Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sweeping up busted pencils at the end of the day.

Call to Worship Sing praise to the LORD; proclaim to the peoples the things He has done. Psalm 9:11

After the first assembly’s cheering and hand waving, I returned to the classroom. Each student was supposed to trace their hand and answer the question: If people really knew me, they would know that… And there were the assortment of …my brother just go out of prison…my friends are my family…I am really nice inside… But the one that gripped me was…I am shy and so I am really lonely because I am shy.

And the girl is tall and awkward and lumpy and me in sixth grade.

And I knelt by her desk, where she sits by herself, and said, “I spent first grade on my teacher’s lap because I was so shy.”

And she answered, “My teacher had to pull me off screaming from my dad’s leg.”

And I told her, “Dear one, I will pray for you to find two great friends, who know you and care for you.” You only really need two good friends to make it through middle school. I didn’t even know you were supposed to have friends in middle school. I just survived.

And story after story stood up and told itself all that day and all the next. Of student after student who confessed to being angry and mean and hurtful and asking forgiveness. And stories of mothers being beaten in front of their eyes by boyfriends and of dad losing his job and living in their car for four months and of moving out of the group home back into a one-room apartment with seven brothers and sisters. And there were a lot of tears and hugs.

It doesn’t mean that all of the kiddos filed into the seats silently and reached into their backpacks to pull out a Weather Packet and a sharpened pencil, far from it, but deep cracks shot through the high walls built with pain and anger, and hope gleamed across the campus.

And one of my tiny robed refugees stood up on her chair yesterday, the one who use to strut into class with her phone pressed to her ear, breathing out threats and profanities to one and all, well, she stood up on her chair yesterday and yelled, “Hey, let’s get quiet. Let’s show some respect,” and I smiled.

Bless our God, you peoples; make the voice of His praise to be heard; Who holds our souls in life, and will not allow our feet to slip. Psalm 66:7-8

Confession Merciful God, we have not loved you with all our heart and mind and strength and soul. Lord, have mercy. We have not loved our neighbors as you have taught us. Christ, have mercy. We are indifferent to the saving grace of your Word and life. Lord, have mercy. Forgive and heal us by your steadfast love made known to us in the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
And I am so, so, tired. Dear LORD, hold me up in Your arms. Do not allow my feet to slip. Let me not grow weary of doing good, let me not grow sharp-tempered or loud as I still try to figure out a way to quiet the class. I feel like I spend most of my day dealing with broken pencils and the ten-dollar sharpener I bought at Target doesn’t work but makes this high-pitched screeching sound.

I kind of shudder when Psalm 47 starts out Clap your hands, all peoples. Really, can’t we just put our heads down silently on our lab tables?

Lord, have mercy.

And yes, new every morning. New every morning, the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning, Great is Thy Faithfulness.

And as I paddled across Hillenbrand this morning, God reminded me once again of His steadfast love and neverending mercy. And I came up with yet another plan for herding cats. Yowling cats.

And once again, I hop into the car and head towards the Catalinas. I lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence comest my strength. My strength comes from the LORD.