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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Friday, September 08, 2006

2006 High School Retreat:
"Stick to it" is this year's official theme, but
"Don't be a cow, Man!" worked pretty well.

"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid." Proverbs 12:1 Whoa! Are you sure the Bible says the word "stupid?" Well, the NIV translates it that way. It's not a word educators are comfortable with, but in our opening session, Mr. R [our speaker] told us that his Hebrew teacher said the original word [translated as stupid in the NIV] means... "like a cow."

I like cows; I like milk; and as Wilber in Charlotte’s Web says, I even like the smell of a barn--manure and all; and I don't think cows are particularly stupid (in the animal kingdom), but to put it bluntly… the life of cows, like most barn animals, can be boiled down to bodily functions: they eat and excrete, and do it pretty much at their leisure. In fact, they do things humans do in private very much in the open whenever they feel like it. So the proverb could be paraphrased, "If you want to walk a path of wisdom, get used to discipline, but if you hate correction you'll eventually live like a cow." (Remember... the prodigal son did not turn his life around until he was living like a pig with the pigs.)

Don't be a cow, Man! was an underlying theme of all three messages shared over the two-and-a -half day retreat. The warning was not an insult. Every student knew exactly what it meant: Don't reduce yourself to thoughtless functions; don't settle for less than your high calling in Christ Jesus. We are called to be more than cows and discipline is a part of that calling. Setting goals is not enough, we must also assess the obstacles that come with worthy goals and strive to “stick to it” as we press toward the mark.

This was my 26th consecutive "first week" high school event of this kind, and it was one of the best among those I still recall. For starters, we were at a great camp with unbelievable facilities, food, and friendly staff, but what made the retreat itself great was a camaraderie and unity between the classes, students and faculty. That intangible “chemistry” is not always evident at the start of a school year. The events, chapels, “free time,” and campfire testimonials were something many of us will remember for years to come. Now comes the challenge... to strive, to persevere, to stick to it.

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P.S. Since I alluded to Charlotte's Web above, I should say that E.B. White's classic fable is wonderful story of Christ-like sacrifice and love in which the cast of barnyard characters depict the best of human behavior. Click here to enjoy the months of anticipation for this coming film starring Dakota Fanning. I have directed the stage adaptation of this tale on two occasions. The theme of the story was underscored by my father's death two weeks before opening night in 1995. The cast really pulled together for us during that time. This is a very powerful story that transcends its "kiddy lit" genre.

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