Tuesday, September 25, 2012

And the Winner is..........

As I have written before, my best contemplative time occurs on my morning commute. About half of my 20 minute ride consists of an absolutely straight, 6 lane, divided urban street. During rush hours, the road is packed with cars.
At every cross street, there is a stop light. This could present a problem, but if my timing is right I can cruise from one end of the 3-mile strip to the other without stopping. If I keep my speed between 35 and 38 miles per hour (35 is the speed limit), my commute is smooth sailing, and hesitation free.
However, every morning there are folks whizzing past me, as I cruise along in the center lane. Yesterday, I counted 7 lane changes, by the driver of a black SUV, as he swerved and zipped around me and others, before vanishing from sight.
North Burlington Avenue is not the Grand Prix.  What causes us to race through life? What is worth the rush? Is there a prize for getting to the end of the Heart of America Bridge (or for that matter, to the end of life), first? I really don't think so.
The stop lights along North Burlington Avenue are timed to work to the commutors advantage. The speeders and lane switchers will meet a red light, somewhere along their journey. It's inevitable.

Almighty God, Creator of the Universe, help us to remember to enjoy our journey. We pray for trouble-free travel, but we make our way with the assurance that you are always in the passenger seat, never leaving us alone. Forgive our Sins.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Way or the Highway

Learning to read, write and speak English, as an adult, is very difficult. English is a complex language with many synonyms, antonyms, strange non-phonetic pronunciations and idioms. Add correct grammar to the mix and the language that most of us started speaking at 10 months of age, becomes a tremendous challenge to non-English speaking adults.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle, in the road to English Languages Learning, is how English speakers TEACH. Schools in America encourage creativity. Teachers are fond of saying, to their students, "Restate the question in your own words, as you answer it."  Questions in textbooks ask for "opinions" and "conjecture".  Students are asked to "compare and contrast" when they explain material. More often than not, there is "no wrong answer."
In many other countries, there is never more than one answer to a question. Everything is taught and learned by Rote. The teacher teaches the lesson.....and gives the correct answers. Students are expected to memorize and repeat, word for word, what the teacher imparts. This type of education leaves no room for creative interpretation.
Both methods of instruction are valid. Neither way to teach is wrong. The two systems are just very, very different. Moving from one system to the other is extremely difficult...if not impossible.

Good and Gracious God:  Life is hard. Change is very hard to accept and to learn. Give us patience to learn and to accept the gifts and graces of others. Show us how to embrace our differences. Lord, we love you and we need you. Come into our hearts and bless ALL of us.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Give it Away......

Today, I held an impromtu potlatch outside my office. Well, it wasn't exactly a potlatch, which according to my dictionary, is a giving of gifts with the expectation that you will get gifts in return. I didn't want anything in return. I just wanted to give some stuff away.
The modified potlatch was a resounding success. Two boxes of gently used ceramic coffee mugs were eagerly grabbed up. You see, refugees love coffee cups. They are a social bunch and really appreciate having extra coffee cups to use when their friends come to visit.
The cartons of ancient " National Geographics" were another story. Very few folks wanted any of them. Listen up, hoarders, no one wants your old "National Geographics". Libraries don't want them. Schools don't want them. Today's students can instantly download color pictures right from the internet. So, don't bother keeping and storing your old used magazines.
You will say....but, the pictures are so beautiful. (My inlaws treasured their old "National Geopgraphics" and their sons were forbidden to cut any pictures from them). I suppose they felt it destrpyed the value of the issue. Folks, they don't have any value. Thousands of people take or took "National Geographic". The current issues are always a feast for the eyes, but 25 year old copies are worthless. No one, in today's era of instant news, wants to look at old dated photgraphy.
Throw those old magazines away or better yet...recycle them.
" I need litttle, and of the little I need, I have little need." St. Francis of Assisi

Holy Lord: You have blessed us, greatly.  All that we own is on loan from You. Teach us to value what is valuable......in Your eyes.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

........a thousand words.

Although I don't like photos of "old stuff", I do find old photographs of people and events from my past, very interesting. Recently, my cousin sent me a box containing between 40 and 50 family pictures. Some of them were fairly recent. I enjoyed looking at the pictures of my children and their cousins as they grew, right before my eyes, in vivid color, from infancy to adulthood.
Some of the photos, however, were really old. One that caught my eye was a brittle little black and white picture of the Toler family taken on the front porch of a stately white two story farmhouse. Names of those people were written (PLEASE do that, folks) on the back of the photo.
Very formally, they were captured, in that moment, forever. The mother, the two daughters (one was my grandmother, Minnie), the father and the dog. One son, Oscar, was holding a large photograph of another brother. I don't know if that boy was deceased or just not home at the time the photograph was taken. But, whatever the cause of his absence, he was, never-the-less, included in the photo. Isn't that wonderful?

Gracious and all-knowing God. Thank you for families. Help us to understand and appreciate our families. No family is perfect. You did not make us that way. Help us to be the very best that we can be.