My Hollywood Ending

I have a situation at work right now that needs a classic Hollywood ending. It involves a student who isn’t living up to the contract he signed to be in my choir. I have simple rules; one of them is that students must “sing in an audible voice.” (Seems obvious, but, remember, I work with troubled youth and this class has open enrollment. It is also one of only two mixed gender classes on our campus. Mixed motives for joining this choir are rampant.) I’m pretty sure this guy is just moving his lips.

I’m torn because he is the kind of guy who is totally headed in the wrong direction and I wish there was something I could do about it. In the movies it would all work out. In the movie, there would be an intense confrontation at the end of which he would finally burst into song. In the movie, his voice would so awesome audiences would hail him as the next Josh Groban. In the movie, when he stands before the Academy accepting his award he would thank me first because I had believed in him and pushed him to do better than he even knew was possible.

In reality, this guy is probably going to sign up for Art and he won’t be my problem anymore.

I heard this past weekend from a great speaker about the power of an ontological truth, a truth that is embedded into the reality of the universe. It is an ontological truth that our world will eventually experience a Happily Ever After. Our Hero, Jesus, is going to come back for us in the middle of our struggle here and initiate a New Earth. My kids already think every movie should end with a wedding (keep track sometime, it is a seriously high percentage -especially in the animation world). What they are experiencing is a hunger for the culmination of our relationship with God. They are looking for Happily Ever After. In a crazy irony, Hollywood often delivers!

And I’m longing, too. I wish this one could turn out that way. Maybe it will – God is big after all – but maybe it won’t. Either way I hope I never forget to hope for the Happily Ever After; someday it will be mine forever.

Community

I love books. I especially love it when a book seems to come into my life as an unexpected delight.

This week I happened to pick up a copy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. It is a book that has come highly recommened but one I’ve never managed to read. For some reason, this was my time. I’m only two chaperters in and I’ve already been convicted and inspired. (A good combination, because one without the other usually fails to produce much change.)

Bonhoeffer’s main point in the first chapter is that as Christians we take fellowship with one another for granted. He points out that many Christians in the world do not share in the privilege of communion with other believers. Even Jesus’ disciples left him alone in his last hour. I know a missionary in Gaza who rejoiced when he was able to rent a home with a basement where the believers could lift the voices in song without the anti-Christian government overhearing them on the street.

Obviously, Macy is totally taking for granted the blessing of fellowship here:

And we probably all do the same thing, even despising the gift of each other at times.

Bonhoeffer writes, “between the death of Christ and the Last Day it is only by gracious anticipation of the last things that Christians are privileged to live in the visible fellowship with other Christians.”

Like Macy, it is easy to forget the blessings that are right next to us, especially when it is hot and they are trying to make us do something we don’t want to do. But, out of respect for the believers who yearn for just a fraction of the freedoms and blessings of fellowship that we enjoy, may we grow in our ability to cherish one another in every moment.

Looking for Thin Places

I’m reading a lot about monasticism and ancient spiritual disciplines right now. It probably doesn’t sound that interesting, but I am the kind of person who loves a deep dive into a research project. (So much to learn in this world and so little time with which to learn it!) As a mature but still hungry Christian, I am looking into ancient disciplines as a tool for knowing God more intimately.

In my reading this week I came across the term “thin places.” The Celtic Christians used this word to describe the places where heaven seemes especially near, where the invisiable barrier between our seen world and the spirit world becomes thin. Santuaries, altars, prayer rooms, and chapels have all been considered thin places. Nature offers thin places as well: mountain tops, sea sides, deserts, and trees. The thin place is anywhere that God feels especially near.

I’m looking for thin places this week. I’ve certainly felt them before but I’ve never used this terminology. I remember the thin place in the hospital rooms of my infant daughters – one went to Jesus, the other one stayed with us but pushed us near to Him at the same time. I feel a thin place anytime I visit a beautiful cathedral or an old country church.

I wonder, where do you find thin places? Does it always seem thin in the same place no matter your mood or circumstances, or do thin places come and go? Could you feel a thin place that I didn’t notice at all? Is this just a hyper-spiritual idea or is there some truth to this experience?

Happy Birthday

I’m a big fan of milestones. A couple of weeks ago, my baby, Macy Cheri, turned 1. This is her just getting into her birthday cupcake:

I don’t do a ton of super-domestic things, but I make cupcakes, really good cupcakes with fluffy marshmallow icing.

In May I heard a great idea at a baccalaureate service. (Graduations, birthdays, I love milestones!) The speaker told the young people about his family’s tradition of celebrating spiritual birthdays. They use a real birthday cake and everything. At the appointed time, the father places the spiritual birthday cake in front of the family member and asks them to tell the story one more time. What a great use of a milestone – a remembrance, a memorial. Each time they tell the story, the reality of the moment when they walked that asile or knelt in that bedroom is impressed deeper into their spiritual identity.

These are my two older girls when they were around Macy’s age:

And here they are a little older at a wedding reception:

I’ll use this picture to remind them of how they looked during the summer of their own spiritual birthdays:

Sunday Claire and Ada asked to go to the front of the church and “ask Jesus into” their hearts. It has never mattered to me if they did this in a formal way – growing into salvation makes as much sense to me – but I wasn’t about to refuse their sincerity in the moment. And later that night I made a note of the date and smiled imagining my two beautiful girls recounting this story year after year. What an awesome milestone!