Sid and I tell Lincoln what we really think

 

And then we present him with his high school diploma.

It is hard to hear me talking, so if you don’t want to struggle through that, just skip to the 5 minute mark where Sid shares his Lincoln story.  His voice carries better than mine, plus he is funnier.  I include a transcript of my “speech” below, since it is easier to read me than to hear me.

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Lincoln, “I admire you dreadfully.”

I am borrowing a statement your daddy once said to me.  And though I am still working out exactly what he meant when he spoke those words to me,

(looking at Sid, “I’ll get back to you on that one day”)

I know exactly what I mean when I say them to you.

“I admire you dreadfully.”

I use the word “dread” here with its sense of “awe.”  You inspire me, Lincoln.  You set a high bar for me, your Mama, to live up to.

Yes, you are smart, write a pretty entertaining essay, are a skilled musician and got some dance moves.  And while I certainly can’t live up to the music or dance skills, the part of you I find most awesome is how you live out your relationships, which is to say how you love God.  We can’t have one without the other.  One cannot love God without being love to people, We must be “walking temples” as NT Wright says, creating safe places for people to be.

You understand that Love is not a general, vague feeling of wishing good for someone.  You actively DO good things.

For me, one of the good things you do is repent.  If sin is defined as “missing the mark” and repent is defined as “making a 180 degree turn around, to change your direction,” then you are the most repentant person I know.

Not because you “miss the mark” more than most.  You have a clear eye on the RIGHT target, that goal of being love to others.  But you are finely tuned to notice when you even slightly glance away from the mark.

You have practiced that habit of “turning away” from a slightly questionable response to a better, more right one.  I have watched you do this in the smallest interactions – with me, with your sisters, your brother — basically those you live with and who have the capacity to cause you the most annoyance and test your patience.

 

“I’m sorry.  I sounded impatient,” you might say.

“Forgive me. It’s not you, I’m tired and grouchy,” I’ve heard you say.

“I should not have spoken to you in that way,” you have said.

 

In your smallest interactions, the ones most people view as trivial, or not even think about at all, you are aware of others, their feelings, and how you might negatively or positively impact their life.  You catch yourself in the moment, turn yourself around and redeem the slightest impatient word or irritable action.

You are less interested in proving yourself to be RIGHT, than you are in being a man of great kindness and mercy.

That is Love, Lincoln.  You do it so well.  And those of us in relationship with you feel so cherished.

We often think of parents as molding and shaping their children’s behavior, but that does not work in just one direction.  Lincoln, you have shaped and are continuing to shape me.

Lincoln’s Bio

One of the funnest things I get to do as a homeschool mom is plan my kid’s graduation.  I get to write a bio for the program, create a slideshow of his life, and present his diploma to him.  And since I’m his mom, I get a special dispensation to be proud and mushy.  It is like a Law.  Or something.

So!

I present Lincoln’s bio that will appear in the graduation program in a few weeks.

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“Dad taught me to control my anger, but Mom taught me that it is okay to be angry.”

—Lincoln James Gaskins

 

Lincoln is book-smart and talented, for which his parents are thankful, but they are most proud of the attributes for which he had to work hard.

He honors the vulnerable, whether that is a little sister, a grandmother, or a lonely person he meets in his day-to-day.  He challenges authority to behave better.

He takes risks, putting on a pink, sequined jacket and walking onto a stage to belt out a song in a huge theater when he feels like vomiting.

He has endured a storm that ripped through his life, stole his security, challenged everything he thought he knew to be true, and he turned to provide a safe haven for his younger sisters.

Lincoln is a man who puts aside his own comfort for the sake of others.

He dares to ask the big questions about God, life, and what it means to love and do good.  He is wise enough to know that he does not have all the answers, and that it is the questions that are important anyway.

At 17 years old, he has learned enough wisdom to recognize his many weaknesses.  He knows that his anger can consume him, that he has biases he knows about and those he doesn’t, that he avoids making decisions.

He is funny, kind, still kisses his mama and has a strong sense of justice.

In August, Lincoln will attend UNC Charlotte where he will play his cello, nerd out on music theory and play as many instruments as his fingers can touch.  Eventually, he will complete a degree in Music Education.

He plans to share a 12’ x 15’ dorm room with his older brother, Sidney, so he would appreciate prayers.

Infinite Christmas

Relaxed around the Christmas table, warm, replete,

all the time in the world to think of bigger things,

we are the privileged ones.

“There are different kinds of Infinity,” my son said.

His brother’s face reflects my own disbelief.

But isn’t Infinity infinity?

Eager, my son jumped up and drew a number line on the dining room chalkboard.

“The Infinite set of all numbers between zero and one

is larger than the Infinite set of all whole numbers,” he insisted.

How can this be?

Surely it is impossible,

a definite boundary,

the boundary beginning with zero and ending in one,

is no boundary at all.

It is both and.

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I like to think that Love is Infinite.

At least some Love is, the cynical part of me whispers, but

Other people hoard something they call Love, yet . . .

Are there different kinds of Love?

That boundary I find impossible to scale,

that wall I build between me and the other,

can Love expand, fill it up and move beyond,

a limitlessness existing within imposed limits?

Easier to understand what is finite, within lines, boxed, defined.

We are primed to expect scarcity —

The beginning and ending of a life,

the last brownie in the pan,

a few dollars in the bank account,

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches in a terrarium,

laughing together as we pull mystery gifts from stockings,

this is what we know.

 

We speak of Infinity and Love

as if they can be defined and explained.

We do the same with Truth

and Paradox.

My tongue cannot speak of these things,

my lips unable to form their shape,

They are beyond the veil

but I divine their presence,

an umbilical cord connecting me to

Whom I came from,

 

who confined Himself to flesh and blood,

to the margins of zero and one,

yet human life could not restrain

Her

He showed Herself to be

Infinity, Love, Truth, Paradox

with a beating heart, dusty feet, gentle hands,

a tired sigh,

so ordinary to the naked eye

with the vibrations of extraordinary

for the attuned ear.

 

This is also what I know —

If my Love feels small and limited,

let’s say that on a scale of 0 to 10,

I feel caught between zero and one.

And yet,

perhaps,

maybe

my stingy, narrow Love

is also boundless and all-encompassing,

as beyond comprehension

as Infinity between zero and one.

 

A 2-minute clip

from Prairie’s Violin Recital.

Sid suggested that I make a highlight clip from Prairie’s half hour recital for those rare people who don’t have the time or inclination to listen to a 30 minute recital.

So, we highlighted Devil’s Dream, not because it is her best song. It is not.  Not because she plays it flawlessly.  She doesn’t.  But because it is fun, makes us happy and because we can see our shy girl is breaking out and shining her quirky, fun personality in her own quiet way, even when she is scared.  Play on, brave girl.