to the lake to watch the balloons dip into the water and eventually took our morning walk around the lake. Yes, when things are going well, it’s easy to live in the present. It’s when things get hard that I don’t do so well with that. That’s when I find myself wishing for the next day, the next week, the next summer—without considering that days (good and bad) are to be lived, not wished away.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Thoughts on Judas

The following are just some thoughts on Judas as Mark preached on Matthew 7 a couple of weeks ago. Since it’s been awhile, and I’m not always good with quotation marks as I take notes and think about what he says, I’m not positive where Mark’s thoughts left off and mine worked in. Anyway, his sermon did get me thinking about Judas and how someone so close to Jesus could have missed the boat so totally that it ended in his own destruction.
When Judas returns the money to the chief priests, they reveal their vast wickedness. Not at all concerned with truth, they had their man and salved their own consciences by using the money to purchase the Potter’s Field, a cemetery. To Judas, they responded, “What is that [betraying Christ] to us? That’s your responsibility.” And so it was. It’s a sad thing to get to the end of something and realize our fault in the situation; but instead of seeking out the wicked priests, Judas should have gone to the One who could have made all things right for him, but he did not. Instead he tried to fix the mess he’d made, but it simply could not be undone. The priests did not care.
So instead, in his despair Judas hanged himself. There is a lesson there. First, I don’t want to make that kind of mess to begin with. It’s kind of amazing to have walked with Jesus and not have known Jesus; but Judas did. It’s so easy to get caught up in our work—sometimes good work—and make stupid decisions. Judas was not unique that way.
And when Judas recognizes his fault, he did what I so often do: he tried to fix it himself. He wants to change the past, but he cannot. When Judas can’t fix it himself, he discovers he can no longer live with himself either. Judas cannot change the past, and he cannot live in the future.
It’s a dangerous path to think we have all the answers—to seek only what we want—to assume we are in control. Yet, to recognize we can’t do it ourselves—really, what a wonderful place to be. For from there, it is only a short step to experience that God can and does fix things. The chained are those who think they can fix the mess within themselves. And are we not all a mess—at least at some point?