Can I tell you a secret?

“Can I tell you a secret?” I whispered to the little boy.
The very little boy
who told me he was two
as he climbed across the table
after dumping the entire contents of the bag of blocks
onto the floor
after emptying the cart full of plastic food
into the plastic sink and
trying unsuccessfully to shove the
plastic dish-drainer into the oven
in a way that would allow the door to actually close.

Oh, but he knew how to operate the microwave,
deftly punching its buttons to activate
its pretend revolving tray
then sifting through several plastic plates
searching for the round yellow ones that
were the right size for what he was preparing,
discarding all others in self-selected directions.

The chair I pulled up to this kitchen table
accommodated only part of my backside,
so I plunked myself onto the floor
and drew my glasses onto the bridge of my nose
that I might see the story of the day,
left open to the page where today’s lesson was featured.

“Can I tell you a secret?” I whispered to the little boy
who earlier I had snagged,
wrapping him with one arm as he sprinted
in attempted escape from his grandmother
who held fast to his little brother.

Mr Potato head w glassesNow, there is a pause in the kitchen preparations
as the little boy takes Mr. Potato Head glasses
previously perched on his head and affixes them
upside down across the bridge of his nose,
their pliable arms reaching out to grab his temples
well short of the ears they would not have looped.

Spectacle to spectacle, we gaze at each other,
this little boy and I, he on home turf
and me very far from mine.

“Can I tell you a secret?” I whisper to the little boy
who now draws very close
because secrets are meant to be shared, quietly,
ear to ear.
Co-conspirators we are now.
“Yes,” the little boy whispers
as he comes near.
We look together for a moment at the page
of faces that don’t look like his,
of people not dressed like him
of words that have no meaning to him.

“This is the secret.” I say, “Are you ready?”
He is ready.
“Jesus is alive,” I whisper.
“Jesus is alive,” he whispers,
smiling,
because secrets are for telling
when you’re two.
But you must whisper.

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Saying Goodbye

It’s been a while since I have been able to sit down and put two thoughts together with any cogency. Life has demanded I move at its speed, and I have dutifully complied, handcuffed as I was to things that needed doing on a firm timetable with no wiggle room.

As I now pause to take a deep breath, I am reminded of the story of the big game hunters who traveled to a distant and foreign land where they engaged local tribesman to carry their gear and belongings through the thick bush. Day after day, sunrise to sunset, they bushwhacked through thick jungle hastening in pursuit of the big game. One morning, as the hunters hurried to reengage the pursuit, the tribesmen stayed where they were, not moving, not rising, not packing, not tracking. “What are you doing?” the hunters implored, “We need to get moving!” The tribesmen replied simply, “We are waiting for our souls to catch up.”

Today, as the fog begins to clear, I am letting my soul catch up. My husband and I have just completed our own big game expedition. We packed up and moved out of our longtime home. All that has gone before has been boxed, bagged or tossed. How humbling it is to stand before your leavings at the curb — load after precious load.

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Three things are pinging my brain:

  1. Buy only what you need and use what you have until it’s gone. Discarding so much — physically taking it out with the trash — forces me to see how much waste I am actually responsible for. Mother Earth, I am so sorry.
  2. Don’t save for a rainy day. Do it, say it, use it now. Omission is difficult to live with and often impossible to rectify. Deep cabinets are not your friend. If it doesn’t come close to hand, you probably don’t need it. Someone else needs it more.
  3. There’s never the right time to say goodbye and always time to say see you later. Even though later will likely never come.

The universe is showing me that there is a difference between value and worth. I have never been good at distinguishing these. Often I keep things because they “might be worth something.” (to someone else) Ah, but value… value is determined by me. The purging, packing and moving has insisted I declare it. What do I value so greatly that I want to take it with me? How can I help it live on? These things …

  1. I share. Things I share live on in the life of the other.
  2. I photograph. These allow me to recall and remember.
  3. I tell. Words expressed live on in the heart of the other.
  4. I hug. Sentiments conveyed live on in the body of the other.
  5. I thank. Gratitude completes what the heart knows.
  6. I give. A gift keeps on giving in and through the other.
  7. I save. Things that tell our story in a unique way reverberate.
  8. I collect. Remembrances with deep meaning go with me.
  9. I pray, over the house and its rooms, claiming its blessings and sending them on.
  10. I depart, trusting that closing this front door will allow me to the open the next.

Few things in life are mentally, physically and emotionally taxing all at the same time. Moving out of your home and your community is one of these things, and I am trying to remember that it’s okay to take care of myself while recovering from the taxing trifecta.

Funny, just when I begin to think of myself as nearly there, God shows me how far I have yet to go. Wendy, Wendy, you hold onto so many things. There is only one thing you need to hold onto and it is already holding onto you.

Saying goodbye to what we truly love is so very hard. Ah, but something of deep abiding value… that has worth always. It resides in us, stays with us, has life in us. Always.

The Art of the Jump Shot: what’s God got to do with it?

We kinesthetics do a lot by feel.

We move in the space to “see” how big it is. We step outside to test whether we need a jacket today. When asked how long the table is, we spread our arms to demonstrate the size. How heavy is it? Oh, about like picking up _______ (something we have lifted before). No quantities for us. Our measure of a quality is its physical comparison with a previous interaction. We have this knowledge stored as a physical sensation. It is a memory retrieved from the body we bring.

So it just makes sense then that when it comes to deciding whether to put our faith in something or someone, we scan our physical recollection concerning this one or this thing. How does it “feel” to us? What do our “Spidey senses” tell us? Trust or distrust? Like or dislike? Engage or disengage?

Yep, Spidey senses aren’t just for comic book characters; they are for our character. We begin developing an internal sense of our outer world from the day we’re born. The more we interact with it — touch it, try it, and test it — the better sense of it we have. Not just by sampling, mind you, but by diligently applying ourselves to experience how things work and how we work with them. Not just with our minds but with our whole bodies.

Since it’s Final Four season and we’re feeling inspired, let’s work on our jump shot. Here is our process:

  1. Aim at the basket
  2. set the ball in our hands
  3. gauge distance and force required
  4. jump and shoot
  5. miss to the right.
  6. (retrieve the ball)
  7. Re-aim at the basket (with direction correction)
  8. Re-set the ball in our hands
  9. Re-gauge distance and force, if necessary
  10. jump and shoot again. (repeat)

Each time we shoot, the ball’s path provides feedback about our efforts, and the basket tells us whether they have been successful. Each miss gives us opportunity for correction. Each make gives us positive reinforcement. Our objective with practice is to bring our shot closer to our target until we make every shot. A natural by-product of our practice is a closer connection to our body’s physical sensation. We develop better feel. We become a better shooter.

But only if we have a target. Simply tossing a ball any which way against a backboard may provide ample exercise but it won’t improve our technique or our shooting percentage. To develop a “feel” we need an object of our effort and a measured intention. We need a goal and a reason to strive toward it.

No wonder the apostle Paul declared, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:14) 

If this is a random running, we have little hope of success. We may put in a valiant effort, sweating hard with heaving chest and gasping breath, but effort for effort’s sake doesn’t win us the prize. We need to be focused on our target, the specific goal set before us. It is in the shooting, missing, correcting our aim and shooting again that we draw closer.

We kinesthetics do this, like we do most things, by feel. It’s how we’re made. But the process is part of all of us. Thank goodness, God is patient.

The curious thing is, if I really want to be my very best, solo practice won’t do it: I need an opponent. The one who wants to deny me actually makes me into the best player I can be — the one who can take it confidently to the hoop, no matter the score, the shot clock or the game situation.

What if we considered everyone and everything that stands between us and our goal God’s gift of perfecting us?

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