Nearly a week ago we gathered around the table that is familiar. We smiled, we prayed & we began checking in. The homework (lifework) isn’t hard (in theory) to remember, just read 1 Proverb per day — the date dictates the Proverb we happen to be on for any given day (within the month of October). And we share from there…
To a welcome of smiles and laughter there was the mention of the rich (& hilarious) imagery that is found in Proverbs. It was not loss on the group how some of the warnings found in Proverbs really can come to life for some of us and invite us to truly know that the author is rather pointedly correct in these warnings offered! (too bad perhaps we think that only for some of the proverbs?)
There was talk of the repetition of the proverbs, as well as an insight that perhaps when the proverbs seem nearly opposite of each other maybe they (the proverbs) were in reference to different situations, and for one situation one proverb is more fitting while for a different (though perhaps similar circumstance) a different & seemingly opposite proverb is more appropriate to consider. And of course there was the lifting up of a few choice proverbs that were appreciated.
However something that I’ve not been able to let go of is (and y’all I don’t think I’m making up this part of the conversation but — to be fair I have been in conversation with others about Proverbs too!) the idea/call to raise up a child in the way they should go (faith/instruction) and when they are old/older/grown they will not depart from it. There is much that can be said here and it has been my experience that many experience a real grief & concern here — today the reflection is not upon that. Instead it was on a mention of how we can know this is true…We (society as a whole) understand that when someone is abused/neglected even as a little baby — this has an impact on their life (note — this doesn’t mean someone isn’t going to thrive & enjoy a beautiful life — it does mean that experience abuse has an influence) — we know this to be true from experience, and from science & statistics too. Knowing how abuse/neglect impacts, we are invited to consider the opposite — that the offering of love and nurture has an impact as well! Think with this for me — the welcome, the smile, the kind word, the sincerity that a baby, (perhaps even before birth!), child, youth, adult receives even in just a moment/in 1 visit to a church/in one exchange in life in general — makes an impact, a real impact. I find that both beautiful, encouraging and sobering too. It allows me to hear the proverb even more as a promise (and with some unexpected scientific evidence backing it) and it invites me to take the expectation of God to love and nurture children/those in the faith/all of creation (!) , with special care, with extra prayer, with the hope that the impacts/imprints I make (we make) on others is one of a “grace”-print.
Now…also named in our time was frustration of some days being alright following/trusting the proverbs and others not so much. So indeed a prayer was offered from me to those gathered, and an invitation to offer it — the prayer being a simple, “God use me please.” Of course you can put it in your own words, but that idea of being open to what God would have you do for the day — when I’ve prayed this my day (though not necessarily what I had planned or wanted) is rich and beautiful and a blessing to me. So as we look to gather tomorrow, I offer it to us all — may we be a people who sincerely pray to God, use us (me) please! AMEN!
In Christ y’all — see you at the table!
~ Rev. Sabrina Slater