Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Flotsam and jetsam, part II

September 18, 2016

Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, and kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand . . . Psalm 95:6–7

Mary Anne Voelkel: Transition is in your future.
We have no idea what lies ahead. Transitions are the valley between where we were and where we’re going. There is no growth without change, and there’s no change that doesn’t cause us some kind of loss, pain or fear.

The bookends of Matthew 4-9: Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness of the people. What HE did alone. After this, Jesus steps aside and sends His disciples out on their own.

1. Follow Me. And Matthew got up and left everything and followed Him. I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not for evil to give you a future and a hope.
2. Look at situation with His heart and through His eyes. He has compassion on us, the crowds, because we are harassed and helpless. Compassion is caring enough to do something.  He will meet each one of us where we are: torn, lacerated, knocked down.
3. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. We are called to action, not withdrawal or retreat. First we pray, that we may be thrust outward. Then we need to reach out for our neighbor. Freely we have received, freely we give. We don’t go alone.

September 19, 2016

Search for the LORD and His strength; continually seek His face. Psalm 105:4

Yesterday a coworker said that I sort of marched stone-faced through the day, my eyes looking to the horizon as I swiftly passed by. I imagine that is true. Tick, tick, tick, long trails of to do lists unravel in my brain of dashing across campus for a few more photocopies, grading that last stash of compare contrast graphic organizers, setting up the dry ice lab, updating the grades in Schoolmaster and calling that kid’s mom pronto and not forgetting to fill out the STEM field trip form.

September 21, 2016

Then people brought little children to Him, for him to lay His hands on them and pray. The disciples scolded them, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children alone, and do not stop them from coming to me; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of Heaven belongs.’ Then He laid hands on them and went on His way.

But really, what a great calling I have. And wow, I also have super great friends, family, and coworkers who welcome the little children, even if they are sort of big and towering and quite sweaty from playing basketball every five minutes they get in between classes.

And Dre posted on Facebook way last night…about doing research after a very long hard day at work… she was doing research for three of my eighth graders whom she has never met, so that they can Skype interview her today about Black on Black violence. And this is the note she wrote them: Hello, I am so excited to talk to you about this topic!  It is something I am really passionate about and those are great questions you are asking! I have studied this topic quite a lot and from a lot of different angles. I would love to give you a ton of resources and ideas for your project (but not so many I overwhelm you- don't worry!) I will warn you--this is a very very tough topic that gets into some of the more difficult issues in our country. It will take a lot of thought and maturity to dig into this--but I know it will be very interesting and important topic to look at. 

How cool is that?

And Marco is submitting to yet another Skype interview about “Collective Efficacy for Diabetes Management for Mexican American Families in the US-Mexico Border Region: Instrument Development and Testing” which happens to have been his honors thesis a bunch of years ago, and I always have students who really want to help their tata or nana live better lives without daily insulin shots. And how exciting is it to interview an expert from Italy during lunch break?

Or a guy who lived in South Sudan getting rid of the guinea worm? And even though Steve Crabbe is pretty busy with his first year of med school, he took a bunch of time directing my little gaggle of girls who are investigating what we can do about the Zika virus that has already arrived in Tucson. He wrote me: So I got this nice message from one of your students. I am 100% up for helping her out, but I wanted to check with you first. My first inclination is to push her in the direction of doing a bit of her own research (even just sending her to the WHO and CDC), but do you think that is reasonable? Trying to balance helping out with giving a little agency to nudge her to answer some of her questions on her own.... Let me know what you think. Always happy to help!!

Then there’s the guy who is working on his Master’s in aerospace with emphasis in fluid mechanics, with a thesis on hypersonics simulations helping a boy who, surprise, wants to do something with lasers. He was going to help another kid with his research on mining from asteroids, but, unfortunately after a ten-day suspension for a weapon on campus, he brought some drugs on campus and is no longer enrolled here. Hi Christy, I would love to help.

And Alan wrote a great big long recipe for worm compost for a shy little girl and gave me some sort of gizmo for another kid’s experiments with citrus fruit batteries.

And the boys’ letter to Adam made him smile so much he read it out loud at San Augustín Market on Friday.

And Colby is helping a girl with her desert arrollo project, since I couldn’t figure out something with snakes.

And Elizabeth. And Heather. And Robert. And Liz. And Sophia. And Kathleen. And David.

And Jerry Bowen wrote another letter late last night. Jerry Bowen who lifted his eyebrow so many years ago and suggested that this would be the life for me, middle school. Crazy.

And over the years he has shown me what it is to writing into the heart of the issue at hand, but now, wow, his words rip the heart out and squeeze it. And this letter is entitled “The flotsam and jetsam of life,” and it is about sorting through what is of value as he and Shelley and Megan sort through closets and boxes and bags wondering, wondering what will remain and what will be carried off in the tide of life, never to be noticed again.

What will be found and discovered by others at the end of my life? Perhaps some packs of unopened Costco underwear? Some old watches? Personal journals of the various epochs lived, engaged and forgotten? Photos best forgotten and fashion statements misunderstood? Guitars once played, but now long dormant? Letters from a young man to a young women, both deeply in love and caught up in the thrill of impending nuptials? Well-worn bibles with notes and sermons begun, but never delivered? Some treasured memento that now has only some obscure meaning or value? Who will have the joy and the chore of sifting and figuring it all out, most of which will eventually find its way to some box, basement, storage shed or dump? It causes one to pause.

And this morning I am so grateful for my companions, my companions who know what is of value, these young lives, and are willing to push aside their well-deserved rest and relaxation and heavy lists of things to do, to listen and respond to young lives who are trying to investigate what is of value, what is important, what is the world all about.

Thank you.


Grant that I, Lord, may not be anxious about earthly things, but love things heavenly; and even now, while I am placed among things that are passing away, hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.