Lights of Grace


God’s grace

First Day of School: Legacy of 2020

The History Teacher

Trying to protect his students’ innocence
he told them the Ice Age was really just
the Chilly Age, a period of a million years
when everyone had to wear sweaters.

And the Stone Age became the Gravel Age,
named after the long driveways of the time.

The Spanish Inquisition was nothing more
than an outbreak of questions such as
“How far is it from here to Madrid?”
“What do you call the matador’s hat?”

The War of the Roses took place in a garden,
and the Enola Gay dropped one tiny atom
on Japan.

The children would leave his classroom
for the playground to torment the weak
and the smart,
mussing up their hair and breaking their glasses,

while he gathered up his notes and walked home
past flower beds and white picket fences,
wondering if they would believe that soldiers
in the Boer War told long, rambling stories
designed to make the enemy nod off.

–Billy Collins
Two-term Poet Laureate (2001-2003)

What will the history teachers teach the children in the future about the now? Who will make the difference about this 2020 First Day of School? How will this first day of school be remembered by our children? Who will be the heroes?
Will it be the parents?

Facebook , Instagram, and even Twitter have many postings about the hope and the fear of this dreaded day of sending our children where we can’t protect them. Will they gather their children and pray as a family for safety?

Will they say there was great excitement about new clothes and that perfect book bag smelling of pens, pencils and paper? Will fear be packed inside? Or will courage, caution, and hope be the tools that the children use to get them through this day?

Will the children of the future point to the old fashioned, one-dimension pictures of smiling children, frozen and posted on Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter; unlike the holograms of their own first day of school?  Will their reference point be the 2020 legacy that is combined with the object of God’s grace?

Will they know the frozen photos were taken by parents who are smiling and happy, glowing with pride while praying for the safety of their children.  Will they know the parents are disguising their own fear as they remind the children to wear their masks correctly and to please use the hand sanitizer in the bag.  “Please God, let them remember.”

Will the teachers change their teaching methods into games that make social distancing a fun thing and handwashing a part of music class?

Will the teachers hide their own fear as they look into the eyes of the children under their care on this first day of school and do what teachers do—inspire the future?

Will the children of the future believe this rambling mystery of a virus long defeated was designed to make them nod off?

Let that be our hope.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

KJV Philippians 4:6-7


Changing Hearts is God’s Work

Proverbs 22:3 says, “The prudent foresees evil and hides”.

How does a person forgive something that — to them — is unforgivable?

Jesus, while in agony on the cross said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34).

Often in our humanness we wonder, “But what if they do know? What if their actions are calculated and self-serving?”  Distrust replaces love and forgiveness and when this happens, it’s time to be honest with God.  The best way to do this is by going to His word for direction.

Proverbs 22:3 says, “The prudent foresees evil and hides himself”.  But sometimes forgiveness requires caution because it is different from trust, necessitating the dynamics of a relationship to change.    Until an offender has a true change of heart, and because we can’t see that person’s heart, wisdom says to limit our trust in that person.

Trust is a like a four-way intersection where adherence to the wishes, viewpoints, or beliefs of others must intersect with humility and acceptance, even though they may not be the same as yours.  Pretense of respect and honor, shrouded in hollow words are as transparent as a full moon on a cloudless night.   For honor to shine true, the respect must be real.  How do we know if it’s real? We must proceed with caution given to us by the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:16, “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves”. 

Forgiveness doesn’t mean acceptance, or even forgetting of transgressions. It requires truth which means letting go of that which has caused hurt, whether forgiveness was requested or not.  This becomes a decision of the will – a conscious choice made in the name of Christ – to forget as much as possible and to move on with your life. It doesn’t mean we’re not to forgive.  Forgiveness may influence our world, but we must be humble and grateful for God’s love and forgiveness of us as we forgive others while maintaining the recognition that we are not God.

Changing hearts is God’s work.


Reality and The Rose Colored Glasses or “What WAS Harper Lee thinking?”

I would never second guess a writer who wrote a book such as “To Kill A Mockingbird”; or for that matter, her prequel which was released as a sequel, “Go Set A Watchman”. Both books written from two entirely different perspectives, reality or rose colored glasses.

It is up to the readers to determine which is which and those choices are purely personal.
Watchman has a lot of the truth of those times in which it is set. Mockingbird also has those same truths. The major difference is the characters of Atticus and Scout. In Mockingbird, the Atticus character is one of strong courage and integrity; the stuff John F. Kennedy’s books, “Profiles In Courage” honors. Scout’s character was shaped by his moral fiber which went against all odds. Didn’t she realize the difference her father made in that instance?

In Watchman we see the character, Atticus, who knew but one way to function in the environment in which he lived. To go along to get along was surely a coward’s way, but in those circumstances it could have been the only way to create that single, significant change in the universe. Scout moves away from the south and becomes a disillusioned adult woman, not only by her father, but by the world of prejudice she endures as a female, even in the progressive world of New York City. I wonder, why didn’t she fight to make one small difference?

I, for one, can see how Ms. Harper wrote “Go Set a Watchman” first. Perhaps that was her truth – her reality.

Perhaps, “To Kill A Mockingbird” was written once she got the reality of that time out of her system. Conceivably it was only then that she could put her rose colored glasses on and write the story the way she wanted the world to be, one of goodness and strength that made changes that could be built upon for generations to come – just as Rumi said,  “You are not a drop in the ocean.  You are the entire ocean in a drop.”

For that is what writer’s often do.

Even God took imperfect people to do great things. The book of Judges in the Bible could almost have been written by horror author Stephen King in some instances, and by Reverend Billy Graham in others. Flawed people are just that, often consumed with guilt, suffering with the scars from their family history or personal failings. When I think about myself, underwhelmed comes to mind. Yet, over the course of my life, God has shown that He loves to use weak and silly people like me. This reminds me that my responsibility is response to God’s ability. Flawed people so often make change for the greater good, even when they just go along to get along.

We all choose triumphs of good over evil or we choose the heartache of evil over good. Let’s please not miss the good that came, generation after generation, from  Mockingbird and not allow Watchman to be a “gotcha” about two flawed characters.

I choose to believe.

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