Etchings in the Sand…

Thoughts and Photos from the Desert…

Category Archives: Youth

Twitter and FaceBook. What are they creating?

An editorial in this morning’s NYTimes raises the question: are Twitter and FaceBook creating a generation of air-heads – or does it just seem that way?

Please discuss…


I’ve Stayed Too Long At The Fair…

Yep. Sometimes the only options are to hold my coffee in one hand and slowly shake my grizzled head in wonder.

I read several pieces from teens and twenty-somethings each day on FaceBook and different blogs. It can be disquieting.

It seems that most of them are miserable WHERE THEY ARE and longing to be somewhere else. This never stops – a recurring theme. Suffering. Suffocating.

This morning a granddaughter who just returned from a vacation bemoans the fact that she is no longer there. Several comments from fellow students confess that they too are miserable because they aren’t somewhere else. This is a recurring pattern. They seem to wish they were back home, back at school, on a cruise, anyplace but where the cruel fates have placed them. One hopes that before long they learn the fine art of truly enjoying being where they are. That’s a significant part of maturity.

The second thing that raised my eyebrows this morning was the announcement that FaceBook is planning a new program that features a map that identifies at a glance where each of your “friends” are. It tracks their every movement.

I can imagine that certain personality types would be fascinated to be able to know exactly where Johnny or Mary might be. Parents would love to be able to track their kids or even their spouses by the minute. As an INTJ and a very private person, nothing would be worse. How open should one’s life be?

In my working days, I was one of those whose life was a matter of interest to many. I lived with that without problems. Knew it was like that when I signed on as clergy. But when I retired I quickly relished  my newly-found privacy. I realized that it was truly “none of anyone’s damned business” (to coin a phrase) where I was or what I was doing. What a happy relief! What a gift.

FaceBook can teach that lesson very quickly to a generation of people who long to be noticed – or something.

Regarding Daughters…

As is so often the case, Garrison Keillor has some interesting poetic insights into the strange world of bringing up daughters. If this triggers a response, read on…

Prayer for Our Daughters
by Mark Jarman
May they never be lonely at parties

Or wait for mail from people they haven’t written

Or still in middle age ask God for favors

Or forbid their children things they were never forbidden.

May hatred be like a habit they never developed

And can’t see the point of, like gambling or heavy drinking.

If they forget themselves, may it be in music

Or the kind of prayer that makes a garden of thinking.

May they enter the coming century

Like swans under a bridge into enchantment

And take with them enough of this century

To assure their grandchildren it really happened.

May they find a place to love, without nostalgia

For some place else that they can never go back to.

And may they find themselves, as we have found them,

Complete at each stage of their lives, each part they add to.

May they be themselves, long after we’ve stopped watching.

May they return from every kind of suffering

(Except the last, which doesn’t bear repeating)

And be themselves again, both blessed and blessing.


“Prayer for Our Daughters” by Mark Jarman, from Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems. © Sarabande Books, 2011. Reprinted with permission.


There’s so much here that bears serious reflection – and perhaps a few salty tears. So much wisdom, unanticipated but appreciated and stretching at the same time.

Belief in Santa?

I came upon this blog this morning from the Christian Century and thought it well worth sharing.

My daughter the Santa believer
Dec 14, 2010 by Julie Clawson
We tried to be those parents. We tried to tell our daughter that Santa Claus isn’t real.

We knew that this could get her in trouble at some point, that chaos would ensue if she destroyed the innocent faith of her kindergarten classmates with a declaration of Santa-atheism. Yet we did it anyway, perhaps to always tell her the truth about the world, perhaps to preserve the religious focus of the holiday. Whatever our reasons, the project didn’t work.

Early on she went along with our attempts. She even laughed at the silliness of Grandpa suggesting we put out milk and cookies on Christmas Eve. But as she matured to the more social age of four, everything changed. Her assertions to her Sunday school class and preschool that Santa isn’t real were met with uniform disagreement; she was outnumbered. Every single other child she knew believed in Santa, so the logical conclusion must be that her parents were wrong. She informed us without hesitation.

But around the same time, my daughter decided that the Christmas story–as in the whole Mary, Joseph, angels and baby Jesus tale–is just too far-fetched to be real. So I was stuck with a preschooler who believed in Santa but not in the Bible.

Strangely enough, I was okay with that. I didn’t care that the preschool constituency was against me; my daughter’s conversion woke me up to what it means to convey truth to her. I realized that our understandings of truth are communally created–the truths I want my daughter to understand have to make sense within the communal narrative of her world. The truth of the Christmas story is about more than historical veracity. And the Santa story provides space for meaning as well.

There will be time to explore the complexities of the historical Christmas story, but for now I am content to work within my daughter’s understanding of the world to kindle faith and encourage a love of meaningful truths.
Tags: belief christmas meaning santa santa claus
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Santa belief new
Posted by Anonymous on Dec 14, 2010 – 05:57 pm.
I’m so glad to read that your experience with your daughter has caused you to reconsider the communal “truth” of Santa. My husband and I have found that the “Santa” story provides a child-size picture of the Gospel of Grace, whereas the Biblical Christmas story is difficult to grasp even for grown-ups. In Santa, children have unmerited favor (I know, I know, there’s the whole “naughty or nice” thing, but how many parents actually withhold gifts for behavior problems?), realized in gifts freely given and accompanied by hope, anticipation and joy. Sounds like good news to me…..

We’ve always tied Santa Claus closely to the historical St. Nicholas and Who he served, and only allowed our children to ask “Santa” for three gifts (the Magi), reminding them of Jesus’s first birthday gifts. As they have developed spiritually, it has been a natural transition for them from Santa to Emmanuel. After all, if you can’t believe in the unbelievable grace of Santa Claus as a child, the ground may prove unfertile for the unfathomable Grace of God as a grown-up.

He Beat The Old, Old Man…

I was a country fair miler back in high school and college days. For years I’ve mentally strutted a bit when I remembered the day my coach told me I had broken the Connecticut state high school track record for the mile. 4:48. Whether or not that was true I can’t swear to, but it has made me feel pretty good – even now.

Now, this upstart kid:

Guy named Michael Bourland from Neenah, Wisconsin tells me he did a 4:44! I guess it’s OK since he’s my grandson. And from Wisconsin. Two definite plusses.

I’m proud…


“As I approve of a youth who has something of the old man in him, so I am no less pleased with an old man who has something of the youth.”