Saturday, November 3, 2012

This little light of mine...

When I was very young, like my sons are today, myriad people reprimanded me for being a loquacious and hyperactive child. I still recall the day a pastor stopped mid-sermon, cast his eyes earnestly in my direction, and told me to settle down. In kindergarten, my cheeks blushed fire-pink when a teacher shamed me for wiggling and whispering from my padded mat at nap-time. Other elementary experiences left me in fear of a particular teacher, who admonished me to stop talking when a girl beside me was the guilty party, who denied my request to use the bathroom during her mathematics lesson and smirched me for the result of a pungent puddle on my plastic chair, whose overtone - even when she was absent from the room - led me to clean up my own vomit (that I unintentionally let loose one day upon arriving in her room) so that I would not have to experience her humiliating gaze.

These experiences remind me of the quote sprawled across the wall of the Dotheboys Hall schoolroom in the movie-from-a-Dicken's-novel, Nicholas Nickleby: "Fear him who formed thy frame." This quote, for me, exudes the knowledge of Psalm 103:14, "for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." But, the mercy and compassion bolstered by scripture is completely lost on the schoolmaster that wields such a weapon against his school children. For God holds pity on mankind; God knows our limits and does not seek to break us.

Reflecting on the pains of the past and resolving to live differently are fundamental to showing and experiencing love in this world. My pains have caused me to become a contemplative spirit. Charged with being shy, I take things to heart. And yet, I want to interlace my actions and way of living with the careful observation needed to show compassion for others. Perhaps this derives from that sensitivity.

Our social and cultural standards dissuade individuals from such sensitive and reflective living. Constant motion, egocentric striving, and characteristics of mania are endorsed, as the blogger of Forever Becoming also purports, but not a quieter and more-intentional way of life. Friend, let us encourage more contemplative and meaningful living. Dare to talk less and observe more. Dare to consider the impact your words, your demeanor, and your way of life have on others and on the world. Dare to be a source of encouragement, rather than a source of denigration.

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