Some of you may recall an article I wrote two years ago about a new passion for running I had developed. I related my excitement about using this solitary time to converse with God. Occasionally a Wesley parent will remember that article and ask “do you still run and pray?” I am proud to respond “yes” but the answer is somewhat more complex. My conversation with God is different now; there has been an evolution in the content of my prayers. Initially my prayer time focused on my concerns and challenges. I asked God for guidance and wisdom. I sorted through problems at home and at work, prayed for direction and grace, and listened quietly for God’s voice and peace.
After several months, I wondered if a different conversation would be more uplifting. I decided to change the nature of my prayer time during exercise, concluding that the communion should begin with gratitude and love for my many blessings. Not only did I begin thanking God for family and friends, but for the small moments of my day. I would recall hearing the simple laughter of your children, watching a teacher and child hug at the beginning of the day as if they had been separated for months, and listening to the joyful banter between teachers before school. On one day in particular I ran a long distance thanking God for our golden retriever who bounces like Tigger, loves unconditionally, and enjoys carrying our socks in her mouth. My focus was that God is good all the time and that gratitude is a conscious choice.
Several weeks ago I thought I needed to fine tune my prayer time again. I worry that society does not fully embrace the significance of respect and kindness towards others. On runs, I am trying to acknowledge the acts of kindness which I observe during the day and which I perform. I pray that Wesley Preschool staff model these qualities for the students and parents, and that our community fully embraces these virtues. Children see and hear how we treat others, and learn how we handle both easy and challenging situations. They know if we are the patron who pays it forward in the Starbucks line, if we respond to anger with dignity and kindness, if we help a stranger overwhelmed with a screaming child in the grocery store line, and if we take an extra minute to help an elderly person cross the street.
True respect and kindness for others, more than just a random act, but as a personal virtue, becomes much more possible when the love and peace of God rule our hearts. At the end of the day, we will be remembered for how we treated others. Let us together make the Wesley UMC Preschool a beacon of hope and love in our relationships with others.