Who reads YOUR blog??

My labcoat, but adorned with my father's old RCA pocket protector, circa 1960's.
My lab coat, but adorned with my father’s old RCA pocket protector, circa 1960’s.

My parents called to wish me a happy birthday.  It’s no fun living as far away as I do from the family that I love.  Hurray for all the modern available communications modes like wireless calling (we used to have to pay extra for “long distance”), and video chatting (something from the old cartoon “the Jetsons”), all part of this ubiquitous thing called The Internet.  Mom and Dad bought my book, and then they actually read it.  I flat out don’t deserve parents this good. 

Then I found out they are reading my blog.  All of it.  Each and every page.    

Before anyone snickers, I hasten to add that I’m really okay with that.  In fact, I’m more than okay—I’m thrilled!  If there are two people who have earned the right to correct me, disagree with me, and speak into my life, it’s Mom and Dad.  (I repeat, I don’t deserve parents this good….)  Here’s the thing: I’ve been reading their lives for many years.  I know the pain, well…some of it anyway.  I’ve seen the triumphs.  I’ve heard the regrets (not all well-founded, in my not-so-humble opinion, but certainly sincere).  And overarching it all, I see the love; I am a product of the love, the love that
“believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” like Paul talks about in his letter to the Corinthian church back in the day. 

And I am then very pointedly reminded that others read my life also. Others that I’m not even aware of.  In fact, everyone has a hidden congregation of sorts, ones we’re not cognizant of who are reading the blogging in our lives and deciding whether to click the star, tap on the retweet button, or most importantly, hit the follow widget. 

And God reads our lives. Dad likes to tell the story of a few years back when he and his brother,  Gene, each independently  found a $20 bill laying loose in a grocery store.  Separate incidents, separate cities, same reaction: both Dad and Uncle Gene walked up to the counter and turned it in.  When they heard about each other’s encounters with a little extra cash, Dad said it was like my grandmother was watching from heaven to see whether her two boys were going to remember what they had been taught so many years ago.  I can only imagine her smile, and God’s.

Today is a new day, or as they say, a blank page.  Okay, so maybe mine has a few smudges and ink spots from past mistakes, but it’s still a new page.  What I choose to write on it is ultimately up to me. 

And may I choose my words carefully—Mom and Dad are reading!!

Pigs and Pearls

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Having just referred to St. Aug’s comment re: “men’s souls hang on your gifts” and quoting the prophet Isaiah about pouring out “that with which you sustain your own life to feed the hungry and to satisfy the need of the afflicted”, Jesus’ somewhat uncomplimentary metaphor warning us to “not cast your pearls before swine” seems, at first glance, a bit harsh to our 21st century sensibilities.  No doubt, it was to 1st century ears also, particularly considering the religious and social context of the day.

Here’s how I unpack it—

A short take: Everyone has influence, period.  Everyone has a “hidden congregation” that’s watching and learning.  They need what you have to give, which makes each of us responsible for finding out just what that is, and start giving it, even if we don’t know who “they” are yet.  However, pearls take many years to form, and are an organic result of an irritation inside the shell.  Therefore, they are more fragile than, say, a diamond.   Which means you have gifts (sometimes born of inconvenience, irritation, or downright pain) that you might not even be aware of yet, experiences that others need, talents gained, hardships overcome.  Jesus considers these things precious when placed under His care, and He knows who needs them.

Secondly, since they are precious (and admittedly, sometimes fragile), these gifts must be respected and treated with care.  This is where heavenly wisdom is sorely needed.  I see young teenagers giving their hearts and bodies away before they can barely read and write coherently.  I see parents wasting their children’s childhood on drugs and alcohol, or on too many meetings at work (or church!) In these ways and more, pearls are crushed under muddy hooves.

And just a tangent thought: Jesus’ “casting pearls” comment also appears somewhat paradoxical, when compared with the whole “give up your life to find it” idea.  That is one of the many things I love about the Bible.  Like David Limbaugh so endearingly puts it in his book, Jesus on Trial, the paradoxes, the seeming contradictions in the Bible, are invitations to dig deeper to resolve them and thus, far from smashing our faith against the rocks of unanswered questions…

… they serve to help us walk on the water more confidently with Him who holds our hands.