Take a look at my favorite school project in the whole wide world. Firstly I love it because I had nothing whatsoever to do with it. NOTHING! I only know what it looks like because its creator (who shall remain nameless so that I am allowed to use this photo) took it out of his/her book bag and let me snap a photo before I even got out of bed, however many years ago that was. How joyous it is, sayeth the mother, to hear about a school project aftereth it is done. (Book of Mom, 4:15)

Secondly, the project does the job. It shows the teacher that the student understands the concept of the angle of elevation with its taped on geometry word problem oddly involving both child Anakin and his grown up son, Luke, plus the Eiffel tower. Jumping and mocking is also involved in the word problem, but that’s not the point. Angle of elevation is the point and the project shows that the student gets it. At least I think so. It’s been a long time since I took geometry.

Thirdly, I love this project because the student took what he learned about (angle of elevation) and applied it to the things he loves in his life. Okay, maybe I’m stretching this- he doesn’t necessarily LOVE Anakin and Luke Skywalker and the Tour Eiffel, but they are everyday things that show up in his life, and the student combined them altogether into one little saucepan of school stew. So if he is ever tied to the top of the Eiffel Tower and needs to calculate angle of elevation, he’ll be ready. Who says math doesn’t come in handy?

As a minister to children, this is the very thing that blows up my skirt.

I should reword that.

As a minister to children, my goal is to help kids take the love and mercy, forgiveness and grace that they see and learn and experience as we celebrate the sacred stories of our faith and apply all of that to their lives- to the relationships they have with the people they love and the people they don’t even know, and to their relationships with God (which grow the more they explore them.)

When life is peachy, it can be easy or hard to apply these concepts and ideas. I can easily believe God loves me when I feel loved by everyone around me, when I have the food and shelter I need, when my family is safe and intact. Yet when life is good, when we seem to be cruising along happily, we sometimes get the idea that it’s because of our wonderful selves and forget our need for God.

What about when life is hard? It seems like everywhere I turn this week, friends are suffering. Tragic accidents and horrifying death, disease and pain, betrayal and confusion, loss of hope and powerful sorrow. Our hearts can be so wounded that we’re numb to the spirit. We either feel nothing or we feel such agonizing pain that in the darkest moments we fantasize sleeping forever. It can be hard to apply love and mercy, forgiveness and grace, when you can’t even lift your head, when your life has been turned into hell. Yet God is there too in the darkness, being with us, loving us, hurting for us. Can we listen for the tiniest voice, look for the slightest glimmer of light, and let God take the weight, going through the motions until the light grows? As awful as it can be, the poor in spirit have always been closest to God. When we recognize our need for God, we can more easily recognize God.

So I tell myself to look for God when life is easy and look for God when life is hard– and to treasure it all.

Right now I’m also treasuring that there are no school projects on the horizon. At least none that I know of.

May the Great Force be with you!

(To which you say, “And with you!”)