Thursday, February 27, 2014

Not Every Hurt Can Be Healed

Not every hurt can be healed
not every ouch disappears
not every thing passes
not every song gets sung

No buts
or maybes
or otherwises
or elses

for not every ending is happy

if I have a gift it is this
this knowing 
this not flinching
this naming


when you come to the end
of your endings and 
not every fairy tale came true

if you want me to,
I can come up on your porch
and sit with you awhile
and not try to talk you out of the it
and we can sit with the it
in silence or in screaming
it will not care and neither will I
unless you need me to

9 Weird Food Mash-Ups in the U.S.

Actually, I don’t know if these are unique to us or not.  And I know other places have their own share of food oddities (don’t look over your shoulders, Brit friends – I am talking about you – prawn crisps?  Really?).  But some of the stuff we do to and with our food in the United States is downright scary.  My own list:

1. Mashed potato sandwich – just how much starch can one human ingest at one time and still live?  We’ve yet to discover the outer limits, but we’re still trying.  (Of course, we’ve taken the sandwich concept and run with it: potato-chip sandwiches [fried bologna optional], meat sandwiches [shout out, Carnegie Deli in NYC], there are really just too many examples to name and those of you from other countries would not believe me if I told you.  You'll just have to come and discover them for yourselves.  And I apologize in advance for what we call bread.

2. Pizza + anything – really, what is the point?

3. The cronut – croissant + donut = cronut.  Apparently all the rage in NYC, but then, I’m not in NYC, so what do I know? (and some folk apparently cut them in half and use them as bread and make themselves a sandwich of it, throwing on some meat and cheese).

4. The casserole . . . a casserole . . . any casserole . . . we sure do love them and they are (sometimes) quite tasty. . . sometimes not so much.  A cultural note:  the ubiquitous casserole is virtually a sacrament at church functions in the States (except that we tend to make our sacraments more special by their lesser frequency in our communal lives).

5. Fried everything – pickles – really?  What did the pickle ever do to you, I wonder?

6. Bacon with, on, or in, everything.  Now don’t get me wrong: I love me some bacon.  But bacon tacos, with the actual taco made of bacon?  Bacon ice cream?  Are there no purists left among us?

7. Sausage gravy on pancakes – like biscuits aren’t quite big enough for the job – really?  (But come out to the Highlands during Maple Festival – the sausage gravy at the Stonewall Ruritans is fabulous, especially on a pancake).

8. Just like we’ll make a sandwich of anything just by slapping a couple pieces of bread around it, we’ll make a cereal of about everything else by throwing some milk on it . . . torn pieces of stale white bread in milk . . . fresh tomatoes . . . you guessed it . . . in milk . . . and then there are just our garden variety of breakfast cereals – my latest fav (actually, I hate milk, but I love the combinations the cereal people come up with – makes me glad I don’t eat cereal) – some sort of grain-crunch product that encases marshmellow and is encased by chocolate – a sort of s’mores cereal.  What could be better than that for your child’s health?

Honorable mention – not a mash-up, really, but who can forget:

9. Bigger . . . everything – why have a meal for one when you can supersize it and have enough to feed your neighborhood?  I remain bemused by the sheer volume of food that comes on a plate these days.  We eat like we be giants.  I wonder what’s up with that?

So own it, fellow citizens – what weird little food secrets are you hiding as your own secret delight?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Detritus of Our Lives

It’s Yard Sale time in the Highlands!  The ladies of the church are gathering in the detritus of our lives and I love it.  I get to go over to the church whenever I want and troll through all that stuff and it is glorious.

I know, I know.  I shouldn’t be so interested in the material world.  Preachers, after all, are concerned (or should be, so I am told) in things more eternal and somehow thus ethereal.  But it’s just so fun to troll, to see what others have cast off and even run across my own leavings and second-guess whether I really wanted to let that heart-shaped knick-knack go or not.  I mean, it did look good on the guest room dresser.  No, I sternly tell myself.  Let it go.  And giggle, because I actually have ‘bought back’ stuff before.

Then I move on to the glass and table ware left in one home by the former owner . . . the items lovingly packed away when an aunt recently died . . . the continued down-sizing of friends getting older and no longer interested in so much stuff . . . children’s things no longer wanted or needed as the kids have grown . . . evidence of projects that won’t be done this time around . . .

What we let go of is as interesting as what we keep.  And oh, what bargains!  I’ve got a dollar in my pocket.  I think I’ll do a little early shopping.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I Missed the Better Metaphor

One picture is worth a thousand words.  So said, well, we’re not sure, but generally, the saying is attributed to an advertising guy in the early 1900's, who attributed it to an unnamed Japanese philosopher.

Today there’s an evocative photograph on the Weather Channel’s site from photographer Jonathan Pow.  I can’t find the picture anywhere else than on someone’s FB share, so I don’t know if it was genuinely a photograph of a found visual (as opposed to something created then photographed), but the photo is evocative.

It shows more than thirty unexploded ordinance lying on a beach on a sunny day.  The picture on FB, at least, was attached to a Weather Channel article on sightings of unexploded WWII bombs on British beaches in the wake of recent flooding there.

In the round of FB comments, one gentleman spoke eloquently from the Native American tradition of the unhealed memories these unexploded bombs probably represent to many who lived through those times, calling we younger ones to patient listening.

His reaction is so much gentler than my own as I behold this visual.

If this be a metaphor, the images that arise in my own mind are of the cost well into an unknown future of the bombs of all kinds we humans make . . . the literal bombs and land mines that explode unsuspecting children into history . . . the waste of war that is witnessed by its debris . . . the monuments to our colossal pride and foolishness that are the rusted leavings of an invading conqueror . . .

I missed the metaphor of healing entirely . . .

How grateful am I to be reminded that the intrusion of the past into the present, while potentially dangerous, can also be a healing place, that it remains entirely up to us to decide.

So for every gun, every bullet, kept in every old soldier’s dresser drawer . . . for every picture of comrades-in-arms long gone stowed away in a box of papers hidden from daily view . . . for every smoke-filled screen archived safely into a past waiting to be rediscovered . . . here’s praying we decide well, for decide, we do.

Monday, February 24, 2014

God's Kids You Are -- Blessed the Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. – Matthew 5.9

Blissful the ones trying to make peace, for they are God’s own kids.

Privileged those who try to reconcile people having disagreements, because they do God’s work.


What does it mean to be called a child of God?  In the New Testament, generally it means you are claimed by God, part of God’s family; it’s  another name for a Christian.  In this understanding, Jesus’ saying might mean, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for I have claimed them and they are mine.”

Another sense of being called a child (or more literally, a son) of God is in the sense that one is doing a God-like thing or work.*

But what actually is peacemaking?  It’s an active thing, and it includes the presence of justice, for God’s peace, as biblically understood, is probably better understood as a model of health rather than a courtroom model, with justice understood as wellness, wholeness, completeness, in the way that God intends all creation to be well, whole, complete.

Participating in God’s creation in a way designed to restore health, wellness and wholeness for all is to make, to create, peace.  To make peace is to fundamentally change the nature of creation and all within it.  Understood thus, how could restoring God’s creation not be blessed by God?

Yet for the peacemakers among us, life is a great challenge.  There is no comfort of being at one with the crowd.  They live on the outside of things – always.  They see the world through different eyes – the eyes of hope for the better it could be – always.  And they are hated for it – always.

So perhaps what this beatitude is saying goes something like this: oh, my blessed ones who try so hard to make my peace move from dream to reality – nobody will thank you for it, you know.  Oh, they’ll love you enough when you’re talking about the other guy.  But as soon as you turn your gaze toward them, the friendship will be over.  They’ll feel betrayed.  And they won’t understand.  At least not at first.  Maybe never.  Just don’t you forget – whether they claim you as one of their own or not, I always will – I will always claim you for you are mine.  Nobody takes that from you.  Nobody.  So when it gets lonely . . . when you’re sure the world is incurably violent and nothing you do will ever make a difference . . . when you just know that your life has been a waste and a failure, you remember this: 

You are mine and nothing about you or what you do is a waste. 

As for the rest of us, perhaps we would do well to be a little more thankful for the peacemakers among us . . . for the ones who point out what is not always obvious to us . . . the ones who ask the hard questions, like: why does it ‘have to be’ this way? . . . the ones who challenge us to be better than we are . . . the ones who refuse to settle for business as usual . . . the ones who will not let themselves . . . or us . . . off the hook – yeah, those folk.  Maybe we should thank them, work with them, listen to them, walk alongside them, because maybe, just maybe they’re right.  Maybe we can actually do better.  And maybe we should.

After all, it was Jesus himself who said, Oh, lucky, happy, blissful, privileged, blessed you – my peacemakers, my creation restorers: you are my children!

*a God-like thing or work – from William Barclay’s The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, p. 109-110.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Forgotten Jug

In John 4, the gospel writer tells of a woman’s chance encounter with Jesus at a well.  When the woman departs, she leaves her water jug behind.

Why did she leave her jug behind?  What does it mean?  That one seemingly extraneous detail drives me crazy.

One tradition is that the jug represents the Samaritan woman’s former ‘evil ways’ – having way too many husbands and boyfriends for any one woman to have – that she is symbolically and then really leaving behind.  It’s a creative reading of the text – I don’t know of anywhere else that a jug represents the ‘container of evil’.  But hey, it’s a theory.

And then there is the view that she left the jug as a symbol of all that we leave behind to proclaim the good news.  The Samaritan woman is the first evangelist, the first proclaimer of Jesus as Messiah in John’s Gospel, and as such, maybe she is a prototype.  God calls the unlikely to proclaim the unknowable in ways unpredictable.  The Samaritan woman’s story certainly says all that.

But for all the good news, the woman will still, at the end of the day, need her jug.  So why leave it behind?

My own guess is that the jug is left behind because this is no time for containers or containing . . . life-giving water in the person of Jesus Christ is running wild in Samaria . . . and this God will not be contained . . . not in old ideas about how the world is, not in old ideas about how God is . . . and not in old ideas about how we are to view or treat each other . . .

Jesus is our spiritual makluba*, our spiritual child-delighting, grown-up shattering upside-down God . . . who brings us the good news we never expected, often in a way we never wanted and usually from people we never intended to know.

When I think of water, I do not think of the safety of the drinking glass or the carrying jug . . . I think of the dark sea into which Jonah’s pride cast him . . . I think of whale bellies and other scary-safe places . . . I think of tides whose pull I cannot ignore . . . I think of oceans too vast to see, to deep to know . . . too much for me to swallow . . . and so I float . . . for what else can I do?

Maybe, just maybe, John meant the forgotten jug to remind us that God, like water, will not be contained . . . that God, like water, goes where God wills . . . into the glass of our very selves, through the cracks of our brokenness . . . or in a tidal flood sweeping us along for the ride.

Maybe, just maybe, the woman left her jug because she had come to a new truth . . . who, caught up in a tidal wave, brings along her jug?

Maybe, just maybe, God has been waiting all along for us to come to know a simple thing:  I do not carry the water . . . it carries me . .

As Alla Renee Bozarth wrote, To feel alive, important and safe, know your own waters and hills, but know more.  You have stars in your bones and oceans in [your] blood . . . 

*makluba – an upside down rice dish from the Middle East

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Today Blessing

If today be a day of ordinary time for you
          if the hum and the drum of life are your reassurances
          if the sun and the rain dance lightly through your life this day
May you be blessed

If today be a day of standing up and being counted
          if you stand with the crowd, certain or uncertain why you are there
          if your life is offered up today in the hope of making a difference
May you be blessed

If today be a day of peace for you
          if the calm dwells within you amidst any storm
          if you are that picture of peace within and without shining forth for a world to see
May you be blessed

If today be a day of pain, fear, violence, conflict for you
          if all within you screams to run but there is no place to run
          if every fiber of your body calls for the answer of your fists even as you resist
May you be blessed

Boat Blessing.  Photo from State of Florida
Library at Flickr Commons

Thursday, February 20, 2014

For Every Teenager: It’s About Sex

[Who am I to give you advice?  Nobody special, that's for sure.  But I have been a teenager.  And I survived it.  And when I read folks giving you advice that is so bad it makes me cringe, especially in the name of God, I just have to offer my own voice as a reminder that the hard road you travel has others along the way to offer you some guidance.  I hope it helps.]

This is for every teenager I have known or will ever know and even for those I’ll never meet.  If you (even accidentally) come across a web site with dating advice, please, please, please, let someone with a little age on them that you trust read it first – especially when they bring God into it.

Why do I say that?

Because I just read one.  Please don’t read it (it was so foolish and wrong that while I’ll mention some of the things they said, I will NOT include the site in this post – it’s poison).  Please.  Or if you must, read this first.


You are more than your body parts.

You are wonderful.

God adores you.

God wants the best for you.

The best may not be what you’ve gotten.

That sucks.

If that’s true for you, somewhere in your life is someone with some age on them who can help.

Choose that person wisely.

They won’t lie.

They won’t tell you it’s easy.

They won’t feed you a line of crap.

They won’t tell you it’s your fault or make you feel like it is.

If they do, run from them as fast as you can.

Because those are lies and they are liars.

So . . . what do I have to say to the folks who pretend to be giving you good advice about dating?


Dear Hayley & Justin:

Words matter.

Given what you both do for a living, I know you get that.

They matter.


And especially with the young.

They may not know better.

But you do.

Here’s another simple rule: you can’t get a right result the wrong way.

Dr. King put it something like this: ends and means must cohere.

What’s my point?

Simply this: you can’t give sound advice to the young about their sexuality and its expression with crap advice about what it means to be male or female.

Crap advice about what it means to be male or female leads to crap decisions about interactions between male and female.

Get it?

So on to the specifics:

1. Your 1st rule for girls is to accept being a girl.  Okay so far.  But then you go on to define being a girl as being ‘soft’ and ‘gentle’.  According to whom?  Really – I’d like to know.  According to whom are girls, by definition, soft and gentle?  What about the girls who just aren’t?  Aren’t we girls too?  And since you’ve brought God into the conversation, just where in the Bible are girls or women defined as soft and gentle?  In actual fact, St. Paul calls all believers to a way that is soft and gentle.  He even uses the word gentle: Galatians 5.23 (fruits of the spirit); Galatians 6.1; Ephesians 4.2; Philippians 4.5; 1 Timothy 6.11 (speaking to a man); 2 Timothy 2.25 (how to deal with an opponent); 2 Corinthians 10.1 (describing himself and Christ as gentle); and 1 Corinthians 4.21.  And that’s just Paul.

2. Dateable girls aren’t downers.  It’s a fair point to speak about our inner beauty.  And to encourage inner peace.  But “dateable girls aren’t downers”?  Did you really just say that?  How about happiness for its or our own sake?  How about – just this once – not making our happiness, even as a goal, something to be striven for in order to attract a man?  How about it – just this once – being for our own sake?  How about pointing out that dating, sometimes fun, sometimes not, is not the be-all and end-all of our existence?  How about stressing our fundamental identity as child of God for its own sake?  Or even a little footnote about what to do if you find that you are unhappy all the time, instead of implying that unhappiness is somehow the ‘fault’ of the one experiencing it?

3. Believe in your beauty – doesn’t sound so bad – if you leave it there.  But you don’t.  “Dateable girls learn how to overcome the sins of the past that have been perpetrated on them.”  Are you kidding me?  Did you just advise a girl who may have been raped or sexually abused to get over it?  Did you really just tell her that it ain’t pretty to be affected by what’s happened to her?  Did you really make her experience trite by relating it to dating advice?  Really?  And it doesn’t end there, does it?  Because in comparing this to the advice for the guys, it’s clear that guys are actors and girls are the acted upon.  Neither is true.  We are all one or the other at different times.  The reason stereotypes are bad is because they’re not universal truths (which is what they claim to be); thus, for those for whom your stereotypes do not ring true, especially for teenagers, the result is often self-blame.  So the girl or guy who has been wounded and who can’t just get over it is left feeling as if it is their fault.  And it isn’t.  And then you tell the guys to believe in themselves while telling the girls to believe in their beauty.  You can say all you want that it’s about inner beauty, but we all know better, don’t we?  You’ve just told girls to believe in their looks or appearance, while telling guys to believe in their abilities.  Same old shit, different day.  Shame on you!


Ladies and gentlemen of the teenage variety, please, please, please, know some things:

1. Physical attraction is just that.  It has its place, but it is not defining of the whole you.

2. Nothing lasts forever – not this feeling, not this moment in time, not this stage in life, nothing.

3. It will get better.  Life is pretty hard for everyone, but these feelings of worthelessness, of not fitting into your own body, of feeling different from everybody else – these feelings largely pass away and it does get better.  Some days you know that.  But some days you just have to hang on and trust that we old fogies really have walked in your shoes and know a few things – like, it will get better.

4. God adores you.  You.  Just as you are you.  Even when you mess up.  Even when no one else does.  Even when you don’t.  God does.  Always and all the time.  Really.

5. We don’t tell you to wait because it’s bad not to.  We tell you to wait because it’s better – in every way (and yes, I mean that too) better – to wait.  It’s not about punishment.  It’s about gift.  Your body is an amazing gift.  Treat it like it is your very best friend.

6. Yes, we – your parents, teachers, adult friends, are all about being up in your business.  You don’t have to like it.  But it is our job.  If we’re not up in your business, we’re not doing our job.  That simple.  Be mad at us.  That’s okay.  But we’re going to keep doing our job because it is our job.  Some day it’ll be your job.  In the meantime, try to remember that it is our job because we know some things – really.  You’re smart.  You know that.  Even if you don’t like it, you know it.

7. If someone hurts you sexually, it is NOT – NOT, NOT, NOT – your fault.  And you deserve to be helped.  And there is help to be had.  There are hotlines.  And there are wise adults out there.  If you don’t find a wise one the first time, keep looking.

8. Trust is something earned, not demanded.  When someone demands that you trust them, that’s usually the time to run.  Trustworthy people do not have to even say the word trust, let alone demand that you give it.  If someone does something untrustworthy, they are not to be trusted.

9. Sex is not love.  Sex is sex.  Sex can become a part of the expression of love, but it is not love.  Love is caring for another enough to not have sex, not to insist on it.  When someone insists on having sex, they are thinking about themselves and not about you.  That is not love.

10. “I don’t want to” may not be a good enough reason not to clean your room, but it is ALWAYS a good enough reason not to have sex.  Married folk (in a good marriage anyway) know this – both partners are ALWAYS allowed to say no.  When it comes to sex, you do not EVER have to explain yourself.  No is no.  End of conversation.

11. You are beautiful simply because God made you and God does not make junk.  Sex does not prove you are beautiful.  Sex just proves you’re human.  But you already knew that, right?  So why bother proving it?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I Could Have Been Born

I could have been born to be a Pacific-Island fisherman
waking each day to an ocean sunrise
the problem would be that I hate the taste of anything from water
are there fisherpeople who do not like fish?

I could have been born into the path of a 19th century house wife
you’ll forgive me, I hope if I tell you that’s my own personal version of hell
Medicine still making of child-birth an almost terminal illness
still not allowed so much – no vote, no voice, no property ownership
no, no, no
and I am so me that I would not be well-liked and probably wouldn’t
have to worry about that child-bearing thing, because no man in his right mind of the time
would even consider marrying what would surely be seen as a
harridan-in-the-making of the worst sort

I could have been born into unimaginable luxury
a Vanderbilt or the daughter of one of the many princes and kings inhabiting our planet
with more than my fair share at my fingertips
and if I had been, I wonder would I have been bothered by this largesse?
Would I have rebelled and run away from it all?
Or would I have succumbed to the temptation of entitlement
that this was mine because God or fate or some obscure sense of merit deemed it so?
Would I have even liked me then?

I could have been born a farmer, where life is simple if not easy
with each day plotted out before me, organized by the course of the stars
and the earth’s rhythmic movement from one season through another
the repetition being where I found my beauty
and the dirt dirtiness of the earth where I found my grounding

I could have been born unwanted
unsure of each moment, fearful
of every new thing

I could have been born a bird
freed to spread my wings
and fly the gulf-stream of things
soaring high above all save my
fellow birds – and planes

All things considered, I think I’ll take the me that is
rather than the me that could have been
although I do wonder what it might be like
to be that fish-hating fisherman

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tipped Towards God

Tipping points, according to Malcolm Gladwell, author of the book of the same name, are those moments which bring change, especially in a group or system. The notion of the tipping point is recognizing that what caused the change is something seemingly small or unrelated to the change.

In what we call The Last Supper, Jesus hosts a banquet, a feast he has planned carefully, using the time of hospitality and relaxation to introduce the possibility of enormous change in the course of events for all people.

There are traitors at the table; they were invited.  Jesus violates the rules of his Middle Eastern hospitality culture, naming the betrayal in the midst of the meal.  The meal itself and this naming are tipping points: great risk is taken and what will happen after is uncertain.  But the means of change is something seemingly unrelated to the situation Jesus finds himself in: how can bread and wine save any of them?

Jesus changes the very concept of what it means to sit together and eat.  The fellowship and hospitality of the meal are expanded to include in every meal fellowship with and hospitality with and from God’s very self.

With God’s participation in the meal, the very notion of hospitality is changed: it is no longer sufficient to feed our guests with the food of the stomach; now they will be fed with food for the spirit as well, the Spirit who is and who speaks Truth as well as Love, challenge as well as welcome.

But this understanding is all had in hindsight.  What must it have been like in the midst of the meal?  Great risks are taken.  What will happen after remains uncertain.

We are tempted to say that the tipping point was all about the disciples, that Jesus already knew what would happen.  Jesus is God, after all.  But Jesus was also a human being.  And it is only a few short hours later that Jesus in the garden prays to God to let the cup of suffering that is coming in the form of a crucifixion pass from him if at all possible – ‘let this cup pass’ says Jesus; we might pray, ‘not this, dear God, please not this!’  Can we really say that this Jesus who begs God to spare him is really so certain about the outcome?

Jesus took risks, seeking change, uncertain if the tipping point would even come.  One thing is certain: without his risk, nothing would have changed.

Yet in our focus on Jesus, we cannot forget his guests.  It’s easy to condemn Judas - he’s a really bad guy!  He’s just so easy to hate, isn’t he, this betrayer and liar pretending to be friends when he is really an enemy?  Traitor!  He got his just deserts, didn’t he?

But before we get too happy about Judas’ fate, perhaps we should consider Peter a bit more closely.  Isn’t he a traitor too?

Peter, who refutes Jesus in the same breath he names him ‘Messiah’ . . . Peter, who sinks into the sea for lack of faith . . . Peter, who falls asleep when Jesus asks him to stay awake and pray . . . Peter, who denies even knowing Jesus, cursing at the woman who insists otherwise . . . Peter, who leaves Jesus utterly abandoned at the hour of his great need.

Didn’t he betray Jesus with his denials as surely as Judas with his silver?

Of course he did.  But here’s the thing Peter lived long enough to come to understand:  Forgiveness is real.  It does not undo the past, nor does it erase the consequences of betrayal in the present.  But it is real.

Jesus will and does forgive all of us Peters and even us Judases, for our daily betrayals and abandonments.  But we break the heart of God if we do not turn back, if we blindly walk past our own tipping points.

First we must confess and then we must turn back.  We all have a bit of the evil self-interest and the distrust and despair of Judas and the wilful ignorant foolishness and cowardice of Peter within us.

What makes reconciliation, restoration, redemption even possible in the face of such truth?  God’s love,
deeplifequotes at Flickr Commons
which calls to us from eternity: Turn back, oh humanity!  Foreswear thy foolish ways!  It is never too late!

Jesus’ words from the cross, “Father, forgive”, are big enough for our Peter moments, and our Judas betrayals.

Turn back!

Every second of every minute of every hour of every day, God is tipping us to God’s very self.

Turn back!

Moments of us against them thinking ensnare us into daily murders of the dignity, spirit and very self of others.  There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’ in God’s reality.

Turn back!

Temptations abound:  to shut our eyes to the consequences for others, near and far, of our choices.  There is no room for wilful ignorance in God’s reality.

Turn back!

The silver in our hands tempts us to Judas pride and despair and betrayal to hold on to what we believe to be rightly ‘ours’ and to ever grasp for more.  But there is no pride of place or possession or even of ‘right belief’ in God’s reality.

Turn back!

Peter-like fear creeps over us like a thief in the night, holding us captive to the demons of our mind, freezing us in place like deer caught in the headlights, robbing us of the will to the good God intends.

In God’s world, fears fade and the joy of faith moves us forward to serve God and each other with justice, mercy and humility.

God is calling to each and all of us, “Open your eyes!  I am waiting to catch you by surprise, if you would only see!”

Turn back! and in your turning, you will be tipped towards God.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Carrying Water

Only as an adult did I realize that my family spent every Sunday at my grandparents’, not so I could play outside or hang with my cousins, but so we could help Grandma and Grandpa carry water from the spring for the week.

My grandparents did not have running water until the last year of my Grandfather’s life.  That means they had no hot water heater, and hence no hot water save what was boiled on the stove.

It means they had no toilet.  They used a chamber pot and had an outhouse.

They were spare people – spare of material goods, spare of waste, spare of words.

They appreciated the cost of everything.

Two generations later, I find myself part of a wasteful generation that throws things away rather than repairs them; that lets the water run simply to let it run; that uses drinking water to flush away its waste (something that puzzles many of my friends from other parts of the world).

I have completed my grandparents’ cycle in some ways, having returned from town life to country life, and yet, even now, I find myself in a tiny village held captive by the water ways of modern life, as we had to stop drinking from the flowing waters (not clean enough) and drink from treated wells, only to find the treated wells contaminated and unusable and having no other source of water because the other sources have been cut off from us – and it’s been thus for over a year now, that we’re supposed to be boiling our water for all purposes (save showering, I suppose).

Turns out when it comes to water, I’m living more like my grandma than the people of my own time.  How’s that for ironic, Grandma?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Prayer of a Good Day

You know it’s a good day when
last night and this morning it snowed and snowed and snowed –
somewhere round 17 inches of the stuff just kept piling up
and in the sudden sun of the late afternoon, you look outside
and there’s your neighbor with his grown son on their 4-wheelers
snow blades firmly attached, plowing out a path to your garage
so you can get your car out if you need to and you get motivated
to sweep away enough snow from your back door to make a path
to them to offer up some gooey brownies fresh and warm from the
oven and Larry teaches you how to drive the 4-wheeler and lets you
plow some snow out of the way just for fun and refuses any money
for his efforts in that sly country way of just acting like he didn’t
hear you and going about the business of being a good neighbor
and it is so wonderful it’s just about enough to make a grown girl
cry as you make your way back into the warmth of an old house
that stays warm like new ones can’t seem to, oooey-gooey brownies
in hand as you glance back over your shoulder and watch father
and son playing in the snow and helping a neighbor just cos
and suddenly you realize that you’ve just been to church and you
whisper your amen there on the steps where only God hears
Yeah, that’s when you know it’s been a good day

Skating Backwards Into Life

Watching the Winter Olympics at Sochi, I have been struck by the fact that all jumps seem to be backwards
(turns out all are, with the exception of the Axel, which takes off from a forward position, but all jumps land with the skater skating backwards).

I wish someone could explain to me why this is so.  Google searches have led me nowhere.  There must be something about human physiology and the process of the jump which make the entrance and exit something best done backwards (indeed, the article I read on  Wikipedia says that the Axel – the only jump with a forward takeoff, is the most difficult of all the jumps).

Why?  I do not know.  Someone knows, but I don’t.

But it does leave one wondering about skating and about life.

“Count no man happy until the end is known,” Solon reputedly said to King Croesus.

Maybe it is in this sense that backwards is the best vantage point: that one’s degree of happiness cannot be truly known until the end of one’s life.  This, then, is the idea not so much of perspective as it is of the possibilities of change – while one may be happy now, that may well change on the proverbial dime, depending on what happens in one’s life right up to the end.

But I think it really is more about how life is actually lived, as opposed to how we make sense of it or tell it: life is often lived backwards, isn’t it?  Things happen from behind, both for good and for ill, that we never see coming as we’re focusing on another direction entirely, much like the skater jumping backwards.

The only difference is that the skater has intentionally developed the skill to fly into the life that is waiting behind rather than ahead of him.

That, I suspect, takes a kind of guts few of us are well-suited to, as we continually seek to look over our shoulder, trying to see what awaits around each corner, beyond each horizon.

I wonder what it would be like to approach life like a figure skater, confident that the arena in which I travel is a safe and well-bounded place . . . trusting that my backward flying feet will take me nowhere I’m not able to go . . . keeping my gaze fixed on the present and leaving the future into which I hurtle to itself.

I bet it’s magic.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Those Who Hunger & Thirst

Those who hunger are the 
ones standing at the margins
those who thirst are lying under 
foot being trampled by passers by
as they cry out No!

Whether the hunger or 
the thirst is ours 
or not
we eat at table with 
the hungering and thirsting ones
or not

for sometimes we get 
very good at ignoring their cries
shutting our eyes tight against 
the things they scream in our ears

it’s just too much
and we are too few
and it’s not our problem
and what can one person, 
one family, one church, 
one village, do?

Perhaps we might begin
simply by beginning –
remembering that hunger
and thirst are not abstract –
not theoretical
for they are not
and the real need
sits at table with us

That, perhaps,
is their blessing
to we who do not

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow Excuses

I want to go out
and play in the snow
make a snow angel
and take a picture
to share with you
but I have no
cell for a selfie

maybe I’ll just
stay inside
it’s cold out there
and even if I could
manage to capture
a pic with my 
vid cam and not
destroy my ’puter
in the process
you probably couldn’t
see it cos it’d be
white on white
and white on white
doesn’t show much
isn’t that why there’s
blue dye on the white
snow in the Olympics?

and I don’t have any
blue (or any other
color) dye so yeah,
I think I’ll stay inside,

besides, there’s about
a billion snowflakes
in a cubic foot of 
snow and if I go 
outside, I’ll be a 
snow murderer,
won’t I?  as I crush
all those beautiful
flakes underfoot 

just so I can take
a picture to show you?
That doesn’t sound like
a very good reason to
murder innocent snow,
does it?

yeah, I’d better stay
inside – safer for
the snow that way

Homework Hero - source for how many snowflakes in a cubic foot of snow

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Flight of the Harmonious Stride

Maxim Trankov and Tatiana Volosozhar performed their short program in team figure skating last night and it
Photo by zhem_chug at FlickrCommons
goes without saying that they were magnificent.

In any display of grand competence, I am always overwhelmed by how the performer makes what is so very difficult look effortless.  Last night’s performance was such an example.

Watching them work in tandem minds me of how much more difficult it is to work together than alone.  I don’t know how tall they each are, but she only comes to his shoulder, which suggests as much difference in the length of their respective legs, which suggests how very much they must both work – she stretching beyond her limits, he holding back, to match each other skate for skate, turn for turn.

Matching pace, each to the other, is no easy thing in any endeavor: marriage, friendship, teacher-student, dancing, skating, walking side by side – all require an awareness of the other, an ability to slow down or speed up beyond one’s own normal pace of life in order to operate in tandem with another.

It invites the pondering of who do we have to alter our pace for and the recognition that in that altered pace may well lie our best flying.

Sometimes we just have to slow down for someone else.  We get that.  When our kids are little, we’re spending a whole lot of time in first gear, walking more slowly, matching our pace to theirs, speaking more simply, explaining along the way.

And whatever our life’s work, there will be times when we have to match our pace to another less knowledgeable or experienced, showing them the way, pointing forward so they can see what we already know to be there.

And there will be times when someone else will do that for us.

There is a cost to the self in this matching of pace, of one’s own internal rhythms to another’s.

But when it works, oh, how glorious it is, for there be dancing in our flying and harmony to the universe.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The God They Be Seeing

Matthew 5.8:  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

The God They Be Seeing

Literally: Privileged the clean ones to the heart because they the God shall be seeing.

Blissful the guiltless, because they will be seeing God.

Happy those free from sin that they shall be seeing the God.

This, more than any of the other beatitudes, I suspect, is for the ‘rest of us’ rather than for the ones about whom Jesus speaks.

To be ‘pure in heart’ as Jesus speaks it means to be free of mixed motives . . . to see the best rather than the worst because one has no eye for the worst . . . to have no care for anything save the things of God . . . it is to be sin free.*

Jesus is not posing a riddle or speaking of impossibilities.  He’s talking about someone.  But who?  And what does it mean that they shall see God?  Or perhaps more importantly, what does it mean to those that are not pure in heart to say that the pure ones will see God?  Does it mean that they, that we, will not?  And what does that mean?  Is this code language about how to get to heaven?

View the beatitudes not as a list of criteria to get to heaven, not a list of virtues.  View them as a list (and not necessarily the only one) of blessings to particular people, people who are not ordinarily thought of as lucky or blessed.

There may be a call to be more like them.  But the more important challenge to the rest of us is simple recognition: the recognition that God values the likes of these.

So who are the pure in heart?  Perhaps they’re the ones among us who don’t get the joke – you know, the joke . . . the joke that has a cruel or off-color punch line . . . they don’t get it because for them, it really isn’t funny when somebody falls down because they might be hurt . . . they don’t get sexual innuendo because it never occurs to them to demean God’s gift of our embodiment. . . they are not worldly and in a sense, they are already seeing God . . . all the time.

Perhaps the pure in heart are the child-like innocents among us, for whom life seems very simple, because it is.  They’re the ones the rest of us are always explaining things to, as they ask their ridiculous questions:  Why would people go to war: don’t they know people will be killed? they wonder.  Why would you make fun of her? don’t you know it hurts her feelings?  Why are you laughing when she’s crying? they ask mostly themselves.

We answer, but you don’t understand!, to which they sadly respond, you’re right: I don’t understand, leaving us wondering if perhaps we’re the ones who’ve missed the point.

They’re not self-righteous, these pure ones.

They’re simply confused and hurt by the ugliness of the world.  Of course they see God.

The great irony is that they most likely have no idea Jesus is actually talking about them.

Oh, blissed, blessed innocent pure ones . . . God is overjoyed to see you . . . and can’t wait for you to see him. . . you see, you already have.

*William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1.

Monday, February 10, 2014

10 Things NOT to Do To Your Grown Kids

Your mother did it.  You hated it.  How hard is it to not do it yourself?

1. Rearrange the dishes in the dishwasher.  Yes, yes, I know there’s a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’ way to do it and yes, I know we’re doing it ‘wrong’ and yes, your way really is better.  But CUT IT OUT!  You hated it when your mom did it to you.  That’s the rule: if you hated it when your mom did it, DON’T DO IT!

2. Rearranging anything, for that matter . . . food in the cupboards, clothes in the closet, flowers in the garden, silverware in the drawer . . . is off limits.  Got it?

3. Call to ask why you haven’t called.  Or worse, have another family call to tell you to call.  Seriously?  Who does that?  You know who you are.

4. When you have an opposite-handed child (you’re a rightie and she’s a leftie), do take the time to put things the way they were when you got there.  You inhabit opposite worlds.  Deal with it and be considerate – it’s easy, really: if it goes the way that’s comfortable for you, reverse it.

5. Don’t complain that everything is wrong because it’s wrong, awkward for or simply different from how you do it.  You heard me: DON’T.

6. Putting it in the form of a question does NOT help.  See how easy a declarative sentence is?  So, do not ask, “wouldn’t that be better if . . .”  If your daughter thought it would be better that way, she would have done it that way.  Putting it in the form of a question is just being passive aggressive in trying to get your way.  CUT IT OUT.  Still don’t believe me?  Well, since you’re fond of questions, ask yourself this one: can you name a single time when, in response to one of your suggestion questions, your daughter responded, “why yes, mother, that would be better.  Thanks for suggesting it.”?  I thought not.

7. If you really can do it better, chances are your daughter already knows that.  Keep it to yourself.  Nobody likes a show-off and living up to you and your superior meat loaf really is not her job.

8. Insist on being the last one out of the house when it’s your kid’s house.  It’s okay to be the last one out, doing all the checking, light turning, door locking rechecks, but it is not okay at someone else’s house and that includes your kids.  If they’ve left the toaster plugged in and on stuffed with burning bread, that really is their problem.  LET IT GO.  I know, I know, it’s really self-preservation on your part – you really don’t want them to come live with you after the house burns down, but get over it.  THAT’S your job.

9. And here’s the big one – do NOT, do NOT, do NOT offer unsolicited (or even solicited in most cases) advice on child rearing.  Short of abusive behavior, everybody’s doing the best they can.  It’s a hard job.  And it DOESN’T HELP (so stop already with the “I was only trying to help” defense).  Say what you really mean: “I’m worried”; “Are you okay?”;  “Boy it’s hard to raise kids”; “Is there anything I need to know?”.  Leave the advice at the door.  Cos here’s the thing – the advice usually comes in some form of vague critique: “you should do something about . . .”  or my own favorite, “in my day, we didn’t allow . . .”  Well, yes you did.  You’ve just forgotten.  I was there.  Remember?  And if I did it, you let it.  And why do you think we’re not doing something about it?  And exactly what is it that you’d like done that isn’t being done?  Of course you were the superior parent – that goes without saying – so don’t say it.  Your kid already believes it, so what good does it do for both of you to be in agreement that your kid is a failure?  And really, if that’s so, what does that make you?  Hurts, doesn’t it?  Might think about that before jumping into that particular pool.

10. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES come at your child who is now an adult with spittle.  YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.  And it still counts if you’ve wet a handkerchief or tissue or paper towel with your tongue to wipe something off them.  DO NOT DO IT.  Unless, that is, you really do want your adult child to be a slobbering, dependent mess who requires your assistance in their grooming, in which case, still DON’T DO IT and get help.  Seriously – like right now – get some help.

A DISCLAIMER: Mostly, I am writing about myself as a parent, so do not take this as being about my own mother – well, except for the dishwasher thing . . . and the meat loaf . . . and the leaving the house last – really, Mom, I’m not burning the house down – I promise.  That is all.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Mercied the Merciful

SCRIPTURE:  Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.  –Matthew 5.7

Mercied the Merciful

Happy they who are greatly concerned about those in need: they will receive great concern in their own need.

Blissful those who show compassion to others for they will receive compassion.

Privileged those whose hearts are filled with pity because they will receive pity.

My favorite:  Blessed the merciful for they shall be mercied.


Often biblically, mercy is an aspect of forgiveness, as with the mercy of God shown by God’s forgiveness.  But the two musn’t be confused: mercy is the quality; forgiveness is the thing done as the result of the quality of God’s mercy.  Another way to say it is that God’s mercy is God’s motive – the reason why God is moved to forgiveness.  But biblically, mercy is not forgiveness.  Mercy is compassion, pity, caring for and about the other.

Yet it is even more than caring.  Here, the Hebrew word would be chesed, a way of caring and being that originates in the cultivated ability to see and experience things from the other’s point of view.  It’s the original idea of sympathy, which from the Greek literally means to experience or to suffer together with.  Thus might we better understand this blessing to say: Blissful the ones who get right inside others until they see with the other’s eyes, think with their thoughts, feel with their feelings: they who do that will receive that same understanding and caring returned to them.*

Ultimately, mercy is the quality of surrender of self in order to better know, understand and serve another.  It’s an act of supreme and abundant generosity, this form of being, living and giving.

This abundant generosity that is mercy is costly to the giver: it is not easy to see things from the other’s eyes.  It requires effort.  It requires a giving self.  And it results in pain – the experience of the pain of the other as one’s own pain in a manner of speaking.

This is the only beatitude in which the blessing is to receive the thing expended.  Up to now, the blessed one is one who lacks and receives the opposite of what they experience: the mourners receive comfort . . . the meek the earth . . . the hungering and thirsting, filling . . . and the poor, the very kingdom itself . . . up to now, Jesus blesses those who lack with the promise of fulfillment . . .

Here, however, is emphasized that in the very quality lies the gift.

As William Shakespeare noted in The Merchant of Venice, from the mouth of Portia to Shylock, to whom she owed a debt she could not repay, her plea for his mercy: “the quality of mercy is not strained. . . It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven . . . Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:  It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. . . it is an attribute of God himself.”

Ah, blessed, blissful, privileged the compassionate caring ones among -us: rest well, for compassionate caring will be yours.

*William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, p. 105.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

To My Younger Self

Some while back on FB, the question was randomly posed: using just two words, what would you say, if you could, to your younger self.

Obviously cheating by using only two words per line rather than the allotted two words, I gave thought to that younger self, so far gone she’s almost beyond reach and wondered what I could possibly say to her that would be worth the saying.

Here goes:

Beloved, love
Look out!
Fear not
Life is
Love you
Forgiven you
Didn’t know
Slow down
Speed up
Dance more
Sing loud
Lighten up
Be you
Good job
So glad
Great ride
Walk daily
IDK okay
Teeth matter
Don’t . . . 
Do . . . 
Regret not
You rock

Yeah, they’ll do, all those two-word atta-girls and admonitions.

It’s a silly exercise, isn’t it, for the very simple reason that she cannot hear me.  I can barely hear her.  Which leaves me wondering what she has to say to me.  Now that’s worth considering.  Another time.

Friday, February 7, 2014

If God Were Like Elvis

If God were like Elvis,
God would be the 
Lord of Praises . . . 
the Emperor of . . . 
birds and grass . . . 
pithy prayers and poetry . . . 

but surely You deserve more,
Lord of crowns and captivities,
wisdom and wise guys,
gifts and praises . . . 

yet what could be more
than everything?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Where I Live: Canoeing in the Snow

Where I live, folk are more likely to be injured by canoeing in the snow than in a car accident (okay, I exaggerate a little, but you heard me: canoeing in the snow).

Let me say it again in case your brain didn’t catch up with the visual imagery: canoeing in the snow.

How does it work?

Well, you get some rope and tie your canoe to your 4-wheeler and then pull it around in the snow – better than tubing, I’m told – until going downhill, as the canoe sails past the 4-wheeler, that is.

I’m not brave enough to give it a try, but I’m betting it was fun – until it wasn’t.  And I doubt it's going to be an Olympic sport any time soon.

But you know what – if you’re going to be injured, wouldn’t you rather it be in a canoe sailing past your husband on the 4-wheeler than in some fender-bender?

I know I would.

(Hat’s off, Missy – you’re braver than I!  Heal quickly, friend.)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Random Thoughts of an Ordinary Woman on the Death of Philip Seymour Hoffman

We didn’t lose him.
He left.
Checked out.

First words: oh no!
Like a FB friend, I am 
baffled by my the depth
of my own response.

But I am as sure as I am baffled:
He is not lost.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was not
 misplaced, like car keys left carelessly 
on the table instead of on the hook by the door.
He left.    


We see the wonder and must wonder at what he saw
– or didn’t – 
That’s the way it is with destruction of self.
The mirror is distorted, it seems.

Actors I have known (admittedly not many) 
are the most public private people and 
private public people I’ve ever known.  
What they see, I cannot know.


Maybe it’s not a bad thing to go out 
at the top of your game.
Yet maybe not.
What could have been
is perhaps not so much about you
but those left with that visual – 
that which we should not know
but cannot now unknow
strangers and children
loved ones and wannabe hangers on


You were too old
for this shit, you know?
Way too old.
But it doesn’t work that way,
does it?  It never does.


The charm, the passion
will not do in the dark,
will they?
They lack the necessary
weight to carry the moment
let alone the day
when there is no reflection
back – I sometimes think
that’s the job of the audience –
to reflect back to you that
you’re real – there really
is a there there to you
when we laugh and cry
and clap and shout and
groan and and and –
and how lonely it must
be or have been when
we aren’t there clapping


Why do I react as I do?
Because you cannot be
that guy.

That guy – the one who 
dies with a syringe in
his arm, unable to think
and thus unable to care
or care enough – unable
to do anything but the
banal over and over 
of the high sought but
never found – the perfect
high to end all highs –

but you are – you were –
that guy, weren’t you?

You wouldn’t break our
heart if you weren’t that guy.
You get that part, right?

Why do I care?
Because you just aren’t
allowed to be that guy . . . 
even when you are.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Would the World Be Better if You Came to My Church?

Would the World Be Better if You Came to My Church?

I don’t know.

Do I want you to come to my church for you or for me?  Truth be told, it’s both, and I’m thinking that’s okay.

I want you here for me because in order to be church, there needs to be people.  It’s really that simple.  When it comes to church, more isn’t always better, but some is always good.  And these days, we’re kind of short on some at my church, so we need you.

But our need of you doesn’t necessarily coincide with your need of us.

But sometimes it does.

I want you to come for me, but I also want you to come for you.


I suppose it’s another pretty simple reason: I love church and it’s been good to and for me and I want to share that with you.

It’s not magic and it sure ain’t Candyland.  But there’s enough good here to want to share.

I hope you’ll come.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Playing in the Snow

When I was 7, I had my first (remembered) solo experience of sled riding down the street where I lived.  I watched others first, navigating the teasing boys at the bottom of the hill who formed a line across the road.  At 7, I did not understand that they would get out of the way of my sled.  Apparently neither did my compatriots, as each flew down the side of the street until just before the parked car, jerking hard left at the last minute to sweep between car and boys and onward.

Confident I understood the process, I jumped on my sled and down I went.  I have never had that level of confidence again.  As I careened towards the car, I froze, head up, as the car and I rapidly drew in to our own date with destiny.  Head smacked bumper.  The rest, including my unease around playing in the snow, is history.

Flash forward.  I am 58.  Younger friends decide we should go tubing.  I cheerfully agree.  It was only later, alone, that I started to get nervous: I’m 58 years old!  What was I thinking?  I can’t do this!  I’ll break my fool neck!  And so it went.

I consulted with son Ben (my go-to person on all things physical), who calmly reassured me how safe tubing is, walking me through what it would be like step by step (everyone should have a son so patient with a fearful mom).

So I layered up and on we went.  The journey was, of course, the adventure.

Just a few miles shy of our destination, our driver Melissa politely pulled to the side of the road to allow faster drivers to pass, as I was internally screaming noooo!  We were in West Virginia now and there aren’t shoulders on the road to speak of in West Virginia, even when it looks like there are (as when deep ditches are covered with snow).  We promptly sank – gently, ever so gently, in to the snow-covered crevasse and there we sat until rescued, which was in pretty short order, as Snow Shoe has employees and equipment for just such an occasion as this (shout out to our rescuers - thanks, guys!).*

On to lunch and then the great tubing adventure.  What a hoot!  There were injuries** (aren’t there always?), but we did all survive the experience with lots of laughter and the simple joy of being outside (it was a warm winter’s day after a long January of sub-zero temperatures where we live, so this was our first time outside in a long time – glorious!)

For a brief moment, I saw the folks learning to ski on the bunny slope beside the tube lanes and thought to myself, I could do that.  Ah, confidence.

It passed as quickly as it came as I hobbled home, but now I know some things I didn’t know when I was 7:

1. The boys will get out of the way.

2. I could do that.

3. Snow and sun are a heady combination.

4. Laughter and play are great medicine.

5. One bad experience need not a lifetime of fear make.

But most of all, I was reminded that God’s tender caring looks like a son talking his mother down . . . like
Erin, Deb, Melissa & me (fashion-forward
in Ben's hat and many layers
strangers stopping to help . . . like car rescue guys competent to the task . . . like friends laughing helplessly as they roll in the snow. . . like expanding possibilities . . . like grace.

*When you get discouraged about the state of our kindness or lack towards each other, I want you to know that virtually every car passing by slowed down to see if they could help.  The one noteworthy exception entertained us mightily as they sped by, bumper stickers hailing their political persuasion and beliefs, leaving us in their wake, confirmed in our mutual preconception that such folk aren’t nearly as kind as they say they are on t.v. and leaving me to have to internally apologize to neighbors from the north (I thought the license plate was from Pennsylvania or New York: turns out it’s a specialty plate from Virginia).


1. I was first – fitting as the eldest, I suppose.  It didn’t occur to me (remember, I actually had to call my child to talk me through this) that the bottom of the tube was resting on the actual ground and that resting my bottom on its bottom meant I was sliding butt first down a snowy pathway that just might have bumps and rocks.  And it did.  Thus am I one very sore puppy today.

2. Erin was next – it was our very last run – and somehow she came to a dead stop at the bottom of the run and was ejected from her tube, hitting her head.  Nothing serious, but boy, did it hurt.

3. Melissa was the last to go down.  Heading out the parking lot, we were almost home free, when she stepped onto a sheet of ice and went down hard, landing flat on her back, the kind of hard, scary fall that makes you worry about broken bones and concussions and such.  Good fortune that nothing was broken and home safely we went.

Deb was the only one of us to escape the day without injury, but all of us are aching today.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Journey to the Ground

Some time ago on the church's FB page, I posed the question, What happened when you turned your cheek?  The one-line answers were thoughtful and memorable.  Herein my offering, a poem weaving the various answers into a pondering of the turning as we sometimes journey to the ground for the doing of this work of peace-being Jesus calls us to.

As I turned, I saw a different point of view
and for a moment, I thought
‘well done - I am humbled and instructed’
and then the other side got hit
too late it was to turn the rest of me, 
to get out of range and let the other
dear sweet child of God 
fall to the ground face first

As I looked up from the ground,
I saw another possibility
as I turned my other cheek to hide my tears
for, as I turned, he surprised me and kissed it too!
Then I remembered ‘love your neighbor as yourself’
and all the fight and hurt within me, between us, evaporated