Posted tagged ‘actions’

Reading The Last Half of the Story

October 5, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      October 5, 2019

                      

I’ve finished two weeks of a long-term substitute teaching position for a teacher who works with students who have special needs. It’s a day that, in basketball terminology, would be comparable to a motion offense. All the players are moving…and moving…and moving!

The calmest moments of my teaching day come mid-morning when I read for about 20 minutes to a small group of sixth and seventh grade students. They’ve been reading Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief. 

I picked up the story on page 160, and I entered a world of confusion and cluelessness. That is, trying to figure out what’s going on halfway through a book is about as easy as the prep for a colonoscopy exam. 

Some books are painfully predictable, but Percy Jackson brings in Greek mythology, tour guides turning into monsters at the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, strange dreams, strange characters, and plot twists.

I’m sure that starting at the beginning of the book would clear up much of my confusion, but that option was not available for me. The students had already traveled through those first chapters. 

Two weeks into the reading I’ve been able to figure out why some things are the way they are, but the picture is still cloudy.

Beginning a novel halfway through is comparable to trying to understand people who are halfway through their life journeys. We have a multitude of questions as to why they think the way they do, their lack of emotion or being overly emotional, their addictions and passions, their propensity for making the same mistakes over and over again, their reluctance to talk about their past or their skepticism about the future. 

When we’ve missed the first half of the book we’re confused about the decisions, the unrest, and the attitudes. And let’s be honest! It’s hard for any of us to look at someone’s disrespectful behavior and think to ourselves, “I wonder what happened in his past that brought him to this display of behavior?” 

How someone became so self-centered and arrogant is a question that is usually beyond us. When did Jeffrey Epstein become so arrogant that he felt entitled to any woman he desired? How did he come to that point of committing reprehensible acts whenever he desired? Did his billions end up blinding him to what is moral and right, or did he have those behavior patterns before the billions insulated him?

On the other side- the compassionate side- of the character fence how did Mother Teresa come to the point where her life calling was caring for the “untouchables of” Calcutta? What put her on the path towards mercy? 

As I walk amongst the students, special needs and others, in Timberview Middle School, I try to keep my judgment to a minimum and grace to a maximum. I often shake my head in bewilderment about what I’ve heard or seen. 

On Monday I’ll read another few pages of Percy Jackson. More questions will pop into my head about “what in the world” is happening, but there will be glimpses of understanding. It will be better than the Latin class I took my first term of college. At no time, during that torturous ten week period, did the clouds part for me to the point that I understood! It was all Greek to me…even though it was Latin!

You’re As Old As You…Act!

May 6, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                  MAY 6, 2016

                        

    I received a birthday card yesterday. It was awesome, sent to me by a 93 year old woman that I just love. It was fueled with “old sayings.” One of them was “You know you are old when your back goes out more often than you do.” 

I’ll admit that there are certain parts of my body that I know are there every morning…and evening! In the afternoons I think they are taking a siesta. I’ll also admit that in my evening slumber…or in and out and in and out of slumber…I often has dreams of soaring to the rim and dunking the basketball over my twenty year old defender. I also dream of that awesome crossover dribble and blowing by him, and I also dream of draining three’s from the deep corner. But, as I say, even though they are frequent dreams they are now just dreams.

I’m writing a book right now that is “sort of” living out my dreams about a young boy who plays basketball, is fundamentally sound in the sport and also in life. It’s, hopefully, a feel good story that we all wish to be reality, and, I admit, was part of my hope growing up.

As I’m growing older I recognize that a lot of my actions are not usually associated with people who are Social Security eligibles. Today, for instance, I’ll go to middle school track practice. This evening I’ll let my grandkids crawl all over me, chase them around the house, play hide-and-seek, read books, chill with them, and perhaps play dress-up. Tomorrow I’ll be at a middle school track meet in the morning and afternoon, and then officiate three basketball games that evening. Next week I’ll substitute teach three to four days with students from first grade through high school. I’ll admit that the hot tub usually feels pretty darn good at the end of a long day.

But the other thing about getting almost a quarter of the way through my sixties is that I know I still have much to offer, and offer it willingly. I’m a retired pastor who still pastors. I just don’t get paid for it! Tomorrow morning, before the track meet, I’ll meet for breakfast with a young lady that I coached in basketball several years ago, and now Carol and I financially support through her ministry with Navigators at the University of North Florida. I’ll seek to be an encourager to her as she disciples young college women. Just as I encouraged her when she was zero for ten shooting in a basketball game, I’ll encourage her to stay focused, and on course, as she engages in spiritual conversations with college students.

You’re as old as your actions, and as old as your attitudes. Is my attitude about life laced with cynicism or optimism? I’ll admit I may be more of a hybrid…a cynical optimist.The throb in my knees as I’m climbing steps brings out the cynicism, but I’m optimistic that I’ll reach the top…or bottom…without falling on my face.

Next month I’ll be back in Ohio to visit my dad as he celebrates his 88th birthday. Physically he has slowed, but mentally and relationally he is an inspiration. The widow ladies at the senior complex he resides at love him…all of the ladies! Their love for him is based on how he treats people, how he acts, the optimism he faces each day with…even though it might include a skin radiation treatment. The nurses and technicians at the radiation department at St. Mary’s Hospital in Huntington, West Virginia know him on a first name basis even though he might not have been there for a few months. He’s an inspiration to me about keeping a healthy life perspective.

You’re as old as you…act!