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Lessons learning

Monday, April 22, 2019

From Psalm 16 (referenced in Acts 2)
I saw the Lord before me. You have made known to me the paths of life.

In the forty days till Jesus’ ascension he has much to teach his newly strengthened brothers. His disciples will soon be making disciples of their own. The healing of Jesus will be multiplied by 12 and 12 again. As yet they have no idea, but he did prepare them: “They will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).

I watch Miles learning, for better or for worse, from whatever we do and say. And I think how I learned, too, and still do:

One. There is a vast difference between controlling someone and caring for them. I err on the control side every day, but sometimes I catch myself and remember what it means to care. Then I remember what to do. Then I do it. Mostly, that means letting my friend or family show me how, instead of getting ahead of them.

Two. Margaret says, “Look at me.” That way I’m more likely to be listening. And she says, “Use your words.” Actually, she says that to little kids, but I’m really not so old myself. My thoughts fill up my mind, need space, and I need to share them. Listen well, and speak clearly.

Three. Eat everything on your plate. I was a little boy then, and I learned about the starving children. I couldn’t see those other kids, but at least I could appreciate the food I’d been given. A much better lesson comes from Michael Pollan, himself a dad and foodie: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” His definition of “food” is rigorous, at least to most of us. I’m still working on NOT always eating everything on my plate.

Four. Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” begins: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs …” In panic moments I am learning to create some space. Breathe, take in the oxygen. Be still (and know that God is God) and be quiet. Let the spike of adrenalin close my mouth while it opens my eyes, ears, hands, and lungs. But don’t take too long with this. Something still needs to be done.

Five. Go to church every single Sunday. The folks at church are just like me, and Jesus loves them all. I’ve learned to say hello, and ask, “What’s brought you joy this week?” And then I get to ask myself. Also, when I’m there, sing the songs. Sing a little louder. This “worship breathing” brings joy into my soul.

Six. Sure, save the best for last. Start the day with simple words. “Lord, thank you for this day.” End the day, just the same. Every prayer during the day? Start with “Thank you.” My gratitude grows with this expression.

God’s grace and wisdom covers all my moments, all my thoughts, every decision right or wrong, and especially every time I look into another’s eyes. God’s peace transcends my wisdom, my knowledge, my mistakes, my sins, my creativity, my achievements and my failures.

How can I not be thankful?

My heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope. You have made known to me the paths of life, and you will fill me with joy in your presence. You have risen, Lord. You have risen indeed.

Michael Pollan, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, 2009

Rudyard Kipling, “If,” written in 1895 and published in Rewards and Fairies, 1910



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