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physics and the gentleman

Sixth Grade Science

Mr. Rolfs was in his forties and of average height and weight. His hair always neatly cut and yet slightly overgrown. His mustache was full and bushy while the rest of his face was clean-shaven. His glasses were minimalistic, and for some reason, I imagined him always wearing a red plaid shirt and khaki pants.

We all sat talking at our desks as Mr. Rolfs made his way to the front of the room and subsequently drew our attention to himself. I had never really liked science but Mr. Rolfs, my sixth grade science teacher, had a way of making it fun and interesting.

As Mr. Rolfs gained our attention, he asked us a question: Could two people occupy the same space at the same time? Many of us, including myself, quickly answered yes. I imagined something like two people sitting right next to one another or shoulder to shoulder sharing a seat. It seemed entirely possible to put two people in the same place at one time.

He called two of my male classmates up to the front with a smile. He pointed to a spot in front of him and told them both to stand in it. I think he had even made a masking tape circle. My classmates were as big and burly as middle schoolers get and now their pride was on the line.

Both boys shoved one another, shoulder to shoulder, while pushing their way into that one masking tape circle. Mr. Rolfs looked on, smiling, and we all watched the mini turf war unfold before us.

A Little Attempt at Physics

We all saw that although they were taking turns in that one space, or partially in that one space, both could not remain in that one space simultaneously. Mr. Rolfs sent them back to their seats, knowing his visual had laid the foundation of helping us to understand the law of physics that says that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time.

(A side note to all you wonderfully science-minded people: I’m no expert in physics and I’m working off of a 6th grade visual here. I’m just sure that Pauli’s Exclusion Principle is more specific and includes qualifier words like fermion, electron, and boson to help define the law and I apologize for not fully exploring that… all that being said, I would be so thankful for some grace on the topic.)

Masking Tape Circle

Lent is coming, and as I’ve prayed about what it will look like for me this year, I can’t stop thinking about the image of my two classmates pushing one another to occupy that one masking tape circle.

Most of the time, my planner is filled with a list of things that fight for priority in my life and in my mind. I fill my week with to-do’s, and I start progressing through my list, planning what will go into each moment. Phone calls come up, timers ring, urgent needs arise and shove their shoulder into those designated spaces just like my classmates did in that masking tape circle so many years ago.

What I begin to see as I consider how Mr. Rolfs’ visual applies to the Lenten season is that it extends into how my space and time cannot be occupied by two things. One of them will win out, or I will give half my time and half my heart to each one.

On Fasting

Lent means so much to me. It’s my best and worst time of the year every year since I started observing it in my early twenties. I’ve refrained from sharing about my past Lent observances in this blog and if that’s irritating, I’m sorry. I realize that makes things a bit elusive but I don’t want to add them because I want to leave it open. One of my favorite parts about Lent preparation each year is the creative ideas Jesus brings to me as I pray for direction.

If you plan to observe Lent, I encourage you to join me in praying for what unique idea Jesus has for you as you empty space in your circle and invite Him in.

And check out Isaiah 58 for a look at True Fasting.

Inviting the Gentleman

Lent is a season when I can daily empty one masking tape circle of time and invite Jesus into it. I say invite because I don’t think Jesus operates like my middle school classmates. He’ll respect my space and wait until I want Him and invite Him in. Jesus remains ever a gentleman and gives me free will to choose to open the door to His knock.

During Lent, I can choose to fast (abstain) from something and open the door to invite Jesus in. There seems to be value in not just taking something away but inserting a holy practice like silence, prayer, listening or walking in its place.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. - Revelation 3:20

Consider praying for new ways to observe Lent. Feel free to be creative, even discussing ideas and following up with friends.

 

Post by Randa Smith (CG West). 

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