Saturday, 30 June 2012

The small miracle of kindergarten


My granddaughter will be going to kindergarten this fall, which brings to mind one of my favourite pieces of writing. I wish I'd written it.

All I really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten

(a guide for Global Leadership)
All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.
These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don't hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don't take things that aren't yours.
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world - had cookies and milk at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.
[Source: "ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN" by Robert Fulghum

There's some powerful wisdom there.

Look.

Looking is the whole basis for seeing God's small miracles in your life. God puts them all around you, but developing the habit of looking for them is a discipline I am still working on. I forget so easily. Especially when I am out walking in this summer weather, there is so much in the miracle department. Have you ever examined the delicacy of a fern? Or stood looking into the sky to see the top of an enormous tree? Or watched a colony of ants at work? Think for a minute about the variety God put into His world. He didn't have to make all the colours, shapes, textures and sizes, but He did. Imagine if everything was green? Green is my favourite colour, but not to the exclusion of the others. Especially in summer, I am so thankful for the riot of colours among the flowers. It feeds my soul to look at them. When you go out in the world, hold hands and stick together. I've always remembered that line. It's a scary world sometimes, and we need to hold hands and stick together. So many times in my life, a friend has come alongside me when I am struggling, and we have crossed the road together. I have done this for others, too. I'm pretty sure God made us that way. That's why He invented friendship and marriage and families and church--all places to hold hands and walk together. 


 By yourself you're unprotected. 
   With a friend you can face the worst. 
   Can you round up a third? 
   A three-stranded rope isn't easily snapped. Eccl. 4:12


We have a lot to learn from those five year olds! 


What part of this classic piece do you relate to?

Saturday, 23 June 2012

The small miracle of delight

Friday night. Going home.

My entire focus was on a mindless moving toward the goal--home. I could do that commute in my sleep, and sometimes did. Even though I had to work Saturday, there was something special about Friday night, and I couldn't wait for it to begin.

As I exited the subway, a scene caught my eye for a millisecond. A mom stepped on an ascending escalator with her little boy. He looked about eighteen months, and was as cute as only a little guy that age can be. As he trooped on, his look was one of delight. This was going to be fun, and he couldn't wait.

A few seconds, and he was gone from my line of vision, but the look on his face stayed with me. Delight. A few minutes later, I stepped on the descending elevator, and tried to see it through his eyes. I didn't quite achieve delight, but it was kind of fun. More fun than stairs, for sure.

How much delight has God placed in my path, and I've missed it? My eyes glaze over and the delightful world passes me in dull familiarity.

I stood watching the wind toss the weeds in the field across the tracks. Felt the sun warm my face. Listened to a whole community of birds chattering to each other. Delight is an attitude of the heart, and it needs to be consciously cultivated.

So today, I choose to delight.

I delight in God's world. It's a day of blue skies and moderate temperatures and summer growth everywhere. But even if it was storming or (heaven forbid) snowing, there is delight if I will look for it. Today I will open my glazed eyes  and see all that God has put there. Not everything is beautiful, but I will look for the surprises. The planter filled with blooms among the concrete of the subway, and the delicate beauty of the weeds.

I will delight in the people God put in my life. They're not delightful all the time. Neither am I. But today I will be thankful, and try to infuse the joy in that little boy's face into every encounter. When someone greets me with genuine pleasure, I feel validated and important. I will pass that on.

And Lord, you ask me to delight in You. Sometimes, I get used to the fact that You love me. Today, I will ponder the wonder of this. "Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." Ps. 37:4 NIV The God of the universe knows me. Loves me. Cares about the details of my life.

Delights in me.

Wow.

How do you plan to practice delight?



Sunday, 17 June 2012

The small miracle of fathers

My father, Luffey Everson
(affectionately known as Bubba
when he became a grandfather)
on his birthday in 1985.
Bill Peachman, on the day of
Benjamin's dedication in 1986. 
Ben is in his arms,
Ruth is beside him and Rebekah 
beside her. In the blue dresses 
are my nieces Sarah (curly hair)
 and Shannon.


It's hard to be a father. Or a mother. This whole parenthood thing is fraught with potholes and places to stumble from start to finish. There are so many ways to get it wrong.

It's  incredible to be a father. Or a mother. This whole parenthood this is such a humbling privilege, and full of so much reward. It is beyond beautiful when you get it right.    

My dad was the pharmacist  in our community of Long Branch. Everyone on the Lakeshore knew him, and in those day, many went to the pharmacy before they went to the doctor. He worked hard all his life, and was respected in the community. 

He called me his "little honey bee" which got shortened to "Bee" when I got older, until the nickname was dropped in my teens. I don't remember my dad telling me that he loved me, but I always knew he did. His love language was gifts, and he would bring me little things that made the message clear. On Valentine's Day, I always got my own little heart shaped box of chocolates, and he was famous for mushy cards on birthdays.  When I was sick, he would bring me home puzzle books and paper dolls to keep me busy, and some Saturdays he would make me breakfast in bed and bring it to me on a tray.   

When Bill and I had been married five years, we moved to Mississauga. We lived in a rented townhouse, which was a step up from our rented apartment in Scarborough, but we didn't know how we would ever get into the housing market. Although the days of mountain-high interest rates had passed, and housing prices had moderated, we had two little kids, one income, and no way to save for a down payment. My parents came to dinner one night, and during dessert, my dad said they had something they wanted to tell us. Alarm bells went off in my head. My dad didn't talk like this--what was going on? It was then he announced that they'd decided to give us the down payment for a house. They didn't want to be in on the decision, and there were no conditions. It was a gift. I was stunned. 

I still live in that house today. Thanks, Dad.

Many young couples are nervous about having children. Will I be a good parent? Will I make the right decisions? What will we do if this happens? We were no different before our first was born, but for Bill there was an added challenge. He had come from an abusive family, and he was determined that his children knew he loved them and cared about them. When Rebekah was born, he learned to change diapers (even though it grossed him out) and played his guitar for her. The two of them would dance wildly to "The Cover of the Rolling Stone." 

He had an intuition about his kids when they were sick. When Rebekah was 4, she developed a cough and squeaky voice in the middle of the night. I would have toughed it out until morning, but Bill took her to the ER, and that decision saved her life. She had epiglottitis (a disease they vaccinate for now) and was in ICU for several days.  He sat in the ER for hours with Ruth while she received ventolin masks for her asthma. He always seemed to know when it was time to get help. 

More than anything, he wanted his kids to know he loved them. When Ruth was part of a gymnastics family day, he attended, even though he was in the throes of a kidney stone attack. We left near the end, but almost didn't make it home. I wasn't driving at that time, and maneuvering a  vehicle while in extreme pain is a challenge. But he wanted to be there. He and Ben went to out of town gymnastics meets, and made some great memories. 

And he was proud of his kids! He always downplayed his own accomplishments, and was never convinced he was great at anything--even the guitar. But his kids--Rebekah's art and her skill at thinking and reasoning, and Ruth's poetry and her ability to making friends, Ben's gymnastics talent and his easy-going personality--all of these would be the topic of late night conversations. He loved each of them for who they were and who they were becoming.

Nobody gets it right all the time. Both Bill and my Dad made lots of mistakes. We all do. The small miracle is that, by God's grace and with His help, we do get it right, and have an indelible influence on the lives of our children.

So today, this Father's Day, I pay tribute to you both. Daddy, you were a good father. You gave me a legacy of working hard and making something of myself. 

Bill, you loved your kids, and they love you. What greater testimony is that to a life well lived?

Happy Father's Day.