Strong enough to care.
Strong enough to respect others.
Strong enough to listen.
Strong enough to change one’s mind.
Strong enough to rely on another.
Strong enough to learn.
Strong enough to say “I’m sorry.”
Strong enough to say “Thank you.”
Strong enough to let another go first.
Strong enough to practice compassion.
Strong enough to be gracious.
Strong enough to be kind.
Strong enough to help others.
Strong enough to let others take the credit.
Strong enough to sacrifice.
Strong enough to bear disappointment.
Strong enough to risk.
Strong enough to be empathetic.
Strong enough to kneel down in order to look a child in the eye.
Strong enough to extend a hand.
Strong enough for tears.
Strong enough to forgive.
Strong enough to share.
Strong enough to lift another up.
Strong enough to be generous.
With the attack in Christchurch and the anticipation of the completion of the Mueller investigation and all the other craziness in the news and in the world around us, I wouldn’t be surprised if you missed this story. Tanitoluwa Adewumi, eight years old, an immigrant and homeless, won the New York State Chess championship for his age group. He began learning chess a year ago. Now, twelve months or so later, he is the New York State champion for his age group. I had seen the headline about this flash through my social media feed sometime this past week, but didn’t pay much attention to it. Then, this morning, I read Nicholas Kristof’s Op-Ed column in the New York Times. What a great story about people stepping up to help and of life falling into place for an eight year old and his family.
Besides the warm feeling I got reading the article, which not only highlighted what has unfolded for Tani and his family, it provided a much needed and very welcome reminder of the good in the world that too often gets drowned out by the noise. But, what struck me most in Kristof’s Op-Ed piece was the comment by Tani’s father found at the end of the article. When Tani and his family could have taken the money and run, Tani’s father said, “God has already blessed me. I want to release my blessing to others.”
I want to release my blessing to others.
When was the last time that thought seriously crossed your mind?
When was the last time you looked around at the fullness of your own life and rather than just feeling good and maybe whispering Thank you, you opened your heart and your checkbook and moved commitments around on your calendar and changed the top two priorities on your To Do list and did something to release your blessings? For me, it’s been awhile.
I don’t know how it is in your life.
I have a hard enough time figuring out my own.
But today I found myself wondering why it takes someone like Tani’s father to remind me, who, in the scheme of things, has so much, of what gratitude really looks life and feels like and acts like, and the difference it can and does make.
The world is full of awful stuff.
I know that.
I read the news. I help to coordinate a safe place to stay for those who, otherwise, might be sleeping outside in one of the worst snowstorms to hit the Northeast. I stand with and pray with folks who walk through what the Bible describes as the valley of the shadow of death. It is far too easy when we stand in those places or read the headlines of what human beings do to each other to begin to believe that it is all…we are all…going to hell in a hand basket.
But, are we really?
Going to hell in a hand basket, that is?
I think not.
Or, maybe more accurately, I chose to believe we are not.
We see what we look for.
So today, I will look for those signs of basic human decency which surround me.
People who are doing what they can to help their neighbors be ready for the approaching storm.
And, the countless women and men who step into the breach to care for those in need whether next door or halfway around the world.
Today, I will look for the goodness.
I will look for the kindness.
I will look for generosity.
And, I will remember to say Thank you.
Meet us where we are, O God, but leave us not there.
Meet us in our joy and then turn us towards wisdom.
Meet us in our brokenness and lead us towards wholeness.
Meet us in our sorrow and beckon that we follow You
In the direction of healing.
Meet us in our comfort and our contentment;
And call us towards compassion.
Meet us in our bondage and show us the way of freedom.
Meet us in our gratitude and lead us towards generosity.
Meet us, O God…
Just as we are.
And, lead us towards who we are called to be.
This morning an eight year old girl came up to me and handed me an envelope.
Here is what she said to me…
“I had a lemonade stand and made $16.00.
I want you to give the money to Habitat for Humanity.”
In the presence of such generosity and earnestness, what was I to say.
With tears in my eyes, I said, “Thank you,” and gave her a hug.
We then walked over to the friend in our congregation who organizes the work our congregation does with Habitat for Humanity each month so she could share what she had done with him as well.
Such moments humble me.
They make me realized how much I still to learn about gratitude and thankfulness and generosity.
But, I am fortunate…
Because I am surrounded by 8 year olds who, on a regular basis, catch me off guard and turn me in the right direction.