My latest post is up at the United Church of Christ's blog:
One of my daughter’s favorite shows at the moment is “Thomas the Tank Engine.” I haven’t yet figured out what she likes most about it, whether the stories or out of a growing fascination with trains. I suspect that it’s the latter.
A constant theme of this show is “usefulness.” Thomas is always trying to be useful, hoping that he can accomplish his tasks in a timely and efficient manner. He savors the praise of the island mayor when he is told he is a “very useful engine.”
I think this message from a seemingly benign children’s program reflects a common aspiration that many have.
Whenever we take one of the kids to a doctor appointment, I'm always fascinated by one feature of the rooms in which patients are invited to sit. Each room--as well as the waiting room, hallways, and elsewhere--has a piece of art much like the one to the left, made by an elementary-age child.
Whether painted or drawn, these pictures always have a small paper next to them noting the artist's name, age, school, grade, and the year that it was made. So, for instance, this cat picture was made by an 11-year-old in 5th grade in the year 2000.
The point of fascination for me is that somewhere in the world there is now an almost 30-year-old person who may or may not realize that something they drew in elementary school is still hanging in a doctor's office, seen by dozens of people every week.
Aside from that, this picture hangs in this room for another purpose: to bring comfort to scared patients. Visiting the doctor can be frightening for adults, but perhaps moreso for childre…
Faithful God, we sometimes have trouble saying what we mean. For fear of being a burden to others or of coming off as too needy or dependent, we avoid asking for help or dance around what we want hoping that others will pick up on what we need. We've become conditioned to think that, given enough time and enough chances, we'll be able to fix our problems on our own. Either out of stubbornness or felt expectations, we go along with what we think we must do, attempting to ignore how this approach often only does more harm.
Through Jesus, you ask us point blank: "What do you want me to do for you?" You invite us to speak our concerns plainly; to share the deepest desires of our hearts without reservation or hedging or worry of rejection. You repeatedly remind us that you love us too much to avoid the hardest questions and most desperate circumstances that we are facing. Rather, you enter into our lives to enact healing or forgiveness or renewal o…