Monday, May 21, 2012

the end of the beginning - thankful #17

that's a wrap. the journey that began with exuberant joy about four and a half years ago with the notice of b's early-decision acceptance to columbia college concluded last week with the big graduation -- 11,000 degree applicants from the 20 schools associated with columbia university and 20,000+ folks gathered to celebrate with them.
by tradition, the columbia college students have carried swords to graduation, but this year, they went with these brightly colored lions. though initially a disappointment for the students, the lions ended up becoming a big hit. above, you can see the columbia college students waving their lions and cheering wildly as they are formally presented for the conferral of their degrees. b did receive a lion, but gave hers up to a friend who really wanted one but hadn't received one -- a characteristically generous move by b, but one which saddened m, who was really hoping to get a photo of the graduate with her lion.

for several days leading up to the graduation, we reconnected and celebrated with family, did a bit of sightseeing, and found fun activities and food along the way. favorite memories: hanging with grandma p and the p family, an off-broadway production of alice in wonderland, a surreal visit to the american girl place, korean barbecue at kang suh in k-town on our final night.
five-star diner in queens (indian cuisine!) on our first night
mother's day in greenwich village
walking the brooklyn bridge
b had a great run at columbia, so it was fitting that the celebration would be kind of epic. and it was fun to celebrate her and all of her accomplishments, which were many.

still, unlike my own graduation, this felt to me like a very intermediate step. b has only begun. next up: pursuing her master of divinity at princeton theological seminary. and beyond that, the target is a ph.d. in church history, with the goal of teaching in a seminary and finding an effective platform for influencing future church leaders to a whole-hearted embrace of God's justice in the world.

winston churchill once famously said, "now this is not the end. it is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." so phase 1 is complete -- but it's been a great beginning.
the graduate and proud mom
celebrating with the graduate!

Monday, May 07, 2012

the trouble with Jesus - thankful #16

      "is -- is he a man?" asked lucy.
      "aslan a man?!!" said mr. beaver sternly. "certainly not. i tell you he is the king of the wood and the son of the great emperor-beyond-the-sea. don't you know who is the king of beasts? aslan is a lion,
the lion, the great lion."
      "ooh," said susan, "i thought he was a man. is he -- quite safe? i shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."
      "that you will, dearie, and make no mistake," said mrs. beaver; "if there's anyone who can appear before aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly."
      "then he isn't safe?" said lucy.
      "safe?" said mr. beaver; "don't you hear what mrs. beaver tells you? who said anything about safe? 'course he isn't safe. but he's good. he's the king i tell you."
(from c.s. lewis' the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe)
pastor alex gee returned for our lighthouse and friends retreat this year, preaching on the topic, "the trouble with Jesus." alex looked at that idea at least three different ways, but they can all be traced back to a single root truth: Jesus isn't safe. 

i don't know why that's news. given the many stories of God's dealings with people in the bible, whatever led us to believe that he would be? and yet year after year, i find that i bump up against that reality. i can't really say that i crave or even long for safety, but given the option, i do prefer it.

but after thirty years of following Jesus, the conclusion is inescapable: faith is not a safe thing. by its nature, faith yields to the wisdom, plan, and control of Another. when it comes to a life with God, there just isn't any other way. and given that he and i don't always see things the same way, that's never going to feel entirely safe.

thankfully, 'unsafe' is not the core descriptor of who God is. he's loving, and he's good. and following in the long tradition of those who have learned to trust in a wisdom that is higher than our own and a goodness that is better than we can imagine, i keep walking -- with humility and gratefulness.