Tiny Dart Frog

Poison Dart Frogs are some of the tiniest and beautiful creatures on the planet; they are also incrediably deadly. So, why call this blog "Tiny Dart Frog"? It goes back to the old adage - good things come in small packages. We are all created exactly as God has intended - unique, strong, and beautiful.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Blessing

From the darkest depths of the cosmos
the eyes of God twinkled
like stars.
As they spun forth hope.
Quickly God exhaled 
into a space
much smaller than his usual home.
A womb of a woman.
In that moment the universe did sing
enjoined to the songs of ten-thousand angels. 
Nine months passed...
    and then a lullaby.
Shepherds heard the haunting songs
and wise men too.
Moved by strength beyond their own
they trudged and traipsed to find ‘Wonder.’  
May the God who filled Mary
with all of himself
infuse and impregnate you.
Coming whole into your life.
May you receive this
most holy gift
of 'Wonder'.
And in the darkness
when despair threatens ‘Wonder’
may you have the courage
of a young, unwed mother.
May you hear angelic songs
on paths untrodden
and on roads well-known.
And may those songs confuse your heart.  
When life is ordinary and habitual
know that signs of God
are so often fabricated 
from the lowly and common.
And when you are seeking and traveling
up winding roads;
On long dusty paths
to where you belong
May you find shelter - 
in stable or inn
under a tree or an umbrella
May you find shelter in a friend - a sanctuary to take you in.  
And in that may you know ‘Wonder’.
And may you always ponder
And question
this mystery so dear.
May you never fully ‘know’ the story.
The cries of the Christ child
keeping you awake.
For today the angels sing unto house and nation,
unto rulers and peasants,
unto locusts and wild beasts....
Unto you and me
‘Wonder’ the child-gift has been born.  Amen.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sidewalk Prophet

Things I know about prophets:
They make a big ruckus.
They are relentless.
They stand up for the oppressed.
They refuse to go unheard.

And - we mostly don't believe they exist anymore.

Well, I met a one the other day in the most unexpected of places.  He wasn't proclaiming in a church, nor was he leading people through the wilderness (at least not literally), nor was shouting, "Thus says the LORD,"on top a mountain.  And he most certainly wasn't clothed in camel's hair.

There he stood on the sidewalk to his grandparents house.  The Sidewalk Prophet I will call him.

He stood as tall as he could, shaking a ceramic bell and holding a tupperware container; he wore a T-shirt that said, "Raised by Elves".  Not the usual paraphernalia for a prophet, I guess.

Oh, and I forgot to mention he's five.
As in five years old.
A young age to have such a big voice.
But he sure knows how to use it and get what he wants.

Our congregation adopted area families for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We promised to provide meals for them at Thanksgiving and gifts for children at Christmas.  We started with 12 families, which recently expanded to 17 families, which translated to about 50 children, which ended up being 52 bags of toys.

We are a small congregation and I'm not very good at saying, "No," when people need help.  And, actually, the congregation I serve isn't very good at saying, "No," either.

Well, I was worried about where the toys and money and food would come from.  I just didn't want to fail these families and I most certainly didn't want to fail God.  My faith faltered a bit as I tried to manage all the needs, and fathom where the money would come from.

I may possibly be telling this story to remind myself that what's needed for God to spin a miracle into being is very, very little.  A few loaves, a few fish can be turned into a feast.

Well, my worry and pragmatic side may have gotten the best of me for a few moments, but not so for the Sidewalk Prophet.

As money began pouring in, I talked with the congregation about the abundance of love that was pouring out.  My voice always seemed to crack as I held back tears of heartache mingled with joy.

The little Sidewalk Prophet must've heard God's call in those words, because what rose out of his little body was a voice that everyone would listen to, whether they wanted to or not.

Sometimes I think we believe a prophet is someone who predicts the future.  Maybe.  But I actually believe a prophet is someone who points to how what we do today will impact the future.  They point out that which we don't see.

Sidewalk Prophet sees more hope than many people I know.

On this particular Sunday there was something special going on at his grandparent's house (whose house is across the street from the church).  It's what they call, 'Cookie day!'  So, from what I understand, 'Cookie Day' is basically when the entire extended family gathers at grandma's house and  bakes Christmas cookies all day.  Dozens and dozens of cookies.  Relatives come from all over the town to bake cookies, eat cookies, and the men...they seem to watch football.

Well, the little Sidewalk Prophet had an idea and seized the moment.

He grabbed a glass bell from his grandma's shelf, stood on the stoop with a bucket and rang his bell as loud as possible.  He'd hijack people as they tired to knock on the door.  People would come over to bake cookies and....
he wouldn't let them in.

At least, not until they put some money in his bucket.  "A buck to bake cookies," he told them.

I'm sure he got some weird looks.  But everyone gave.

I actually had no idea that any of this was going on until he confidentally marched back into the church about an hour after worship, carrying his bucket and his bell, with his mother walking alongside him and his cousins all trailing behind, as if they were following in his footsteps.

His little body weaved through the adults to find me seated on a chair.  "Here you go," as he hands me a bucket of money.

His mom filled me in on the story as I looked at the $40.00 sitting in my lap.

"For the homeless people," he says, "so they can have toys too."  A big smile erupted on his lips.  Sidewalk Prophet.

And a smile erupted on my lips.

I think that often we hide behind the veil of wanting to help, but not knowing how, so we don't do anything.  I think I forget sometimes too - or maybe I get scared.  The Sidewalk Prophet reminds me to just go, do God's will.  It doesn't have to be fancy.  Heck, it doesn't always have to be well thought out.

There's one thing this little prophet can't begin to understand yet, but maybe you will.

He not only called a bit of justice into the world that day,  but he prophesied to me, reminding me that there's nothing too wonderful in this world for God.

Make some noise, cause a ruckus in the name of God.
Prophets exist today.  I met one just the other day.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The writing of a love story...

She stood there - hair covered by her knitted hat, her heavy black coat hung over her pink fleece sweatshirt as if it weighed a hundred pounds - staring into space.  I stood next to her, pressing the starred number one button on the elevator.

Down.  We were both going down from floor number six where we had spent hours together.  I glanced at her worriedly out of the corner of my eyes.  She took a long breath as we passed floor number three.

With a nod she says, "He'll be ok, doncha think?" as if to reassure herself.
"The doctors are doing everything they can.  He's in good hands," I responded as I brushed the hair off her cheek.
"I don't know what I'd do without him, ya know..." she says, still staring at the closed elevator doors.
"I know, I know..."

And I remember the love story that had just been told to me.  It's the kind of love story that seems so ordinary, while all the while remarkable in every way.  This is the kind of love that still holds hands at eighty; the kind of love I always dreamed of.  

My heart hurt in the good kind of longing way as I watched and listened to them finish one another's sentences, as only true lovers can.

As we sat next to his hospital bed, I had innocently asked, "How did you two meet?"  Maybe nobody had asked this eighty-something old couple that question in a long time, because the question was met with a sly grin from the man in the hospital bed.

"Now, that's a funny story," he says, as he looked over at his wife who was shaking her head at him.

He proceeded to tell me that some friends had given him her number as a dare.  She wouldn't date anyone; her standards were too high; she would only marry a teacher or doctor.  He proceeded to tell me that he told those boys, "Now, that's the kind of girl I would like to meet."

He took the number and set it on his desk for a few weeks before deciding one Sunday afternoon to give her a call. 

I made him back track in the story a bit...making sure I had it right...  Yes, he called her out of the blue, never having met her.

At this point the wife interjects into his storytelling: "My father walked through the kitchen and asked with whom I was on the phone.  I said, 'I don't know.  Some gentleman.'"

The husband laughed.  "Some gentleman.  Little did she know."  He continued to tell me he drove out to her house to take her for a ride, ended up helping her father finish building their house, and married her four months later.

"Four months?" I asked, shocked.

"Yes, four months," looking over at his wife who was smiling at him, "There's never been anyone for me, but her."

She shook her head again, "Now stop, dear."
"We're still together after all these years.  That's a long time, ya know?" he says looking at me.

Yes, I knew.  And as I sat there in the midst of all that love, I knew that there must have been hard times along the way.  Times when they wanted to walk away.

And I was so thankful neither of them had. 
I didn't know them when they were younger, when they courted, or when they had babies.  I didn't know them when they built their house, when they planted gardens, or hung drywall in the church basement.
I have only known them in these last years of their life.
I have only seen the end of their love story... 

So, as she stepped out of the elevator, I rubbed her back a bit, "You gonna be ok?"

"Yes.  Yes.  I'll be fine....
as soon as he comes home."

We walked together to the parking lot.  As I watched her shuffle to her car, I couldn't help but imagine her husband reaching out to grab her hand as he walked alongside her.

"Don't you take him," I pleaded with God.
I just couldn't bear for the story to end...not quite yet.