Tuesday, November 19, 2002
Pitching the Bucket of FaithWhen I was in fourth grade, my best friend Michele moved with her parents from our concrete-and-brick apartment complex to a beautiful farm just outside the Indianapolis city limits. The house was big and drafty, with windows that stretched from floor to ceiling and big, unused rooms upstairs with peeling paint and chipping plaster--perfect and spooky for two 10-year-old girls giggling their way through a sleepover.
One morning in November we awoke early to find the world painted with a heavy frost, from barn to field to house. Michele and I put on our coats and gloves (she wore her Daddy's big canvas work gloves) and we went out to do Michele's chore. Her job was to water the horses; the mama mare, named Chocolate, and her newborn colt.
Michele had learned how to use the old pump and I stood back and marveled at this friend who had been a Barbie-playing city girl only weeks before. She pumped the water and I helped her carry it to the barn. Over and over we did this; one trip, two trips, three trips. Soon our arms were aching and Michele huffed, "Why is this taking so long? I usually only need two buckets and I'm done."
Michele's dad appeared in the doorway, grinning. "I was wondering when you two were going to realize that you picked up the bucket with the hole in the back." He pointed to the bucket. Sure enough, water was running out the back as we walked to the trough. He handed Michele a different bucket and took the one with the hole out of her hands. "I'll pitch this bucket and seal it up and it will be good as new tomorrow," he said.
This morning I'm remembering that experience because I've been thinking about ways that our faith trickles away without us knowing. Over 90 percent of Americans pray. Do we really believe it works? Do our actions say so? Are we any closer to really trusting God, to really relying on him to see us through the course of our lives? I want my belief to be more than belief: I want it to be a knowing. And toward that end, I want my thoughts, my choices, my actions, and my expectations to reflect the faith I say I have--and I know I have--when the chips are down. I'd like to pitch my bucket of faith and seal up those little cracks where the strength of God's presence dribbles out unnoticed. That means trusting him to do what he says he will do. Expecting it. Claiming it. Listening carefully--and applying what I hear. And with a little divine help, this bucket will soon be as good as new--or, more likely, better than ever.
Enjoy your day! :) k
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
Closing the ManualThis morning driving home from school, I heard an interview with John Mayer, a contemporary singer-songwriter. The interviewer brought up the fact that John gone to music school at Berkeley for two years and then cut out. His response: "I never was the kind of person to learn things from a manual." Me neither! I wanted to sit up and cheer. :) How often we feel we need to do what everyone else has done, learn the way everyone else learns, and value what everyone else values. But life in faith is a journey, step by step, that takes us along our own unique path, if we're paying attention. I'm putting away the store-bought map, closing the how-to manual, turning off the TV, and letting go of everything except God. He's more than able to show me where to put my foot next. Blessings on your day! :) k
Tuesday, November 12, 2002
Understanding & KnowingIt occurred to me today as I was writing to a friend that so many of the things we learn in our lives, we learn only over time. We grow, gradually, into trusting other people. We get used to a new job--slowly, one project, one person at a time. We change our lives, our families, our goals, and our perspectives by taking microscopic little steps, growing in a tiny way each day, every day, for years. Our intolerance melts subtly into acceptance. Our prejudices begin to take a back seat to our hope of finding that of God in another. Our fears, bit by bit, dissolve the unknown in favor of the known--what God has done before, he'll do again, and more.
So many of the unrealistic expectations I have put on myself and my own growth have had to do with time. I expect to know better, now. I want an answer, now. Like Paul, I know what I think I should be doing, but as Peace Pilgrim says, "It takes a while for the learning to catch up with the living."
But today I caught a glimpse of an understanding that reminded me that time is an ally, deepening our understanding and underscoring our knowing: Practical experience with God gives us an understanding and a knowing of his presence we can't get from a book, a song, or a movie. Lots of days with God give us the scope of experience, the knowing that he's there when we need him, a real help, companion, and guide we can count on, no matter what. :) k
Thursday, November 07, 2002
One of Those DaysHave you ever had a day that started out great and then went to pieces before noon? I don't know what happened today, but what began as a beautiful, frosty, peaceful morning dissolved into an "everything's-going-wrong" kind of day. Sometimes I just don't see any rhyme or reason to these things; but I know God understands, even when I don't. My mantra today is, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." I know things will come back together again as quickly as they came apart. And God is with us, either way. :) k
Wednesday, November 06, 2002
Loving the NoteI got to sit in on my son Christopher's trumpet lesson yesterday. His instructor, Jim Edison, has done it all. He's been the director of college bands; played professionally on tour with big bands and singers; played for the Barnum & Bailey Circus; has formed, managed, and toured with jazz groups; and was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame. He's 70 years old now, and a stroke a few years back left his left hand hanging by his side. But the right hand still plays trumpet magically; and his mind, keen ear, and fine teaching spirit know just when to stop to the music and call a boy's attention to something small that can make the difference between playing a note and loving it.
Did you know that there are many different ways to play a note on a trumpet? Not just loud and soft, but also "in-the-box quiet" and "concert-hall big." There are ways to bite off notes, breathe through notes, gently round notes and "set them down", kiss notes, project notes, and taste notes that sound like "milk and honey." And when you're stretching for the high notes--which is stressful because they're tough to reach and harder to hold--the trick is to relax and breathe; don't screw up your face and tighten your arms and neck muscles. Relax and love the note. Relax and honor your partner, your instrument. Relax and enjoy the moment, filled with music you're contributing to the world.
Each moment we live is another chance to play a note. We can hold moments tenderly or enjoy them heartily and let them go. We can waste them looking back at the past and wishing we were there. We can lose them by fantasizing about other notes we'll play--or moments we'll live--in the future. But we've got a chance to play a note, right now, in any way we choose. Today, may you do it your way, with God's help, and may you both enjoy its sound. :) k
Monday, November 04, 2002
Prayers for ParentsOver the weekend, I ran across this article,"CNN.com - Survey: Parents doubt their skills - Oct. 30, 2002," saying that a recent survey found that parents generally feel they are failing as parents. My heart went out to this entire generation of parents! Sometime today, would you please join me in praying for their comfort, wisdom, and growing relationships with the Divine? We can pray not only for the parents in this survey but for all parents, everywhere, today. Prayer is one of the few ways we can truly touch everyone, instantly, in the name of God. Let's remind each other, too, that we're just where we need to be today and that not one of us makes this journey alone. Blessings on your day. :) k
Friday, November 01, 2002
Letting God WorkDo you notice how much is being written right now about letting God work? It seems as though all signs lead to Trust for me lately. I hear songs on the radio and they remind me to trust God. I catch five minutes of a TV program and it reminds me to trust God. A little snippet of an email reminds me that if I'm struggling, I'm not trusting.
It occurs to me that Trust is continuum, a path that leads us from that initial acceptance of God's help, through every moment of our lives, to a full realization and reconciliation with him after this worldly life. Trust isn't a lesson we learn once and master; it's a million small choices, several made each day. Trust grows when we decide to ask God what to do instead of reacting quickly to an upsetting situation. Trust grows when we turn to him when something scares us. Trust grows when we choose to stand on his promises instead of relying on our own strength to solve a problem. Trust grows when we continue stepping forward in the dark, holding on to the belief that he is with us and will direct our steps.
My hope for us this weekend is that we're able to know God's presence in a very real way and rely on--and take comfort in--the fact that our relationship with him continues to grow in trust each day, just the way he wants it to. Blessings on your weekend! :) k