Saturday, September 26, 2009

Catching our Second Wind

A week ago, I was up at Second Wind with 4 couples from school, their kids, and another of the teachers. We'd just completed our 4th week of school and were really needing a break. It was a beautiful weekend, spent relaxing in the fresh pure air of Maine's western lake district. The only rule: no school talk! It was an amazingly simple rule to follow, even though we could have spent the entire weekend talking school. We didn't. Instead, we spent time talking about God, religion, politics, nature, our families... We came away refreshed and revived.

That's what I love about where I work. We really like each other and enjoy spending time
together, both in and out of work. It makes our days easier because we like working together. Some of us have known each other since high school, others since college. Even the new staff soon finds comfort and ease in the group. We haven't always been this way. There were a few years where it was not easy to be together. Thankfully that's not the case this year.

Our time at Rangeley was punctuated by laughter, underscored by a common admiration
and respect for each other. All that plus good food (we had a Fiesta Saturday night) and beautiful scenery! You can't ask for much more!

Monday, September 07, 2009

All Ye Who Labor

In honor of Labor Day, I thought I'd share a meditation I wrote for the staff at the beginning of the school year last year. The pictures come from various scenes this summer.

There's an old Jewish proverb that says "God gives burdens; also shoulders." Five words offering paradoxical truths about God; five words offering an emphatic definition of God.

"God gives burdens." Taken alone, these three words could very well make a person want to run away from God rather than stay with Him. And many, looking at their own lives, might even blame God for allowing tribulation to fall upon them. They look so long at their troubles that before they realize it, they can see nothing else but an unjust, merciless God and a world no longer fit to exist in.

It's a good thing the proverb doesn't stop there. Instead, it goes on. "God gives burdens; also shoulders." The shoulders He has given us are the shoulders of our family members and friends, our colleagues, mentors, and of God Himself. They are the shoulders we see ahead of us as we listen and learn with—and from—each other. They are the shoulders we sense behind us as we listen and learn with our families and friends. They are the shoulders we feel next to us as we listen and learn with our classmates. And they are the shoulders we feel under us, lifting us up as we listen and learn from the still small voice which comforts us:

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:2

Isn't that beautiful? I am grateful every day that God has provided so wondrously for all of my needs. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about the enormous responsibility that comes with working with kids. Sometimes that responsibility seems like a burden that is overwhelming, almost paralyzing. And I’ve been thinking how impossible it will be to do this without a good team, without some powerful shoulders working side-by-side with me. That knowledge has made it easier to sleep at night, has made the thought of this school year bearable for me.

Galations 6:2 tells us that we are to bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ—the law of love—of caring for our brother, our sister. But while you are being there—being a shoulder—for someone else, let God be there—be a shoulder—for you, and let Him work with you. The Psalmist tells us to give Him all our cares (Ps. 55:22). And Peter says to "Cast all your anxieties on Him, for He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)

So yes, God gives burdens. But also shoulders.