Talking to friends on a regular basis was something that I had almost gotten used to! It has never been a natural thing for me. I love people, I just don’t always remember that I need people! But for a while now I have been getting more comfortable. I was enjoying trading texts about things that were happening; sharing amazing experiences or moments of insight; sending emails and replies. Even an occasional long telephone chat or a “date” for coffee or frozen yogurt or an extended personal meeting after the required business meeting was not a “once in a blue moon” event!
…It seems like a really long time, but actually it has been less than two weeks… since school started…. when I began to feel this “disconnected – ness” .
So…..why would that…how could that be? I am busier now than I have been in almost three months. Actually I am busier now than I can remember being in a long time! Mornings start around 6AM and the day is often not over until after midnight…and I am with people doing things…important and meaningful things ALL DAY! Everyday!!! So…..how can I feel “disconnected?” I am, after all, right in the middle of more activity in a day than some people are in a week…maybe even a month!
One of the good, important, meaningful things that I have been doing for the past few weeks is working with the Little Children of my church. I LOVE that! I need it. It is a time that I actually slow down and a time when I actually learn a little. Yes, I learn from spending time with little children.That is why I like to teach…especially the Littlest People… Because something amazing happens when I have to “break down” a lesson or concept,.. something that has become so ingrained, so rote, so cliché, so familiar…something I do but I don’t think about it anymore.
Many of us can say a creed or a Bible verse or a prayer…or a sing-song nursery rhyme…but do we even think about what we are saying or are we cruising in “automatic”? Are we going a steady 60 mph in the right hand lane… oblivious to everyone and everything that we are passing… or that is going by?
We don’t actually hear, but we listen with a tenth of an ear. By feel or by frequency we know that, “This is the part where they say__ and so we say__”. “This is the part where we respond….’ Great! And how are you?” “This is the part where we don’t see but we look in the direction and nod our head. ‘Um-hum.'”We are mindlessly going through the motions because that is what we do! It is effortless! We know all of this…we have known it forever and always! We have said it and sung it and played it and prayed it and thought it and seen it for ever and always…so we know it!
But do we?
Have you ever tried to explain The Lord’s Prayer to a five-year old…or a ten-year old? Have you ever tried to put it in their language so that they understand the HUGE and all-encompassing concepts included? When we break something down into such an elementary level…yes, so that an elementary or even preschool child can understand…well, it begins to look different. It takes on new meaning that is not complicated, but is also not simple at all. It becomes deeper, wider and clearer than ever. It stops being something that passes around and over and through us. It becomes something that comes into us. It becomes a part of us. It stays with us…forever and always. We have broken it down and built it back up. It is something substantial…filling up places where before there were cracks and voids and gaps. The rickety structure constantly on the verge of toppling and smashing is becoming a structure made to weather anything life could bring.
Knowing something is nothing like KNOWING something.
Let me give you an example. Wednesday night I was teaching the PreK – 5th grade class at church. Now, my classes are not like ones found during most regular school days. And my classes involve things that kids aren’t usually encouraged to do at home. In a nutshell, I mix lessons about God and Love while making “controlled” messes. You must remember that I may be an “adult” in age… and kind of in wisdom… and definitely in level of responsibility…but I am a TOTAL KID at heart.
So…a few weeks ago we made homemade bird feeders with pine cones and honey and birdfood…because Matthew 6:25-26 tells us… “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” All of God’s creation is valuable. It is so valuable that we are supposed to be stewards and care-takers of this world…and God is watching out for everything…He is with everyone! He is with us. Always.
We had an in-depth lesson. And we made a mess. And it was awesome.
And we do art projects …with paint…with glue….and pompoms for noses and wiggly eyes for “Wemmicks”… and this past Wednesday night we made Homemade clay with salt and flour and water and we measured and we mixed with our hands up to our elbows and we made and molded and we laughed…like God must have done when He was creating the world. It feels great to make something out of nothing. ..to make something new …a ship complete with life boats; a baby Jesus asleep in a manger; a six set of coasters; a birthday muffin complete with candles; a racecar…all from salt, flour and water. Three things that we use everyday. Who would have thought there could be so many possibilities? A child.
” Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8.
Thank you, God.
As I often do, we read a book on Wednesday too. It was a parable by Max Lucado, titled Just the Way You Are.
Ok…now listen people…this might be a “children’s book”, but just like I said a minute ago, God has made it pretty clear that we are supposed to be like little children! Matthew 18 starts by saying, “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven…”
Seeking. Searching. Asking. Learning. Eyes opened in amazement at the wonder of it all. Trusting. Believing. Open to the possibilities.
In the book, there are orphans…five children who need a home and family to care for them. The good King hears of their plight and decides to adopt them. The children are ecstatic…the townspeople encourage and advise the children to impress the king with gifts!
One child carves amazing figures with wood; one child paints beautiful pictures; one sings and a crowds gather to hear; one studies hard and becomes even more brilliant…but the smallest child believes she has no gift to give. All she has is a good heart. All she has to offer is a sympathetic ear to others and a helpful hand when a person or animal is in need.
A weary and road-worn stranger comes to town and is welcomed at the town gates by the girl. She asks about his journey and just spends time… no rush. Eventually the man tells the girl that he must go and attend to the business that brought him there. Could the girl care for his horse while he is away? Of course!
Later, when the man arrives back from his quest she asks him how his visit went. He explains that he had come to see a boy …but he was too busy with his carving; and a girl….but she was to captivated by her painting; …and another girl, but she could only hear the sound of applause; and another boy…but he had gone away to study.
The little girl realizes then that this man is her new father, the King! He has come for her….and although she did not believe that she had anything special to offer, what she had, was the most valuable…Her gift enabled her to KNOW the King. She was not self-absorbed. She was not blinded by her own glory or her own greatness.
The others were so caught up in their own lives…their God-given gifts being used to impress…that they missed the King.
The king tells the little girl that he will come back another time for the other children…and hopefully they will be looking and watching and waiting for him.
Where am I now? Sitting at my table writing? About to go drive the car? to work? then to clean and cook? and…?….But in all that I am doing today and tomorrow and in my life, am I paying attention? Am I seeing the King in my days? Am I being the hands and feet and smile and ear … am I using my gifts to connect? With God there can be no disconnect. With God I am never alone…and His presence creates in me a desire for others.
Thank you for the Children’s Lesson this week, God. May I always be Your child. Where are you, friend? Will you see the possibilities today? Will you make something fantastic out of something that has become mundane? Will you make a New Creation? Will you BE a New Creation? Ask God to help…He is the Master Molder. Be his clay and see what beautiful thing comes to life.