One of my most influential mentors is a man named Robert Burkhardt, the founding head of Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center in Estes Park, CO. Robert was known on campus for his many sayings, which were on the tip of his tongue, ready to be offered to anyone and everyone for the purpose of building and strengthening community; they became part of the ethos and fabric of Eagle Rock, like the pinon- scented mountain air we breathed. Favorites included: “Find a need and fill it“; “Leave a place better than how you found it”; and “If you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem.” Another favorite was “The only thing you can count on in life is change.”
Last Tuesday evening, another head of school, Mary Knott, spoke to a chapel-full of parents who have entrusted the early education and nurturing of their children to Redeemer Parish Day School. Mary’s talk focused on the gift of natural mindfulness that our young ones model and can teach us grown-ups. Little Maddie hasn’t yet learned how to be distracted by cell phones and multi-tasking and the latest headlines and the worries about tomorrow … and … and … and …. She is fully present and engaged in whatever her play or task at hand is, whether drawing a picture or pretending she is flying; swinging on the swing set or scooping up sand in the sandbox. Often when we are not “fully present” ourselves in the presence of a beloved young one trying to get our attention, they will re-mind us, tugging on our clothing or repeatedly calling our name, bringing us back to the here and now.
On this Thursday before Labor Day weekend, most of us find ourselves once again on the brink of some kind of change: a change of seasons, a change of scenery, a change from summer-mode to fall schedules and fall routine. Some may find ourselves glancing longingly backwards, not quite ready to say farewell to summer; others may on the contrary be looking ahead with a measure of excitement and anticipation, ready for what the fall brings.
In his book Here and Now: Living in the Spirit, theologian Henri Nouwen writes: “God is a God of the present. God is always in the moment, be that moment hard or easy, joyful or painful.” In this season of change and amidst the “changes and chances of this uncertain world”, may we find life-giving ways to anchor ourselves in the Holy, being mindful of the gift of the present moment.
Looking forward to being present with you here at Redeemer!