Tuesday, August 19, 2008

reuniting


Who knows what my ultimate motive was that dreary (yes dreary) April evening. I was not depressed - dreary days are actually my favorite - second only to stormy, probably tied with those constant snow days that never brighten. (Was I not made for Michigan?)

I thought it would be a good idea to host a family reunion. Not just a random event, but a grand scale reunion.....in my backyard.

While the ultimate motive may be hidden, I think I had a very distinct need to remind myself that there were people walking this earth with whom I shared DNA. And not in a remote sense, but in a relatively close to the same family tree branch sense... I wanted this for myself and I wanted this for my children. I WANT this for my children - it's not past tense even at this point in the process of planning. Just once in their lives I want them to be in a large group of people and be able to look around taking a survey with a smiling sigh and some thought that passes saying "I am tied to all these people". It's important. It's necessary.

My dearest friend and I have a shared yearning to "fill a gym". This a reference to those families who rent school gyms or church halls to celebrate family holidays. They fill gyms for Christmas, for Aunt Ethel's 100th birthday, for Thanksgiving and its 5 turkeys & 4 hams. They have gift exchanges which have not a whole lot to do with receiving something that will endure. Children in these gyms play with one another - all related, all family, all kin.

The sad part - these families don't realize that to many of us, they are special. And as they multiply, they provide each child with a gift that is priceless to those of us who have never filled a gym and presumably never will. We stand outside, noses pushed against the glass of the gym doors, wondering what it's like to be so connected.

So I fill my backyard this weekend. It's not a gym. And because of the disjointed nature (and lack of need) amongst my cousins, it's nothing that will begin a tradition. They don't need this - they have this within their own families. But for my children I give the gift of our own version of a gym. The moment they'll recall later beginning with "Remember that time our whole family was in our backyard...."

The sad part being, I'm fairly certain the sentence will continue with, "...why don't we ever see them?"

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mine!

I have had the joy, task, frustration of teaching various age groups of children over the course of this life of mine. Each group is excitedly different and yet the same. Is that not the very essence of human nature - all very different, yet all very much the same. As a teacher I am gifted with the opportunity to see the best (those "light bulb moments") as well as the "MINE!" moments.

MINE! After "mama", "dada", "buba" (or whatever phrase is used for bottle), it seems "MINE" enters the vernacular rather early and without much fanfare. It is suddenly there - hanging in the air the first time it is heard like one of those verbal bubbles of a cartoon character. "MINE!" There it is, hovering in the space as one of those 'remember this time' moments in parenting.

MINE! Continues into grade school with not much differing from toddlerhood. "MINE" is verbalized or shared in some physical manner - a shove, a push, a kick, an all out punch. The possession is mine and it is not to be shared. I will share that which I do not want; what I want I will not share. It seems that in some stretch of the imagination (for we are all the same while being different), one adult male shared it rather succinctly when he - I can see his frustration when I read this - bemoaned, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Often this is the life of a school child.

MINE! How it permeates all of adolescence, most notably when it comes to other humans. Groups form, one most choose, and once the group has someone, that person is marked with a MINE! (or OURS!) Cross the great divide and a chasm is found - one filled with "but you were ours!" We like to call them cliques - in reality it's mroe of the same - it's MINE! Sometimes it's even NOT MINE - associations are tenuous that way.

MINE! Sin distorts so greatly. Though we are all different we are all born with that sinful nature. The nature that distorted the beauty - yes beauty - of MINE!

"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." (Is 43 1-3)

MINE! is all the better when it is undistorted. When the "bliss of this glorious thought" involves our sin being nailed to the cross and bearing them no more. At the point when He booms from the heavens, "This is MY SON in whom I am well pleased.." only to take our sins and place them on that son who whispers "MINE" from a gruesome cross. In that instant, even MINE! is redeemed. In that instant we can declare with Kuyper

"...There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, 'This is mine! This belongs to me!'"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fragmentum

My previous blog was appropriately entitled 'Fragmentum'. From the Latin, it loosely meant "fragments, ruins". In more cases than not, this is a befitting title for my thoughts - the spoken ones as well as the written versions. My thoughts fly and my fingers fly with them somewhere around 99 WPM ("words per minute") but with an accuracy rate far below that number. There is a certain measure of desparation that I often feel - this drive to get the thought out and down and recorded before it fades. Before it is replaced by a new thought.

Certainly not because of any presumption of their importance. Perhaps because the record is cathartic. "Evacuative" if the definition of 'cathartic' is to be used. Recording the thoughts makes room for new thoughts. There is a certain beauty - relief - therapy in emptying the thought and embracing a new one. And in the recording of the emptying process there is the reassurance that the thought may be revisited if necessary.

That said, the title for the blog needed to be more personal - more about the source of these thoughts. Not Source with a capital "S", but a more earthly source. A quite human source. For me, this is a reference to my homecoming. The nest from which I was fed regularly on God, family, the importance of neighborhood, of tending whatever small plot of land one may have, sympathy, empathy, and knowing what one's ultimate purpose may be in life. It is the place from which my soul was settled, from which my soul was fed, from which my soul continues to somehow find grounding. It is no fragment - no 'ruin' in the Latin. It is quite simply the source.

And so farewell to Fragmentum, and welcome home fragmented thoughts.