Monthly Archives: April 2010

keeping vigil

School just let out. I just walked to my car and thought about loading up on cash and gas, which seems so traitorous, and heading south, just driving until I run into the coast line. I feel all the things I felt whenever I got “the call,” the call to come, and to come now, when my grandmother was dying. I am tense, anxious, fearful, but very focused and undistracted about what I must do and in what order of importance. 1. get kids covered. 2. get fuel and cash 3. get going.

I am trying to discern a way, any way, to get to the coastline before death does. I’m thinking of maybe leaving early Sunday, spending the day, driving home late. I want to be there. I want to hold vigil; to walk and weep. I know I am not the closest of kin, maybe I would qualify as a cousin. I am not from there, nor do I summer there, nor do I hope to ever build a home there. But I am a casual camper who cannot imagine life apart from the Gulf as I know it. I have been to many other beaches; dirty, obviously polluted, cloudy water pooling around my feet, and thought, This is no beach. They call this a beach?

I cannot imagine never showing a grand-baby his toes, tingling with fish kisses in the clear shallows. I cannot imagine inedible shell-fish and retrieving only empty crab lines, clear days with no porpoise parades or the graceful swooping flight of the gangly pelican.

Like a child of any age, about to loose a parent or grandparent, who cannot envision life apart from their existence, I struggle to find focus in a life without the gulf.

All throughout the week, a strange thing has occurred with me. Never once has my spirit uttered silently or aloud a word, save, “Lord,” which could in any way be construed as prayer. I have many times been awakened and all but drug ( I like storms) outside by the Spirit to pray and speak to a storm. I have walked about praying without ceasing during recent hurricanes, tornadoes, bombings.  I am by no means anti-prayer when it comes to disasters, natural or man-made. But no prayer has escaped my lips toward the circumstances of the spill. There has seemed no ounce of authority resident in me in this regard.

I  sense a mourning congealing in me, a deep wail echoing up toward my throat.  Today,  I feel like one merely awaiting a due death, and I feel a drawing,  “Come, come now.”

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just a few miles offshore

Just a few miles offshore lies the forward edge of a spill from a hemmorraging oil well. Nearly 125 miles wide, the oil, as yet still flowing from the well and pipeline 5000 feet below the surface, is spreading, slowly,  thanks to favorable winds. Tomorrow, Not So Good Friday, brings less heartening news. A high pressure is developing in the Gulf and winds should turn and begin to push the oil directly toward the coast. In the path of the oil are some of the largest and most important estuaries in the United States. Forget the possible contamination of the powder white gulf beaches, forget the devastating effect to the tourism and subsequent trade in the coastal region, forget how such will ultimately greatly inconvenience us all or further increase economic hardship in our region. Hear me say with greatest gravity: our estuaries are at risk. They are the nurseries, the hope and future of our oceans. Estuaries are easy to damage and difficult to cleanse. Though in health, estuaries also cleanse the outflow of our rivers before their plunge into the great seas.

Just a few miles off of our shore…death awaits only a “good wind.”

I am a water lover, born under the water sign, in the “dawn of the age of aquarius,” indeed. All my most vulnerable, most altering moments have come in the context of water: in it, on it, next to its pounding. I can barely separate God from His most powerful representation, water.

My father served our nation and my state forty years as one of water’s great defenders…deep in my blood is that calling to do so. I have been watching, praying for and loving our oceans since I first toddled toward my t.v. to lay my hands upon Jacques Cousteau’s colorful Calypso.

I have the common southerner’s love of our soft and warm, motherly coastline. I crave her nearness and comfort at times of great stress. I run to her in pain and distress and change. I love the Grand Ocean as well, especially the poorly named Pacific, who tosses and propels and  bellows like the best of Fathers.

Just a few miles offshore the evidence of our greed, our selfishness and nearly total disregard for a more excellent way lies awaiting a wind that may well send it back upon us.

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favorite scriptures – prayer experiment – day 23

Favorite scriptures? Well, that’s has changed over time, in different seasons, circumstances of my life. But overall, I most dearly love the parables of Christ. “The Kingdom of God is like….” They seem  Jesus’ prompt  to us, to help us see Him and His Way or His response to our questions as we try to figure out this life.

I love the beauty and many layered meanings of the simple stories that  He told  to give us window into Himself and ourselves.

I do learn what just might be the plans, the purposes, and the promises of God elsewhere…and those can be helpful in encouraging me to ask and trust God for things for which I need Him and His wisdom. But the parables show me something more, something basic. They show me Who God is…They show me what He values. They show me how He sees us. And that draws me to prayer ( to Him) more than any promise or purpose.

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passing on kudos from a friend

I have asked several of my most literary, most talented writer friends to read my blog. They have graciously done so. I received some interesting feedback the other day. One of my brightest adult friends had this to say, “What exactly are those Lectios you all are talking about and where did you find these kids who are linked to your blog. I am reading their stuff. Wow! How do I learn and experience what they are?” (my paraphrase)

She is about 30 and fairly dang-well educated. She has done the church things quite a while, as well. She is jealous.

This is what Jeremy and I were trying to convince you about Saturday night. You have no idea what opportunity to grow has come your way through the venues that have been introduced into your life via Edge. You also have no real grasp of how much they have produced fruit and ability to connect in your life. I don’t even know how many blogs and lectios or just whose she read. But she was impressed.

You are just kids. I make myself say that at least  once a day. But, at the same time, and I say this more seriously, y’all are not just kids. You are not just another flow through of kids. From the get go of KCS for me and the dream of Edge for Jerm, you have never been considered – just this year’s crop of kids. I have never sensed the weightiness of responsibility that I sense toward you and your lives. There are times during a church service or an Epoch gathering or just watching you talking, having fun together, that I am moved to tears, and I sense that God is photocopying what I am seeing into my memory. Sometimes for a moment, for a a flash I see far forward and the now at once.  And always there is  heavy blanket of light that drapes about you, a covering to you and signal to me; you are clothed in Christ.

You are, have been capable of much, much more than we initially dared to hope. Please know that we are privileged to work hard to give you the best of what we know and will come to know in the days ahead. We offer you no “kid-menu”; we serve you what we eat and drink.

I am praying for the wonder of God and His workings to overtake you. Wonder is my response to all I sense in your regard.

Thank you for a wondrous year.

In preparation for an even greater season,

Mrs. Kim

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a time out to read

I took time out to read this weekend. I had been riding around with Pat Conroy’s newest book, South of Broad, in my car for a week. It’s due back at the library, overdue in fact. I never got around to reading it. That makes me angry since I made a special trip to check it out. Instead of taking it back, I chalked the extra 50 cents in fees up in “good investment” and made myself take the time out. It’s about 500 pages. I knew it would take me all the reading time I could squeeze out of the weekend.

I love Pat Conroy. His words are so beautiful that they make me hurt. He can tell the ridiculous, true tales of the South and the deep, dark pains of the human psyche with the most lyrical of words. His stories are usually about the cult of class, both the moralism and ignominy of Catholicism, and all the fractures of human spirit which lie almost imperceivable, like hair- breadth cracks in fine China.

What he does best, is characters. His stick. They get under my ribs, under my nails; they cling. They seem more real than those breathing actual air around me. Because I can see inside them: their thoughts, their fearful vacillations, their justifications, they seem more real.

It always takes me a day or two to truly return from reading great writing, the kind that leaves me in some kind of juxtaposition and in a place where there are only questions. Good writing leaves me at once in tension and free-fall… sort of suspended in a post traumatic shock – a place where my mind disavows and my body seeks to right its disrupted systems.

All the foibles and secret distresses of those I just met through story will plague me a good while yet. I deeply consider and characterize them. I ache alongside them and silently plea their case before God, whom they cannot seem to find. I stretch and reach and wrap my mind around their predicament, work words to my lips to warm them and to awaken them from their wounding.

But, I will sit and gaze dreamily on so many who are not ten feet from my inhalations.  I will shade my eyes from hands grasping at sunlight,  I will cover my ears from silent cries toward me. Why is this so?

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Confession – prayer experiment – day 22

Confession

I have some areas in my life where my response is not yet God’s. There are some people, some circumstances that I still react to more than I step back, see God’s heart and respond in it. Seems like everyday, several times a day, I am crying for a “new set of pins.” I know I have botched the last frame. I need God’s forgiveness, sometimes my brothers’. But I also sense the genuine need in me to try again. To do so, it helps me to see that clean slate, new set of pins. All the time I pray, “God, I know I’m not visualizing what the deal is here correctly, I know my grip is off, I know I am overcompensating, throwing too early or too late, etc. Can we just start over. Please show me one more time.”

“Create in me a clean heart.” In circumstances where I have chronically not walked rightly, the weight of past experiences can be a deadly thing. It can stop my pursuit of God’s way, even God Himself. I have to ask for what seems like ridiculous mercy over and over. I have to, less I never gain His way in my life.

I love this verse. “Renew a right spirit”: a spirit to start again, not shamed by guilt, but renewed, again inspired by the patience, the kindness, the confidence my teacher (Christ) has in me. Turn me toward you, Lord, your example.

“Cast me not away.” Bring me all the nearer in my need of you, to see You better and your Way more clearly.

“take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” Help me God, I need Your help.

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Commitment prayer experiment – day 21

Challenge to Commitment

You don’t really know what’s in you, until it’s tested. Or in other words, “Under pressure, the real comes out.”

I have a small circumstance that I am pretty sure was a test of something that I claim to believe. I say to professional educators, to youth ministry people, and to parents all the time that students have different strengths, ways of learning…Some who are so disinterested in the “classroom” setting  are curious, tenacious learners in other venues. I’m thinking of this young man who is so getting under my classroom teacher skin right now. He is plenty bright. But he can’t stand school style learning. He totally tunes it out. He plays, sings, fiddles around. At best, he sleeps. He drives me crazy. It is total “blasphemy” in my “sacrosanct ” view of classroom. I so wanted to just embarrass him the other day. His complacency in the face of information, in my mind, important information, so angered me. I made myself breathe and not react to him.

I have a policy which I am trying to expand in the earth about  pulling forward students into what they have (consciously or unconsciously ) dreamed to be. I try not to push. Pushing doesn’t work. They don’t take ownership in the learning, so that it will continue, apart from me and the consequences I might employ. I had just talked this idea up in a significant way . I breathed deep and stepped back from the room. I tried to see the room as  God might. “Who was He working in, on, at that moment? Lot’s of children slept. Even some good students. But others sat leaning forward – drinking in what they were seeing, hearing. Their minds were digging into themselves, questioning their responsibility to what they were seeing.

God was warning me to say quiet and true to what He had shown me about teaching/training. “If you yell, or even in any way disturb the sleeping, the doodling, etc., you will break this suspended moment. Trust me.” I am so glad that I did. Later some came and talked to me about what happened in them, while the not tender to such, slept.

The next day, God brought a memory to my mind  about the young man whose disinterest so distressed me. We had this huge problem to solve for Homecoming.   It was a mechanical, structural problem. I was clueless, as were most of us, as to how we should even begin to address it. He spent hours and  hours working, reworking  answers to our needs. He came early, left later than most of us every time. He cleaned up after everyone. He led us through that process. He is a good man in the making. I am not going to  let his giddiness at almost being free from claustrophobic classroom settings, make me forget who he is, and how he employs his given abilities to learn.

I think that I passed the test. And, I am more sure now than I was about the validity of my theory.

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