Ruth Woodliff-Stanley

Year B

First Sunday in Lent


February 21, 2021

Revised Common Lectionary

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to Paintbox. If you're new to the site, you can learn more by visiting the about page. Each week you'll find links to interdisciplinary lessons followed by my collecting question for the week and then my personal reflection.

This week, I've been thinking about the act of cherishing.


Business & Technology

Building organisational resilience: Role of cherishing at work

Rabindra Kumar Pradhan

Article summarizing reserach on relationship of being cherished and demonstrating effective leadership in the workplace.

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Can you remember an experience of being cherished?


A while back, in what seems another lifetime after this past year of no air travel, as my son John and I waited to board a plane, I watched a father and his little toddler son.

The boy’s father lifted him into the air and pressed his face against the window pane. He pointed to a plane just beyond the window, saying, “Look, see the wings? See the wheels?” I was captivated. Not only or even primarily by his words, but more, much more by his tone--it was the tone of cherishing.

We boarded the plane, and the boy and his father and mother sat across the aisle from my son and me. From time to time, I noticed them--their easy way, the father’s intermittent rising to walk his young son up and down the aisle, cajoling and comforting him. It occurred to me that this cherishing I witnessed would be the foundation for the boy’s entire adventure.

I found myself wondering about their lives. We see only the surface, the barest hint of the full picture. There is always more. You cannot see the sacrifice, the loss, the heartache, the growth, the work that goes into that moment at the window.

But then again, you can see it. You can see it intuitively.Not spelled out syllable by syllable, but tucked inside the way a person’s arms move, or the tone of voice in the phrases you hear.“See the wings?Look at the wheels.”It’s all there, we just have to learn to see it.

Somewhere along the way, someone else offered their energy and lifeblood to give that father the love, the strength, the presence he needed to be in that moment, lifting his boy to the window.

And somewhere in a future we cannot yet see, it is that father’s unspoken prayer that the little boy will lift someone else to see something wonderful.

We do so much in our lives to prepare us to be people who can cherish and be cherished. And others before us did the same.

In today’s gospel, a prayer Isaiah had uttered centuries before Jesus stood in the Jordan—Oh that you would tear open the heavens and come down—is answered the moment Jesus rises out of the waters, newly baptized. The heavens are torn open.

Like a runner breaking the finish line, panting full press toward Jesus, God bursts in. The first act between the Father and the Son when Jesus emerges from the water is cherishing.

This moment between the Father and the Son, like the one at the airport window, contained centuries of lifeblood we do not see, but sense. Reaching back to the prophets, back to Moses, to wars, oppression, captives and captors—back through all the struggle and pain and longing that led to the possibility within Jesus. Possibility that would be unleashed in the act of the Father’s cherishing.

Contained in this moment—“Behold my son…with whom I am well pleased,…” was the strength Jesus would need for the immediate and longer term challenges ahead. Soon after this exchange, Jesus goes alone to the wild place where he must face his demons to be prepared for his life’s work. Just before this wilderness, God’s first act is to cherish him.

Your life begins with God’s first act—cherishing you. You may not know or believe you are cherished. But if that’s true, discovering you are wrong will be your most important life’s work.

It is because God presses your face to the window pane and shows you the wings and wheels of the plane, it is because of this that you can survive the wilderness and emerge prepared to give what you were brought into this world to give.

In today’s business and technology lesson, Rabindra Kuman Pradhan highlights the role of cherishing in cultivating organizational resilience. He cites research suggesting that our ability to cherish the past has direct bearing on our capacity to adapt to present challenges (see Introduction in today’s business and technology lesson). In other words, we meet present challenges and lead well by accessing our experiences of being cherished and cherishing others.

Everything you want and need to do and be in this world begins with the moment just before the wilderness. A moment tender like the one John and I witnessed at the airport—tender, yet strong too, containing the sacrifices, courage, and wisdom of others who came before you—unseen but felt in one beautiful act.

“See the wings? See the wheels?” The heavens tear open. “With you I am well pleased.” It’s there, waiting for you, this cherishing. It is the foundation for your entire adventure. You only must learn to see it.