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Thursday, September 01, 2011

slow thanks

Slow, and thanks, are two words that sifted into consciousness at our field retreat. Being present in the here and now, and thankful for it. So in a week of a bit of chaos (ten living in our small house, fifteen one day, new books and notebooks and pens and classes times four high-schoolers, covering extra work in the hospital due to colleague sickness, keeping up with bread production and food preparation and laundry for the crowd, Caleb trying three nights to skype interview for the Air Force Academy before it finally worked, feeling like the emails are out of control so I counted one day's worth last night and quit at 132, new students with new health issues and the usual fevers and injuries and rashes and worries, trying to connect with one kid on the other side of the world, you get the picture) I am pausing this morning to remember slow thanks.
Jen G posted a quote on fb: what if you woke up tomorrow and only had what you gave thanks for today? Sobering. Thanks was the theme of my devotional reading this morning, too. So I am reminded to be thankful, for this cup of warm milky Kenyan tea, for this comfortable peaceful home, for four kids off to class this morning with brains and book bags tumbled full of integers and English essays and Swahili vocabulary. For Luke getting into a required but full English seminar. For Julia and Acacia joining Caleb in choir; 51 new kids tried out for limited spots. For Mr. Crumley, the choir director, whose pastoral heart draws, as evidenced by the fact that about 1/5 of the high school is IN choir and another 1/4 would LIKE to be. For Jack and Caleb surviving the first round of cuts in soccer tryouts, again 60-plus boys all trying their hardest. For coaches who enable three teams for boys' soccer and girls' basketball, meaning my kids and others have an opportunity to learn and run (and I mean run, Caleb has placed second amongst the 11th and 12th graders in the 1 to 3 mile runs, and Jack also placed second amongst all the 9th and 10th graders!). For the Massos' courage and sacrifice, leaving their daughter with us, a holy privilege, deeply serious. For our WHM colleagues spending the month at Kijabe, the ever cheerful can-do Miss Anna substituting in World HIstory and Government for a teacher who is missing the first few weeks of the term, and the tenderhearted Dr. Jessica who not only kept a newborn alive with expert resuscitation while she called me to come in the early morning hours but then donated her own blood to save the life of the post-partum bleeding mother. For connection with God's Kingdom in scattered outposts of Africa as parents bring their children here, for our tiny supporting role in this complex picture. For my partner and friend Dr. Mardi, whose wisdom and work means I have time to inhale, to ponder, to thank.
And time to slow down. Another theme of our meditation was to live in the present, not to treat the present as a temporary anomaly between what is past and what will be. My reading this morning brought me to Exodus 24 again, a really remarkable chapter, particularly after actually visiting Mt. Sinai and thinking about the feast for the seventy elders, the substance of the heavens paving stones to the Throne. And the six days of thick cloud that preceded Moses' encounter with God. Dan remarked that sometime in his life he hoped to spend six silent days waiting for God to speak. I tend towards a frantic pace, cramming and quick, as if that would then buy me slow time later. But I need to grasp that this is the life we have, currently, not as a next-best-thing to what was, or a get-yourself-ready for what will be, but for NOW. Some of my favorite hours of the last year have been spent on the sidelines of sports matches, which sound rather trivial in the big picture of eternity and the relentless battle for the restoration of creation. But I think those hours are precious because they are rare slices of the present. When we cheer our kids, we are there, not thinking about the past or future, fully engaged in the here and now, enveloped in a community doing the same. Along with meals, slow fellowship of the table, and worship, these are the places that the pace of real life (eternal life) breaks in.
There will be many moments in the next week that will be hurried and worried. I'll be faced with a long list of patients or be pushed to action by a breathless baby; I'll be multitasking in the kitchen to pull together sustenance before some scheduled event. But this morning I am practicing slow thanks. Which is, in the end, merely another way of saying faith. Remembering that more action from me, or better ideas from me, are not needed, because God is in control, and all manner of things shall be well.


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Heidi said...

my dad has said the same re. the sidelines at our sporting events (now many years ago but they still stick out in his memory)...glad for your opportunities for pause. might there be more of them - praying :)

Ryan said...

HEY! That's MY classroom!!! :)