Wednesday, September 7, 2016

tenderness and power.

Last week I launched my girls into preschool and put Jasper on a bus to Kindergarten. It's an emotional time for any parent, the releasing of your children to new experiences and people and environments. As a working mother, I can't help but wonder what I have missed in these first five and a half years of parenthood. But as a potty training warrior, I can't help but be glad they'll be peeing on someone else today.

The night before Jasper started Kindergarten, we talked about superpowers. Everybody has one. There is strength and creativity and kindness in every single person you'll meet at school. Sometimes it's hidden and sometimes it's obvious. And guess what? I think one of your superpowers is discovering other people's superpowers.

It's true. He's wise and observant. He notices and names things I cannot see. I sent him off with this encouragement so that he'd be curious about his classmates, always seeking to learn more about them until he finds something wonderful and powerful in these new peers.

Perhaps it's crazy to think I can raise a deeply curious child in today's world. The media presents a list of despairing, polarized, terror-filled, angry, and fearful headlines that paralyze me with every page turn and click. Nothing inquisitive about their tone or volume!  I feel small in the face of this declarative reporting and I am left to wonder what kind of world is waiting for my curious little ones:

Gretchen Carlson's sexual harassment suit paid her exactly half of what Fox paid Roger Ailes to leave. Brock Turner was released from jail early for good behavior and Stanford has not yet expelled him. Syria used chemical weapons against its own people. Again. College campuses continue teaching first year students "how not to get raped" instead of teaching them "don't rape". Iran and Saudi Arabia flex tensions as the pilgrimage to Mecca begins. Elementary students are learning how to hide quietly in case men with guns enter their schools. Our legislators are divided and stalling about funding urgently needed to fight the Zika virus, proof that they do not honor the welfare of the American woman's uterus. American Indians are united in historic proportions at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota as protectors of water and life, but a majority of media outlets show little interest in this human, creation-wide cause.

Lord, have mercy.

And then there is Jacob Wetterling. He has been found, but not as we have hoped. The myth of closure is alive and well in Minnesota today. The Wetterling family invited all of us into the search 27 years ago and yesterday Patty Wetterling spoke with such eloquent strength, inviting all of us into the grief of this moment. She gave us permission to be deeply sad and sorry, but also to be alive in the work still before us. There is more to do: more children to find, more families to comfort, more perseverance to mold, more porch lights to leave burning brightly.

Jasper and Patty have met me in the tenderness of this season - in the midst of all that is evil, unfinished, and hard to bear alone - with the promise of power. Everybody has one, you know. And the best way to discover (or rediscover) your superpower is to get on the bus and show up together where someone might be curious enough to notice and name yours.

Let's see and be seen, friends.
We are found in moving our bodies and souls together.
And perhaps our collective tenderness will reveal new superpowers.

May the bus show up when and where you need a ride,
  guiding you into new courage and adventure.
May the light you were gifted in baptism shine brightly,
   guiding others into hope and warming your own heart.
May the power of the Holy Spirit rumble in your breath and bones,
  guiding you into great purpose and curiosity for those who need power, too.