Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Thin Skin

   I'm writing from the island of Manhattan, where Julie, Sam, and Jack are helping me retrace much of a trip I took with my family a couple of decades ago. We are visiting sites that are historic and help us understand our past and some sites that are meaningful in the present. We are also going to stop at two baseball stadiums, for fun!
   This morning we were retracing the steps that over 12 million Americans made over a century ago. We took the ferry out to Liberty and Ellis Islands. This is American history. They are also significant to Julie's family, and the families of over 100 million Americans alive right now that trace their time in the United States back to Ellis Island. Julie's great-grandfather Natale DiNatale arrived here in June 1903 from his village in Italy on board the ship Montevideo. He was 17. Imagine how much courage that took. 
   One of the fascinating details of the morning was learning about the design of the Statue of Liberty. It was both a gift to the United States and a critique of the tyranny of the French ruler Napoleon III. It was also an engineering feat. While it looks like a solid piece of sculpted metal, it is actually a meticulously crafted series of cooper sheets that were attached to an inner metal frame of steel. The frame was designed by Gustave Effiel, three years before the tower that bears his name in Paris was erected. But, what shocked me was the fact that the actual width of the cooper skin of Lady Liberty is only 3/32", or the same as two pennies pressed together. 
   She has withstood hurricanes and so much more with such a thin skin. That takes courage and good design. I think we could learn a thing or two about living with thin skin. It requires forgiveness and grace. People will test you. How do we respond? Do we turn the other cheek or strike back? Do we admit when we're hurt or pretend to be able to take everything? This is the very stuff Jesus talked about. 
   Living with thin skin takes courage. For many of us, being so vulnerable is akin to sailing around the world and starting over in a brand new place. 
   May we all have such courage. Grace and peace, Scott

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