One day I bought an inexpensive model of the solar system for my son. Installing it required me to suspend each planet from the ceiling. After bending up and down several times, I was lightheaded and tired. Hours later, we heard a “plink” as Jupiter hit the floor.
The most enjoyable part of the stretch-and-flex exercise class I attend is the last 5 minutes. That’s when we lie flat on our backs on our mats with the lights down low for relaxation. During one of those times, our instructor said softly, “Find a place where you can rest into.” I thought of the best place to “rest into” mentioned in the words of a hymn by Cleland B. McAfee, “Near to the Heart of God.”
On a road trip with a friend, we used his GPS navigation device to guide us as we drove each day. After entering our destination on the screen, a voice told us which road to follow, as well as when and where to make each turn. When we left the route, whether accidentally or deliberately, the voice would say, “Recalculating.” Then it would tell us how to get back on the right road.
In the aftermath of Haiti’s devastat- ing earthquake in January 2010, the scenes of destruction and death were often punctuated by someone being pulled alive from the rubble, even after all hope seemed gone. Relief and tears of joy were followed by deep gratitude toward those who worked around the clock, often risking their own lives to give someone else another chance to live.
On a recent trip, my wife was seated near a mother with a young boy on his first flight. As the plane took off, he exclaimed, “Mom, look how high we are! And everything’s getting smaller!” A few minutes later he shouted, “Are those clouds down there? What are they doing under us?” As time passed, other passengers read, dozed, and lowered their window shades to watch the in-flight video. This boy, however, remained glued to the window, absorbed in the wonder of all he was seeing.
While enjoying the arrival of a new great-niece, I was reminded of how much work it is to take care of a newborn baby. They are needy little creations who want feeding, changing, holding, feeding, changing, holding, feeding, changing, holding. Totally unable to care for themselves, they depend on those older and wiser people surrounding them.
I have a friend whose note cards are imprinted with a picture of Rodin’s The Thinker, the famous sculpture depicting a man in sober reflection. Below the picture is this inscription: “Life is not fair.”
I first met my wife, Marlene, in college. I was majoring in pastoral studies, and she was working on a degree in elementary education. The first time I saw her working with children, I knew what a natural fit this was for her. She loved children. It became even more obvious when we got married and had children of our own. Seeing her with them was an education in unconditional love and acceptance. It was clear to me that there is nothing in all the world like the tender love and compassion of a mother for her newborn child.