Tag Archives: compassion

my next life

Everything that I am reading, coming across online, and sensing is that God is preparing me for my next life…

Not my life eternal in heaven ( whatever that may be), but what all these years have been preparing me to do. Sometimes, I have flashes. Sometimes, my safe suburban world is more than I can stand. Sometimes, my soul craves more…more satisfaction, more danger, more importance, more relationship, more risk, more shared suffering, more LIFE.

Sometimes, I cannot pacify it with necessities and normality.

That gives me hope, hope that life is not over for me.

I have fewer years to rear my children than I have fingers, only 6 until my baby graduates from high school.  I have no real attachments: no land, no beloved homestead, no business, no parent as yet unable to care for themselves.

I am 44. My grandmother whose body, build and health I share was 101 when she died. I may well have another life before me.

People say, “Life starts at 50.”

50: it is the year of  jubilee.

So let it be.


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The pictures are here!


I got a facebook message from Mark and Lea Huett today, ” Here are the pictures of the kids getting their shoes, for many, their first ever shoes.” I quickly clicked over to their facebook site. There are 64 pictures of “our” kids, my last year’s seventh grade class’ kids. Tomorrow, I will introduce some of the sweetest now eighth graders ever to the South African students.

In the comments section of the fb photo album that Lea sent me, a story is relayed. The center where these children are fed everyday was just robbed, of all of their food. Robbed of their food. We don’t know that kind of thing here. People take cars and jewelry and tv’s and cash, but food? How often do thieves clean out a pantry here?

I think that I will just show all the pictures and let them read the comments for themselves. I know exactly what my kiddos will do. By Tuesday, we will be on project again. They’ll send me back with, “What else do they most need? food money? uniforms? (their clothing is quite tattered in the photographs) books? Now is not the time to walk away with our ‘well done.'”

Whatever the answer, they will deliver. They have been infected with the dis-ease of compassion.

Lord, infect us all.

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I’m trying to get it all in.

I have some stories I really want to tell to this semester’s Economics students. I have some videos I believe they must see. I won’t have these students again, ever. We will share no senior trip this year. No long lunches nor service days together will give me opportunity to be near and hear them. This is my last shot to share my heart, maybe a little of my mind that has been righted. This is all I have.

Again, today felt like it should. Today, those already tracking kept pace; some of  those on the edge of sobriety, stepped free of the silliness and stayed with me on our journey.  There were many small victories that I dare not fail to recognize and celebrate. For mere seconds, some saw.

Their whispered words betrayed them. Their genuine selves spoke, silently and aloud.

I read eyes really well. Our eyes talk a great deal in that class. Their eyes said, “I’m here, hiding and hearing.”

I’m going to keep pushing, trying to get it all in.

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No one put their head down.

Sometimes, okay often, when I show video from the web, students in my class put their heads down and sleep. I think it’s because they don’t sleep much at night, cursed cell phones and all.

Today, we watched a favorite documentary of mine, “The Day My God Died.” It chronicles the stories of young women trafficked in India. The film is at times brutal in its visual honesty.

They watched and I prayed. I prayed that suffering would sink in a little. I prayed that we would all be so very grateful for the lucky lives we live. I prayed that God would use them and I to stop the wickedness on parade before us.

After a few moments of the video, a couple of students began asking what they could do, what it would cost, and whether they could they adopt those girls.  I answered their questions as well as I could and gave them resource links. I talked about the need for legal help and international pressure, the need for media campaigns to get the word out about the predatory nature of this industry, I talked about the need for staffed homes that could provide the necessary care for the abused young girls and women, and I talked about getting ahead of the curve. More than anything, vulnerable families need jobs, as do the young girls themselves. The need for capital to help women start businesses and afford education is paramount.

It was hard to watch the video – even this my fourth time. I wanted to throw things in my outrage. I wanted to cry out in despair. I wanted to put my head down and imagine it all a dream. But I didn’t and neither did they.

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This is making my heart hurt.

We took some Compassion International quizzes today in Economics. One was about AIDS. The statistics on the contraction and death rates for children are staggering. There were pictures of beautiful HIV positive and AIDS infected children as well.

It’s the one not the many that penetrates the heart.

We saw statistics of poverty and health and abuse. We talked about child trafficking and that the majority of child deaths are caused by things like smoke and bad water and contaminated food.

Some hurt for the first time, some let the pain steal into them. Some cried out that it hurt.

“Good, I’m trying to help make you both better,” I thought to myself.

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I sort of hated to do it…

I knew it would happen, I knew it was coming. It’s been peeking its head around corners as I approach, showing itself a little time to time. I knew it would soon be upon them, but it hurt to watch it make its formal introductions.

When I read the book this summer at the pool, I knew I would have to share it in class. Maybe I couldn’t get the whole book into them, but I had to read that story.  They don’t know much about treachery and treason. They don’t really know what it is to have those that they love surrounded or sold out. We rarely come anywhere near capital “D,” Despair – systematic, crushing despair.  Their and my “worse” day anecdotes aren’t within the universe of the kind of horror and unmolested wickedness the story calmly relays. They pay cinematographers to scare them – because their fears are few.

Adulthood sat down and said hello today in my classroom. It didn’t offer them credit or give them a voter registration card or a draft card. It just told them something that is very hard to hear – the whole story. It wasn’t the glamorized, or softened or sweetened (with a big slice of Apple pie story). The plain story showed up today. It was brutal to share it, to watch them involuntarily twist and turn away  internally, like we all do.

Some swallowed hard and said, “Okay, I will be human, however much it hurts. I will not  turn my ear or  turn up the volume of my ipod.”  Some began to grapple with the how of that. Some turned away to grow colder and less.

I remember such a critical mass moment – when posture and action became the yardsticks of faith, not beliefs and quippy answers. I remember choosing (relenting might be better), not much older than they, to let God show me what was and what He thought about it, and wished to do about it. I remember the press of thousands of other ways of seeing and perceiving and walking out my life…And I remember in anguish crying out, “God, where, where else can I go? ”

At a certain point, the child concedes to something more knowledgeable if not knowing.  That acknowledgement is the entry gate. Adulthood begins when we acknowledge His sufferings – all around us.

Then Good and  Evil assail our opening eyes and we understand why Genesis God so sought to save that meal for Himself. When we know, too, we are twisted and pierced as well.

“Crude,” by Sonia Shah is an important bit of journalistic literature. Well worthy of a read.

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