Saturday, August 29, 2015

"Don't Be Afraid"

“Don’t be afraid,” Mom said. It was the first day of school, and it was hard to know who was really more afraid, Mom or her child starting that first day of the rest of his life. But she said it, because, in her heart, she knew that, really, there was nothing to be afraid of; sort of.  There would be lots to be afraid of if it wasn’t for one thing, Mom was going to be there.  When the “lions and tigers and bears, oh my” entered her precious son’s life she was going to be there, come “hell or high water”. Mom: the present one.

“Don’t be afraid,” Mom said. It was the first day of college.  Who knew eighteen years could happen in a blink?  “Got it, Mom. Love you. You can leave now.”  She had taught him well. Too well, she was thinking at that moment.  How could he be so assured? Didn’t he know that living on his own was going to meet even bigger lions who would want to devour him? Of course, perhaps the reason her little boy grown big could be so assured was that he did get it. He was not alone. Mom: the present one.

“Don’t be afraid,” Mom said. It was almost her last day on this old earth. This was way too soon, but here it was.  And there sat her son, next to her, weeping at the thought of how Mom, the Present One, was not, very soon, going to be present. But, Mom, as always, knew better. She knew that she had prepared that boy, now a young man, well. Very well. She had toughened him with love and softened him with grace.  So she told him, “Don’t be afraid.” She wasn’t afraid. She knew that she belonged, body and soul, in life and in this fast-approaching death to her God, who assured her through his Spirit that in Christ there is no fear. And she knew that her husband and children and grandchildren belonged to God too. So, she wasn’t afraid of the next life in the New Heaven and the New Earth. So of course she would say, even now, “Don’t be afraid.”

She was quoting, of course, the line made famous by another one who died too soon.  His friends and family felt so lost. So, as they journeyed on that dusty road one Sunday, three days after he had truly died, he met up with them. And as they stared at him, jaws dropped low, eyes opened wide, he told them, “Don’t be afraid.”  Sometimes, it takes a Mom to remind us to keep on walking and believing that the Present One is not gone. He is Risen, and so shall she be. Do not be afraid!

A Memorial in Witness to the Resurrection for Nancy J. Berry (1950-2015). Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Sister and Child of God, who is not afraid.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Beau's Baby Lessons

Beau focused on the cash register in front of him.  Madly pecking at the register keys, suddenly, and to his great delight, the cash drawer opened, revealing a large amount of paper dollars, which Beau quickly grabbed. Well, as many dollars as his tiny hands could grasp.  He rose from the floor and with that slight “drunken sailor” waddle of his age group, he held up the money for me to take.  I had no need of the play money in my wallet, but I took it nonetheless, thankful for the gesture. Meanwhile, grandma and grandpa, mom and dad, all looked on quite approvingly.  Beau had discovered the real joy of money: giving it away expecting nothing in return.

He returned to his favorite toy of the moment only to find the drawer closed. Mom!  But it was with a purpose, for there was one key which opened the cash register drawer. It was larger than all of the other keys and it had the letters O-P-E-N on it.  However, Beau is not yet either a talker nor a reader, so his Momma took his chubby little hand (cute “chub”, but chubby nonetheless) and placed it on the OPEN key. After a few tries Beau discovered the joy of finding the right key.  And the whole process of grabbing the cash and distributing it generously began again. And Beau had taught another lesson: the best thing a parent can teach a child is the joy of discovering the right key.  The key to joy is sometimes randomly found, but life is so much simpler if we know where to look, and if rather than someone pressing it for us, we learn to do it alone.

But then it was time to go home.  So while dad was gathering up the renegade older brothers mom found a wet cloth and hunkered down next to Beau. Beau’s face needed a cleaning after a hard play time, so mom took the wet cloth and gently pressed it to his face.  As she did so she scrunched up her own face and made those sounds moms make when they are cleaning their precious child’s face.  Beau took the cleaning in stride, not real happy about it during the process, but, although he may not know it yet, he felt so much better with a dirt-free face.  Sometimes, Beau was learning, you just have to allow someone to teach you the joy of fresh water washing away the dirt.

Generosity. Independence. Baptism.

Thanks for the lessons, Beau.