My family has experienced many health crises, over the years. As a teenager, I learned to clean massive amounts of blood out of white shag carpet and to dress wounds; to stay calm in an emergency and to tend to those in need. In my family, we know life, for better or worse. We know hospitals and doctors, emergency rooms and even funeral homes all too well. We also know that if you have good healthcare, you live and, when you don’t, you die. And when that happens, there is unimaginable pain and the ramifications last for decades. And for generations. Continue reading
“There, but for the grace of God, go I.” The words are uttered under our breath whenever misfortune strikes another person. Our boundless gratitude is barely contained as we realize we have been spared by some strange twist of fate. Or, as our words infer, God’s grace. And yet, as we look at history, we know that the lack of God’s grace has nothing to do with misfortune or disaster, tragedy or violence.
Today we enter a new era. For too many people, these are bleak and uncertain times. These are the days in which we would look upon others in similar circumstances and think, “There, but for the grace of God…”
But, here we are. Stuck in a situation in which we never imagined we would find ourselves. Imagining, fearing the worst. We find ourselves looking backward at times we’d sooner forget. And we are left wondering how we can prevail upon our better selves, how we can overcome, how we can never let history repeat itself.
Even as others are rejoicing and giving God thanks for what has come to pass, we may wonder: where is God’s grace in all this mess? How could God let this happen?
But God’s grace is not a magic elixir or spell used to protect only the blessed and chosen few. God’s grace is given to all, a gift to carry with us throughout our days even in the darkest of times.
No one knows what these next four years will bring. But what we do know is that God will be with us as surely as God has been with all people thought history when evil strikes. God’s grace will be with us bringing a balm for our wounds; peace to rest our weary, aching souls; strength to face our tomorrows; inspiration to act justly, decisively, unceasingly; wisdom to make right choices and seek and speak truth.
May God bless each of us on this day and throughout what will no doubt be a difficult journey. And may God’s grace carry us forward, keeping us ever in God’s ways as we go.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
A few days ago, I went through my morning routine, grabbed my church survival kit (computer, coffee, keys, cell phone, purse), and prepared to leave the house. My last stop was to the kitchen to grab a bone for our dog. Because that’s what I do every morning. I give her a treat prior to our departure and assure her that we’ll be back.
But, we don’t have our dog, anymore. The previous morning, we had said good-bye to her. So on this morning, as I stood in the kitchen, clutching the doggie bone in my hands, tears running down my cheeks, I wondered what to do with that last bone. Continue reading
I’m not voting blue no matter who. I thought I was. Then, I thought a bit more.
I don’t just vote the party line because I’m stubborn. I don’t just vote Democrat because I’m a died in the wool Democrat. I still listen to the candidates, pay attention to how they vote, watch how they interact with people. I still study the issues and vote for the person I think will best represent, not only the American people, but the world beyond. Because the person who sits in that oval office has a lot of power. And that both inspires and frightens me. I want to be able to trust that person. So I weigh my vote carefully. Continue reading
The first time I walked into a gay bar, I was hungry, thirsty, and in need of sustenance. A group of college friends and I were enjoying a California spring break adventure. This particular stop took place in San Francisco. We walked in, took a cursory look around, found a table, and sat down. Taking a closer look, once we were seated, we noticed a little something different. To say that we, with our sheltered little Bible college world, were a bit unaccustomed to such things, might be an understatement. To say that we handled it well, well, I leave that to you to judge.
I remember glancing around wondering if anyone would think we were gay. Wondering if they would flirt with us. Wondering, oh, my! What if someone tried to pick up one of us? After all, Brent was rather beautiful. It could happen.
As I say, we were unaccustomed to such things. Continue reading
I will admit that they had me. For a little while, at least. With their political correctness and the need to say and do everything in just the proper manner. Say this, but not that. Never, ever do this. Always do this, instead.
Yes, I listened intently. And then I stopped. And I really listened. And I watched. And I began to I notice that something ugly was taking place throughout our world. Continue reading
A child lies on the sand, his body washed up by the surf. He should be running, jumping, playing in those waves. Giggling and wiggling his toes into the sand. But the only movement is that caused by the shifting of those tiny sand particles. The ceaseless flow of the water.
He looks as if he is sleeping. Peaceful. At rest. As if he should be curled up on a blanket, nestled in the loving arms of his mama. But she, too, was consumed by the unforgiving, merciless waves. As were his brother and so many others. Continue reading
Dear Harper Lee (and all your editors and publishers, both past and present),
Thank you for your brilliance. Thank your for sharing your insights, experiences and observations of southern life, and a troubled period of our nation’s history, in a way that brings us in with unsettling, heartbreaking honesty, but also with tenderness, humor, and profound grace.
Thank you for To Kill a Mockingbird, a book which touched my young and developing soul and helped shape my character, my life. A book which has shaped generations and will continue to hold a mirror before our eyes, forcing us to see who we are and who we would be.
And thank you for Go Set a Watchman. Your reluctance to share it with the world is understandable. First drafts, second drafts, third, fifth, tenth. They are wrenching, painful works in progress. Continue reading
Many words will be written about the events of this week. It has been a week of emotions, a week of change, a week that will make historians take notice.
As we watched Confederate flags being removed from prominent places and heard eminent people speaking carefully, eloquently about history and tradition being mingled with deep seated hatred and pain, we have learned a new way to hear one another. As we watched the Supreme Court Justices vote favorably on the Affordable Care Act, we learned a new way of hope, knowing that many who have been denied health care will receive it, many who have just found it, will not lose it. As we listened to those same Justices debate over marriage equality and finally, once and for all, determine that marriage is a constitutional right guaranteed to all, we have learned a new way of hope and that love does win. As we heard the grieving family members of nine people whose lives were torn down by hatred and racism offer forgiveness to the murderer, we learned a new way of forgiveness and compassion. As we watched the President of the United States of America giving a eulogy for a pastor, as we listened to him lead a congregation, indeed a nation, in the singing of a beloved hymn, we learned a new way of grace. Continue reading
There is an empty space hidden deep inside. It cannot be seen or touched. It cannot be filled or healed. It just exists.
Many people have empty spaces. Some have been carefully etched into being by slowly evolving grief. Some have been hacked away by sudden, wrenching loss.
The tears may flow and smooth away some of the roughest edges, filling the nooks and crannies. But the cavern remains. Dark. Empty. Hollow. Continue reading