One of my favorite parts about our Easter Sunday service is singing the Hallelujah chorus. Anyone from the congregation is invited to spontaneously come forward and join the choir for the quintessential finale of Handel’s “Messiah” while the rest of the congregation stands and soaks it in.
This year, one of the 90 something-year-old cornerstone ladies of the church tripped and fell on her way back to the pew. A physical therapist and nurse practitioner from the crowd ran up to assess her while the kids stood still in their tracks and the rest of the held their breath while simultaneously sending their love and prayers.
A few eternal minutes later, the medical professionals helped Mrs. McCune to her feet and the sanctuary filled with the sound of clapping.
Although I wouldn’t wish a fall for anyone, it was rather fitting to experience a microcosm of the death and resurrection story of Easter in our midst.
To me, this is what faith community is about. We commit to showing up with physical and spiritual support when someone falls down. Then we help each other back up with rejoicing .
“One more tug, Mama.”
I braced her in a headlock against my belly while reaching in between her jaws with enough trust to know I wouldn’t loose a finger. With a washcloth for friction, I yanked with all my might, attempting to persuade her top front tooth to release from the stubborn roots on the right side. I halted before distorting her face, the panic stricken look in her eyes paired with her stop signal hand were enough for me to get the message.
The next day and thousands of little wiggles later, our seven year old flashed her toothless grin.
So often, we get to the next phase through little wiggles rather than a big, passionate tug.
Instead of hurrying outside to play, one child paused to watch beautifully slow drips of water dance down the window. I couldn’t help but join in the wonder. I claim to teach children, in truth I have finally shed my blinders enough to see my teachers are in front of me.
I battled the copier, for more than four hours. I tweaked settings and sources, called the help line and pleaded with colleagues for assistance. It was only when I surrendered the idea of instant results, that this machine began to release a few copies at a time. In the end my project was complete and I learned that letting go of instant results allows space for completion in its own time.
My four year old hopped up on my lap as I was previewing a documentary on autism for a graduate course I am teaching in the fall. The conversation went something like this:
Daughter: “What’s this about?”
Me: “Oh, it is a movie about autism.”
Daughter: “Great, I’ll watch the baptism movie with you. I know all about kids and God.”
Me: “This is about autism, not baptism.”
Daughter: “Yeah, I know. Kids and God.”
Me: Hmmm, O.K.”
Perhaps autism really is just about people and understanding the unknown. At this moment, I am pretty certain my preschooler can teach this course in my stead.
Someone recently shared the story of a parent who asked, “Did you ask any good questions today?” in place of the typical, “How was school?”. We live in a society where we are expected to be good students, teachers and family members by following the rules, giving the right answers and doing our work. The irony it that what makes us grow the most as students, teachers and family members is asking thought provoking questions that create a bit of discomfort as well as new thinking. To overtly encourage questioning is to value the unlimited opportunity to grow. What more could we hope for for our children, teachers and family?
So…did you ask any good questions today?
Instead of hours of teacher/ parent speculation, the fifth grade team spent the past two afternoons hosting student lead conferences. Students shared work samples and written reflections on topics such as “digital citizenship” and “upholding behavioral norms” as well as their work studying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, math and science.
Most importantly, the highest stake holder led the conference, invariably guiding the conversation to what mattered most, be it the need for homework help or support in the social realm. Instead of speculation, all members of the student’s team had a opportunity to brainstorm the next actionable steps as a unit.
How can we continue to foster growth through thoughtful leadership and self reflection?