Before cable television there was the antenna. Some of us may remember rabbit ears on the TV set that we twisted and adjusted and even added foil to so that we could get a good picture. Then the super antenna came out. This took care of clarifying the picture, adjusting the color and sharpening the words on the screen just by turning a knob on the operating apparatus.
Such things are still around, mostly left there after cable was installed. We have one on the roof of the building where I work. Its arms reach out all four ways, searching the best path to pick up the waves that brought us pictures in the several rooms of our building.
It was really a marvel, lost now in the advanced technology of cable. It fascinates me still. All those arms kept reaching out to bring in something good to whomever chose to make use of it. The many arms were required to pick up diversified sensations.
That is like adjusting what you have to say to your audience. We can talk to children about the beauties of nature mostly by commenting while they are having the experience.
For example, Kevin was 1 ½ years old, and in the group of 8 babies entrusted to the care of another woman and me. He was a biter. Let him get a bit frustrated and he would bite the child who bothered him. One morning he and another tot got into a fight. (Can you imagine a fight between two 18 month-old boys?!) I separated them into opposite corners of the room.
It happened that I had brought 8 daffodils to work that day. So I put a flower in the hands of each of these two ruffians. It was the first time Kevin and Jake had ever touched a natural flower. Kevin particularly, kept touching the stem, eyes wide with wonder. When he discovered the bloom, I thought he would poke his little fingers into the bowl, or pull the petals off. But no, he petted the petals, with such tenderness, I almost teared. That gave me some insight as to how I might deter him from biting by appealing to his tender side. Jake in the meantime was swinging his daffodil back and forth like a flag at a parade.
When we speak of God and the marvelous and diverse ways we find God with us, we might think of the antenna. We tell others in our own way of the marvels God has given, but we must also be sure to speak in the words and manner of the people we address. A daffodil to an adolescent may not reach him as it did Kevin. And a 350 page book may not either.
Reach out. Find a way to bring the outrageous generosity and mercy of God to all you encounter. Begin with a glance that from your eyes speaks kindness, to your smile that speaks love, and to your arms that open to all. It matters not if they are sweet or cranky, tender or tough, clean or dirty, young or old. Like the antenna, reach out all ways and always. You will find a path that brings the message in. Hope always finds a way.
Live in Hope,
Oldenburg Franciscan Center
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg