Monday, February 27, 2012

Bicycle Balance

Me, the first time I rode a bike

“Do you remember the first time you rode a bicycle?”
My mind raced back to the sidewalk at my parents' house.  My sister and dad were going for a bike ride and I wanted to go…
“The first time you ‘got it’–bicycle balance, that is…”
I told them I could ride a two-wheeled bike.  I had watched and listened.  They told me I didn’t know how, but I knew I could do it…
“Bicycle balance is something you just ‘get’.  You are not falling anymore; you’re not afraid.  That’s when riding a bike becomes play.”
I have the best Senior Design professor.  He cares about us and our futures and he takes the time to invest in us.  Today, he told us about the importance of mastery, using the above analogy.  ”In your first five years of work,” he said, “you must continue to educate yourself.  You must work to rise above the 500 other new engineers.  Those are critical years when you distinguish yourself.  If you do that, you become invaluable, an asset.  You will not be the one getting a pink slip.”
“Is bicycle balance like a competence, and maybe some confidence?” I asked.
“No.  When you look around you will see many people falling.  You must get past the point of falling.  You need ‘bicycle balance’.  It is when you no longer work; it is when solving problems becomes play.  It is something for all careers, for all things.”
Bicycle balance.
Work becomes play.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Happily Ever After

The Return of the Prodigal Son by James Joseph Jacques Tissot
Have you ever read the story of the prodigal son?  If you haven't the story goes that a man has two sons.  The younger one essentially tells his father that he wishes his father was dead and demands his inheritance.  Then he moves away and squanders his entire inheritance.  He then gets a job at a hog farm feeding the animals, barely making ends meet.  After a while, he decides to go home and beg his father for a job as a hired hand, because as least his father is kind to his servants.

His father sees the son while the son is still far away and the father runs to meet him, gives his son a big hug and kiss, and then orders his servants to prepare a big party.  Why?  He tells us, "this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."

The meaning of this story comes from its context.  It is the last of three stories in a row that Jesus told a bunch of religious teachers while having dinner with them.  The first two end with the same moral: "that's the kind of party God's angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God (Lk. 15:10 MSG)."

The story ends during the party.  What happens next?  Happily ever after, right?

We don't know, because it doesn't say.

My guess?  He hurt his father again.  I think that there's really no such thing as "happily ever after".  I know that I do a lot of stupid things, and I don't think I'm too unlike the younger son in this story.

How many times does the father forgive his son?

How many times does God, the Father, forgive me?

And God never turns me away.  He never makes me a servant, to earn back his trust and my place in his family.  No, he grabs me up in his arms and squeezes me so hard I can barely stand it, kisses my forehead and throws a big "Welcome Home" party for me.

For the hundredth time.

And He never gets tired of it.