Tuesday, November 19, 2013

the gospel according to daniel tiger.

There are a few cartoon characters who have changed my life lately. I found myself getting defensive when someone called Dora a princess character this summer. "Actually, Dora is a loyal friend. And she goes on adventures. And she never gives up. So try watching an episode before you pigeon hole her as a princess character. She's actually pretty bad ass." I reacted as though he was talking smack about my best friend.

Daniel Tiger is the animated descendent of Daniel Striped Tiger from Mister Roger's Neighborhood. There's a trolly and Daniel uses his imagination a lot. The friendships are relatable for a toddler and the plots give Jasper great words for his feelings.

Every episode has a little jingle to help you remember the social or emotional lesson in play. "Keep on trying - you'll get better," has been the theme of potty training this week. For almost five days, Jasper wore underwear without hitting the potty. Accidents galore. Lots of laundry. It would have been easy for this little Type A observer to give up and get too frustrated, but he kept trying.

Last night, he hit the pot! There is hope. He beamed and me and said, "Mommy, I tried and I tried and I tried and I tried! I'm a potty kid now!" There will be many more accidents, but there will also be more trying. I'm just sure of it.

I, on the other hand, need to try a little less. November has been about prepping and meeting and checking things off the list. I assumed I would still have full-day energy through Thanksgiving to get my ducks in a row for maternity leave, but I don't. This week my body is pulling me back and I'm listening, reluctantly. My Daniel Tiger song sounds something like, "You are called to some things, not everything."

There will be accidents along the way (and a lot of laundry), but we will also use our imaginations and lean into friendships and give words to feelings. We will try really hard...or try not to try so hard. And we will be proud of the vulnerability and new life that come along with that shift.

Today I cancelled two meetings and started slowly. Jasper arrived at school with 7 extra pairs of underwear…just in case. And tonight we'll come together again in celebration the day, however it pans out.

Monday, November 11, 2013

veterans.

We are grateful for your strength because you are capable of all kinds of things: discipline, distance, teamwork, and loyalty that most Americans lust after. You've seen and done incredible things. You serve and labor while most of us go about our ordinary days, unaware of your sacrifice. We are in awe of your strength.

But we are also grateful for your vulnerability because you tell stories that widen our world: our ethics, our imaginations, our politics, and our faith. You've seen and done incredible things. And then you come home, thank God, to a culture that does not know how to receive your emotions and stories well. You come home to the economy and land and people you defended and face unemployment because we don't know how to translate and apply your valuable skills...even though you do. We say dumb things like, "Wow. Did you kill anyone over there?" and nod as though we understand the complexities of your darkest moments.

So thank you for your strength and thank you for your vulnerability. Keep leading. Keep telling your stories. Keep articulating your needs and widening our world and challenging us to do a better job supporting you. Because you deserve the very best.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

ferns.

Last winter we lost a few redwoods at Zion. We said goodbye to beautiful and generous saints who left this world in peaceful or sudden ways. The forest rumbled as they fell and we grieved - we wondered how we could go on without them and longed for things to be like they used to be.

But things can't be like they used to be - and they shouldn't be. The forest does not manufacture new redwoods overnight. Instead, the sun pokes through and the ecosystem shifts a bit. The air sounds wide open and the breeze dips down into quiet, sleepy corners.

And then the ferns stretch and span. They recognize the shift and the spaces that are building something new. Slowly, they rise toward the light and stand a little taller because there is room to be and breathe. The potential is palpable.

We have ferns rising at Zion these days. Young people are claiming a place and articulating their gifts and sneaking into the fabric of this forest. It's fun to watch them bond with older women and roll meatballs. They bike to church and then befriend others holding bike helmets. Their offering is uniquely generous and faithful - confident giving in the midst of transition, shift work, and stipends.

At first glance, you might miss them. Instead you might see only redwoods on the ground, a wilderness graveyard of what once was.  So it is tempting to mold them into redwoods -
to imagine that they are here to replace someone we've lost
to ignore their gifts and misuse them as warm bodies
to hope that they will take us back in time to a forest that no longer exists.

But if we fall to these fearful temptations, we are missing the whole, beautiful point.

There are ferns rising. 
They are signs of resurrection and life.
They bring new energy and growth that cannot be compared, predicted or measured.
They bring themselves, as they are, and that is always more than enough.

So instead I walk in the woods with my senses on high alert, grateful for the subtle and significant ways the forest is transforming for the sake of a rich and vibrant future.

Lord God, you call your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  - Evening Prayer, ELW