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Midweek Musing 5/26/2022

I have been struggling with this musing all week. I thought I had completed one and then the horrors of Robb Elementary school occurred.

Twenty-one lives lost. Twenty-one empty chairs at tables. Nineteen child sized coffins that had to be ordered because there were not enough in the funeral homes of that small town.

No one would ever have imagined such a horror and yet the truth is that we know it will occur again.

Anyway, I tried to share my thoughts on that tragedy but am unable to get it on paper yet. I get started and cannot finish. The anger and grief and pain overwhelm me, and tears fall where words were supposed to be written.

And yet in the midst of all of this there is still beauty and joy.

Often for me that joy is found in the children I am privileged to work with each day.

Their hugs and smiles and silliness and laughter and yes, their mischievousness and rambunctiousness simply bring me happiness.

While kids do have moments that add to my grey hair collection more often than not, they fill my soul with delight and light up my heart with a smile. Their sense of wonder and optimism and love are reminders that God’s creation of humanity is indeed very good. And they give me hope that a better world – one closer to the kingdom of God is actually possible.

Now some of my favorite kids are the ones that take life head on and live life on the edge of being in trouble. These kids attack life full speed. Often, I end up taking them on little walks around the building as sitting all day is just impossible.

I call these kids my Tom McCall’s. That name is based on a poem by one of my favorite poets the late Presbyterian elder and writer Anne Weems. It is about a child who witnessed to an entire congregation.

Sometimes when life is hard, I go back and reread this poem to remind me of the joy that is in the world even on the darkest of days. When I finish reading this, I always discover I have a smile as I remember all of my own Tom McCall’s that I have been blessed to know.

I hope her words will bring you a smile as well.


Prologue from the author Ann Weems.

A few years ago, there was a little boy in my church school class who was perpetual motion. He never sat down, and the teachers could not guess what he would do next. He moved away and I’ve lost track of the family, but I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Tom McCall.

I’ve always loved you, Tom McCall,

Of spirit large and figure small,

Since first we met in the church’s hall

And you stuck your tongue out, Tom McCall.

Tom McCall, all legs and feet,

Tom McCall never sits on the seat.

Tom McCall, your shirttail’s out.

Tom McCall, do you always shout?

Tom McCall, paint on your face,

Did you have to paint the rest of the place?

The choir children are in single file,

Looking angelic all the while.

Here comes one with a great big smile:

Tom is backing down the aisle.

Tom, your choir robe’s askew.

Tom, did it ever occur to you,

If you don’t watch out you’re going to fall…..

Now you’ve done it, Tom McCall!

Tom McCall, grin on your face,

You’ve melted hearts all over the place!

And then in church school late in fall,

We spoke of a child who had nothing at all.

Tom took his feet from the church school wall,

Emptied his pockets and gave his all.

Here’s to you, dear Tom McCall!

Tom McCall, all legs and feet.

Tom McCall, never sits on the seat.

Tom McCall, your shirttail’s out.

Tom McCall, do you always shout?

Tom McCall, paint on your face,

Tom McCall, child of grace.

from Reaching for Rainbows. Ann Weems, Westminster Press, Philadelphia,1980


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