Category Archives: 4Purpose 4Good

We are All Commissioned

“Ultimately, all are commissioned. All are called. All to the holy order of God’s beloved. The hands that pass the peace can pass a meal to the man on the street. The hands that cup together to receive Christ in the bread will extend to receive Christ in the immigrant, the refugee, the lonely, or the sick. Hands plant, and uproot, and cook, and caress. They repair, the rewire, and change diapers, and dress wounds. Hands tickle giggling children and wipe away tears. Hands rub heaving bellies of big, ugly dogs. Hands sanctify all sorts of ordinary things and make them holy.

Through touch, God gave us power to injure or to heal, to wage war or to wash feet. Let us not forget the gravity of that. Let us not forget the call.”

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

A Thousand Paper Cranes

I love the story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.  The story is about a little girl who survives Hiroshima only to be diagnosed with cancer as a result of the radiation exposure.  Sadako puts her hope in an old Japanese legend that says if you fold 1,000 paper cranes a wish will be granted.  She begins folding the origami birds one after another.  She tells her friends and family and they help her too.  As the story goes, she dies before all of the cranes are folded but the redemption comes with the idea that with an entire community working together for a common purpose anything can happen. 

I have been thinking about what I want the next phase of my life to look like.  I know it will continue to be steeped in little boy activities, but I know I am ready to add something else. Thoughts of what it would look like if I started to work in an effort to help my community “fold paper cranes” keeps churning in my mind.  What would this look like?  Are people willing?  Would this make a lasting effect on the community as well of each of the individuals who participate?

I have had so many conversations in recent weeks that tell me “Yes!”  This is what is missing for so many individuals in their current situation.  They want to find meaning not just in what they do for a living but how they live.  Mothers want to continue their career path and at the same time find purpose in the time they spend with their children.  Young professionals now look not just at their paycheck for validation but at the impact they make in their industry and in the world.  I talk to professionals just hitting their stride and yearning for opportunities to make their mark beyond their office walls.  I have run into several new retirees who want a flexible schedule but would love to try something new connect with the community.

I see colorful paper all around me with different gifts and talent to share.  Paper that with just a little organization can be formed into a Thousand Paper Cranes.  Each individual working on a small part of a whole while creating something bigger than they can even imagine.  I do not know if it will work, but if I do not try we will never know.

Mother’s Day Reflection

Mother’s Day is possibly one of the most bizarre holidays.  As a mother of two, I get it, mom’s should be celebrated.  I would like to be celebrated by the simple act of my children making their own bed and not complaining when I make them a healthy, well-rounded dinner.  I do not need flowers and cards with equally bizarre sentiments.  I do not want to be taken to lunch at a restaurant that is so crowded it takes all afternoon and I have to forgo my Sunday nap.

I do enjoy going to church with my family on Mother’s Day but that can be tricky too.  I just want to get up sip a cup of coffee and throw on some church appropriate clothes and go.  Instead, I spend the week before trying to coordinate outfits for the family that look like we jumped off the cover of J. Crew.  The morning of I fight with my boys and insist they wear the sweater vests and church shoes I picked out.  All while trying to appreciate the hodgepodge of carbs they put on a plate and try to serve me in bed and smile while my husband attempts to figure out the camera that he only picks up on Mother’s Day.  Not to mention the mess that is made while creating the breakfast masterpiece that I won’t be allowed to clean up because it is Mother’s Day and it will sit and fester until Monday morning when life resumes as normal and I have a yet bigger mess.  This is not how I want to be celebrated.

We finally get to church and I settle in to hear the sermon, all too often by a man who does not realize that mom’s do not want to cry about another mother’s misfortune and how she found peace after tragedy.  I will never forget the sermon preached on my first Mother’s Day as a mom.  The minister preached about a mom who had a little boy who predicted his own death.  The story went on and on and I was sure that somehow grace and peace would be the end of the story.  No.  He died.  It was awful.  I held my baby and cried.  This is not how I want to be celebrated.

There is a part of me that wants to go full force Anne Lamott on the day.

“But Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path. Ha! Every woman’s path is difficult, and many mothers were as equipped to raise children as wire monkey mothers. I say that without judgment: It is, sadly, true. An unhealthy mother’s love is withering.

The illusion is that mothers are automatically happier, more fulfilled and complete. But the craziest, grimmest people this Sunday will be the mothers themselves, stuck herding their own mothers and weeping children and husbands’ mothers into seats at restaurants. These mothers do not want a box of chocolate. These mothers are on a diet.”

Instead, I will just tell you how I would like to be celebrated as a mother on Mother’s Day and every other day of the year.  I want to  be given a little grace when my boys show up dirty with chocolate on their faces.  I would like to hear a sermon on the unique insight women, with and without children, have to care for the world and have hope for the future.  I would like to be celebrated the way Mother’s Day was intended, recognizing what Ann Jarvis did upon founding the holiday.  Celebrating the reality that mothers, women, but especially mothers, had to work for peace because they could see the ravages of war in their husbands and in their sons, in a way that was so focused and so clear that their voices would be powerful.  As for what I want to eat, I am good with a cup of coffee, two eggs over easy, and some toast with a little extra strawberry preserves.  That is how I want to be celebrated.

Public Space is Sacred Space

I have a project in mind.  One from which I cannot seem to move on.  I wonder what our world would look like if we took a step back and reconnected with our community and it’s people and places.  I wonder how our daily vocations could be enriched with partnerships formed out of purpose.  I wonder if there room for everyone to pursue their calling and not just the elite.  I wonder how our world might be transformed.

It often seems as if life is too busy to acknowledge people as you pass them on the street, linger in conversation at the farmers market or retrieve a stray ball for a child at the park. I sometimes wonder if we have forgotten how to live in community with one another.

I often find myself thinking about public space and how much we take it for granted.  What would our city and our world look like if someone had not the foresight to preserve land for parks and sidewalks?  How has social media replaced the town square?

We seem to have a strange sense of entitlement that perhaps was not so apparent in past generations.  Parks are for everyone.  Those strange cement walkways on either side of the streets, they are public sidewalks. They do not belong to the home owners or the people who pay their neighborhood dues.  We are accustomed to having a place to wander, a park to enjoy, or a sidewalk to stroll down.

These public spaces are what connect us to each other and bind us to the world around us.  Without these common spaces along with the natural and man-made beauty that fills them, we have few reference points by which to relate to those who are different from ourselves.

The real questions might lie in the future of these public spaces.  Will there be a need for a public market as goods become more readily available online and shipped directly to our homes?  How much money is too much to spend on a piece of art that is just going to be passed everyday by the general public and not art connoisseurs? Why do sidewalks not line the streets of the suburban neighborhoods like they do in more urban settings?  Our society has been shaped through generations of people coming together by way of these sacred spaces.  How far are we willing to go to preserve them?

Learning to Fly

Last weekend my youngest son found a fledgling sparrow. The poor bird had attempted his first flight only to find that the sky he was flying toward was a mere reflection from the roof of our car. My husband saw the accident and we decided to escort the bird out of the path where my son, who believes he can save every animal from itself, might find it.

Hours later, the bird made his way back to the center of the porch and my son spotted it. We did the “don’t touch it and it will be fine” dance for a bit. Eventually his persistence won out and he stuck out his finger and the bird hopped on for a ride.

My son gently carried the bird around to different grassy areas trying to explain how to fly. The bird would try and try to no avail and always hopped back on his finger. My very patient and very stubborn child stuck with it and nurtured the bird, found him food and water, spoke encouraging words and kept explaining how to fly.

Several hours later I saw he no longer had the bird with him. His face was long and eyes were sad. I asked if he gave up or the bird did. “Mom, he just flew off.” Immediately he smiled but I could tell he missed his little friend. If anyone could help that little fledgling fly, it was my son.

I told him how proud I was that he stuck with it and then I said,“it is hard when your baby leaves the nest.” He nodded and I quipped, “too bad I couldn’t teach you and your brother how to fly in one day.”

I left the work force nearly 10 years ago. I left a job I loved with an organization I adored. I left colleagues that felt more like family than “people I worked with.” I left not because I was unfulfilled, but because it was what I needed to do.

I quickly realized after having my second baby in less than a year and a half that childbirth is not few hour process but instead, for me and where I was, it would take several years to gently birth my children into the world. Then, I realized that the epidural would wear off and I would feel the discomfort and fear along with the joy and pride every step of the way.

I have now spent almost a decade birthing these sweet boys into the world and I find myself searching for what will come next. They are far from flying on their own right now. That day will come. Right now they are bouncing around from one grassy area to another and I am thankful for everyone in our lives who continue to guide them and nurture them.