the edge of childhood

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Painting by Joy Watts

What do you think is in the forest? …

I think that’s where all my missing footballs are.

I’d say there are dragons with great big blue wings.

Not dragons. There is a village of foxes that make a plan every day how to get our chickens.

Or a trail that leads to a magic waterfall that, when you swim in it, takes you to a palace in the mountains.

Woof

Don’t be stupid. It’s just a bunch of trees.


How could you say that? You’ve still never been in there.

Do you think that anything would happen to me if I looked for my footballs?

The dragons would help you, they are nice dragons.

The foxes are probably using them to practice sneaking.

Maybe they fell into the waterfall. Oh! Can I go look for you?

Woof woof

That isn’t even realistic. You’d just get scratches all over you, and for what? Nothing.


Who cares if it’s realistic. Can’t you remember how to just have fun anymore?

Maybe we should send her in to look for them. If she comes out alive then it’s safe.

I think I just saw one! Did you see that bit of blue? Look!

I missed it. Think that the foxes and the dragons are friends?

Probably, I don’t see how they could be anything but friends when they drink such delicious magic water.

Woof

You are all crazy. I don’t know why I even bother with you. You are so immature.


Maybe you just can’t see from there. Why don’t you climb the fence like us?

There could be anything in there. Climb up! Tell me what you can see.

My dragons might even like you enough to let us see them again.

Your dragons? If they are your dragons then the foxes are mine.

Climb up with us. You used to love this. Remember the birds that used to sing their songs just for us?

Woof woof

… well … maybe … just this one last time.

*This writing was in response to the painting above for Space/Place A Visual and Literary Art Exhibition for Core Art @ St. Catherine’s, June 2015.

loaves of bread and becoming kid friendly

photo(6)Miracles might just be waiting in the hands of our young people and the conversations we have with them.

A couple of weeks ago a friend from church approached me and asked if I would mind helping her teen daughter practice for a baking competition in school. I wouldn’t say I’m a great baker but I can usually put together a decent cake now and again without burning it. I agreed, on one condition: we would practice and bake together for an evening at our church. I’d like to consider myself a child and teen friendly member of “the congregation” (everyone who goes to the same church together). In a world of programmes I kinda just wanna be that family friend who says “hi” to a kid not because I have to but because they are valuable. Besides, I have tried helping in Sunday School numerous times over the years and am really bad at it. Since I really valued those sorts of informal relationships with adults when I was a teen I want to be available to give value to the next set of adults.

Andrew is a new hero of mine. He was kid friendly too. As one of those people who followed Jesus around a lot, he ended up in the thick of it when they were hanging out on the mountain with those 5000+ people. While everyone else was having the conversation about what to do with all the hungry people, he was paying attention to possible solutions. I don’t know if the lad he spoke to approached him and said, “Hey, mister, if it helps any, I have some bread and fish here.” Or did he see the kid first? Whatever the case is, he noticed. The answer was there in the hands of a boy waiting to be noticed. Andrew didn’t take the bread and fish off the kid, send him on his way and then offer it on his behalf. He brought him into the conversation instead. Imagine what the kid must have been feeling as he was now face to face with the celebrity preacher. In the end it was what he had that was used to spark a miracle.

J. and I baked cakes, melted chocolate and kneaded focaccia dough. There is so much to discover still of what God has given her to make history with. Whatever it is, she is not selfish with it. Already she is passing what she has to kids who are younger than her. And this week she will be giving to a crowd of women as well. She’s not the only one who needs to be heard. There is a whole generation of them. Will I always have an ear to listen, an eye to observe and the cop-on to bring them into conversations I am having with Jesus?

qualities of a great church board member

2014-11-11 10.33.48-2Nope. This is not a joke. Call it a board, elders, vestry … whatever you will – they all sound just as formal and terrifying. We call ours Nehemiah even though it is technically called “the vestry”, which just makes me want to shy away because of the sound of it. Basically, these are people who are designated as decision makers for some pretty big things around the church. Each group has a unique function depending on the church it is for. Nehemiah is all about the building, furnishings and finance. We have a nice holy number of us – 12 members. Yikes! But the great thing is that they are pretty incredible people so I want to take a moment to give credit where credit is due and let the world know what makes them so great.

1. They don’t take themselves too seriously. When you are dealing with heavy topics and differences of opinion in the group this is beyond helpful! Somehow we manage to keep our eyes on the real issues without digging into pits of personal misery. There is even a bit of laughter now and again.

2. They know what they are there for. There is nothing like a group of people trying to discuss things that are really not theirs to discuss. Vision – that doesn’t belong to us. HR – that doesn’t belong to us. But we are responsible to make decisions about the building and finances in such a way that will enable a 5 year vision to become reality.

3. They get things done. From painting a new balcony railing to calling up the bank to getting quotes. This group gets things done rather than thinking they should just sit around making decisions while other people do the grunt work. They tackle issues that require creative problem-solving and then find the best resources to make it happen.

4. They love God and they love the church. Arguably, more than their own agendas. The people who come to church matter. The people in the community around the church matter. God matters. They don’t play theologians or philosophers with split identities between the ideal Christian church and the one that they are standing in. Faith is real to them and they are committed to letting God do what he likes in them, including break their hearts for the city.

Let’s leave it at four great qualities. I think they are pretty sound. Why am I writing all of this? It’s because they nominated me as their Chairperson and I was shaking in my boots. But it’s not so bad when you have a great team.