For Wordless Wednesday
I was told that the circle was home and the end of the track was the dangerous outside world. And we should play there.
The Detroit Zoo hosted an Easter festivity today. It wasn’t Easter, of course, but Holy Saturday. I went along anyway.
The boy loves birds and wouldn’t stop chasing the peacocks.
Then we visited the polar bear exhibit, which was really cool. We went under the water and got a close up of a seal!
On the way out, we saw another favorite: the flamingoes!
It was a long day. I don’t think I’ll make it to tonight’s Vigil, Daddy!
He put on his sister’s hat and fell right to sleep.
It is a real blessing to have a family and another year to spend with them. For my birthday, we’re playing with trains.
Today, to celebrate the day I and many others were born, I want to give to you a share of my happiness. And, in the immortal words of Bill and Ted,
Be excellent to each other!
I want a church in which we can all celebrate and live up to the type of fatherhood described in the story. And their children inspire us to be better fathers as this one does for me. Where the church causes pain is precisely where the church should cause celebration.
I love Labor Day. Particularly since it is the day of celebrating workers and the sacrifices and contributions that labor gives to the economy. We can go around pretending that it is a day for cookouts and signaling the end of summer, and not a celebration of unions and what they have brought us, such as the 40 hour work week, child labor laws, and medical leave. We can also pretend that unions are useless, even though they bring increased productivity and efficiency to many of the systems clamoring to eliminate them. But no matter. Let’s pretend that Labor Day is really about the philosophical idea we call “work” and how it is work that is praised and remembered…by taking a day off from it. Hmmm.
Me? I spent my day with my family. And I promised my daughter something.
On Sunday, a church friend gave her this little tin. Inside were seven sheets of paper, a pencil, and a small rock. My Girl loved it. She started writing “notes” and quickly used up the paper.
So I promised to make her more. Of course, I forgot.
On Monday, she reminded me. So I traced out a bunch on several sheets of construction paper. There was green, yellow, blue, orange, brown, and pink. This is what is left.
Don’t tell her, but I stashed some for later. Just in case.
Last year, about this time, I would scoop up my precocious three year-old and we would brave the Georgian heat to go for a walk.
“Long walk or short walk,” I would ask.
“Long walk,” she replied. As if there were any other kind to her.
We would take off down the road. When we got to the first intersection, we would pause. She would look in each direction, weighing the decision. Then she’d choose. More often then not, we’d turn right toward the main road. When we got there, we’d have to turn left since there was no sidewalk to the right. Then I would give her choices at each new block. But we both knew where we were headed.
After we were about a half of a mile from home she’d turn to me and say
“I’ve got a good idea!” hardly able to contain her excitement.
“What is it?” I’d ask breathlessly (but knowingly).
“Let’s go to the fountain and then The Toothpicker!”
“What a great idea!” And so we picked up our pace and headed downtown.
Along the way, Sophia would ask me to tell her a story. Sometimes she would tell me what story she wanted to hear. Other times she asked me to make up a new story. They always involved one of two types of characters: a family or a princess. So I would tell variations of fairy tails or I would tell stories about subjects I thought she might need to learn about. I told stories about learning to deal with a baby brother. And months later, when I was closing in on a new position, I started telling stories about moving.
I’ve always been conscious of the power of stories. What they say and how. I wrote a whole series about favorite and least favorite stories for children. And I became incredibly conscious about how those stories might shape my daughter.
There is no wonder that it is stories that shape our understanding of GOD and inform our relationship to GOD.
Stories that tell us about the beginning:
At the beginning of God’s creating of the heavens and the earth,
when the earth was wild and waste,
darkness over the face of Ocean,
rushing-spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters—
God said: Let there be light! And there was light.
God saw the light: that it was good.
God separated the light from the darkness.
God called the light: Day! And the darkness he called: Night!
There was setting, there was dawning: one day.
(Genesis 1:1-5, The Schocken Bible)
Stories that tell us about liberation:
So YHWH delivered Israel on that day from the hand of Egypt; Israel saw Egypt dead by the shore of sea,
and Israel saw the great hand that YHWH had wrought against Egypt,
the people held YHWH in awe,
they trusted in YHWH and in Moshe his servant.
(Exodus14:30-31, The Schocken Bible)
And stories about incarnation
He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
(Luke 2:5-7, NRSV)
For it is through stories that we learn about GOD and share our love for GOD. It is how GOD is to be revealed and known and understood. It is also how we learn to deal with adversity and our ministry of reconciling this world.
And GOD, as our divine parent, knows the importance of stories, for stories are the essential tools of parents. They are essential for brain development. A child’s success in school is tied to how often a parent reads to them. They are essential for creativity and problem solving. Children learn how to arrive at multiple solutions based on our story characters’ wrestling with their circumstances. They are essential for building character. The storyteller is able to shape the values of the listener through the character of the heroes and villains. Each is a sign of the importance of storytelling.
In being a children immersed in stories, we know that GOD wants what is best for us. That GOD wants us to be healthy, creative, and generous. GOD gives us a world to explore and playmates to run into. We know that GOD loves us and wants us to be good, very good. Of all that can be known about GOD, I am most sure of this, as that is what I want for my daughter.
On those long walks home, Sophia would ask for more stories. I’d ask Sophia to tell me a story instead. And more often than not, she would.
The Downs family have been having a great time on vacation. And as it nears its endpoint, I thought I’d put together a few pictures of one of our fun stops.
In downtown Traverse City, they had a special Lego storefront setup for the National Cherry Festival. There was no entrance fee, and kids were able to play to their heart’s content.
My favorite moment was when Sophia noticed a ramp for racing cars constructed from Legos. I have to admit, that it gave me bad pinewood derby flashbacks, but those were replaced by my favorite image: one that will be forever etched in the concrete block I call a brain. She sees a kid drop a car down the ramp, squeals, turns to me, and furiously grabs a handful of Legos. Then she runs behind the ramp and releases them to slide down the ramp.
Then she runs back to me to get more.
It was the sweetest thing. She eventually discovered the sets of wheels on an axle and then I fashioned a simple car, connecting two axles with one thin, long piece, which she adores. My attempts to make a fancier car are rebuffed. The simple one is the favorite. She grabs it, runs to the top, releases the “car” and watches it go!
Well, it is less “release” and more a push. Which means the car never goes straight down, but goes off-line and bounces off the walls. But I am amazed by her joy and excitement. And I am thankful that she is so happy to play so simply.
The family has gone on vacation for the first time in two years. It really is a much-needed respite.
My plan was to send all sorts of goofy and sweet pictures from the road; however, the 4G service has been entirely absent from much of our voyage to the north. So postings will be slim.
Good luck friends and happy times ahead!