S/He who knows the end of a thing…

…knows s/he has the means to conquer it.

John Maxwell: A difficult time can be more readily endured if we retain the conviction that our existence holds a purpose – a cause to pursue, a person to love, a goal to achieve.

Quotes on Overcoming Adversity

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Showing Up

Waking from the feature-length teaching-related nightmare, I come to consciousness thanking God for preparing me as a teacher. If you noticed I did not say for teaching that’s the point. I woke with a deeper than ever, first realization really, that the Lord has used teaching to prepare me for kingdom purpose. This became patently obvious at the Democratic caucus Saturday.

First, there were no signs posted around the high school letting anyone know where to enter. Being your typical, prison industrial model, this one was vast with many entrances. People tried the several doors, grumbling their ways around to the rear pausing, from time to time, to complain, threaten to quit the process or to let someone hear about this! For me, so accustomed have I become to students’ self-disqualification at the starting gate, that the absence of directions or point-people barely even registered as an obstacle. You just keep pushing until you find a way in.

Next, there was the line that snaked out the one open door, as you rounded the bend and made it to the promised land; a way in! Did I mention that after so many years of developmental English I can barely discern when to use a semi-colon? If the chill in the air while pacing the approximately .85 of a mile from the Pennwood entrances to the Sirius entrances didn’t undo you the view of that line would, and did have more than a few would-be registering voters do an about face.

If, by some miracle, you did hang around say, long enough to catch your breath, and overheard one of the desperate, campaign-specific caucii announce, in stage whisper, to a suspected comrade that your precinct was inside and you don’t have to wait on this line, you could enter these gates with thanksgiving in your heart, enter His gates with praise, only to find true chaos in progress within. For this teacher-by-faith, a teeming mass of humanity, hopped up on caffeine, sugar and lacking leadership was a familiar, and frankly, welcomed sight. I mean, honestly, where would we be if everyone persisted in the falsehood that they in fact know what’s really going on?

My response? I did precisely what I’d expect each of my students to do in such Matrix-like circumstances: I made myself the best definition of useful I could muster given my strengths and struggles and grasp of the challenges reality had placed before me. I grabbed someone wearing a sticker I could support, asked for additional stickers, and assigned myself the job of greeter, and marched back outside, to the far end of the building, sharing what little information I had gleaned along the other direction with those just entering the vortex. It was in fact quite amazing how much I had gleaned just by showing up. But then that’s what Woody Allen and others have been going on about for centuries, right? Isn’t showing up more than half the definition of success? I mean, what else was I going to do, knowing full well that I couldn’t register or vote as a permanent resident. After all, more than on behalf of any candidate, I’d come in support of democracy; that big little notion whose time may be just around the corner if a handful more of us takes heart and hope in hand and begins walking the talk of true change, starting at home.

I’d appreciate it if someone drew these threads together and wrote a conclusion. My students, even in this, have taught me extremely well!

Socratic method: The Remix

Why waste an opportunity to get closer to God? is the answer that comes to me as I get out of bed. It was along some indirect line of thought that it arrived. But it was the answer supplied to any number of questions past and future that are put to me. Now I understand that even I do not have to find an ‘answer’ but turn the seeker back to prayer – an opportunity to get closer to God!
Among the revelations I most enjoyed during lunch with Yvonne on Tuesday, was the image of faith as a pilot attempting to land her craft in thick, low clouds. She has done everything she is trained to be accountable for, now, she must simply, or not so simply, admit that the task itself, and not just the conditions, are far beyond her abilities, and let God take care of the rest.
Revelation is akin to landing that plane. We become witnesses only after being faithful stewards. I expressed it far more simply at lunch when I remembered – noticed aloud – how one can read the same scripture and not penetrate its meaning until the soil of our lives has been prepared for its planting, cultivation and harvest. As we abandon all to His power we increasingly witness what has always been true.
Nothing actually changes: the clouds do not lift, it is we who descend (in our own self-opinion perhaps?) below the clouds to find the familiar territory the landing strip, fully lit in expectation of our arrival. The weather does not change: the storm is still swirling, but now, we realize it cannot thwart our mission. It is indeed a thing apart and all it’s bluster cannot change a single atom of our being or God’s plan for us! I like the image so much because it came readily and remains etched in my mind’s eye. I see the view as the clouds part. To explain the situation further begs the storms’ reality. For the clouds themselves do nothing and, the closer we get to them, the more their nothingness is revealed! It is our forward movement that makes room for us! The clouds simply cannot exist wherever we are truly on target – much in the same way Pastor House was explaining at Bible Study last night: If you look down at your feet and over to your neighbor’s, each pair is distinct, separate, unable to occupy the exact same space at the same time, even if that neighbor were to sit on your lap! Once you agree (not that God awaits your permission) imagine the possibilities! What would you do, if you knew God could not fail?
Whose Plane Is This Anyway?

God Uses Hangers

What if infinite supply were as simple as they say? Some have asserted that everything we need we already have and we have simply to recognize it. A lesson from the closet: This morning, after arriving at an idea interesting enough to get out of bed for, that is to say, conceiving an idea compelling enough to rival the softness of the t-shirt flannel of my sheets and the feeling of physical exhaustion not yet abated after more than 10 hours horizontal, I begin my leg extensions and invisible punching bag aerobics on my back, roll onto the floor and into the plank position, say the Lord’s Prayer and head for the bathroom, then the kitchen.
Vocal warm ups begin, predictably, in the raspy lounge singer range, as I attempt a rousing chorus from Jesus, What a Wonderful Child. I resort to humming as I feed Mr. Rogers, the inherited Betta I began the night beside in order to have some company while I slept. Funny, the things we do that are opaque until later. At least choosing the couch was a less costly option than say choosing a spouse.
Once again, Mr. S.P. Rogers, flutters his tail at me in what I presume he has been biologically conditioned to consider (if fish may consider) a threatening way, and misses the point that his food grains have been scattered above him and slightly behind until I walk in a direction that will draw his attention thereto. After feeding him, I rinse and put in the dishwasher the empty containers that have been in the sink for at least 48 hours and have finally caught my attention.
I go into all this grueling detail to illustrate my point, at least five of them, and refer you to an essay on Og Mandino’s take on procrastination. A spiritual take on the theme actually. These small details are taken care of in an effort to avoid, in my case, addressing the BIG IDEA which is, in the grander scale of things, itself a small detail.
Though the ten-minute commitment to write was satisfied four minutes ago I will simply say this. In order to wake up, and before getting to my formal prayers – the official start to each day, and delaying what I now admit is an unavoidable trip to the gym – I now putter. In decades past I simply decided to wake up and get about the day’s business. I wish students would make decisions as swiftly as I used to. But that’s a subject for another practice writing session.
The foregoing being point five, I’ll get to the gist of points four through one in more concise fashion.
4: Infinite supply may be seen in the closet experience many, though not all, of us have had. I have two things to hang up and one available hanger so I consolidate a velour sweat suit onto one hanger and free up a second hanger for today’s need. The supply was already there. I simply had to notice and employ it. I’d wager this law also works when mortgage payments are due or a peace treaty needs to be negotiated.
3. The idea that got me out of bed – a way to combine and publish service learning activities for my roles as grad student, college worker / writing instructor, and community advocate / LVAC member – is not likely to be the reason God got me out of bed.
2. God laughs. After all, at this point in history, after the Flood, the warnings of the weeping prophet among others, and in the context of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, there is little point in holding one’s Holy Breath. Very few are likely to see You turn blue, though many of us do rise each morning to watch what You do next.
1. I share the laughter and, perhaps like God, daily begin again.
How do you get out of bed?

ProEnglish?

A friend sent me the link to a website where we can communicate with legislators on any number of action items. While I am NOT a pro-English advocate, as are the website sponsors, I appreciate the notion of democracy for and by the people, and find the website’s features well-suited to communicating the pro-social values that I support. I am not afraid of losing my identity or this great nation’s loss of national identity should we live out the true purpose of our creed and welcome those accountable for and willing to work for better futures in liberty and justice for ALL.
What concerns me is the loss of character embodied in such gestures to organize people’s desperation, play on their fears, and the resulting abandonment of the very founding principles such well-intentioned individuals seek to preserve. I submitted the following via email.
Dear Congress People, I pray daily for your closer walk with God. For once right relationship is established, we are more than conquerors, walking in the spirit and fulfilling the true laws of the kingdom.
If you made it through that, and have an ear to hear, I write to suggest a formal apology be made not only for killing First Nation languages but children when we ‘pioneered’ this land some now seek to ‘unify’ under the English language. Genuine apology and restitution (not just tuition and license to self-destruct) will set a good example for families and leaders worldwide. Truth and reconciliation should be taught in every classroom and every pulpit, every legislative session. Thank you for all the good you continue to strive to do, seeking your own in another’s good. May you be positioned for victory and have your names written in heaven.