Yesterday evening after Bible Study my daughter informed me that she needed a stamp and an envelope. She had to mail off her commuity service hours to the director of the Youth Leadership Collierville. When I asked when they were due, she said at the end of the month. March 30th at 7:12pm is not the end of the month, but you gotta admit she was darn close!
I had an envelope, but no stamp, so I told her it would be late. Then, as we drove off, she asked what a P.O. Box was. I remembered the post office was a block away so we went there. It was, of course, closed, but it gave me the opportunity to teach her something. We entered the building and I took her to the side where a couple thousand boxes were. I took her to the one which matched the number and said, "There it is. This is the box that it is going to." She then tried to push the envelope into the side of the little door and slide it in, to no avail. "Won't work," I told her (sounding very much like a wise old dad). As we walked around to the other side, we found the stamp machine. My credit card and skills with a touch screen produced 20 stamps about thirty seconds later.
"Are you kidding?," she opined, as we stamped the letter and dropped it in the mail slot (a full fifteen feet away from the P.O. Box). It was sort of goofy. We paid $ .44 to have them process a letter which was traveling a very short distance. The same price as it is to Anchorage, Alaska. Isn't that life, so close yet so far? How often am I almost there, only to find out that there is a price to pay and a process to go through, even when the distance is so minute. So close...
Yesterday evening before bible study I saw the remains of a bird egg. It would have fit on the pinky finger of my not very large hand. There was a small trace of yolk inside. I assume a predator found the egg and ate the contents. As I sit here at 5:30 a.m. I hear birds chirping. Is the world diminished because that baby bird never saw light of day? Did that momma bird suffer at her loss? How do we understand a world where the loss of one's life is the sustenance of another?
For a moment I pondered the empty shell. I thought of abortion. I thought about the young lives cut short. I thought about my own losses and the losses of others. I thought about the fairness thing, again. Is it fair some of us never see the light of day while others trudge on for a century? It all depends, I guess, on what happens after this. I trust God can handle it. God will make it right with the Shalom of His reign. Maybe the ones who get out early are the blessed. Jesus seems to say that things are not always what it seem when it comes to the blessed and cursed.
Today my little girl is sixteen. We plan to go get her license then go out to dinner. My son will be a baseball practice. He is a very good little baseball player, he is also smart. I do know that he is blessed. So is she, she made a 31 on ACT last year as a freshman. They both seem to take their faith seriously (graded according to the 'curve' of middle class American religiousity) and are well liked by adults. They turned out pretty good, so far. I think about how we worried when they were in the womb. How easily something small could have happened that had devastating effects. One or two micro errors in DNA can have devastating effects on a fetus. I know. They came out fine. we hope for the same for the next one. So close, so far...
Throughout their young lives they have already experienced the strangeness of life. Things like mailing a letter to travel fifteen feet. They have seen the randomness. Some kids cannot hit, throw or run. Others are gifted. Some are brilliant, while others struggle to learn letters and tie shoes. Some live long, full lives, while others perish in the womb or are swept away by disease or accident at an early age.
Yet, it is an amazing world. For all the horrors and the stupidity, the norm is still beauty, wonder and joy. I think all the little (and big) things in life are a gift. Creation is a gift. Life and love are a gift. I wish I were more thankful. I wish I could 'see' better, the gracious hand of God and be in a more constant state of gratitude and trust. I wish my heart communed with Jesus more intensely in my prayer time. Perhaps I am only 'fifteen feet' away from that, but I am still going through the process like it is fifteen hundred miles. Maybe tomorrow the Father God will draw me in and make me His completely! Until then, I will struggle to be faithful.
I will also pray for you, dear reader, on this day. I pray that God will visit your awareness in the big things and the little things. I pray you will hear Him and see His hand at work. We are, after all, in this together.