Friday, September 27, 2013

Idioms, Peculiarities, and Personal Satisfaction

Let everyone be sure to do his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work done well and won’t need to compare himself with someone else.—Galatians 6:4

Okay, I admit it.  That bugs me.  There, I’ve said it.  What I’m talking about are those random spires of sorghum that rise far above the rest of the field.  I can’t help but notice them as I drive past—a peculiar sight that sticks out like a sore thumb. I imagine myself furiously slicing the stalks to line up with their neighbors.  But why?  Why do the overachieving shoots of grain bother me so much?  Is it because I prefer tidiness and clean lines—even, straight lines?  It’s true that a well-groomed lawn without a blade out of place is like a breath of fresh air to me.  And evenly aligned desks in my classroom make my heart sing. But could my annoyance over the perceived anomaly in the sorghum field stem from something much deeper?

Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m behind the curve at work.  A few of my colleagues are flaunting cool technology in their classrooms, while I’m still trying to install the software—let alone use it.  They’re head and shoulders above the rest of us.  That bugs me.  But why?  Can I not celebrate their success without getting my nose out of joint?  Do I have to keep up with the Joneses?  Why do I want to be like them?  Is it fear that they will get noticed by the principal and I will not?  For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?”—Galatians 1:10

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dig it up!

He reveals profound mysteries beyond man’s understanding. He knows all hidden things, for he is light, and darkness is no obstacle to him.—Daniel 2:22
I couldn’t say no.  A chance to get together with longtime friend Tracy and explore history—I’d definitely go—despite the scorching heat.
There we were standing on the grounds of an archaeological dig, wiping sweat from our brow, in the oppressive 90-degree temperature, listening to Tracy’s son Christopher deliver a crash course in Archaeology 101.  A student at St. Mary’s College, Christopher was involved in archaeological field work at Historic St. Mary's City, the site of the fourth permanent settlement in British North America.  He invited us to tour the site to see what his team had uncovered—literally.  I listened intently as he pointed out the varying layers of soil, notably marked by differences in color and texture, including the plow zone, which extends beneath the surface to the depth at which a plow would penetrate.  He explained how his team had dug a pit and stopped when they reached a black plastic barrier left behind by a previous team, indicating their stopping point. I was in awe as Christopher shared treasured findings, such as broken pottery, fence lines and outlines of colonial homes, including the brick foundation of the Brome-Howard house—surprisingly built on the foundation of the Calvert home.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Divine Design

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths.—Psalm 25:4

The students were chatty that September morning, as we rode the school bus en route to a local college.  I couldn’t blame them.  It was a beautiful morn, and I was excited too. Just a handful of my high school students had been selected to participate in a poetry workshop directed by a college professor.  All of us hoped to hone our budding talents, myself included.

I peered out the window at the disappearing landscape and caught glimpse of a strange sight.  Translucent films appearing to hang in mid-air!  A stop at a traffic light allowed me to closely examine the curious sight.  What I thought was hanging in mid-air, I soon discovered, was actually suspended from power lines—spider webs!  Dozens of them!  Why have I never noticed this before? I wondered.  And then I realized that morning mist clung to the strands, reflecting the sunlight, and only because of that was I able to see those glorious intricate designs.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Naked and Afraid

Disclaimer: The following reference to Discovery Channel’s TV series “Naked and Afraid” in no way  indicates my endorsement of the program but is used for comparison purposes only.

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."—1 Peter 4:12-13

Remember the peacock from my previous post…standing in front of the glass door, gazing at his reflection, his beautiful four-foot-long plumage gone.  Does he feel naked without that gorgeous train that was once a part of him—his identity even?  I mean, what’s a peacock without a fan of blue-green feathers, each marked with that distinguishing feature, the all-too-familiar eye.  Without it, does he feel afraid—naked and afraid?

The truth is that all mature peacocks shed their tail feathers every year in late summer.  The shedding process is called molting.  If it happens every year, then the peacock shouldn’t be surprised, right?  Doesn’t he know this isn’t something strange happening to him—that his feathers will grow again and he will be beautiful in time?