Sunday, June 10, 2007

Picturing a Special Future

CrazyMom and I were playing out our Sunday morning routine this morning as we have so many times in the past – a cup of coffee, an early shower, getting kids up and dressed, oatmeal for breakfast, the final push for the door, an audio book on the way to church, shuttling six kids off to four different Sunday school classes, and, at last, arriving at our own class. Then an interruption came to the routine. It turned out that our class was not meeting and so on a whim we decided to drop in on another. The first room we picked happened to be where the men's class meets. While it looked like fun to me, it was clear CrazyMom would not stay, so we headed for the basement of the church to find another class.

We ended up in a class comprised of people who are predominately a decade or two older than us. Now our church is not all that big so we knew or at least had exchanged handshakes with all of the people who sat in the metal folding chairs arranged in the shape of a horseshoe.

The class got started on their topic for the day: "Picturing a Special Future", chapter 6 of The Blessing. The discussion was being led by a man who I have known for years but with whom I have only exchanged customary greetings. Within a few minutes I heard him utter more words than I have ever hear him say in total. What a privilege it was for me to catch a glimpse of his heart as he led the discussion.

As the discussion flowed from one speaker to the next and on around the room and back again, a picture was vividly painted for me. The picture was of a stage of life that I have yet to reach – an impending stage of life which is rich, complex, challenging, and yet fulfilling. The picture was painted for me with quietly passionate words spoken about laying parents to rest, seeing children into adulthood, facing personal life challenges, and being the critical cog in a multigenerational family.

Although we were warmly invited into the group, the level of intimacy displayed made it clear that we could not immediately be a part of the group. To belong to such a group takes a lot of time as you share your past, your loves, your hopes and your dreams. As people spoke of loved ones, the loved one's name would not be mentioned for there was no need to mention it. All in the room already knew the name, knew the life story, knew the joy, and knew the sorrow. Even when the words were few, the intensity of feeling - communicated by how the words were spoken, the tears brimming in the eyes, the knowing nods of support by others - bore witness to the power of love. I wish every loved one mentioned, whether dead or alive, could have been there to experience first hand with what love, respect, and concern they were spoken of.

And so as the members of the class discussed how to paint a picture of a special future for their loved ones, they were painting a picture for me. I saw that one may be called upon to simultaneously care for one or two generations of family on either side of one's own generation. I saw what it meant to honor thy father and mother. I saw what it was like to be Godly in the next stage of life.

As the members were painting this picture for me, I also saw that they were part of my cloud of witnesses.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb 12:1-2

While in the past I have thought of the more traditional cloud of witnesses from the hall of faith who are now among the dead (Hebrews 11), I now see the cloud is much larger, for it includes so many among the living.


Carla (for the T family) said...

I read your blog regularly and really enjoy it! We have 4 bio kids (12, 7, 5 and 3) and are planning to adopt a sibling group from ET as well. We are just about to select an agency. Your family and writings are an inspiration to me and my husband and we have even shown some of your video clips to our kids to help them begin to picture our family with the addition of a couple Ethiopian kids! God bless you!

Anonymous said...

what a nce story to share. thank you! jcn