I started reading the genre of books known as southern fiction in the summer of 1988, when I was serving as an intern in ministry among the folks in a small Tennessee town.
Somewhere early on I encountered Clyde Edgerton. I loved several of his books though, as some of the characters carried over from one to the other, I’m never quite sure which one is which. I’m guessing it was either Rainey or Walking Across Egypt in which I met an elderly Southern Baptist woman who is still a favorite of mine. She was the proud possessor of a King James Red Letter Edition of the Bible.
She kept that treasure next to her chair, along with a red ink pen which she used to write in “the things Jesus would have said if he’d thought of them!”
There are many reasons she might have come to mind today. (Feel free to use your imagination!)
I’m guessing, though, that it had a great deal to do with a conversation I had about a book by an old friend named Steve Glenn. The book is called, Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World…seven building blocks for developing capable young people.
If I were in charge of such decisions, I’d probably slip it into the Bible between The Gospel According to John and The Acts of the Apostles.
It came to mind during a conversation about helping a 2nd grader cope with the challenges of remote learning.
The part of me that spent a whole bunch of time hanging out with Steve, and teaching Developing Capable People classes, is convinced that helping this little girl believe that she is significant and capable, and has influence in the world, is probably more helpful in the long run than the math problems on any given day.
And then it occurred to me that most of us could probably use a reminder on that issue, ourselves. I know I could.
Please hear me say that I have nothing against French or math. (Well, maybe I do have some hangups about math.) It’s just that some things form a foundation in each of us which helps all the details actually be useful.
Believing that we are significant, capable, and have influence in our worlds is about as foundational as it gets.
(It is, however, possible to get out of balance and forget that these same truths apply inherently to all of us. This imbalance is sometimes known by names such as megalomania.)
The moral of our story for today, though, is that the world does, in fact, feel all upside down for pretty nearly anybody who’s paying attention. Reminders of changes we’ve navigated before, and tools we’ve learned while doing it, help.
So does modeling taking care of ourselves.
I’m not up for a debate about whether or not we might usefully proclaim, The Word of the Lord after that last sentence. I am, with great certainty, going with, thanks be to God. (Get out that red pen!)
And, if we model taking care of ourselves long enough, it just might become natural!
ps… for more information on the work of Steve Glenn, you might want to check my Grandmothers Are In Charge Of Hope.
pps… The artwork for today is a long gone under-layer of a painting which started out to be named Apothecary. It’s here today to remind us that there is order in the world, beautiful order, if only we remember to look. Think of a rose or a sunflower and you’re there! And, yes, there’s a polling place on the corner!