Sunday, April 23, 2006

joy and acceptance

I took my kids to our favorite park this weekend, this neighborhood park with different jungle gyms built all around a grassy hill. I love going to the park because it's just like being a kid again. I hang upside down from the monkey bars, I swing as high as I can go, I roll down the hill over the clover and grass, then we climb to the hilltop and put our fingertips wide and spin round and round and round and round... until we are so dizzy we fall down.

Then in church today they talked about death, and played a snippet from the Tim McGraw song "Live Like You Were Dying" and I love the lyrics. I actually have a little book based on this song that I bought a couple years ago. The song is about someone who finds out he had a few months to live.

"I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
And I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying."
And he said, "I hope one day you get a chance
To live like you were dying."

It is literally my goal to every day try to heed that advice. On the Christian radio station Saturday they asked listeners to pray for a family whose 14-year old daughter was in a car accident and they took her off life support just a few hours ago. At first I didn't understand, was this a praise request? But then it just washed over me, and I realized that little 14-year old had died, here in Houston, just a few hours ago. And I though my own daughter is 11, could it be possible that I might only have 3 years left with her in life?

And I hugged them tight, as I always do, and we went to the park and played our hearts out. Every morning I say the part of Psalm 118 in my prayer "This is the day the Lord has made, Let me rejoice and be glad in it" (I often reword or paraphrase it). To me it speaks of the wisdom that this day is a gift from God. Let me be present. Let me be actively aware each moment that this day is a gift, that my breath and my family and everything around me is a gift that is here today and tomorrow might not be, and even the struggles and difficulties are not so bad. Let me love deep and forgive (myself and others) and find JOY or better yet MAKE JOY!

Which is why I love to have fun in the park because swinging high or twirling around literally fills my spirit with joy. And the kids love it too. We even tested a scientific hypothesis of which slide was fastest - there are 3 slides of slightly different shape right next to eachother. We tested whether it was the slide itself or the weight of the person (me being the biggest, Sam the smallest), and we did two test runs on each slide and we determined the answer! It was a blast!

We stayed til almost dark, and there was a group of high school kids, and toward the end of the evening they started to smoke. Then I started to smell a familiar other smoke... and I started to think, ok..... and I needed to get my kids out of there. And you know, it just got me thinking how though I do not want my kids going there with drugs, I want them to have the inner strength and outer activities to keep them healthy and active and not get into trouble - that was me 18 years ago. And I got to thinking, it is because these kids have found others who accept them, who they laugh with and who they have fun with, and their parents probably criticize and nag the hell out of them and make them feel unloved and unworthy (because that is how I felt growing up).

And I also started to wonder if I do enough... not just "stuff" but am I filling my time with the right stuff. The harvest is ripe and the workers are few... Life is short, and there is so much suffering, and a little love and joy can go a long way. But I have to be sure I am faithful and fruitful in small things before I can take on larger things...

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