April 22, 2006

Magnolias and Dandelions

Today has been a busy day. My wife is in spring cleaning mode, so we spent most of the day attacking the kitchen. It is a great feeling to accomplish something and see the results.

Tonight, Hannah was getting a little stir crazy after dinner. So, her and I headed outside to water the flowers with her new watering can that grandma and grandpa bought her for Easter. I was also wanting to take a picture of the magnolia tree behind the farmhouse that is in full bloom. As you can see from the picture, it is magnificent!

While I took pictures, Hannah addressed the dandelions, giving them more than plenty to drink. It was fun to watch the dandelions quickly close as she dowsed them with ice cold water from the hose. She was in heaven playing gardner to the pretty yellow flowers.

At what point do I tell her they are weeds and we don't like them? That is the beauty of children, I think. They are able to see the good in everything, even if it is an ugly weed. They see beauty in almost everything. For Hannah, there is beauty in the bugs that invade out house every year. We will hear a lady bug bumping off the ceiling and she'll scream, "it's a bug, it's a bug!" while pointing up and jumping like she just found a lost treasure.

God has taught me so much through her. God has taught me so much through watching my wife be a mother. It is unimaginable, the amount of things he has taught me over the last few years.

Thank you, little one, for being my joy and for showing me how much I missed about life and God before you came to us. I will do my best to cherish every moment and look forward to the moments to come!

Thank you, my love, for being a great mother to our daughter. As I have told you before, each day I see something in you, the way you deal with Hannah's terrible two moments, the way your eyes twinkle when you play with her, or whatever, that grows my love for you, farther beyond what I ever imagined!

Thank you, Lord, for blessing me with a beautiful daughter and a wonderful wife, who show me more and more each day about how to love and be loved. You are an awesome God who created both magnolias and dandelions, along with many other pretty and not so pretty things, like me. May I continue to revel in your beauty, greatness, grace, and love.

April 3, 2006

Psychoanalyzing Suicide Worms

Every year as the weather turns nice, I eagerly await the coming of suicide worms. Every spring, when it has rained just the right amount and the temperature is exactly as it needs to be, nightcawlers emerge from the ground in droves. They seek out pavement, blacktop, and sidewalks to bask in the newness of spring. Unfortunately, they aren't the brightest of creatures. They either get squished by anything passing by or they end up roasting in the morning sun--being cooked into nasty looking, dried out worm bacon.

Most of you who live in Michigan will have seen and experienced suicide worms. Maybe they are other places, I do not know. I have only seen them here in Michigan. I can remember back to when I was a student at Great Lakes Christian College watching a couple of my friends who were nature lovers take 30 minutes to walk 300 feet from the girls dorm to the Administration building. Along their journey, they would bend and toss each nightcrawler back into the grass so they would not get stepped on or fried. I remember marveling at their yearly exodus.

This morning was the day of the suicide worms. As I walked to the office around 6:30am, the sun was gleaming as it peaked over the horizon. It was a great sunrise where the Eastern sky was ablaze in color. When I came to parking lot, I saw them. There were hundreds upon hundreds of worms soaking in the early rain that still lay on the blacktop. Some were fat and long, completely stretched out, trying to take in every millimeter of existence they could, while others, slithered along trying to find a better piece of asphalt. They were taking in the day as best they could, leaving their safe underground dwellings to experience life a little differently for a moment. As the oranges and reds of the sunrise began to dance on the parking lot, I could see each and every worm's earthy existence standing out against the reflection of the sun.

I am sure there is a reason they come out into the open like they do, not that I want to know why. I am glad they do. It is a sign to me that spring has arrived, just like the birds beginning to sing around 6am every morning. They help me to realize that there is something more to life than staying submerged in the dirt. For them, it is there moment; they grasp at it with everything they are, even at the risk of being scorched by the sun or squashed by a passing car. They don't belong on pavement, but they slither there way there. And in the process, they get noticed
by big, stupid humans like me. I don't see them because they are doing something extravagant like back flips or the tango. I notice them because they are something different on the horizon that I am not used to seeing. Their presence is a stark contrast to the drab, boring asphalt they lay upon.

Now, I'm sure some of you are thinking I'm completely nuts, psychoanalyzing a goofy bunch of worms that are dumb enough to go someplace they aren't suppose to go every spring. But am I? Picture in your mind, if you will, a large parking lot with a bunch of people laying down haphazardly on the wet pavement. As people drove by, do you think they would take notice? Certainly, people trying to park in the parking lot would notice, as they had to navigate around all the people laying on the ground. The people laying down wouldn't have to do anything more than lay there to be noticed. They wouldn't have to shout, wave their arms, or make conversation because their existence would be easily seen.

If we are called to be the people of God, the salt of the earth and the light of the world, we have something to learn from the suicide worms. They are what they are called to be no matter where they are. We claim to be God's people. My question would be, does our living match up to what we claim? This challenges us to really think about and be solid on what we claim and believe. It also challenges us to put it into practice, to roll around in it and to feel it ooze between our toes. When we do that, I believe the world will take notice just like I took notice of some suicide worms--not because they did anything fancy, but because they were worms where they shouldn't have been.

Go read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) ten times and bask in the newness of spring . . . and if you feel like it, lay down in a wet parking lot and see if anyone notices.