Thursday, December 22, 2016

And Paul uses the word joy about a jillion times.

Satisfy us by your lovingkindness in the morning; so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life. Psalm 90:14

Lovingkindness can look like sweet rolls beat together at four in the morning. I woke up with a start, remembering that I had made a promise to one of my kiddos. And now they are baking, pretty much looking just perfect and gooey beyond belief. And I pounded out the speed swim set this morning with the kid from Mexico City, and we rocked the interval. Man, even dragging the recycle and garbage bins out in time this morning before the big truck rumbles down the street is a pretty rejoicing moment.

But joy is bigger than these bits of manna, even if they are from the hand of God.

So Monday’s afterschool Writer’s Circle got way angsty.  And our guest speaker who has published over forty young teen novels really had no clue of what fourteen-year-olds are all about. She was almost in tears after the last aspiring author gathered up her notebook and walked out the door. “My childhood wasn’t anything like this. I mean, I was kind of shy and quiet. But these kids… wonder if I say something wrong and they go out and commit suicide? I don’t know if I can do this.”

And yesterday two of the authors asked me about why the conversation got so bad, so dark, so quickly. And we talked about light shining in the darkness and noticing beauty and standing courageous against the shadows. As they wrapped their gift around my wrist… twisted threads whose renaissance colors meant wisdom, kindness and love.

And the girl who always squeezes my elbow just like Everette when she talks to me, asked me yesterday what was the all-out craziest thing I had done for my kiddos as a teacher. And I remembered the time that I hefted two students over the back wall of the school so my dad, who “just happened” to be driving by could pop them into his car and drive them home even though my mom was having a big dinner party and because I didn’t want to tell any fibs to inquisitive authorities, I slid into the gym where the girls basketball team was practicing, and sat on the floor beside the folded-up bleachers. And when one of the basketball players asked me what I was doing there, sitting on the floor, I asked her if she would let me duck into the back seat of her car and drive me home so the policeman outside wouldn’t see me. And her eyes got real big, but she said yes, and that was pretty all-out crazy. But the basketball player’s mother called me that evening and thanked me for showing her daughter what it meant to stand up against injustice.

And yesterday in social studies we learned that standing up sometimes means sitting down. The kids are doing powerpoints about lights shining in the darkness against injustice, and the sitting down of Rosa Parks set off a revolution in a country jam-packed full of injustice. As part of our Civil Rights unit we are reading To Kill a Mockingbird and thinking about Atticus Finch and what it means to make hard stands for justice, even when you know you are going to lose. Tom Robinson was never going to be declared innocent by an all-white jury when it was his black word against a white man’s word. And why was the jury all white? Because only registered voters were on juries, and people had to pass a literacy test before they registered, unless, of course, their Pre-Civil-War grandpa before them was a registered voter. And I am pretty much betting that not so many voters, or let’s say it, president-elects, could pass this test even today.

And they are taking notes on character traits, and moments of consequence, and impact. And their reflection is going to be about what they personally are going to do about the brokenness we see all around us. Just before we head off to the science lab and do our Happy Happy Polar (and nonpolar) Lab with shaving cream and bright food coloring that has sparkles in it.

And last night the folks at AME were reading Philippians together, which is all about having joy in the rough spots. How to have joy in spite of difficulties, how to have joy in spite of people, and how to have joy without things. And what it looks like to have the mind of Christ, in humility, consider others more significant that yourself.

One of the ladies said that when she took her black first grade grandson to school that day, another first grader came up to him, white, and said, "My dad said that now Trump is president, you people aren't going get all of your special privileges anymore." First grade. 

Count It All Joy is my latest password for all of those random accounts that have to be updated so many times it makes my head tired. Because real joy means that my mind, may it be His mind, is fixed on what is true, what is just, what is honorable.  

And not on the darkness.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst bid Thy disciples to shine as lights in a dark world, in shame and contrition of heart do I acknowledge before Thee the many faults and weaknesses of which we are guilty who in this generation represent Thy Church before the world; and especially do I acknowledge my own part in the same. Forgive me, I beseech Thee, the feebleness of my witness, the smallness of my charity, and the slackness of my zeal. Make me to be a more worthy follower of Him who cared for the poor and the oppressed, and who could never see disease without seeking to heal it or any kind of human need without turning aside to help.

Let Thy power, O Christ, be in us all, to share the world’s suffering and redress its wrongs. Amen –John Baillie