I have an affection for Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life. It has so many words of wisdom – and it helped me as I was trying to define my purpose for living. I had recently suffered a burst appendix and had almost died. Prayer, God’s grace, a skillful ambulance driver, and a careful surgeon gave me back my life. I looked earnestly for clues about how I might live purposely for God to thank Him for my survival.
This book of Daily Inspirations is a complement to The Purpose Driven Life. I used it as a devotional and as a journal, writing in the margins and at the top and bottom of the pages each day.
But recently I read a quote by Marjorie J. Thompson in her book, Soul Feast.
Thompson wrote, “I admit I do not care for the language of ‘driven-ness’ in recently popular books and seminars…” She went on to explain “… it is significant that the Bible likens us to sheep, not cattle.”
Giving overtime thought to Marjorie J. Thompson’s quote I wrote the following Haiku:
Live from a posture Of profound trust and deep love Be sheep, not cattle
My husband and I had a deep conversation about life and death, purpose and the difference between being led and being driven. When I am weary, Jesus leads me beside still waters. He refreshes my soul.
Cowboys here in Montana drive their cattle to the next pasture and farmers in Switzerland drive their cows in the springtime up to fresh grass from the lower meadows where the beautiful animals have spent the winters.
But Bob’s point as my hubby discussed the difference between being driven and led, was that cattlemen drive their cattle for the same reason shepherds lead their sheep. They have their best interests at heart. (Well, they may be driving them to market!)
There is a connotation to the word “driven” in our American culture. It seems to imply push-push-push, a relentless effort toward getting to the top.
Hope for the Flowers
I was reminded of a book for adults and others (including caterpillars who can read) titled, Hope for the Flowers, by Trina Paulus. It was copyrighted in 1973, but it is as pertinent today as it was then (and it still is available on Amazon.com).
As I recall the story, the caterpillars in this clever little tale are climbing over the top of each other, creating a “caterpillar pillar.” One little creeper is on the outside edge, getting tired of the climb, wondering if it’s worth it. She asks a fellow climber as she looks at the daunting distance to the top, “What’s up there, anyway?”
“Just other caterpillars pushing each other off so they can be on top,” her climbing companion explained as one of the fuzzy creatures came tumbling down and crashed to the ground.
(How sad, huh? I am fascinated by these wonderful creations and their metamorphosis.)
Right about then the disillusioned climber caught the eye of a beautiful butterfly cruising by. “Climb on down,” he encouraged. “Spin yourself a chrysalis, rest inside, and eventually you will emerge a butterfly like I did. Then you can join me.”
(Of course those quotes are from my memory, not the actual book. I loaned it out to someone…. don’t remember who… but I have ordered a new one. Hope for the Flowers is a terrific book to have on hand as a reminder of my journey!)
Moving Down the Administrative Ladder
I discovered this beautiful, child-like, but profound, paperback when I was working as a curriculum coordinator in the district office at a school district in central California. My office was waaay too far from the children. I had been an elementary teacher for over 20 years and the principal of a K-6 school with over a thousand students for nearly a decade. The “caterpillar pillar” (that ambitious climb to greater “success”) led me to the district office. I knew after only about three weeks that it was not where I belonged.
I stuck it out for two years. Did the best job I knew how. Wore at least a half a dozen hats (Federal Programs director, language arts and music coordinator, in-service leader for new teachers, mentor for new principals, etc.) I learned a lot, and am glad I did it,but generally, I was not happy. My love & my gift was teaching children and helping “my staff” grow to be their best selves. I loved the interaction with the students, the teachers, and the parents.
As I climbed back down the “pillar” and announced that I was going back UP to the classroom (as soon as I rested a year and earned my butterfly wings), I was told, “What are you doing? That’s the wrong direction!”
Some warned, “You can’t go back down! People will think you’ve been demoted!”
“Yes, I can,” I insisted. I slid into my chrysalis, listened to The Voice of Reasonand Transformation, rested, and devoted more time to my family, myself and my God.
I emerged a happy butterfly and was led back UP to a group of first graders. At the end of that year I led them on to second grade. What joy! I still hear from some of those children twenty years later. Several of them are my Facebook friends!
If you are reading this, you are likely to be a blogger. But do you also keep a journal? I do. In fact, I keep several simultaneously. One is a “Thankfulness Journal” in which I record daily something (or someone) for which (or for whom) I am most appreciative. Another is a daily scriptural reflection. I am dedicating that one – and directing it – to my oldest grandson, Mike. I find it helps to write my journals TO someone rather than just writing for the sake of getting the ideas down for some anonymous someone in the future. The third of my journals is called, “To the Best of My Recollection.” It is a 365 page spiral bound book with a question at the top of each of its 4″ x 6″ pages. The questions prompt me to recall specific events, people, and places from my childhood (or from my adult past – if a childhood memory doesn’t fit the question). I found the book at a shop close to home – and decided that now, before my memory fades to oblivion, I should take a page a day and do this. Since I didn’t start it January 1st and I’d like to finish it by Christmas, I am trying to average two or more pages per day. That’s quite do-able! I am dedicating the book to my niece. Her mom (my sis) does not fancy herself to be a “writer” and it is unlikely she will take time to record her memories in this fashion. So, I am doing it for her – – – knowing my niece will find the stories interesting – someday – when I am long gone and my absence might make my experiences more poignant. The questions, created by Kathleen Lashier and published by Linkages in Des Moines, IA, are serious at times, whimsical sometimes, and always thought-provoking. Starting with my birth and leading on through my youth, this memory journal is causing stories to come out of the cobwebs and be recorded for future generations. Check out some of the various journal options at www.mymemoryjournals.com
To give you a sample, the question and my answer today was: “Did you ever go on a camp out? Tell about it.”
The camp out that comes to mind the most was not in my youth. It was when my children were about three and five years old. We were hiking up from Bridal Veil Campgrounds in Yosemite to Ostrander Lake. It rained its brains out! We had to stay in our tent. But Ty (our 5 year old) talked his dad into going fishing with him. They caught several small brook trout that we fried the next morning. DeAna puked on her dad’s head as we were hiking back out the next day. He was carrying her on his shoulders because she said she didn’t feel very well – and couldn’t walk anymore. Bob just wiped it off with his hand and kept on walking. That may explain why Ty and I were walking a ways back from them! Out from the thick undergrowth and evergreens at the side of the path emerged two nude hikers. They turned and headed toward Ty and me! Keenly aware of my young son behind me, I tried to keep my eyes on the bland, smurky smile of the lead hiker. After they climbed sufficiently up the trail to be out of earshot, Ty mumbled, “Boy! it’s a good thing they had on tennis shoes!”