Sunday, April 29, 2007

ON a Mission

This morning at church we had a kick off for three new classes. They were a course on Heaven, the letters of 1st, 2nd and 3rd John. And there was a class on managing your money. Being finitely human, I could only chose 2 of the 3 classes to attend.

The course on heaven provoked a good controlled discussion that stayed within the parameters of our text and expressed perceptions that we have of what heaven is going to be like. Since there is only eyewitness of Jesus of what it is like, the topic of a visit to heaven is going to be rare on the news network of CNN. Yet, it is the place where Christians are going to spend a real long time at and we need to be better prepared of sharing with people what it will be like and the requirements for getting there. It will be a very lively and challenging class.

Since we were never able to solve life's dilemmas through the contemporary issues time, this new class will offer us opportunities for us to share our faith better and be better able to give an answer for the hope that is within us.

In the letters that the apostle John wrote to believers after he wrote the Gospel of John, he addresses the reader as a dear child. As a child, there is room for hope to emerge and a way for potential to be born. It is always good to go back to the basics and find a way to unite with others.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Being intricately woven.

Many times there are scriptures that are read and heard many times. Now one of those verses came a little more alive when I viewed the exhibition, Bodies, at South Street seaport in lower Manhattan, a few blocks from the site of Ground Zero. The site was fairly congested with many buildings around there still, and no real hole was visible. Yet, just as when I flew over the site a few years back, there is still that eerie sense of a calm and a mystery. That we survived that day and yet there are many who did not survive that day. Our family was very fortunate not to get touched deeply. My cousin Bruce and his company made it out okay except for the soot and debris of the day.

My bible study group enjoyed looking at how our bodies are put together with the bones of the skeleton and the way the organs are all put together. What impressed me was how the blood vessels are like threads which are weaved together going behind bone cavities and all throughout the body. In psalm 1399;13, God has created our inmost being. you knit me together in my mothers womb. The thread could apply to the veins and arteries that carry forth and replace nutrients from our circulatory system. It is the same way with the way electricity flows with different wires for connections and is the same for the local church which has three sources of power. The exchange from the flow of the blood makes it pure and provide power for the body just as electrical currents bring power so we can see in the dark and type on the computer from what the synapses and connections of our brains bring forth to the keys of the computer.

The first source of power is prayer. It is the relienace of individual members to encourage and pray for each other. The local body of Christ also flourishes when people devote themselves to prayer and the breaking of the bread.
A final source of power is from the power of the word of God to change the lives of people.
Thanks God for helping me see a scripture come to life in an exhibit and help me to see how prayer and the bible are threads that I need to connect to my life to make it flourish as well.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Walking in the community-The Big Read

What a big day our city of Bridgeport has had with the Big Read of 2007 with To Kill a Mockingbird. The wet and windy weather from last night could not stop Mrs. Laura Bush from landing in our city of Bridgeport. It is a city that has seen tougher times lately. But it shows the resilience and excitement from its residents as they gathered for this historic visit and celebrated the talents of elementary age children who portrayed Jem, Scout and Dill and brought to life the stories told within the book.
it was good to see the enthusiasm generated and see at the grassroots level the tenacity of our politicians to make learning a focal point of life.

It also provided for me a chance to develop patience and leadership as I worked through several obstacles throughout the day in getting there. From the announcement made in error of a cancellation to the kindness of my doorman Seth in driving up the street to inform me the event was on. And the patience to inform our group it was on by multiple phone calls.

Leadership calls for persistence. A knocking on of doors.
Let the Big Read continue and not just for april and MAY but forever.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Mockingbird has Landed!!!!!

The book, To Kill a Mockingbird, is a universal read. It identifies with the lives of all people. From going from isolation to that of an invited inclusion.
When I read the book, I could identify with Scout the most. Even though her transition and struggle is different from mine, hers acts as a good model for the reader to understand. She had to make a transition which was rather difficult from being more of a tomboy to that of a girl. She had the help of her Aunt Alexandra and Calpurnia. What I liked about Scout and her brother Jem and friend, Dill, was that they provided her with a protected world in which to develop into being a whole person. She told the story from the viewpoint of an 8 year old who went through several years in Maycomb County.
During the depression era when the story was written blacks faced a lot of discrimination and poor treatment from their peers. Yet, the characters in the novel helped to unfold their development into better people.

With me, my transition was going from the handicapped world protected by the Henry Viscardi School in Long Island and into a harsher environment of the Fairfield Public school system. Not that the Fairfield Public schools were all that bad, it was the kids who were not always as understanding ,and it was during a period during the late 70s and early 80's when systems for helping and protecting kids like me make that transition were not as well developed as they are now.

I had some support at Osborn Hill School when I spent the first fifteen minutes in the gym with Mr. James who gave me the special attention with doing some kicking of a big red ball, walking on a balance beam or knocking a ball against the bat. And the moments when I was on his bowling team and could throw my balls into the gutter for the perfect score of Zero or the times I scored a respectable 90. And I had the support of Helen Carroll and Mike Abraham and Mr. Honey in Andrew Warde High when they guided me in the correct timing for college admissions, being a part of a team and just getting started during the day at homeroom.

But I had the support of my mom and dad which guided and anchored these early years of my life. No matter what my struggles have been from the times the water has been choppy and waves have crashed against my jagged rocks. They have stood there and helped me stay strong. Early reminders that are present whenever looking at the Maine Coastline that has stayed constant and not much unchanging over time.

They have been faithful with my struggles-whenever it was to provide a listening ear or a supportive hand . At times at the end of a school day when I felt like I was teased and bullied by the students who looked at me as a distraction and an interruption to their daily routine, it was always good to walk through my door at home and spend a few moments with mom who sat in her brown recliner in the livingroom and chat of what I went through that day. To relax after walking home from the bus along Margemere Drive with the azelias and dogwood trees and forsythsia bushes that lined our street. To go to the kitchen table in our breakfast nook with the brown and red and grey plaid paper on the walls or to sit on the barstool next to the three paned wall windows that looked out onto our expansive backyard-to just share my frustrations and tears and joys of the day while sipping a tall glass of milk and munching on a hot buttered date muffin that has just come out of the oven- something as a teenager that was easier to do since I did not have all of the trappings of adulthood added onto me.

When I look back on the book and see the early scene of Scout in her classroom and how she felt a little out of place, I could identify with that . In those days of her life, she felt a period of unrelieved boredom in her life. The system did not really teach much and she struggled to find meaning in it. Yet what gave her great joy and excitement was the adventures that they had when they traveled by Boo's house and found different gifts given to them by a stranger-the tin foil, the watch, the soap dolls and ball of twine which continued until they were plastered up. They were gifts from Boo who showed a bit of understanding of travelers who passed outside his window as Dill and Scout and Jem walked home from school. The same kind ofgifts one gets as a child are precious when given by his mom in a living room-ones that live to this day. The same type of gifts of understanding that saved Scout and her brother Jem when confronted that halloween evening when Boo came out and protected them.
Gifts of meaning one receives to then pass onto others. For Boo to briefly come out and help friends he barely knew except in spirit that halloween evening. Yet inside his soul, he seemed to understand the meaning of life. One that can puzzle and perplex us. To have the urge to rush to the back of the puzzle book to find some answer, Yet the answer is for us to search for it and find the small tokens and gestures in life that get us through it each and every day. From people we least expect to give them to us.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mockingbirds take flight

This poem was inspired after having a poetry workshop at the Mercy Learning Center in Bridgeport, CT. in connection with the Big Read, the NEA project to promote literacy nationwide. This is based on Harper Lee's novel, To Kill A Mockingbird.

Let my heart be obstinate.
Shield it from the flames of opinion.
Let it be firmly planted
Even when thrown off balance.

Let my heart join with others.
Let it join with other hearts who have joined causes-
unwinnable to many...
yet winnable for the benefit of mankind.

Let the wheels of justice get stuck-even if it causes some to be thrown off course.
Oh, How the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. has that dream for all to be equal.
--Regardless of the content of one's character.
How God wants justice.

Let us tolerate one another from our viewpoints.
Let us walk in one another's shoes.

Let the camellias grow---
even if consumed by fire or broken up by stick.
Let the Old mockingbird spread her wings.
For as Atticus said, "tis a sin to kill her."

Let her sing.
Let our hearts sing even when we are all but beaten down.