Saturday, September 27, 2014

Eugene Peterson on Christian Spirituality

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Thursday, September 04, 2014

Conversations with my Granddaughter on Friends

On friends
Conversations with my Granddaughter

Hi little one,
Grampa love seeing you in your imaginary play. You have a lot of imaginary friends with names like Ethan, Suwen and Catherine. You cook food for them, feed them and comfort them until their parents come to pick them. Your play was so realistic that Grampa often look at the friend you are talking to and surprised to see no one there. For a long time, your imaginary friends piqued Grampa’s curiosity. As a child, could it be possible that you can see the supernatural world which we big people cannot see? Are you interacting with some angelic beings and involving them in your play? Grampa must confess that there have been moments of panic when you invite your friends upstairs to play! You would be holding their hands and helping them to climb the stairs when all Grampa see is you alone on the staircase! You did not notice but sometimes Grampa will sweep his hands in the empty space where your friends are supposed to be. Silly Grampa. It was not until you came home with your class photo that we know who these imaginary friends are. There you are grinning, surrounded by many kids that are bigger than you. Some of them are at least a head taller than you. And neatly, below their faces, your teachers have helpfully labelled your friends’ names – Ethan, Suwen, Catherine…

Little one, it is good to have friends. Friends are people you like and who like you in return. You enjoy their company and playing with them. At this moment, your friends will be around your age but slowly you will discover that you can also make friends with people of different ages- boys, girls, and even big people! It like Peppa Pig who have a lot of friends. Out of all these friends, Peppa has Suzy Sheep which is her ‘very best friend’. And you have watched how Peppa and her friends have fun, play games, get wet, jump in the mud puddles, and look after one another. That is what friends are for. Friends are people you play and have fun with. These people are also ones who care for you, love you and look out for you. And you enjoy spending time together. Piglet asked Winnie the Pooh bear “We’ll be friends forever, won’t we, Pooh?” Pooh answered, “Even longer.”

You will find, little one, that as you grow older, it is harder and harder to find true friends. That is why many big people do not have many real friends. There will be people who want to be your friend so that you can do something for them. Others will want to be your friend because of who your Daddy and Mummy are. Still others will want to be your friend because of who you have become, so that they will reflect your glory. Shun them all except the true friend who loves you and enjoy being with you. A wise ancient big person named Socrates described a friend as one soul in two bodies. Another big person Rudyard Kipling who wrote the Jungle Book describe a friend in his poem as The Thousandth Man. Grampa will explain more when you grow older.

Now just go and play with your friends – whether in school or at home. Grampa understands how you think; there is no separation between real and imaginary persons in your world at this moment. It does not matter that educators named your thinking as concrete. Who cares? Just enjoy playing with your friends.

Dear God,
Please send many friends to accompany this little one on her journey. Let them be true friends of different gender, race and creed. May she learn to be a true friend to them all.



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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Conversations with my Granddaughter on Reading

On words and reading

Conversations with my granddaughter

Hello little one,

Grampa is very happy that you are familiar with the 26 little letters called alphabets. These are like your Duplo bricks. You can fit them together to make things called words. Each word has a special meaning. You almost bowled us over in surprise when you came home from school one day and told us that ‘A’ is for alligator. Such a long word. When Grampa was your age, Grampa only know ‘A’ is for apple.

Words come together to make sentences but you already knew that as you have been speaking in sentences for a few months. And your vocabulary is increasing by leaps and bounds. Remember when we were watching a fish in an aquarium. You noticed the fish does not have what you describe as ‘covering’ over the eyes. Grampa then taught you a new word, ‘eyelids’. And you spend the evening looking at everyone’s eyelids.

Little one, Grampa is sure that you know the words you are using correspond to the black letters on the pages of a book. That is why you insist that your Mummy or Daddy or Grandma read to you every night before you fall asleep. You instinctively know that these words and sentences make up stories about black birds, pie, queens, falling bridges and a spider that wants to climb up a water sprout. You grew up with books. From your perspective the bookshelves in Grampa’s study are mountains of books.

Grampa is glad that you respect books. You are so happy to have a bookmark for your bedtime storybook similar to those bookmarks you see Grampa and Grandma using for our books. And you do not make marks in Grampa’s books, limiting your drawing and colouring to your own sticker book. Books are to be respected, little one, for they are doorways to awe and wonders, peace and joy, challenge and fulfilment, and ultimately the conveyer of Truth. Your books may be digital in the future but they are still books.

Learning to read is hard work. It will be challenging but Grampa hope that you will persevere. It is Grampa’s hope that you develop a love for books, similar to the love of books that both your Mummy and Ah Yee has acquired. Grampa hope that your reading will help you in discovering new worlds and new civilizations. And these in turn will lead you to boldly go where no little one has gone before. There is a wonderful magnificent world out where, and to be found within you; to be enjoyed if you know how to read.

However, there is no hurry, little one. Take your time. Play with Grampa’s books in the meantime. Use them to make a river for you to jump over, or construct a boat for you and your friends to sail in. Books are your friends, little one. They are happy for you to use them as construction blocks until you know how to read and discover the treasures within.

Dear God,
Please teach this little one to read and instill in her a love of reading and of books. Help her to discover the worlds of imagination and of ideas through the words in books. Lead her to discover You in Your Word, which is the Book of books and the Word of words.


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