Anyone? anyone? anyone? (echo, echo echo)

bad mommy

I saw this the other day on my Facebook post.  I laughed initially, until I looked again.  I looked over at my kids…they are great.  They are also human, which means I don’t like them everyday.  Most of the time, they make me smile, laugh, and shake my head in wonder.  Sometimes I watch them, just watching them in their own world, they do not know that I am there.  These are the moments on which I reflect the most.   Moments when they believe no one is looking and I catch a glimpse of the people they are becoming.  Their play and non-verbal demonstrations tell me much about them.

They make me smile, even writing that last sentence about their play made me smile.  HOWEVER, there are moments that I watch them, hear them speak, or notice their interactions and I wonder….who are these people?  Then I cock my head and wonder even more…Who in the WORLD sent these creatures home with me?  I am still only like 15, right?  23 if I am lucky, right?  Who thought is was wise to bundle a wiggly, wrinkled, wailing, humanoid and hand it to me to raise?

Please tell me there are others out there feeling the same way.  I stepped (and still do step) around a cluttered house, believing that if anyone were to drop by, they would call social services based on the status of my livingroom.  I struggled with feeling like I should stay at home, yet yearning for “real” people conversation.  I could not breastfeed my first son, but was able to make enough to bottle.  That lasted until acid reflux for him and exhaustion for me set in and formula was our next step.  Different formula after different formula….ever smelt soy formula in spit up form?  Once is enough.

As young teachers, with little income and bills to catch up, we grudgingly applied and qualified for WIC.  I hung my head the first time I purchased the acceptable groceries.  Here I was, a teacher, pillar of a community and I was relying on something else to help me.  The shame I felt was immense, but the relief I felt to be able to pay off some medical bills incurred during my son’s birth outweighed shame.  No one tells you about those early days…the crying, the screaming, the stages–ear infections, diapers, diapers and the laundry….all piles up and the instances of real thought escapes amidst Baby Beethoven.  AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH.  No one mentions those days.

We only hear the baby smell is incredible, the cooing, giggles, grabbing fingers, and each milestone are out-of-this-world!  Do not get me wrong….These are incredible and can reduce a mom to joyful tears in seconds.  Those are highlights that make you want to capture that moment in time and freeze it….then reality hits as your boy wonder sprays you in the face-again.

We muddle through….another comes along, making room in your heart where you thought for sure there was no way you could love another human being as much as the first.  Again, someone it’s a good idea to send another one home with you.  I guess it would be bad to leave them in the crib at the hospital–right?

Life bumps along and finally you settle into a makeshift routine.  You flip-flop between knowing somehow you are doing an ok job and the utter fear that the children will end up on a counselor’s couch somewhere.

Then, it happens.  Something so unexpected throws a wrench into it all.  Maybe it is a diagnosis, a special need, a situation that erupts into something you never thought possible.  All of those happened in the young age stages of my boys–one in particular.

Ok, I will not concentrate on that.  What I will comment on is….well reality.  We women, we do a number on ourselves and one another.  If it is not comments about what we do or don’t do….what we feed our children (ramen noodles or organic mac-n-cheese) or what programs our children attend. Come upon  a fellow mom in stores (did you know Target or the horrid Wal-Mart is nicest to shop in the wee hours of the night or when bats fly at night?) who look bedraggled and harried, and yet paste on a smile and greet one another warmly.  Probe a little deeper than the famed, “how are you?  (insert giggling hug or kiss on the cheek here) and you’ll see another picture completely.  You’ll see the tired lines, hear the taxi trips  with multiple children (half who are not even hers), watch the posts of gaggles of children beginning the forays into slumber parties and  boy gatherings (they don’t have slumber parties….I dunno, I am just starting here).  Under all that is the question…”Am I the only one feeling such and such?”  Am I the only one too tired at night to do snuggles and prayers?  Tell me there are others so exhausted that the heart is not in to reading one more story or singing one more song, but you do anyway because there may not be another.  Tell me that others worry about friends, clothes, reputation, and whether they will be in a terrible accident.  Comfort me that others watch great grades come in, knowing that character is of far more worth, yet celebrate those accomplishments.  Tell me it’s ok to struggle with wanting them to be at the top, not slipping, yet knowing the “other stuff” is soooooo more important.  Remind me that moms all over fret over soft drinks….and cupcakes for breakfast ( if you tell anyone…..so help me!).  Convince me that it’s ok for a mom to smell jeans to make sure they still have another day left in them and recycling towels from one kid to another to save at least 1 load of laundry.  Funny, I just told my 2 that very statement as I walked in to see 5 wash cloths used, the bathtub full of soapy water, and the rim cluttered with 2 rows of matchbox cars.  Tell me this stage passes…that I will miss it, cause now I don’t believe you.  Forgive me that I want this stage to end, but that I feel guilty knowing this stage WILL pass.

Remind me that I am not alone…remind me that so many more are out there…believing they fumble and bumble and knock over card houses by one wrong step backward–sorry boys. Grab my hand and encourage me that I am not messing them up completely, that if they are already on the counselor couches, that means I am aware enough to know that I do not have it all figured out.  That all my training in pastoral care does not entitle me to counsel my children, but to love them.  Hug me and whisper in my ear that you, too, look  in the mirror and shake your head, praying these wiggly creatures are growing and thriving and will be wonder filled men and women.  Put your arm around my shoulders and offer to take a walk or two down the block, or a hit off the boxed wine in the fridge (moscato….hhhhm).  Tell me it’s ok that someday I want to stop buying consignment for myself and not feel guilty for a Saturday mani/pedi.  Proclaim with me that these wonderful creatures capture my heart, my mind, and my soul–turning my emotions from mush to elation to pits and back again.

Grab the microphone–wherever it may be….tap the top….check to make sure the horrid squeal does not exist….and YELL!!!! HELLO?  Is anyone, Is ANYone, is ANYONE out there?

Yes, yes I am…….

shalom.

cahl

Let’s Talk Turkey

Millions of people will wake today either smelling or anticipating the smells of turkey and all the trimmings.  The anxious clanking of silverware will give way to laughter and discussion.  Plans for the inevitable practice of consumerism will take place as hefty papers are splayed across diningroom tables, nationwide.  Online quibbles and arguments of who wins the most brownie points for closing their doors on Thanksgiving will cause online traffic jams.  Others will lobby to begin the shopping as soon pumpkin pie has digested.  All of this will take place, somewhat unaware of life going on in other places and homes.

‘Tis the season, and today will mark the airwaves playing nothing but Christmas carols, the invasion of gaily colored red and green decorations will tantalize.   Giving, giving, giving….’tis the season.

Recently I listened as store after store came together to donate full meals for families.  What a wonderful gesture and thought.  What a wonderful moment for those who can receive it with gladness.  I wonder, however, about that donation.

A full meal, or even a frozen turkey, would be a welcome gift to some…I repeat, some people.  The intention under which these items are gifted are done so in the most well-meaning attitudes.  What about those who cannot or do not look at such a gift as a wonderful opportunity to gather, cook, eat, and enjoy.

Let’s look at the simplest of gestures.  The turkey, the trimmings, the anticipated tastes almost make most people’s mouths water.  Ah, most people?  I wonder if a reframe is needed here.  Who are those most people we are assuming accept this? Take the well-intentioned  meal; turkey.  Does one have the ability or the means to cook such a bird?  Do they know how to make such a meal, are the necessary utensils, pans, ovens, or stove tops there to aid them?   Do they have a home or a family to share such a feast?  Have we stopped to consider whether these basic items are in place before we collectively extend gracious gifts?

Have we stopped to consider the populations who comprise more and more of our neighborhoods?  Is turkey and all the dressings part of their tradition?  Do they like turkey?  What traditions does the family bring with them as they share stories at table?  What are those stories and what can we learn from them?

Now some will counter here and say, but they have stood in lines to receive these donations, who are we to question what is happening?  They purposely stood in those lines, they took what we had to offer.   That is wonderful!!!!  Are we looking at some of the blanket assumptions we may operate out of as holidays approach quicker each year.  Are we extending these gifts out of a true desire to care for our brothers and sisters who may need a helping hand?  Or, are we extending these items to help us feel as though we have done something for which we can be proud?  Do I clean out my closets and hand someone else the clothes I am planning to get rid of anyway because my heart yearns to do so?   Do I do this because I truly want to come along another, grab them by the hand, listen to their story, and journey with them?  Is it easier for me to give an object or write a check, rather than climb in the muck of real life with another?  Is it easier to stay disengaged and protect my emotions and possessions?

It hurts to think of that.  It bothers me to reflect on how many times I have “given” someone something, not because I wanted to help, but because it would make me feel good and like I had done the “right thing”?  I don’t want to admit that I feel better giving away my cast-off clothes to someone I assume wants them…Did they ask for my clothes?  Did we have a jolly time cleaning out my  closets, giggling about inane fashions better left to history?   Do I really know them well enough to understand who they are, what they like, and do they have any ownership of what they have received?  Ownership, that is a new and somewhat uncomfortable concept.

Does that mean that people want to have a say in what they receive or how it is given?  That does not necessarily sit well.  I want to give, I want people to receive.  The problem there is that the focus is on what I want.  I have it to give, what else would you have me do?  I cannot answer that. there is no easy solution.  As lines for aid and assistance grow longer and longer, as commercials cry for an end to hunger and poverty, what is the solution?

Maybe, rather than looking at a solution to the whole problem, we need to reframe that too.  Why is it occurring?  Why are the lines down the sidewalk, across the road, and the donations dispersed in less than an hour?  Is this helping?  Is there a time when Helping Hurts?   Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert challenged and continue to challenge my thought process in their book:  When Helping Hurts, how to alleviate poverty without hurting others and yourself”  Does that concept require a new way of looking at how I help others?  Is my aid doing more to keep people set in a particular situation because I need them to be there?  Do I need them to be there?  Do I really, unconsciously want and need them to be there for me to help?  Is that the healthiest way to approach my brothers and sisters?  Do I even know that I could hold such a philosophy?  If so, that does require that I do some serious thinking about my motives.

At the end of the day, that is quite a drumstick to tackle.  It is huge and somewhat messy to pick up and eat.  Do I even like the drumstick? Can I content myself with a safe portion of comfortable mashed potatoes and dressing?  Am I content with eating a portion of the feast which is before me, or will I consume that which I know is a known quantity?  Can I approach the questions at hand as an opportunity to expand the items on my plate?  Or, do I sigh with a happy smile believing what I see before me is the best and hassle free way of loving the people who cross my path?

I close in grateful contemplation of the freedom to wrestle with such issues and for those who hold me to these tough questions.  I ask not one question of others that I do not ask myself, and there is no comfortable answer.  My obligation is to love my neighbor as myself….in the best way that honors both of us.

blessings to you and yours,

cahl

all-Consuming

I awoke the other day to start reading a new book, felt the warm blanket around me, saw the dreary weather and promptly –fell back to sleep.  It was the kind of sleep where you are not really sure if you are sleeping because you can still hear what is happening around you, but eyelids are too heavy to open.  Reality meshes with REM and a psuedo understanding takes place.

As I untangled dream from reality, a phrase lodged itself into my mind.  “I am hungry.”  What?  I took a quick sip of my now cold coffee and turned that sentence over and over again.  “I am hungry.”  Is was clearly not a question, but a definite declaration.  Hungry, but for what?  Is it just a hunger for food, space, time?

I looked up the synonyms for Hunger–the list ranges from a hankering or craving, to a famished starvation, or a deep need, wish or passion.  Most closely related to food, the word hunger implies an absence of sustenance.  I clearly had eaten something that day, had consumed coffee- so my body was not in want of anything.  The statement would not let me go, it continued to gnaw at me.  I look around at all that I have:  2 loving and rambunctious boys,  health, a roof which keeps me and my family warm, a job that I do not consider a job-but a mission, 2 degrees twhehat have been earned with hard work and honor, friends that I love and that I call family, and a desire to do more and be more.  I asked a good friend today whether we can hunger for something without knowing what it is.  They replied that that is what advertising is for.  I wonder though, if we don’t know that something exists, do we yearn for that?  How do we know that we want it, or that it is missing?  Do we first have to see or experience what is missing before we know we hunger for it?  I really do not know.

I have spent most of the day mulling this over and I have come up empty handed.  I wonder if hunger looks and feels like that never-ending hole that we clamor to fill and we never do.  If that is true, then we all hunger.  I witnessed friends of mine recently posting about their vacations and time spent with their families. I read the post, dumbfounded.  How can someone want to go anywhere with their family on purpose?  That people would choose to get in a car or a plane to spend concentrated time with more members of their family for long periods of time astounds me.   I simply cannot understand how this takes place or how one plans such an event.  I do not know what it means to spend that kind of time with siblings and cousins and family.  I know I have seen parts of what it must look like, yet the fear of the unknown stops me cold.  How can I replicate something that I have not experienced and if I do, what if it fails miserably?  Rumor has it that behavior is perfectly normal.  Normal people plan trips together and spend time making memories.  Huh, who knew?  I didn’t, yet I have looked at pictures that others have shown me, most of the time I choke back a big lump and I cannot control the surge of emotion that creeps to the surface.  Usually I blame it on acid reflux and tell myself to quit being a cry baby and develop a stronger back bone.  Yet, there it is.

There are times I desire more than anything to never be content.  That sometimes sounds so trite to me, that I should be ok with what I have now.  I believe I should be ok with the status quo, but I am not.  I want more.  I want more life, more color, more passion, and more truth.  I want to look at the world as it is and not be content to leave it as it is.  I want to stop congregating around coffee tables, in nice circles, talking about people who have changed the world- or the possibility that someone else can do it.  I yearn to be part of something on fire and exciting.  I want to be on fire and exciting.    I hunger for truth, for real conversations about real issues that matter, and I desire to find solutions.

There are other areas in which I crave.  Areas where I have no experience, but desire to do it differently.  I hunger for family, connection, and a release.  I yearn for a time when the holds of guilt and the talons of the past will relinquish their hold on my outlook and set me free to pursue areas that make my soul sing.  I cannot wait for the moment when the brave part of my personalit takes front and center and motivates me to step forward in confidence to speak and write on behalf of those who cannot for themselves.  To be a voice for those who cannot speak, or have not found theirs yet is something that has been with me for as long as I remember.  Try as I might, no amount of random blogging, casual poetry fits, or singing my heart out in the car satisfies the need that I feel.  No amount of watching other people interact with their families sates my desire for a peaceful respite and comfort.  I also hate admitting that I may need or want anything…yet I know better than my own misgivings.

I could go on and on, but my thoughts have somehow jumbled onto one another and my youngest son is out of bed for the 2nd time asking me to find Deadpool in his Marvel comic characters book.  I am not exactly sure who that is, but I do know….the hunger of my son to find this description is more important than my next sentence.

Until again,

Shalom,

cahl

Why Wouldn’t I?

He comes in each day–sometimes 2 or 3 times, depending on the circumstances and the green in his pocket.  His clothes grow more rag-tag by the week and there is always a scruff of beard playing at his natural features.

Today he appears in a heavier coat, with a fur lined hood, heavy clod boots, and a new adornment….his glasses.

Most would overlook these particulars–would choose to forget how often he comes in to see us.  Most would rather not waste their time on the unclean clothes, the unshaven face, the eyes eclipsed by so much–life.  He compels me to look, to see, to hear, and to love.

I know him by name, but most would simply roll their eyes knowing the real reason he comes in is for the mutiple cans of large malt beer.  You know the kind, the big 24 oz can which ranks right up there with HAMMS?  On a good visit I will ring up 2-3 cans, realizing that by the end of my shift he will be back for refills of at least 3 more.  I know his beverage by sight, can predict if he will return and i always sigh.

I know his hands.  They shake, they convulse, they are roughened by the burns of many a lighter, scarred by the life he has led.  Often they cannot hold onto the change given back to him, so I cup my hand beneath his so as to catch the coins as they fall.  He laughs cautiously, waiting to see if I will berate him.  I make sure the change is tucked away before counting back the bills so he knows what is coming to him.  I keep my hand beneath his, ready to help if needed.

I know his need.  The bag.  I make certain that the cans are always in a white, plastic, bag with handles.  Some, he comments, don’t bother with a bag.  “Gets tough to carry all that in my pockets with no bag.”  Some place it in a paper bag, “Makes me wonder if they want it to rip on purpose.  Thems cans are cold, then the bag gets wet, then it rips.”  Makes one wonder, indeed.

Into the bag goes the malt, sometimes a pack or 2 of smokes.  My eyes always glance at the tips of his fingers, they are calloused and burned from many a match or lighter.  I often wonder, who is around him to help light his smoke when his hand shakes so?  Who helps crack open the can, and how often does he curse the bane of this existence, then feeling the relief as the cold suds reach the back of his throat.

Today, I have seen him 3 times, the count is at 9 24oz malts.  I sigh, I choke back my own judgment, I grit my teeth and smile.  I look him in the eyes as he speaks to me.

“You aint like some of the others.  Some of them make me stand a long time waiting to take my money, they tell me I am not enough of a paying customer.  Then they throw the bag at me, if I get one at all.  You aint that way.”  I smile.

“Why would I be that way?  That is not how I play.”

Why wouldn’t I?  You see, as I make sure he has his plastic bag secure in my hand, I pray that I do not see him in here again…at least for this type of purchase.  I am angry at the way he has expected to be treated, anticipating that people think him less of a person, believing he deserves to be a second class citizen.  I hear his voice when he tells me he is, “gonna go home to my lazy boy and wait to die.”  NOOOOOOOO.  No. no.

Why wouldn’t I care for him the way I hope others would care for me.  I think of him each night that I work.  Each day that it is sub-zero and I know he is ambling in for the 2nd or 3rd time.  I shake my head and then I remember what an example he is to me.

Example?

My clothes are not tattered, I do not smell like day old beer, and my hands do no shake, but my insides burn from scars unhealed.  What I may see as an obvious struggle is no better nor any worse than the struggle and voices I battle each day…the inner turmoils we all encounter.  I thank him for being an example that in this moment, his battle is only a bit more visible.  It could be only a moment from now when all my skeletons are exposed for the world to see, but for now they are hidden behind a perky smile, snarky comments, and a quick wit.  Today, they remain hidden…..

In ReVUE.

What can I say…I did not watch the ball drop at midnight, I imbibed no alcohol, I did not situate myself amidst major crowds, I am…boring.

I played Words with FRIENDS, beat my mother for the 6th straight game, wrestled with both my boys, and cuddled my pug till  fell asleep at 10 pm.  I was at work at a gas station bright and early, listening to large groups of men complain about their lives, wives, town, and occupation.  FUN  Then another group comes in, spending their whopping 75 cents while discussing their upcoming colonoscopies and the prep they must endure to undergo such procedures.  I wanted to scream at them that I have done at least 6 of them in my life in the last 10 years, but I opted to keep quiet this time and simply observe.

I watched this morning as the Facebook posts reiterated the plans people have for the upcoming year.  I have made no plans, no definite ones anyway.  I have things I would like to see happen, but I find if I make the plans, they have a tendency not to come true and then I am left feeling guilty about my lack of initiative.  I have hope for the first time, I think the first time I can remember.

It has been a whirlwind of a 2012.  I can honestly say that I have learned more this year than in years past.  So, what did I learn?

Well, graduating from Seminary does not mean that one has an instant pass around the Monopoly board.  There are many hoops to jump, some man-made, some that require time and contemplation.  At the end of 4 years, I have read more, analyzed my psyche’, written more papers, and questioned myself more than I have in any other year.   What I thought I would be doing, where I thought I would be going, I am not.  Fortunately, the ride is taking me some amazing places, so I ought not complain.  Although the planner in me would like a bit more control…

Family is not what I thought it was either.  I am not sure what my definition is, but suffice it to say that what I thought and the reality are 2 different animals.  I have people to whom I am related that I have not had contact with in decades.  There are immediate family members with whom I have not talked with or interacted since 1993.  I find that sad, but am coming to a different conclusion.  I also have other family members that I can go months without speaking to them, I hear about what they are doing, but there is no conversation.  I find that sad too.  However, I think I may be growing up a bit.  The other day I said aloud that I was done trying to put myself on someone else’s radar.  It hit me that the only one who suffers when I try to do that is me.  If I am not on the radar to begin with, their life is unaffected and unruffled in relation to my existence one way or another.  If I try to place myself in a position where I may be noticed, whether with affirmative or negative responses, the only one who gets hurt is me.  They still remain unaffected and I am left holding the empty bag of my expectations.  That was a rather painful realization to come to this week.  That means there will be a response…I will withhold my connections with those people and wait for their cue.  Am I a horrible person?  No.  We just do not see life in the same manner and I am sick to death of trying to make myself fit every stinking mold out there so that someone else feels comfortable with me.  To quote Popeye “I am what I am.”

Family looks different…there are people who have traveled hours to see me preach, they did not have to do that.  I have people at the station where I sub who have asked me to officiate their weddings.  I have 2 scheduled for 2013 already.  Preacher ME!  I have brothers and sisters who have no blood relation to me, but who chose to have more to do with me than my family.   That is by their choice, not my force.  They have shown me time and again what community looks like.  WE are willing to climb in the muck with one another and get dirty…and love each other through it.

My boys are the 2 most precious and best things I have ever done.  Sometimes I struggle with how I am doing as a mom, priorily learned methods of parenting sneak into my head, but I work like a dog to make sure they are loved.  Not a day goes by that I do not tell them at least a million times that they are loved.  I hope it is enough to cover them when I fail to live up to all they think I am.  It is amazing to see how they are coming into their own and becoming the people they are meant to be.  It is also humbling to see some of my personality visited on them…that mother’s curse is certainly alive and well in these two.

Health is something that has plagued me the last 38 years and it looks like I may have a handle on it…FINALLY!  From my past biological parents, I had suffered a lot of internal damage which causes much inflammation and scarring.  To make a long story short, there was not a day that I did not double over with stomach pains, cramping, and a host of other issues.  I have had every colonoscopy in the book, eaten radioactive eggs, done more barium drinks than I can count, and had most of my insides that are not major organs removed.  All that is left are those that HAVE to be there and my appendix.  I entered into a drug study as a guinea pig and it looks like the drug is actual drug and not placebo.  You have no clue the relief I feel not having a stomach ache every single day.  I told a good friend the other day that I was ready to give up, I was ready to give in and let it overtake me.  I will write more about that later.  From the physical sense, I felt trapped in a body that would not let me do what I wanted, did not give me the energy that I needed, and I wanted nothing more than to crawl into my blankets and lose myself.  I still have a ways to go to heal all the damage that has been done, and a good share will never be healed, but I feel better than I have in years and actually look forward to next year at this time.

Understanding people alludes me, but I am learning.  I am more apt to listen and watch than I am to respond.  I am choosing more carefully what I respond to and in what manner.  As a candidate for Ordained Ministry in the United Methodist Church, I hold to the concept of Social Justice with all that I am.  I am watching closely what I see and discerning what I hear and what my response should be.  There will be times of action, of contemplation, of learning, and of surrender.  I hope that I am wise enough to know the difference and to heed the counsel of those I trust.  More times than not, my impassioned heart and mouth can get the better of me, I need to temper that with quiet confidence and allow that to lead.  As I age, I am less tolerant of intolerance and find those who intend to hurt simply because they can not worth my time or energy.  I am coming into a more working knowledge of what ADVOCATE means.

2012 has taken me for a ride…catapulted me to depths of understanding and confusion that I did not think possible.  There has been loss, joy, frustration, forgiveness, understanding, and resignation.  I am more hopeful for this year…I am gonna try and just BE for a while and see how that goes.

SHALOM

cahl

 

 

Musings

It is quiet in my house tonight.  I have spent the last 2 days away from my baby boys (yes they are still my babies even though they are 5, 8–they will always be my babies)  The last time I saw them was about 10:50 yesterday morning as I made sure they had been properly picked up by their grandparents so that I could assist my husband with judging and chaperoning kids on a debate overnighter.  I knew they were safe and were in good care, but before I set forth for Brookings, I had to make sure everyone was where they were supposed to be.  I was able to walk them down the hall, hug them, kiss the top of their heads, and tell them good-bye and that I love them.  They smiled and told me they loved me and happily climbed in my parent’s pick up for the next adventure.  They were safe.

Moments later, I got in a school van, turned on the radio expecting to crank up the tunes and blow into the parking lot to help load a group of kiddos.  MPR and its broadcast from Connecticut stopped me in my tracks as they described the horror unfolding there.  Questions loomed in the air, doubt as to how someone could do such a thing….certainly there must be a mistake.  People just don’t do something like that…we must be hearing things.  No one walks into an elementary school and opens fire—no one.  Someone did.

It is quiet in my house tonight, but I know where my children are and I will speak to them (at least 1 of them will talk on the phone)before they rest tonight.   My mother told me not to worry about whether to pick them up tonight, but to get some rest.  I will rest tonight knowing that they are safe.  It is awful quiet without their chatter, their noise in the hall, their feet pounding the floor, and their instant mood changes which means we have to duke it out in the middle of the livingroom….I am not telling anyone to pick up their coats, put their boots by the register, and to stop pestering the dog.  No one is climbing in my lap, asking me questions while I try to go to the bathroom, or eating off of my plate…it is quiet here tonight.

It is quiet other places tonight, too.  Places where it should not be quiet.  Homes where there are children or parents missing….they should not be quiet.  Homes of aunts and uncles, and grandparents, fellow teachers and aides, administrators, coaches, cooks, librarians, secretaries, brothers, and sisters are quieter tonight than ever.

Sometimes maybe we have been too quiet….I say that gently, wondering if times have come to start talking real truth in our circles.  I wonder if the time has come to crawl underneath what appears to be ailing our society and ask the deeper questions…Why, why do these things keep happening?  Is it for want of more regulation, stricter laws and more awareness?  Will more education do the trick?  Will looking to government controls moderate our behavior?

Maybe it comes down to regulating ourselves.  I said last night that if we could move toward a world where the human race was not hunting one another like animals, maybe we would be a bit better off than we are now.  If we could start to look at one another through different lenses maybe we would begin to see one another as human beings, capable of greatness and wonder, and yes, heart wrenching sadness.  We are all capable of lifting one another to highest of highs with our encouragement, love, kindness, and support.  We also have the ability to destroy one another.  We have the ability to do so much.

I said to my students yesterday, the scary moment was the realization that at any one point, any one of us is capable of something as heinous as yesterday’s shooting.  That is the dark truth no one wants to admit.  We are all capable of losing it and blowing a micro-chip, so to speak.  It may not look the same as it did yesterday, but the propensity exists.  Thankfully, most of us filter and keep ourselves in check, most of the time.

What would it look like to begin allowing tough questions to find answers?  what would it look like to embrace one another as truly brothers and sisters, rather than the individual enemy we want to categorize each other?  What would it look like to take seriously the ideas our parents and teachers instilled in us from birth….to be kind, tell the truth, treat others the way you want to be treated, and look both ways before crossing the street.  We had buddy systems in place to help each other  what happened as we grew older?  Do we not need our buddies to help us anymore?

It is quiet in my house tonight and I miss my babies in a place I cannot describe.  I want to hear their voices, to hold them tight, to cradle them as they fall asleep.  I don’t want to explain the last couple days to them…but I will.  I will use it as a teaching moment to speak of grace and love and compassion and bravery.  I will tell them that I do not understand and there are parts of this story that I struggle to get my head around to understand.  I will tell them that I am trying to find room in my heart for forgiveness, but I find it lacking….I find my role conflicted as to how to love all persons in this situation.  I will be honest in telling them I do not know how to solve the problem or why innocent children paid a price.  I don’t know.

In this moment, no one wins.  Not the victims, the families, schools, friends, and dare I say, the perpetrator.  No one in his family wins tonight either….there is death and loss and mountains of grief and questions which will never be resolved.  That is the hardest realization….there can be no winners—-only a moment to learn from and pray we can move from this a better human race.  We can either learn from this moment, invite the conversations, and seek answers; or we can put our blinders back on, admit that yesterday was horrible, and continue in our same paths as we did.  We can choose to let this impact us to action and motivate us to real and deeper exploration; or we can lull ourselves back into complacency.  The choice is ours, it always has been, always will be.

I choose to take that mantle of community seriously….I seek to understand how I can make an impact that leaves lasting and positive change–even when it’s quiet out there tonight.

Open REAL EYES to REALIZE what is before us.

According to a recent Pew poll released on in Oct 2012, the United States has dropped below 50% of the population subscribing to a Protestant faith.  The numbers show that the US is now at 48% down from 53% in 2007.  The largest group to see growth is what researchers call, “The nones.”  A similar report dated October 2012, more than 13 million atheists and agnostics and nearly 33 million claim no particular affiliation.   About 20 percent of U.S. adults say they have no religious affiliation, which is an increase from two decades ago when about 8 percent of people were deemed so-called “nones.” Nones are described as young college students, second career individuals, and those just beginning their families somewhere in their middle 30’s.  Most would claim they have a spiritual faith, but as one man stated, “Saying that you are an atheist no longer carries the stigma that it did in years past. More and more are recognizing that you can be good without a belief in a god.”

This leaves the field wide open in terms of Christian faith.  Instead of shrinking back in disbelief at these statistics, I consider this a wake-up call to action for us whom we call brothers and sisters in the faith.  Colin Hay, musician and lyricist offers these words in opposition to this call to faith and may provide the backdrop for many of the feelings society is facing.

All around is anger
Automatic guns
There’s death in large numbers
No respect for women or our little ones
I tried talking to Jesus
But he just put me on hold
Said he’d been swamped by calls this week
And he could not shake his cold

And still this emptiness persists
Perhaps this is as good as it gets
When you’ve given up the drink and those nasty cigarettes
Now I leave the party early, at least with no regrets
I watch the sun as it comes up, I watch it as it sets
Yeah, this is as good as it gets

Can you feel the desperation, the loss of hope resignation in these words?   If the above poll numbers are true, this is the feeling that our young people are experiencing—believing the present conditions are as good as it gets.

BUT!!!!  We know something different, my brothers and sisters.  WE know a different reality and a more solid truth don’t we?  We know that this is not as good as it gets.

Turn with me to John chapter 14

Jesus said to his disciples, “Don’t be worried! Have faith in God and have faith in me.[a] 2 There are many rooms in my Father’s house. I wouldn’t tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you. 3 After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together. 4 You know the way to where I am going.”

5 Thomas said, “Lord, we don’t even know where you are going! How can we know the way?”

6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life!” Jesus answered. “Without me, no one can go to the Father. 7 If you had known me, you would have known the Father. But from now on, you do know him, and you have seen him.”

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need.”

11 Have faith in me when I say that the Father is one with me and that I am one with the Father. Or else have faith in me simply because of the things I do. 12 I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me, you will do the same things that I am doing. You will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the Father.

 

There is hope and redemption in those words, I invite us to consider what the Message gives us in further? – paraphrased (might be a better word) translation.

1-4 “Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.”

5 Thomas said, “Master, we have no idea where you’re going. How do you expect us to know the road?”

6-7 Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!”

8 Philip said, “Master, show us the Father; then we’ll be content.”

And then we’ll be content.  Ah, there it is.  And THEN, we’ll be content.

Will we be content after a tumultuous election?  Will we be content with a higher paying job or a better car?  Will we be content if more people love us or we add more FRIENDS on our Facebook page?  How about when all the moments of frustration cease?  Will we be content?

What will it take?

It takes the command that Jesus gives us in verse 11.

11 Have faith in me when I say that the Father is one with me and that I am one with the Father. Or else have faith in me simply because of the things I do. 12 I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me, you will do the same things that I am doing. You will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the Father.

We become content when we take off the blinders and REALIZE how to look at our world and God’s people with REAL EYES.  That sounds like a tall order, so there is an implicit help given in that command from Jesus.  There is a Spirit (an Advocate) which Jesus promised would always be with us, to empower us to see others as Christ sees them.  WE are not alone, we have power in the Spirit to realize that this is not as good as it gets.  There is more.

There is more heaven here on earth than we allow ourselves to see and hear.  Yet, the louder voices of desperation, rejection, hurt, anger, and hate seem to engulf  our spirits, wanting to fool us into believing this is all there is.  How have we responded?

For some, for the many whom the “nones” are watching, we have embraced the voices of slander, malice, anger, and hatred…creating a hell on earth where we mistrust one another…we operate out of fear instead of the promise that there is more.  We do not serve a God of fear; we serve a God of…redemption, love, and compassion.   I believe that we have forgotten this.

In the non-profit that I work in in Sioux Falls, I have the chance to see in a practical way, the essence of the Spirit moving in places and doing things I could not see otherwise.  I see people coming together in a garden, slinging compost, laughing and building—together.  GROUND WORKS operates out of a mission to practice being a great. does this break off here? …where have we heard this command?

“I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me, you will do the same things that I am doing.  You will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the Father.”

The mission question you ask of yourselves today is answered in that statement.  How do you remain faithful?—by doing the things that Jesus did and practicing the things that Jesus said.

I cannot give you a nice, neat method to perfectly sewing up your faith and keeping it intact.  I would be doing you a huge disservice if I told you that the older you get, the easier it gets.  It doesn’t. I look at my own children, who so easily embrace the world they see and I am amazed at it.  When did my filter become so polluted?

It became polluted when I decided that the world and its opinions means more to me than seeing people for who they really are==as beloved children of Christ.  It became tainted when the voices of the multitudes screaming that getting my own is more important than loving the least, the lost, and the lonely.  It became dirty when I embraced the belief that poverty is shameful and those who are impoverished are somehow less than me.

Have we forgotten that we are all poor and that the poor in spirit inherit the kingdom of heaven?  When did poverty become a 4-letter word meaning something that we eliminate or cut out of our society?  When did following Christ mean that I have the right to sit in judgment over anyone for any reason?

It didn’t.

When I asked my former seminary professor how to write a sermon a number of years ago, he smiled at me and said, “Go, look in the mirror and ask that person what they need to hear.  What does she most need to hear and what does she need to see the most today.  When you are quiet and allow the Spirit to convict you, the message will come to you.  That is the offering you bring-no more no less.”

See, I told you it does not get any easier, the older that you become.  It gets harder to force out the ingrained methods of thought and deed to be present in the Spirit and to do the things that Jesus did.

Ok, so what did Jesus do?  A couple of years ago, I served my first unit of Chaplaincy at Avera Behavioral in Sioux Falls.  I worked over 1000 hours journeying with children, teens, men, and women living in the midst of hell.  I heard their stories and the Lord revealed something during that time.  It is a mantra that I believe is at the heart of all that we say and do.

People want to be seen, to be heard, and to be loved.  Let me repeat that.  We want to be seen, to be heard, and to be loved.  And the third time is the charm—I want to be seen, to be heard, to be loved.

If we take that principle and the command that Jesus gives us –to remain faithful we do the things that Jesus did, the rest becomes pretty clear.  So, what did Jesus do?

Jesus showed up.  At a well, in a garden, on a sea, on the road, and in the home, Jesus was present.

Jesus saw.  He saw the diseased, the forgotten, slandered, abused, and mistaken.  He saw them for what they are==beloved and blessed children of HIS Father, he saw them as brothers and sisters of great potential and light and love.  He saw them for what they could be instead of what the world was telling them they are.

Jesus heard.  He listened to the words of the heart, the ones we keep hidden and he responded.  He heard the stories from people desperately wanting healing, to those empowered to simply touch his cloak, he heard and embraced their humanity and spoke to them in it—not content to allow the lies of the world to fill their heads, he came to deliver a promise of something sweeter—something more divine.

Jesus loved.  Pure and simple.  There is no other act of love than to see us through REAL EYES and REALIZE the way to save us would be to die—to give up his own humanity so that we might believe and do the things he did and follow the things he said.

Sounds like pretty easy application, right?  So, you’re saying if we show up, see, hear, and love===all the rest will take care of itself….RIGHT!!!!!

To do this requires more of you and me than we initially believe.  It requires all of us.  The song that you heard this morning as we were walking in speaks to this.

I am the only one to blame for this
Somehow it all ends up the same
Soaring on the wings of selfish pride
I flew too high and like Icarus I collide
With a world I try so hard to leave behind
To rid myself of all but love
to give and die

Where are we in this?  Where have we given in to selfish pride, to arrogant love of self and what we can do?  Where have we forgotten the ultimate sacrifice of love covers the world’s hurts than any amount of money or man power can?  When did we begin believing that we alone can do anything?

Do we really want to do the things that Jesus did?  Do we really want to see people with REAL EYES and realize them as precious human being that a Savior loved enough to give up His own life?  Do we really want to hear their voices and to love with the same love that Jesus loves us.  Do we even want to admit that Jesus loves “them” with the same fervor and passionate love that He lavishes on us….we are the chosen ones, aren’t we?

In the gardens in Sioux Falls, Jesus has shown us Himself.  A couple of weeks ago a young 13 year old girl who resides at the Children’s Home Society came to a catered meal and took center stage to share a poem about what a garden means to her.  She talked of a seed being planted and
watching it grow.  She talked of a place where she can go when the entire world is happening around her.  She said, that (a garden) is, “A place that needs me to stay alive.”

Does she realize that she is the seed- that place of great potential and opportunity?  Does she see herself as the seed in need of care and love and growth?  Does she know that Jesus can be the place where she can run and hide a place to go when sad or glad?  Does she know that Jesus needs and wants her to stay alive==that HE desires for her to live and BE alive—to be seen, to be heard, and to be loved?

Do we know the same?

Do we know that to be faithful means to believe that GOD wants to see us, to hear us, and to love us?  Do we believe that to realize that promise means that we are to see with Real eyes the world around us, and we are to respond.  We are to love with the heart of Christ and to do that we have to adopt the heart of Christ.

We have to see with the eyes of Christ, eyes that see beyond poll numbers, political affiliations, social and economic strife to the heart of each individual person…to recognize that their soul is to be cared for and loved==just like ours.

We have to hear the words that are said and to those unspoken.  We have to listen beyond the rhetoric and the pat and easy responses we give on a daily basis.  We must hear their stories, to hold those stories, and to honor them as precious…after we have heard them—really heard them we can hear how beautifully our stories intersect with one another.  We have incredible impact==we have the chance to turn the tide toward Heaven instead of Hell.

We have to love with the love of Christ; fierce and on fire and smoldering and peaceful all at the same time.  A love which consumes all the darkness and forces light into the hate and drives it away.  A love that embraces poverty as desirable because it means we are in the presence of the Risen Savior.  A love which knows no limit to compassion-knows that no amount of money or power or control can take the place of being held and seen and heard and loved.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us not grow weary in the race set before us, my same seminary professor has become a life mentor to me and reminds me often that what we are doing is a Marathon, not a Sprint.  This is not a race that has an out the gate running start or an ability to maintain that pace for the duration.  It is a marathon of building of seeing with REAL EYES what we can REALIZE in Christ.

I end with an adaptation of the Jars of Clay lyrics you heard earlier.  May this be the prayer to remain Faithful—doing the things that Jesus did, in the manner in which He did them.
We look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what our life has cost
and wipe away the crimson stains
and dull the nails that still remain
More and more We need you now,
we owe you more each passing hour
the battle between grace and pride
we gave up not so long ago
So steal our heart and take the pain
and wash the feet and cleanse our pride
take the selfish, take the weak,
and all the things we cannot hide
take the beauty, take our tears
the sin-soaked heart and make them yours
take our world all apart
take it now, take it now
and serve the ones that we despise
speak the words we can’t deny
watch the world we used to love
fall to dust and thrown away

Take our world apart.

Pomp Your Circumstance

Begin:   Looking out amongst the crowded gymnasium one can sense the excitement of a generation about to take their first steps into the world.  Clad in caps and gowns, with messages lovingly taped to the top, making sure the tassel is in the right place, we can feel their anticipation.  Young ladies cast an eye down to the single flower given them by a loved one.  The boys jostle one another, …

too much pent up energy to vocalize what they are thinking.  It’s easier to punch each other than to tell someone how they feel.  Questions loom in the air, “will we see each other again?  Is this really it?  Where do we go from here?  Did we really make it?  What do we do now?” Can you hear them?  The nervous laughter, the louder than normal jokes about home room giving way to their lining up one last time.  The music swells, the Pomp and Circumstance we know so well.  It is the end of an era; the beginning of another.   The beginning, what is that?  How do we begin?  What is the beginning if this moment is the end?   We watch as the next generation of young dreamers’ file down the aisle, some choking back tears, others stifling a laugh or two.  They learned to line up this way years ago when kindergarten meant tying shoes and nap time.  Today they line up and take the walk one last time, journeying into their unknown, to begin again.     Our thoughts and dreams give way to action; a new era ushers in a chance to begin and to lean into a state of reinvention.   Watershed moments bring us to the ends of ourselves, to the foot of the cross, to the end, and a chance to begin again.  There are many who can relate to being called to begin.  Moses was commissioned to lead a people to freedom, to be the voice of redemption, to begin a movement.  Joseph saw visions in dreams, suffered terrible scrutiny from family members, lived through the betrayal of his brothers, and was called to begin a legacy.  Mary began a relationship with a carpenter, brought forth a child, thus beginning a new covenant of grace and peace. We are also asked to begin, to initiate goodness, peace, and compassion for one another.  The means in which we start the process does not and cannot look the same.    The beauty of the process of beginning is that is must look different because the road we journey is as individual as snowflakes that fall.  Being a people who can introduce one another to love and kindness is perhaps one of the highest callings we undertake.  Sometimes it is scary to begin a journey towards something unknown.  The voices of reason scream at us, questioning our resolve, the talent we possess, the practicality of a dream so dear.  Yet, we can begin that journey with a small step, knowing that if done with a pure heart and honest motivation, there is little we cannot accomplish.  Our Creator knows this and wants our success more than we can imagine.  This benevolent Maker infuses us with all the means necessary to entertain those dreams and desires, the desire is there for us to take the steps in faith, to begin the task of being.  With the excitement of a young graduate we can embrace the exhilaration of another new journey and a moment steeped in beginning. “‘I’m sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.’ Acts 26:16-18

Hey Death, BITE me!

BITE is out tonight.  it is dedicated to a wonderful woman of God who has taught me more about living than anyone I know.

 

Bite:

There is a certain sleepy South Dakota town which lies just off the Interstate 29 and most people would miss the jewel that it is unless you drive off the main road, stop awhile, and take up residence.  It is the kind of town where groups of farmers congregate in shifts at the local gas station and receive coffee refills for 75 cents and where kids appear in your backyard simply because they know your son or daughter and they want to play outside after school.  Many would choose not to settle here, opting for larger cities or something closer to bigger shopping and malls.  There is really nothing outstanding that would set this town apart from most small town rural America, nothing except its commitment to its residents.

In this town on a particular fall evening the local Legion Hall was bustling with music blaring down Main Street.  Streams of people milling in and out of the building made one wonder what sort of hoodlum party was taking place, grass skirts and coconuts litter the sidewalk.  Cars are parked diagonal and through the middle of the street as we see kids, teens, moms and dads accompanied by grandmas and grandpas filter into the hall.

Holding court, in a gaily colored leu is the reason they have all gathered.  In every way it looks like the Pacific islands have come to play for an evening.  Dancing, music, laughter, and more food than one can imagine line tables.  Succulent ribs and racks of bar b que are flanked by baked beans and one whole table is covered with slabs of cake with inch thick whipped frosting.  There is joy and conversation and youth alive in this space, and that is exactly how the guest of honor wants it.

She has come home to this little town on the prairie to live out her remaining days, a young woman with a body riddled with cancer, but a spirit which knows only grace and love unconditional.  Not yet thirty, she has fought the better part of her twenties with a disease that wants to claim her, she won’t let it.  She approaches it with a bite of grit and good humor and the kind of work ethic one imagines of a South Dakota raised woman.  There is nothing fleeting or wimpy about this woman, this warrior of mercy and forgiveness.

Yes of course, she would love to bite back at this wretched illness and kick its butt to the curb, and she has put up a valiant fight, so much that the townspeople would gladly take it from her.  She has mirrored for the younger teens in band how to hold their heads up with humble pride and dignity, never shirking from what her instinct told her she must do.  She has fought and in the process has shown each of us what it means to join the journey with someone, no matter how crappy the road ahead appears.

Time is running low for our girl and while we would all will every ounce of youth and health and strength to her, she has shown us how to let go and how to accept a fate that hurts.  She is honest in her ordeal, real in admitting that sometimes the pain has been too much to handle, that the road has not always looked pretty.  Yet, she has become even more beautiful as her life comes full circle.  Tonight residents poured out in droves to love on one of their own, she is beloved to them, to all who know her.  Her desire was to spend her last moments with her family, surrounded by support and the agape love she has come to know from her Creator.  As she prepares to say goodbye to her earthly family, she is aware of the eternal family waiting to embrace her.  Again, she teaches us with quiet grace what moving toward eternity looks like.  She demonstrates the sweet Spirit of Holy listening and resilient resolve.

“I want to be home, and that’s where I am going.”  Welcome home to our lovely young woman, an example of Psalms which tells us that death no longer has a sting, no longer has a bite.  She has embraced the essence of living and the Promise of eternity awaits her and we are better children of God for having shared her journey.

 

1 Corinthians 15:54-56

The Message (MSG)

51-57 But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed.

Ignorance is NOT bliss

Ya know what, life was easier when I chose to stick my head in the sand and pretended that all the world was made of chocolate streams and all people are good and kind and loving.  In utopia, that may be true. Sometimes life hands you a moment to show you who you are and what you have or have not become…if we are lucky, we rise to the occasion-sometimes we choose-to remain buried.  Today was one such day.

I awoke in a tense mood after having put in a full day of work previously.  Both my boys ended up sleeping in my room, one on my bed, the other on the floor–the weather turned hot and putrid and I believe the my body is part TIN MAN and is in desperate need of oiling–especially on my neck.  In short, I was in a snarky mood to begin.  As rounded the interstate, traveling to my work office I encountered a woman standing by the road with a “NEED HElP” sign.  There she stood in her tie=dyed tank, big ole shades, NIKE swishies, flip flops…and wait for it….Hot pink Pedicured toes.  NICE.

I felt myself angered for the first time.  I pass many of the signs, people stranded on the roadside and I always wonder if I should stop.  Sometimes I don’t because I have my children in the car and I have to think of their safety–sometimes I am alone and I have to consider my safety…when I am in the position, I try to pause, show them my phone, and inquire if they need help. This one made me angry.  I look down at my own toes and see polish that is over a month old and know that it was a gift to me from someone as I embarked on a new adventure in my life.  I do not have the finances to keep up a manicure or a pedicure, so I understand how much of a treat and a gift like that is for me.  Yet, there was this woman asking for my help…NO!

In an interesting movement of opposites another situation presented itself.  As the middle of my town was riddled with anger and confusion and tragedy….a middle aged woman and her 2 children ambled into place we house our office.   Asking for gas money and some sandwiches, we heard her story.  We know her name and her kids’ name–a young lady about 13-14  not in school, flanked by her older brother–16, almost 17 with Asperger’s Syndrome and Bi Polar Disorder.  My heart broke in 2 as I watched some of the same mannerisms of my son…heard him talk about drinking the blood of a raw d to shock someone.  I saw him not able to listen to his mother–i saw her pain, heard the anguish in her voice as she recounted losing her husband of 13 years in April to a massive heart attack ( ps, i have been married 13 years)  I picked up on the frustration on her daughter’s demeanor…the anger, the just under the surface rage.  I worry about her.  I worry about her future, I worry about the lack of education and the chances she may have.

Into a white pick-up with ply wood sides so they have walls while they sleep, they piled amidst what appears all their worldly belongings–including 4 terrier dogs.  From South Carolina to Montana they plan to travel in hopes that she might find a job and someone who will help watch her 2 kids while she works.  She knows that her oldest son cannot be left on his own, I wonder about who he will become.

I had to climb into a car and motor off to a meeting….i watched them leave and i choked back a sob as I entertained where they will sleep tonight.  This was the face of poverty and a complete lack of hope and it left me with no choice….but to SEE.  These were the least, the lost, and the lonely and marginalized.  I wondered about what our Presidential candidates would do in that moment, without the microphones and campaign trails and the throngs of people to entertain.  Would they extend a sandwich, listen to the heartache, would they be impacted by the sight of a truck driving down the road.  Had I not been working in community development, would lI respond in the same manner.  If I did not have an MDIV—-would I do the same?  Would I do the same tomorrow?

My husband asked if I could compartmentalize it, not let it affect me–to do what I can and then let it go.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  In this moment, the experience is about 5 hours old…and yet, I wonder.

SHALOM

cahl.

 

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