Category Archives: current events

Dear Graduates, chart your own course

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Caps and gowns everywhere! Smiling faces. Proud parents. Adoring Grands and even congratulatory hugs from siblings. It’s a great occasion and we mark it with well-deserved fanfare. Pomp. and. circumstance.

So many graduates! I imagine each of them bouncing on their own personalized trampolines, springing giddily into the air, paying no heed to the creaking complaints of metal springs better suited to children’s play. These celebrants are ready to boing to their next appointment: be it career or college, military or volunteer service, or perhaps just promotion to the next grade or next level school.

Congratulations! Way to go! But, I pray, dear young people, that this day is more than lift-off for you. May it also be deflection pointtrampoline high jump

Because so much in your world to this point has demanded that you achieve maximum height: jump higher, score better, achieve more, set new records or perform the best aerial trick. Success on that life-trampoline rewards perfect landing and launching from the same spot. No deviation. Simply master the repetitive motion. That’s more tantrum than lift-off.

I pray that on this graduation day you may embrace a little deflection. Accept permission to stop jumping straight up-and-down.

On an Easter evening two millennia ago, the disciples of Jesus experienced a graduation ceremony of their own, but it was no cause for celebration. Jesus had been crucified, died and was buried. Up until then, when Jesus said, Jump; they said, How high? But now, without the one who was their teacher, leader, and counselor, they cowered in fear.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. ~ (John 20:19-22) 

The disciples needed deflection. Following the leader was no longer an option. To stay the course, they needed to chart it themselves. In the peace that only Jesus can bring, their Lord sent them.

Dear Graduates, congratulations on your arrival at this day. From its precipice, look into your distance to notice what calls you, and listen for what draws you. Breathe that in. Let it inspire you. Let it energize you. Allow it to bring you peace. And then, let it deflect you toward a future that has been designed for you. Play that angle. Even the slightest deviation, multiplied by your landing force, will send you into new air space that you have not yet sampled.

DSC_0344Memorize that feeling; it’s called courage. You’re charting new territory. Take your momentum with you and spring for all your worth. Hey, bouncing up and down on your backyard trampoline never had much growth potential anyway. Let the deflection take you — to scary places, challenging places, and into untrod territory that desperately needs new minds to solve old problems.

Go and may the peace of Christ be with you.

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The Reason for Christ: Seven Words

IMG_8420The vulnerable fetus Mary was carrying, whose conception was not completely science-based but entirely evidence-based, was born to humanity in all its diversity, so that we — no longer Jew or Gentile, no longer slave or free, no longer male or female, indeed transgender —  we without right or entitlement but by grace through faithcould be called children of God.

It is for these 7 words that Christ came to earth.

Merry Christmas!

Is it sad? or am I sad? can we be honest?

It’s interesting how language lives. It upgrades. It downgrades. It takes to the streets and to the wires and the wireless: it is news, radio and late night tv. Who would have ever imagined there would be an urban dictionary? Who could have predicted that words today would have such different meanings than they did yesterday?

Yep. How we use words is a-changin,’ and not just generation to generation, but person to person, thanks to popular culture characters and personalities in the news. We seem to keep finding new ways to express things for an impact. As Sacha Baron Cohen, aka Borat, helped us discover, “Not so much” is a very useful expression. Other things he had to say, not so much.

One must guard, though, against the imprecision of words which may on the surface appear harmless, but in fact have significant impact. The word of concern to me right now is “sad.” Recently I have heard so many applications of “sad.” As in, that’s sad, they are so sad, that was just sad, such a sad country, a sad, sad person.

Is it sad? Or am I sad? Because these are two very different things that have become entwined, perhaps to our peril.

Much in our world today makes me feel sad, but it is not sad. It may be cruel, unjust, uncivil or unkind. It may be ignorant, ill-informed or ill-advised. It may be belligerent and abusive or fraudulent and deceptive. But I would challenge us to get better at addressing it by being more precise with our language.

Sad doesn’t capture it. Giving it the “sad” label, which has become popular, may be intended to express our discontent, but this misses the mark, and diminishes these:

Sad is… losing a parent, a child, a spouse, a beloved friend.

Sad is… getting a potentially deadly diagnosis.

Sad is… hearing your season, your career, your life is finished.

Sad is… you’re out of a job, evicted from your house, no longer welcome.

That is sadness. It is an emotion. Often accompanied by deep, gut-wrenching, heart-racking sobs which come from a depth you didn’t know you had. That is true sadness.

Using ‘that is sad’ for a behavior, choice, policy, proposal, or person is a stand in for our disappointment, discontent and perhaps even disbelief. We are angry, disgusted by what we see, hear or read. But that is not sad. We are sad. Let’s say what we mean.

Sad, in its current linguisity (if that’s not a word, it should be), as a label, is lazy. But more than this, it allows us to dismiss something we don’t like by concluding that this is terminal case. Nothing to do about this one. “That’s sad” has become an off-hand way to dismiss people, things, and practices. It’s a “safe” way to have the last word, pretending to have empathy because sad sounds like a feeling. I am entitled to my feelings. You can’t disagree with sad.

In fact, when used this way, sad is not a feeling, it’s a label; a cowardly way to assign a category to what we can’t or would rather not deal with — distancing and dismissing it all at once.

The thing is, you and I are sad for a reason. True sadness invites me to sit with you and tell you how sorry I am. It asks, “Can I help you?” “What may I do for you?” “How can I pray for you?”

Let’s not succumb to putting the sad label on people as a cushion to rest on. Who are we to decide who and who isn’t a hopeless human? We are made to help.sheep in pasture by Jane Jordan

In the faith that I follow, there is no such thing; no one is hopeless and no cause is hopeless. Our Lord went looking for that one very lost sheep, and when he found it, he carried it home. I’ll bet that lost sheep was very, very sad. But Jesus left the rest behind just to search for him.

No one is hopelessly lost, but our language certainly can make them sound that way. Can we revive our language. When we say “that is sad,” is that what we really mean? Or are we simply parroting a phrase made popular by a very human being? Instead, when we are sad, can we say so?

Can we sound out our own feelings and then use our language precisely? to describe, to admit, to honor, and to speak truth in love. Because love changes things. It brought that lost sheep all the way back home.

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