Ersatz Spring

spring has begun

its yearly game

of hide and seek

bits of green emerge

the sun tries to shine

temperatures inch upward

days lengthen

children at recess shed their coats

drivers open car windows

people walk more briskly,

no longer afraid of slipping on unseen ice

the freedom of the game continues

until the weatherman announces

another storm is on the way

too soon to yell,

“Ollie Ollie oxen free!”

spring-flowers-covered-in-snow                                                                                                                Photo: public domain

…about Praying for Enemies

Before becoming a Christian in 1979, I read the Bible. All of it. I wanted to know what I was signing onto when I joined the church. Shortly after that, during the Iran Hostage Crisis, I prayed for the Ayatollah Khomeini to know Jesus. I was quickly and soundly chastised by another church member.

Huh? Isn’t that what I was supposed to do? Having read in the Bible that we are to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48), I was fairly certain I was doing the right thing. Jesus himself set the example while on the Cross, praying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34a)

Still, the disapproval of the fellow church member stung me to the core. Was I somehow wrong? Had Jesus mentioned an exception that I had missed in my initial reading of the Scriptures? Today, after years of study and prayer, I remain convinced that I was right to pray for the Ayatollah.

I was reminded of that long-ago incident Sunday when someone in church requested prayers for our enemies; in her next breath she mentioned President Trump. I cannot pretend to have read her mind. Was the implication that Trump is an enemy intentional, or merely coincidence?

It is only fair that I tell you I did not support Trump for election. I do not believe he is doing a good job as President. I believe his behavior is erratic, reckless, and dangerous. I do not like him.

Enemy or not, regardless of political views, the President needs and deserves the prayers of anyone who believes in prayer. Jesus said so.

That brings me to my dilemma.

I know I should pray for Trump, but so far my prayers have been half-hearted. I don’t see him changing his behavior any time soon. I realize I am praying for a miracle. Am I setting myself up for God to say, “No.”? How can I word my prayer so I get the answer I want? Is my faith so small that I cannot pray for a miracle?

But, wait. Jesus didn’t say to pray only if I feel like it. He didn’t say to pray only if I think my prayers will yield the answers I want. He simply said to pray.

Funny, isn’t it, how one prayer leads to another? In order to pray for the President, I need to pray for a softening of my stubborn attitude. I need to pray for obedience and persistence in prayer. I need to pray for God’s patience with me.

Most importantly, I need to pray for a strengthening of faith that allows me to trust God to answer prayers the way He knows they need to be answered. He has a greater plan than you or I can imagine.

duerer_praying_hands

Photo: public domain

Free-Reading Friday

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”                                                                                           Mark Twain

You may remember it by another name; Drop Everything and Read, or Sustained Silent Reading perhaps. It may have come at a different time of the week for you. For me, Free-Reading Friday was the best part of the school week.

At the end of the week, after lessons had been learned and homework checked, the teacher would say, “O.K., boys and girls. You may read anything you wish for the next 30 minutes.” I eagerly looked forward to that delectable half hour. I would lose myself in whatever book I was reading. I traveled to faraway places, met famous people, and learned about different cultures. I commiserated with a main character over a dilemma we had in common. I sympathized with characters when they faced obstacles I had not yet known existed in the world.

When I became a teacher I learned that my teachers had probably had an ulterior motive for letting us read. They needed time. Time to catch up. Time to help struggling students. Time to sit at their desks to rest their voices and feet. But they also must have realized the importance of giving students time to read. They could easily have assigned busy work instead, but they chose to have us read.

Free-Reading Fridays were joyful times for me, both as a student and as a teacher. The joy I experienced as a student was my own. That which I experienced as a teacher was shared. It was a time during which I could connect with students as we visited over whatever they were reading.

Of course, there were those students who did their best to get out of going anywhere near a book, but they were a minority. I let them read magazines with lots of pictures in them. The magazine articles became springboards for discussion.

As the years went by, it became increasingly difficult to allow for free reading time. Shortened class time, interruptions, the ever-growing list of struggling students, and politics over how the curriculum was taught let to diminishing “free” time in the classroom. At the high school where I taught before retiring, I may have been the last holdout for scheduling free reading time for students.

The demise of Free-Reading Friday makes me sad. Reading is important. It needs to be a joyful activity, not just an item on a skills list to be checked off when learned. Without that joy, people will not read. If they don’t read, they will not learn. If they don’t learn, well…they will remain ignorant.

With that joy in mind, I am launching  my “Free-Reading Friday” feature, which will address all things reading: book reviews, quotes, information and opinions. Check it out. I hope you enjoy what you find.

 

 

about my MTM Adventure

In 1977 I packed up my orange, 1972 Toyota Corolla and set out solo from Boise, Idaho to Portland, Oregon on what I have come to call my “Mary Tyler Moore Adventure.”

A bit of background is in order. Continue reading “about my MTM Adventure”

… about Today’s Inauguration

It has been said that life imitates art. At no time in my life have I felt that more keenly than today, upon the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States.

The art in this case is It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis.

Continue reading “… about Today’s Inauguration”

about the Importance of Reading

Before I retired, I taught in public schools for 36 years. (language arts, 7-12; hearing impaired, pre-K-12) During those years I taught them all–doctors, diplomats, teachers, those with disabilities, immigrants, murders, their victims… As I wiped the chalk dust off my hands and turned off the classroom lights one last time, I wondered. What had I accomplished in those 36 years? What had I done for the thousands of students who had passed through the doors of my classroom?

If I have left them a legacy, it is this. I made them read.

Reading makes you smart. The statement became something of a mantra for my students to recite. Each time I made an assignment, the conversation went something like this:

Student:  Aww…Do I have to?

Me:  Yes, you have to.

Student: Why, Miss?

Me: You know why.

Student: *adolescent eye roll* Because reading makes you smart.

Numerous studies point to the correlation between reading and success in school, the workplace, and life itself. It saddens me that people read less than they used to. The October 12, 2015 LA Times reported that 72% of Americans reported reading at least one book in the previous year. That leaves 28% who had not read even one book.

One book a year. Warren Buffett reads 500 pages a day. Given that most of the books I read have anywhere between 200 and 400 pages, 500 pages a day translates to a lot of books each year. Need I say more?

Reading is too big a topic for  merely one post. I will revisit the topic again and again. Like the teacher I have always been, I will nag you to read, read, and read some more.

From time to time on this blog, I plan to offer up suggestions for your reading pleasure and edification. Watch my next post for the first.

Just Thinkin’ about Civic Action

I have joined the Resistance. I’ve knitted these hats and sent them off to be worn by participants in the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. on January 21.

My “civic action knitting” is largely symbolic, but I hope these hats will join thousands of others to make a powerful statement in favor of women’s issues and against misogyny.

Each of us who has a voice must step forward and speak against all forms of hatred–racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia–whenever and wherever we can.