Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Does wishing make it so?

Isabella, my three year old granddaughter, said to her daddy, “Put on your shoes, Daddy, and let’s go get Grammy at the airport.” How sweet, I thought, when my son Andy emailed me her comment. She wanted to see me!
But here’s the rub—I wasn’t at the airport.
A month ago, though, when Isabella put on her shoes,climbed into her car seat, and her daddy drove to the airport---there was Grammy! So Isabella figured that all she had to do was repeat her actions and Grammy would appear.
She’s at the age when children think, “If I cover my eyes, nobody can see me.”
We grown-ups chuckle at children’s mistaken understanding of the way the world works, but it occurs to me that sometimes we do the same thing---especially where God is concerned.
If I pray, “Oh Lord, please make such-and-such happen in my life,” and it doesn’t happen, [If Grammy isn’t at the airport], I may sigh and say, “Huh! Jesus said, ‘Ask and you shall receive,’ but look, I did ask and I didn’t receive. Guess that proves it, prayer doesn’t work.”
Nooooo. If Isabella doesn’t see Grammy when she wants to see her, this doesn’t mean Grammy will never appear. It means Grammy comes on her time frame, not Isabella’s.
And we need to be clear about what we are asking God for. Am I motivated to call into play God’s kingdom on earth? ["Your kingdom is come when your will is done"] Am I praying to be open to God’s will—rather than my own? To believe that God has my greater good in mind?
Or am I merely “wishing” and calling it prayer? Like a little girl who thinks she can wish her Grammy into being there?
Maybe this is something to think about.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Bicycle Meditation

I love to bicycle, and part of the fun is the camaraderie with my bicycle buddies. Weekly, we’ll pedal about 18 miles through urban streets to our favorite breakfast stop, a funky little restaurant where where the oatmeal is hot, the pancakes are big, and the price is low.
Talk is always light-hearted and laugh-filled. We’re an eclectic mix of people: A dentist, a real-estate developer, a woman who cleans houses, a teacher, a brick layer, a retired mail carrier, an IT manager, a yoga teacher…what we have in common is our love of cycling. New people to the group introduce themselves by first names only, and instead of that All-American question, “What do you do?” the first question asked is usually, “So, how long you been cycling?”
If you belong to a group that is built around a particular interest—whether it’s hiking or quilting or singing barbershop harmony—you know how easily people of myriad backgrounds can get along when everyone shares a particular focus.
Today it occurred to me that all major world religions share a particular focus. At the core, all are centered on the idea of love for one another. Whether Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, or Hindus…read deeply in any sacred scriptures and a loving concern for one another is voiced.
Just for today, wouldn’t it be wonderful if people everywhere could focus on what we have in common and ignore the superficial differences that separate us? Wouldn’t it be great if we could relate to one another in the same light-hearted and generous-spirited way that I see with my bicycle buddies?
It's something to think about.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stay wide-eyed and adventurous

During the Olympics in China, I couldn't help but remember when I traveled to China 40 years ago. It was 1948. I was a little girl, island hopping across the Pacific with my mom and brother toward a country in the midst of civil war. I had no thoughts of war: I just wanted to see my daddy again. He was an Army major, stationed in Nanking with American embassy staff.
To my western eyes, China in ’48 was land of peculiar odors and exotic sights.

In Nanking, we Americans lived enclosed by a wall, and as Mao's forces drew closer, grown-ups began to warn, “Don’t go outside, children. You might run into Communists.” Peering at peasant farmers in padded jackets, I wondered “What’s a Communist?” By October, families were packing. Hurriedly, we took a night train to Shanghai. Then, unexpectedly, my brother got sick, so as others departed, we had to stay. My mom grew increasingly anxious, but I was wide-eyed and excited at the adventure of it all. At last, in November, Jacky was able to travel. On a cold, sunshiny day, we squeezed aboard a ship bound for Yokohama: evacuees from the Chinese civil war.
My father stayed in China another three months, until in March of ‘49, Mao’s troops took possession of Nanking.
It’s a far-different China today, and I have traveled far from the little girl I was in August of ’48. But here's what I have learned: all of life is an incredible journey, filled with the unexpected. Stay wide-eyed and excited by the adventure of it all. It's by far the happiest way to live.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cracking the Egg

“Look Grammy, it’s coming out!” My granddaughter’s voice held awe. We were in the Chicago Museum of Science and Technology, which is chock full of interactive “stuff” for kids to experience. Now we stood watching a chick hatch from its egg. As the egg cracked open, the chickie began to wriggle its way into the light. A few minutes later, my granddaughter tenderly held the newborn chick in her hand.

I remembered this scene as I recently read a passage from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nemo. “From the view of the chick, being hatched is a terrifying struggle. Confined and curled in a dark shell, half-formed, the chick eats all its food and stretches to the contours of its shell. Finally its own growth cracks the shell... In that moment—as its world is breaking—the chick must feel like it is dying.

“Transformation always involves the falling away of things we have relied on. We feel as if the world as we know it is coming it an end. And that world is.”Yes. I have gone through transformations, and breaking out of my shell of “what-is” into the new world of “what will-be” has involved a sense of panic and pain. Yet the struggle has always been worth it.

What is struggling to be born in you? Is this a good day to ponder that? Don’t let fear keep you in a shell that has grown too small.