Friendship is always
a sweet responsibility,
never an opportunity.
The Network of Grateful Living
This young rapper is singing for his sister. Still living his own youth, he has grown to understand the struggle in life when you are seen as different. Through his words we hear compassion and a maturing sense of justice. Being seen as different is never easy, especially if it means that you are often excluded from activities in daily life.
I have always been sensitive to stories that pull at people’s heartstrings by taking advantage of someone else’s story. Growing up a kid with an obvious disability, I never wanted to be pointed out as different. Acceptance was what I wanted. Acceptance is what this young girl seeks.
Now is the time – our young people need to know it is alright to act on their compassion and concern for justice. To find the courage to stand up when they see wrong-doing and show a different way by word and example.
I want to sing like the birds sing,
not worrying who listens or what they think.
This week a group of Christian educators/faith-formers have joined one another in the mountains of North Carolina for a conference filled with inspiration and resources. Everyone has brought something to enrich the experience. With music, art and reflection we have learned new skills and shared our own insights.
Through the patient guidance of a gifted and faith-filled artist, Roger Hutchinson, I told a story today with finger paint and a white canvas. As we began, I turned with a smile and said – ‘really Roger, finger paint – for someone with little use of their fingers!’ In the midst of this ironic fact, I knew I was game, always have been, and so the painting began.
Limitations are often self-designed. Be it self-conscious or fearful, many opportunities are refused with statements such as ‘I can’t do that’. Yes, it takes courage but as time moves on the need for courage often changes into a healthy dose of curiosity.
We form in faith with one another. Through trust and the stir of God’s spirit, a vision can be born and nurtured into life. I am grateful for those willing to be companions in this journey of faith.
As this week moves toward its end, I can not help but reflect on the state of our country. So out of touch – we have created enormous distractions that allow us to ignore the most basic needs before us. The rhetoric is filled with anger, dishonesty and contempt. And this is before I even begin to mention the political environment.
The weekend will soon call many of us to come together in our respective faith communities. Are these places where we find sacred time and space to re-member and renew our commitments to journey this life in faith and care for one another. Our children and youth watch and model what they experience from the adults in their midst. We are all bombarded – including the youngest among us – with negative attitudes and actions when we enter the world. How do we stay focused on our commitment to bring light in the darkest places? How do we guide our children to live with hope as their compass?
As people of faith, we have an opportunity to show a different way of living in this world. A way filled with compassion and concern for the good of all people – that the most basic of need is made available and community is created where everyone has a part in its vitality and purpose. May this be something we consider as we enter our holy places. May we take time to share our thoughts and prayers as we seek ways to live our faith, our call to bring good news where none has been heard in a very long time.
Below I share this prayer in hopes that it will bring insight and therefor action. It is written and offered from an amazing community called Iona, placed on an island (isle) in Scotland.
From “50 New Prayers From the Iona Community“:
God in whose love we are made,
When bread is before us
Remind us of the hungry.
When our key is in our door
Remind us of those who have no home.
When we enjoy the opportunities of money in our pockets
Remind us of those who only know poverty.
When the laughter of friendship fills our hearing
Remind us of those who know only loneliness.
When the love of our family keeps us safe
Remind us of those whose family was the place of their pain.
When we wonder what it is we can do,
Remind us that you said:
‘Whenever you feed the hungry, clothes the naked,
welcome the stranger, visit the prisoner,
you do it to me.’
May prayer feed our actions
and may our actions
feed the world.
One week left – moving van reserved, boxes filling, and copious calls being made. No matter how organized I had hoped to be, at this moment the list grows and time shortens. The retirement community has been gracious. No charge for the guest apartment! My friends can stay in a beautiful apartment down the hall from my new home. This means they will be more than comfortable – a good thing because they will have driven six hours, helped unload and put up with me (a ball of emotion).
There is a moment in any large project I undertake when I am humbled by the people who surround me to support and assist. The exchange between myself and those who catch my vision or rally to my aid is often filled with grace and humor. The most difficult part for me? To SIT and watch as my directions are taken. I cannot touch any of the objects being unwrapped and placed in drawers, cabinets or hung on walls. When my directions begin to sound like demands I know it is time to stop, to take a break for a walk outside or to share a glass of wine. May I have the insight to know when those moments are needed.
The last days are here. This time next week Lilly and I will be sleeping in our new apartment and waking to the sun’s light as it crests over the mountains. There have been more unexpected challenges than I thought possible. Yet, with family and dear friends, what seemed impossible has been accomplished.
Surrounded by grace – I continue to give thanks.