Notes from Jan

By Flying Leaps and Bending Low

August 28, 2023

It happened at Target. As I left the restroom, I turned to walk down the hallway that emptied into the store. I spotted an old man, bent in half, facing the other way, hands on knees. I was about to ask if he was okay, when I heard a squeal and the sound of feet running behind me. In a flash a giggling boy raced as fast as small legs could go, then took a flying leap onto the back of the old man. I watched as the man contorted his arms to hoist the boy higher up until those chubby arms reached his old, wrinkled neck. No generation gap. As one, they giggled and galloped away, leaving joy in their wake.

Faith’s like that sometimes. A giant leap fueled by experience or hope that, when needed, arms or a net will catch us. But sometimes faith nudges us to be the catcher, the one bent in half, anticipating needs, willing to bend low to lift another.

I thought about that today, the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington. You know, the day thousands showed up not with shotguns but hope-full songs like “We shall overcome someday.” They took leaps of faith to march for that which belongs to ALL God’s children. I was nowhere near there. As a newlywed I was all into Jud and me. Not concerned about a world beyond my small one.

And that’s still a challenge. If it’s not about me or mine, it’s easy to leave it to them. Whoever the them is on any given day. But during our marriage I learned much from Jud, a Micah man. He taught me by his life to take leaps of faith and be willing to bend. To vote and care about justice and mercy issues beyond me or my tribe.

As to Micah 6:8 it says,“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV)

While I’m not always sure how that looks, I pray to be teachable. And to be willing to take flying leaps of faith or be like that old man, bending low to give someone a lift. To risk lifting someone higher than my selfish, fearful self.

And just maybe, leave some joy in our wake.

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  • Reply Dale August 28, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    Thanks Jan. When we have stopped learning we have stopped living. Life is great teacher if we are open. Praise dear friend, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 28, 2023 at 5:23 pm

      So much still to learn, always. Thanks for being one of my teachers, dear friend. Hope you and Marty are having a great day at your lake house, where the pace and beauty teach life lessons.

  • Reply Maggie Rowe August 28, 2023 at 1:36 pm

    Jan, I was thinking about MLK’s memorable speech this morning too, wondering “what I can do” about racial justice from my 70-year-old perch here in the mountains where we have almost zero ethnic diversity (unless you count the Scots and Irish as diverse enough.) Your statement needs to be heeded throughout our world: “If it’s not about me or mine, it’s easy to leave it to them. Whoever the them is on any given day. ” Lord, help me to join “them” – whoever and wherever they might be!

  • Reply Jan Carlberg August 28, 2023 at 5:32 pm

    That’s my heart and prayer, too, dear Maggie. The Bible’s full of stories of Jesus showing us how to reach out to, love and lift up those outside “our circle.” Tribalism and personal preferences to hang out only with “my kind” aren’t new notions.

  • Reply Wendy Lane September 20, 2023 at 5:27 pm

    I too pray to be more teachable, less selfish and fearful, more faith-filled with overflowing joy that blesses others. You seem that way to me Jan. Always have. Love you.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 21, 2023 at 4:47 pm

      Thanks, dear Wendy. Life bends us one way or another. Then we have to choose to use it to curl into ourselves or lift someone higher than we are.

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