Second Star to the Right

When our son, Jack, was young, he was fascinated with the story of Peter Pan.  In our house, we watched the Disney version of Peter Pan endlessly; Jack wore his Peter Pan outfits on a regular basis (not just at Halloween).  We watched the movie, Finding Neverland, with great interest.  I took Jack to the Dallas Summer Musical production of Peter Pan, and he danced in the aisles to the Indian songs.  I remember the patron sitting next to me stated, “If the show wasn’t great enough, I would come here just to watch that little boy’s glee!”

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What is it that was so fascinating to him, to us all?  Peter Pan had a sense of adventure, of curiosity.  But the story itself also prompts us to ask a question:  “What’s out there for us that we are not expecting?”

Christ’s disciples were just as curious when Jesus rose after his crucifixion.  “What now?,” I can imagine them asking themselves?  Jesus had prepared them for it, but they just didn’t listen!  The Gospel of Luke tells us that “while he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.” (Luke 24:51)  The disciples may not have expected it, but after they witnessed it, they could no longer stay silent about it.  It was up to them to continue to tell the story, and to help others find that same sense of adventure, wonderment, and reverence which they had come to know as Jesus.

This last Sunday, I asked my class to close their eyes and imagine the scene of the ascension.  One of the ladies in the class told me she couldn’t stop thinking of Peter Pan, and imagined the stars – particularly, the second star to the right.  Isn’t that fitting?  No, Peter Pan and Jesus are two very different things – one is a character, one is divine, the Son of God.  But when he ascended, Jesus rose to sit at the right hand of God.  From Disney’s song “Second Star to the Right:” (by Sammy Fain and Sammy Cohn)

The second star to the right
Shines with a light that’s rare.
And if it’s Never Land you need
Its light will lead you there.

I need Neverland.  And, like my friend in class, I see Jesus, that rare light, shining there.  What about you?

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Image Source: Michael Llewelyn Davies dressed as Peter Pan and photographed by J. M. Barrie at Rustington, August 1906 [public domain]

The Biblical Basis for “Paying it Forward”

My Aunt Frances died of cancer a few days before my college graduation.  Anyone who’s experienced terminal illness – family or friends – can share how difficult life is without that person.  Every birthday, every holiday, all those special jokes….eventually they bring on a smile of remembrance; but for awhile, all they bring are pain to the survivors.

I saw my cousin (Frances’ daughter) at a recent family gathering.  She looked great, had a radiant smile, and the always infectious laugh.  I’m so glad we had time to catch up – one on one – to share stories and give updates on our lives.

She’s a massage therapist now.  She specializes in massage therapy for cancer and hospice patients.  And she recently followed that passion to form her own practice, sharing her experiences with those who need her most.

therapeutic massage

Do you suspect, as I do, that her personal experiences with cancer give her an added perspective – a gentle ‘touch,’ if you will – for her clients?  As she and I talked about her journey, I saw that this career helped her as much as it helped her patients. Almost as if she were comforting her mother, bringing them closer, with each therapeutic massage.

This is a story of  2 Corinthians 1:4 (The Message)  in practice:

[God] comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, [God] brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

I know there are many of you out there going through hard times.  We all have them; some more than others.  I hope that you are able to feel God alongside you, bringing you comfort.  Before long, God will place someone beside you who needs that same comfort.  I pray that you, like my cousin, recognize it, so that you might share your journey with them.

That’s how we build community, one person at a time.

Was that a Sign from God?

“If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.”  – Woody Allen

Sign from God

A friend of mine recently had a very emotional meeting.  He was confused.  He was angry.  He was disappointed.  And the meeting did not end as he expected: a loving embrace, a rousing round of Kum Ba Yah.    Instead, he tossed and turned all night, knowing that his problem had not been resolved to his satisfaction.  I talked with him about it the next day, after he stated that he was even ‘madder than yesterday.  I woke up still angry and I took that as a sign from God that I should just act on my first instinct.’   I let him talk a little more, then gently confronted him.  ‘Can we go back to that ‘sign from God’ part?  Because if you really think God is sending you a sign to be angry and hurtful, I think you need to go back to bed.’

Signs are funny things.  I find it most interesting that many ‘signs from God’ are interpreted or twisted to show what the individual wants to see or hear.

Ever notice that physical signs are somewhat permanent?  All those signs on the highway, pointing toward the next fast food chain or gas station.   It’s a sign that everyone, eventually needs to see.  Go this way, and you have arrived; your journey has ended.

Not so with God’s signs, which I refer to as affirmations.  Affirmations are validations of our path, that we are headed in the right direction.    And affirmations sometimes come in ways we’d never expect, from sources that we didn’t know would give them.  Affirmations happen over a period of time; and we have to be ready to receive them when they are presented to us.  It’s not a permanent sign that says, ‘Go here, and you’re done.’

Affirmations are the result of peaceful and meaningful contemplation of how God would have us build community in our lives.  With our family, with our co-workers, with our neighbors.  And every once in awhile, if we listen closely, we hear an affirmation that our neighborhood is not as small as we thought it was.  That affirmation reassures us that getting out of our comfort zone is what is needed.

Otherwise, we might as well pull the sheets over our heads and go back to bed.

 

The Promise

Yesterday, we celebrated Jack’s 12th birthday.  Today we bury Steve’s grandmother.

May we always remember that life is a blessing, a treasured gift from God.  How we live that life is our gift to  others.  Thank you, Babe, for your legacy.  “Hymn of Promise,” by Natalie Sleeth, is a beautiful reminder that every moment in life has meaning.  Spend some time today remembering those meaningful moments in your life – I’ll bet you end up remembering some of the treasured legacies that God has given us over the years.

Enjoy the memories, while listening to the hymn:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpqHE84LAAw

In loving community,

Cathy

For Those Whose Hearts are Hurting

I ran across this on my morning journey.  I hope it lifts your heart as it did mine.

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