High River United Church of High River, Alberta


Our Children's Future: A Bucket List of Inspiration

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What will my children’s future be like?  It is a question that we all ponder as parents/grandparents, sometimes with hope, sometimes with fear.  Yet, I believe that we have much more to do with shaping that future than we might sometimes feel we have.  This week, to wrap up this series, I’m thinking about inspiration for our young people.


Our youngest has been busy applying to and then auditioning for Bachelor of Music piano performance programs.  He is blessed to be sitting with two offers from universities – and he has to decide by the end of this week which one he will accept.  His high school music teachers gave him this advice: Don’t accept one that will place you at the top of the pack.  Pick one where there will be enough students better than you so that you have something for which to strive, people to inspire you to do your best.  Words of wisdom!


Who has been your inspiration in life?  When I think of my inspiration, I think of my Grade 3 teacher, Miss Warkentin, who had lived in Africa for many years.  I think of Rev. Morse Johnson, the minister at Acme United during my teen years, with his deep heart of faith and unconditional acceptance of people.  I think of my paternal great aunts – Jenny, Olga, Stella & Levina – who were loving, accepting & joyful, who could argue with each other and love each other all at the same time, and who filled me up with the best food – perogies, cabbage rolls, and more.  I think of my own parents who have shown me a life of compassion, caring and hospitality, with their deep passion for young people and anyone who has had a difficult go in life.


We all need someone to inspire us.  We all need to aspire to be the best we can be, to stretch and grow in our gifts and capabilities, even while being loved and accepted just as we are.  Who is inspiring your children, my children?  What goals are they aspiring to do? Who are they aspiring to be like?  Are you someone in whom your children and grandchildren might find inspiration?


At a church banquet this past Saturday, several people spoke about the vision they saw for our congregation.  The vision that unfolded was one of being a place of welcoming hospitality, a safe and caring place, and a place of inspiration.  One woman spoke of an idea she had heard which was a twist on the usual bucket list of experiences to have and places to go.  She talked about her bucket list of ways that she wanted to give to others and inspire others before she died.  She described our congregation as a place in which she was inspired by the generation of elders who were demonstrating such giving and caring.  As she moved toward retirement, this was her bucket list.


Where are our young people getting their inspiration?  We have become such a peer oriented culture, where we group children in narrow age groupings, rather than in broad multi-generational settings.  In so many ways, our children are being oriented to look to their peers for inspiration rather than to those who are older.  While occasionally they can find inspiration from peers, this isn’t really the place to turn for inspiration.  It really should be those who are older who are providing the inspiration – giving younger ones something to which to aspire. (Pre-schoolers looking to 10 year olds, 9 year olds looking to 16 year olds, 14 year olds looking to 40 year olds, all kids looking to those 65 plus – you get the idea!!!) Like my son was told, we need someone who will really challenge us to grow and improve and develop – and that works best when it is someone older and more experienced.


So how am I, and how are you, seeking to be inspiring, not only to our own young people but to other people’s children and grand-children?  What is our inspiration bucket list?  How do we want to make a difference? How are we already seeking to make a positive, compassionate difference?  We just never know when we might be inspiring someone.  From the things our children or grand-children say, we might never get the sense that our words and actions are inspiring. But they are watching us!!


The word “inspire” means literally to breathe into or upon – to breath life into someone or something. To “aspire” means “to breathe in.”  So when we inspire someone, we are breathing life into them – the life of an idea, a possibility, a hope, a dream.  When they aspire to be like us, they are breathing in our energy, our compassion, our imagination, our hope.  Awesome, isn’t it? But also daunting.


Of course, all of our inspiration and aspiration comes from the One who is the source of breath and life --as it says in Acts 17:28, the One in whom we live and move and have our being.  In the beginning, God breathed life into all of creation.  God’s energy, love and vision for the world has inspired us from that day to this.  Jesus carried the breathe of God’s vision and many aspired to follow it.  Many of us, too, have been inspired by the Way Jesus lived God’s vision, loving God, loving neighbour, loving self as well as welcoming the stranger and offering compassion to those considered enemies. 


As we dream of our children’s and grand-children’s futures, we have the opportunity to be the ones who inspire, modelling and demonstrating how we are inspired by God and how we aspire to be like others who have lived with vision, with hope, with imagination & with compassion.  It is not about convincing young people that they should be inspired by our vision or that they must believe in God.  It must not involve complaining about the younger generation and how they aren’t living up to our expectations. Rather it is about each of us living and breathing the hope, the love, the compassion, the generousity every day, aspiring in ourselves to a deeper faith, a faith that oozes out of our pores.  We can not force others to be inspired by our actions – never!  But we can choose to live in a way that just might be inspiring!  We can talk about what and who inspires us.  We can share our continuing aspirations for our own lives. We can let God’s inspiration continue to fill and enliven us.


So what is your bucket list of inspiration & aspirations – how do you want to make a positive, compassionate difference?  Then breathe in the inspiration of God and go for it!

March 30, 2017                                    ©Susan Lukey 2017

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123 MacLeod Trail S.W. High River, Alberta.

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