Lost Arts

So is it a big deal that schools don’t teach cursive writing anymore?

Yes, it is.

The utility of texting on phones and sending email is unassailable. The ubiquity of those devices and the speed that most people can compose messages on them certainly makes them a faster and more efficient method of communication.

But are speed and efficiency sufficient reasons to throw out a centuries-old way of life in the English-speaking world?

And since when is the beauty of human creativity limited to just music, dance, art and theater/film?

I have a hand-written cursive copy of the U.S. Constitution on the wall of my office. It’s not easy to read. But it’s beautiful. Not just in what it says, but also in how it looks.

Removing cursive writing from the school curriculum doesn’t mean that people will stop writing things by hand. But to me, a printed note doesn’t carry the gravitas that a letter written in cursive does.

In some way, a person’s cursive handwriting represents who he or she is. It reflects a depth of emotion that just can’t be captured by printed letters. And a typed letter or text? It might as well have been served on ice.

Articles in the New York Times and Psychology Today as early as 2013 tout the benefits of learning cursive. And school websites from as far away as Great Britian list the many advantages of cursive writing to a child’s development – enhanced spelling, developing internal controls that assist in learning, improved reading skills.

But take a look at the picture above (again from a decorative poster at the Magnolia Market in Waco). It describes cursive as “combining form and movement.” Sound familiar?

Yes, writing in cursive is a dance. Just on a smaller scale.

Graceful, yet purposeful. Whimsical at times, and yet powerful. Exclusive to each individual as a fingerprint. And more tangible evidence of God’s creativity when he made each of us, different one from another.

God willing, our family will welcome our first grandchild this year. And 15 years from now, I sincerely hope that his birthday card to me contains a handwritten note from him.

In cursive.

And my card back to him will have a note in cursive as well. After all, he’s due on my birthday.

 

Love Is…..

A spring break trip to Waco, Texas last month landed us at the Magnolia Market, the home of the design and decor empire founded by HGTV’s Chip and Joanna Gaines. We were well aware of the Gaines’ Christian faith before we arrived. And true to form,  beautiful items of home decor incorporating Bible verses into their designs surrounded us as we toured the store and grounds.

The sign in the picture above took me back to our wedding, on a muggy June day in 1985. It’s a complete rendering of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, known as the “Love Chapter.” And it’s beautiful.

Back in the mid-1980s, I didn’t know much about the verses in 1 Corinthians 13. I knew it was trendy to read those verses in Christian weddings, but that was about it. At the time, I’d been a Christian for only about 10 years. I was just 22, and hadn’t even begun to spiritually mature. Reading these verses at my wedding just made sense.

Now, after 34 years of marriage and a whole lot of living, it’s clear to me that these verses aren’t just for weddings.

“What’s love got to do with it?” Tina Turner asked in her iconic 1980s hit. And this question could easily represent our culture’s approach to life. Other than romantic love, which today is mixed up in so many ways, what does “love” have to do with business? With life? Consider this:

Who gets better results, the doctor with a terrible bedside manner, or the caring professional?

The secret of the care of the patient is caring for the patient. — Francis W. Peabody, M.D., 1925

Love is patient, love is kind.  – 1 Cor. 13:4

Which leader gets better results, the one who claims all the glory for himself, or the one who involves and gives credit to his team?

Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking. – 1 Cor. 13:4-5

Which police officer provides better public safety, the one who sees his beat as “just a job,” or the dedicated public servant who truly cares about the welfare of the community he serves?

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – 1 Cor. 13:7

Which teacher’s students perform better, the teacher who loathes spending time with children, or the one who cherishes the young lives he or she is entrusted with and wants to guide them on the path toward becoming strong, functioning adults?

And for you ladies, which hairsylist do you look forward to seeing again every four weeks, the one who only cares about collecting your fee, or the one who makes you feel beautiful just because of the time you spent with her?

And finally, who has the happier life, the one who holds on to perceived slights, or the one who freely forgives others?

Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. – Saint Augustine

Love keeps no record of wrongs. – 1 Cor. 13:5

So, as Tina asked, what does love have to do with it?  Only this:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. – 1 Cor. 1-3

Without love, whatever I say means nothing.

Without love, regardless of what I can do, I am nothing.

Without love, I gain nothing.

The bottom line? Love is…everything.

Coming Up for Air

Some life events just stop you in your tracks. Like my daughter’s wedding this past weekend, for example.  I wanted to continue writing lots of blog posts during the weeks leading up to the wedding day, really, I did.

But for some reason, I couldn’t.

Did I have time?  Yes, there were always times when I could pull myself away to write.

I was physically well, planning and preparation for the big day was stressful but moving forward, and the bride (and her Mom) seemed happy.

So why couldn’t I write during those weeks?  I just don’t know.

I was able to eke out one of my weaker posts, Talking to Myself, in those weeks, but it was unsatisfying and largely misunderstood. And I’m not saying the post you’re reading now is a lot better.

But writing today just feels different than it has for the past month.

I really like Mark Gungor’s description of the compartmentalized male psyche as a bunch of boxes that can never touch one another, and that each man can access only one of his boxes at a time.  To borrow his description, for the past month, it’s as if my “Writing” box wasn’t only closed, it had been moved off the premises.

Miraculously, my Writing box has returned, as quietly and mysteriously as it left. And I plan to spend a lot of time there in the coming weeks.

And in the Nothing box. Gotta spend some quality time there, too.

 

Oh, the Things You Can Think!

When I saw them growing on a fence last week, I was immediately taken back to childhood.

But not for the reasons you might think.

Oh, the things you can think!

I am definitely a child of the ’70s. And that means I grew up with a healthy dose of Dr. Seuss, both in school and on those animated specials on weeknight network TV. Those specials were “must see TV” back in the day, especially for kids like me but also for Mom and Dad. And the fencerow beauties in the picture above took me straight back to one of the more memorable ones.

The Lifted Lorax. His mission, should he choose to accept it (and he did), was to save the Truffula trees.

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The thought of a tree with a trunk but no branches and a tuft (or would that be a Truff?) of hair-like vegetation at the top just blew my 10-year-old mind. So imagine what happened to that 10-year-old mind (trapped in a 55-year-old body) when I saw this:

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They’re not trees, and they weren’t the amazing colors of Dr. Seuss, but they were there! A living organism, with a head of “hair!” Frozen in an ever-blowing gale. Now you, too, know the tale, of the Truffula vine of Lawrence, Kansas.

Man, I love Dr. Seuss.

 

 

 

Creativity

A street artist in Boulder. Tree leaves. Long blades of pampas grass. A few colorful flower petals. A large rock. Water. Put them all together and what do you get?

This. The creativity blew me away.

Dust from the earth. God’s breath in his nostrils. When God put just those two ingredients together in Genesis 2, what did he make?

He made Man.

Yes, the music playin’, temple buildin’, giant killin’, masterpiece writin’, space travelin’, puzzle solvin’, plant-art-on-a-flat-wet-rock makin’ man.

What God did? Now that’s creativity.

And he’s just getting started.

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RIP John Glenn. Quoting Vince Gill, from his song performed at my aunt’s funeral just a few weeks ago:

Go rest high on that mountain, for son, your work on Earth is done. Go to heaven a-shoutin’ love for the Father and the Son.