Sunday, August 12, 2007

Worth the wait

Tonight there are supposed to be meteor showers. Well, I suppose that there are meteor showers every night, but tonight there are more that will be visible than usual. So, instead of going to bed at my usual time, I’m currently sitting on the back porch, waiting. It reminds me of another night, probably 10 years ago now. I was with some college friends and we were hanging out at someone’s home and we discovered the little coffeetable book, Life’s Little Instruction Book. We skimmed over the pages. “Whistle,” one said. “When faced with a choice between holding onto something and forgiving, just forgive. Life is too short.” “Don’t forget to take time to look at the stars.” We decided to go outside and do just that. All 5 of us laid crossways on a hammock in order to get in proper star-viewing position. We waited and hoped for a shooting star to grace us with its beauty. Finally, after what seemed like hours, we saw it! We all happened to be looking the same direction at the same time and we saw the biggest shooting star that I’ve ever seen! The moments leading up felt like nothing once we saw the star.

We learn as children to wish upon a shooting star, but what happens when you’re waiting for the stars to shoot? We are tempted to give up the wait and just go inside where our beds are comfy and waiting for us. But there’s that chance…that possibility. That potential…to see the most beautiful, and rare, sight in all of nature: the shooting star!

And so, I wait tonight. To see that thing that might, that perhaps will, that maybe won’t, be. I’m in town, with a streetlight illuminating my backyard. The crickets and cicadas are my background music, along with the occasional thump of someone’s stereo driving on the other side of my house. It’s not the best circumstances to find a shooting star, but still, I wait. Because if it happens, it will be worth it.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Just Playing Nice or Moving Forward?

The fall semester starts with Freshmen Orientation next Wednesday. Classes won't start until a week from then, but at Southwestern, we take seriously that education is more than just what students learn in their classes. I had the pleasure of spending the day today with around 40 students who will serve as Orientation Leaders to the 150 new freshmen that will begin their collegiate career at Southwestern College. These students represent many others on campus, but this sample set proved to be superstars. I was impressed by their encouragement of one another in the 100 degree plus heat as they spent the day becoming a "team" on the ropes course. Why is it important that these leaders be a team? Their unity will be a model for the incoming students, and even the rest of campus as they join us here in a couple of days. We're a school full of people from various backgrounds--rural, suburban, urban--with different experiences, but somehow we get along. No, it's more than just getting along...even 2nd graders know how to "get along." We've learned, and continue to learn, that in order to truly make a difference, we must learn to truly care about one another, look out for one another, trust one another. Whether we're doing that while being suspended 20 feet above the ground at a ropes course, or in the cafeteria while speaking of our concerns for the upcoming year, true community requires it of us. Are we willing?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The air feels heavy

So it's August in Kansas. Everything is hot and humid (yes, HUMID, despite our distance from any sizable body of water), with varying shades of green, yellow and brown. The air feels heavy from the pent up heat that we didn't get in June that is now reminding us that it truly IS summer! I guess that's why, anyway.

The summer went fast. Too fast. I had great aspirations for what the summer would hold: some projects on my house, some studying I wanted to do, and some writing, too. Unfortunately, I didn't accomplish many of my goals.

I have to learn to do what I can and accept my limits. I didn't wish my time away this summer, or waste it watching stupid movies or playing spider solitare. No, I spent my precious summer days tidying up some things from last spring, preparing for the fall, and even enjoying myself with friends from all over. I had the privilege of spending some time in Florida this summer and even got to be in one of the 80,000 weddings that took place on 7-7-07! During my time in Florida, I visited one friend who serves as the young adult minister at a church and she happened to have a service project the day I was there. Shortly after that, I visited Catherine and Damon, my good friends who are doing Community Development in Gretna, Florida and while I was there, I spent 5 hours working in their community garden, picking okra, corn, tomatoes, canteloupe, and purple hull peas and then delivering it to people in their community who need it. At one point I laughed as I thought to myself that while some people go visit their friends and go to spas, restaurants, and shopping, I go plant flowers and harvest crops! You know, I think I have the better end of the deal! My manicure would have lasted only a few short days, but when you labor side-by-side with other Christians, you gain something that is certainly worth far more than a fun day out. I caught a glimpse of my friends in a new way. I also saw the ways that God can draw people together, even when they have just a scrap of time together. I feel like I truly made friends with the young adults from Forrest Park UMC in Panama City, FL, and with Miss Viola and the rest of her crew in Gretna.

My summer is almost over, and even as the air feels heavy, I sense a certain lightness approaching. There have been many challenges about the last several months for me, but the time is nearly here when the winds change and the new semester starts. I love my job working with college students. It excites me, it makes me laugh, it saddens me and it reminds me of my utter, daily dependence on God. As the winds change for this fall, I pray that the community that Christians feel when they work together would surround not just me, but the campus. The harvest that I'm most interested in is one of lives that want to serve and follow Jesus. That harvest can best be done in the context of loving Christian community. The humidity, so to speak, of relationships steeped in grace, is so thick that it just hangs in the air, allowing us frail human beings to step out in faith, grow deep roots of faith, and flower for all to see.

If I could make a weather forecast for the year, here is what it would be:
A year full of scattered showers, high humidity, but perfect for the growing season!

Through the storms that we all face this year, may we shower one another with grace, and may our roots be firmly established in the stablizing person of Christ. Yes, the air may be heavy, but the grace is holding us firm.