When the heart aches…



My nephew died last night…motorcycle accident…34 year old man, dead at the scene…

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…

Bullshit! I want time to go backwards. I want him to be 5 minutes ahead…or behind…where he was in time. I want him to be on another street. I want the driver of the car to be going somewhere else, less distracted, more aware of the community of people sharing the road. I want him to be more that “a 34 year old man, dead at the scene.” I want the world to know him as a person – as a son, brother, nephew, uncle, cousin, friend. I want the pain to stop for my family and all who loved him. I want more than the heart can express. And, when all of the above simply can’t happen, I want to hunker down with my family and share the anguish we all feel.

He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul…

Psalm 23 is frequently used at funerals, making it seem like a prayer for those who have left us. It is a actually a prayer for the living. The psalmist sings of a God who holds the reader as a mother holds a child, rocking and soothing our deepest pain, providing the basics that we need until we are able to take the next agonizing breath and the soul learns to live again…bruised and damaged, but filled with a peace that can only come from seeing that God’s love never leaves us. It might be seen in the compassion of friends and family; in the many meals placed on our doorstep; in sharing memories of times we spent with those who are now gone; in the blooming of an iris or the call of a cardinal. Or, it might be in hearing Holy words gently penetrating our hearts in the endless hours of the night when we can’t sleep. Words which can only come from that which loves us more than we can imagine.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me…

What about the times when we can’t find God? When all that is right in the world is turned upside down? When the love you counted on from God seems distant? When you know the valley is a place of ambush? When it’s dark and all that we have ever feared stands right in front of us breathing its putrid breath on our lives? When there is no escape from this evil that suddenly wraps it’s ugly arms around us and squeezes all the desire we have out of us? When it hurts to take the next breath because we can’t see anything but the darkness of our pain?

Yet, we are reminded that light still beams in the world, a light that is forever altered for us – but, is still with us penetrating our darkness and restoring our soul.

Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life…

Somedays goodness and mercy seem just too hard to accept when the injustices of life rob you of someone you love, of safety, and security. Where was God when…? ‘Why, oh Lord’ cries the heart. Anger. Bitterness. Abandonment. ‘Why, oh Lord?’

Love pursues us. Our pain blinds us to it. Love is more persistent than we are; ceaselessly beaconing us; reminding us that life can totally suck, but there is hope that the sun will rise tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. That the Son rose and will be caring for and nurturing our hearts out of a love so deep and perfect that we find ourselves taking that next breath…and the next…and the next until we know we can live again.

My heart aches…






Hunkered Down…


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We are hunkered down for the duration. This is day 4. It feels like day 400. Or 40 years in the wilderness. Or 40 days…  Whatever, the ‘4’ is still the same number, even when we look at multiples of 10 or 100. Big deal? It’s a 4, right? Our concept of time fluctuates when tainted by our perception of danger. “Time stood still”…”Minutes seemed like hours”…we all know the common phrases.

When Moses led the people out of Egypt, there was a period of 40 years in the wilderness. Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days. The ancient writers of the Psalms spoke of ‘the valley of the shadow on darkness’. There isn’t a theological connection to 400, but when one is navigating the anxious unknown…a wilderness, if you will…it feels like a very long, unending time.

We have a a modest stock of pantry supplies; our necessary medications and vitamins; dog food is on order; and I find myself frequenting Amazon.com for ‘oh ya!’ items – you know, the add-ons we forgot about initially but can’t live without…like printer ink; printer paper; and a stack of books. We have a list of Netflix shows to catch up on. There is plenty of wine. And, yes, we have toilet paper.

What we are having a hard time with is peace of mind. The ‘what if’s’ are endless and cover everything from physical health to financial health to spiritual health. Yes, spiritual health. I find myself yapping at God with a list of why’s and how’s…Why is graduation cancelled? My child has worked so hard!…Why can’t I see my new grandson?…Why can’t I feel safe, even at home?…How long will this go on?…How long, oh Lord?…

Okay, time out! A 14-day period of hunkering down with plenty of food and water is nothing period is nothing compared to living in a war ravished country for year upon unending year. It is nothing compared to the diagnosis of a life changing disease. It is nothing compared to living through the depth of grief and crying out “Why!” and “How long must I suffer!”

We, as Americans, have been inconvenienced. Nothing more and nothing less. This virus has given us opportunity to turn back to a simpler time when compassion and relationship were important virtues. We have the opportunity to rest, relax, and refresh as we spend time enjoying a slower pace. We are encouraged to enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds of nature while we walk, run, or bicycle – physical exercise away from the 4 walls of the gym. Hmmm – there is that number 4 again.

Some say the number 4 represents unity and integrity. Think about it…unity and integrity. We are in this together. We need to see it for what it is and how it impacts ourselves, our families and our neighbors. Our response to the coronavirus must be as a whole…not just me and what I want. It is imperative that we listen to the experts and take their advice no matter how it impacts our plans. Spring break will come again next year and the year after that. However, those who become ill and don’t recover won’t be here to love us and excitedly share our travel pictures and stories. It takes integrity to think outside of self and focus on what we need to do for the benefit of all.

This is a novel concept for our self indulged culture. Our opportunity for growth as we wander and wonder through our relatively brief wilderness is to let our hearts open to the world as God created it. It is a world that only functions when we reach out to ‘the other’; when we are filled with gratitude for who we are and whose we are; and when we let love, compassion, and gratitude fill our hearts so that we can live no other way other than with unity and integrity.

It’s Easter…so what?


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It’s Easter. So what…so what does that mean???

We read that God so loved the world that God came to walk and live among us. So what?

We read that Jesus lived a life of love and compassion for all of God’s creation. So what?

We read that humanity didn’t expect Jesus to enter the world as a baby. We read that humanity couldn’t accept his perfect and equal love for all of God’s people…so, we did what we do. We tried to erase his counter-cultural message by removing him from life. We executed him as a criminal of the people. So what?

We read that Jesus thwarted death by continuing his walk among us, a walk that only some recognized. Those who recognized it continued the walk. Those who felt their way of life would be threatened by attempted to kill Jesus by eradicating those who lived as he lived. So what?

Finally, we read that Jesus will come again. What???!!!

Here’s the thing, we didn’t expect Jesus to come as a baby. We wanted him to ride into the world on a stallion with a sword to make the world right…right as we wanted it to be. We long for the same thing now, just as we did then. We want a Messiah who will clean things up. That must mean that the people who offend me will be thrown over the cliff into hell, right? And, those who don’t agree with my way of life will see that they are completely messed up. And, there will be no more cats…only dogs. And, cockroaches will finally become extinct. And…well, the world will be perfect…just as I imagine it…ummmm, wait…I mean just as God created it.

We dress up and go to church, maybe donning a hat worthy of being in the Derby crowd. We boil eggs and hide them, hoping all of them are found before they turn to a sulfurous stench. We smile and laugh with those we love, falling into a relaxed and joyful heap at the end of a long day. It’s all as it should be, right?

Isn’t that what this day is about?

Maybe that’s the problem.

What if the second coming is just as mysterious as Christ’s birth and resurrection? We profess to be waiting for Christ to come again and just know that it will be like a scene from a science fiction movie. You know the kind, a life-form beams down from between the clouds with rays of sunshine providing illumination as we watch in awe and wonder. Only this time it’s Jesus coming to kick butt and take names. Other butts and names, right??? Not mine and the people I like.

Maybe that’s not the way it’s going to happen.

What if we fully embraced the notion that Christ lives in the depths of our hearts, waiting for us to recognize what that means? What if the second coming is actually each of us living as if the story of Jesus truly mattered? What if being a disciple of Jesus means to us what it meant to the ancient followers – that we live as Jesus lived? What if we read the story of Jesus with new eyes, seeing that we are instrumental in bringing the reign of Christ to the world by having compassion for those around us.

It is a custom in Christian churches to light candles on Christmas Eve. First, the priest or pastor lights a candle from the Christ candle. He or she lights the candles held by a group of people who in turn light the candles of those at the end of the rows of seats. Then, person by person, we light each other’s candles until everyone holds a light. The idea is to represent the light Jesus brought into the world.

What if we think about that light at Easter? What if Jesus is the torch used to light another torch, and another, and another until we are all carrying that glorious light into and throughout the world? No, it’s not the torch of our favorite doctrine. It’s the torch of living life as God created us to live in God’s amazing creation. It’s the torch of love and compassion for all of creation, not just my little corner of it. It’s the torch of hope in tomorrow. It’s the torch of knowing that we are loved by that which created us more than we can possibly understand. It’s the torch of listening to others as they tell us their stories of hope, compassion, and love…even when they use different words to describe the Creator.

It’s the torch of living each day as if the life of Jesus matters. There is resurrection in that…in living as Jesus did. It’s allowing the love and compassion expressed through the life of Jesus to be the torch that lights up the world. When we live as if Jesus matters, Jesus lives. When we neglect our torch, we crucify Him again…and again…and again.

At Easter we remember to be the light and to live each day forward as if the story of Jesus matters.





Stop it!


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My theological brain is about to explode! The cause? The vitriolic rhetoric relentlessly espoused that promotes the divisive climate so prevalent in our country today. We are about as united as the proverbial oil and vinegar with each side claiming moral superiority. We are divided into social units based on how we look; who we love; our gender identity; our age; socioeconomics; neighborhoods; schools; sports team allegiance; where we work, pray and play; what we think is the best breed of dog or if we think cats are the better pet. We point fingers at those who vote differently than we do, as if ‘the other’ has no business being a voice in our country. We divide along lines of plastic or paper (paper, please…); if you want a turtle-killing-straw with that iced tea (yes, please…); or what we think about gun control. We politicize mental illness…the senseless, crazy kind that kills in a twisted, sick, fucked-up need to be immortalized for murder. The left points fingers at the right and the right points right back as if to say, “You did this…not me!” when we certainly are all at fault.

We use our sacred writings as a means to convey a ridiculously high level of spiritual excellence, essentially bullying others into agreeing with our social agenda out of a longing to be righteous. And then…we judge those that don’t agree with our brand of faith or our worldview. Our judgment leads to being judged by those we have demonized for their beliefs. And the cycle continues.

We have allowed political campaigns to run for months and months before election day. In this heated season, I have yet to hear one televised commercial that doesn’t vilify the other opponent; one that tells me what a candidate intends to do; one that seeks to unify rather than divide. And yet, each party claims to be the one focused on their brand…and only their brand…of  their perceived morally exceptional behavior.  There is little room for conversation, let alone compromise. Hurtful labels are plunged deep into the hearts of the criticized doing as much damage to the soul as a dagger does to the flesh.

When indeed, we are all in this beautiful life together.


So now, what do we do? We listen. We listen to our sacred writings and realized that they all speak of compassion and love for our neighbor. We accept that we are made differently for a reason. Many eyes and hearts see a variety of distinct things so that we can come together as a unified whole, not as opposing groups focused on grabbing all of the power. We recognize that our neighbor is in need of a casserole or someone to vacuum or give them a ride; that they long for a message of hope rather than hate; that they simply want someone to validate their life through shared conversation, including those things that have hurt them or those things that inspire them…even when their “stuff” is unfamiliar to us. We realize that our elected officials are not in charge of our morality – good or bad. We accept responsibility to step outside of our lives long enough to see the needs around us.  We stop judging and start understanding. We look at the messages of Jesus, Mohammad, Gandhi, Buddha, and others who spoke of compassion and love, recognizing when rhetoric – religious or otherwise – comes with baggage that feeds into racism, sexism, and all of the other ‘isms’ that attribute to divisive behavior.

What we need is to look at ‘the other’…you know, the one that doesn’t think the way we do…and simply come together…right now…

The Youngbloods hit the music charts in the late 1960’s with a song, Get Together, written by Chet Powers. (Also known as Dino Valenti) Google it. Listen to it. Read and savor the words. Think of it as a prayer for our country – every bit as relevant today as it was half a century ago. Then…LIVE IT!



We all knew…and we did nothing…


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The mantras out of Hollywood these days seems to be, “We all knew…” and “Me too…” The intent is to demonize anyone who is accused of sexual misconduct by giving accusers support for their claims years…even decades…after an alleged event. Some accusations are very real and the aggressors need to be called out and held accountable.

I maintain that there are others who are accountable, although it’s not politically correct to call them out as well. I expect my opinion will enrage some, yet I am convinced we must honestly look at our ethical responsibilities in regard to knowing…and doing nothing.

Am I the only one who finds it amazing that there are those who have achieved status on the film industry star list who are just now claiming to have been abused as they made their way to the top? These are women who claim abuse when they were young and unknown, but chose to keep it quiet until recent events made it a popular choice to speak  up about their experiences and rage under the hashtag of “me too”.

Today a newsfeed told the story of male actor who claims abuse in the LGBTQ community…an abuse that occurred over 3 decades ago. The accused has no recollection of the situation, yet chose to apologize for the pain his accuser has carried for so many years. Outspoken members of this community have cried out in support of this young man with the claim, “We all knew.”

Really??? “We all knew!” The next logical statement is, “and we did nothing”.

This is how depravity continues. How can we justify experiencing something and saying nothing to preserve a career? How do we know of the abuse of a teen…a child…and say nothing? Personally, I can’t get over the inherent arrogance and self-righteousness of someone who purports indignation after an atrocity, or alleged atrocity, is made public. Where is the honor in that?

Let me explain further. I understand that we keep some situations hidden in our hearts because they are too painful to share. I also get that as we progress through the years following our horror that we choose not to open the wound by talking about it. Yet, even though we long for our experience to remain private, we have an overwhelming responsibility to those who come behind us to protect them from what we have experienced.

Who among us would allow a daughter or son to spend one-on-one time with a relative who abused us? Or with a teacher, coach or priest who tore away our innocence? We would move mountains to protect our own from the pain we carry day in and day out.

What keeps a well known actor or actress from speaking up? As we give to the future, are we not also responsible for the protection of those who come behind us? It’s more than adopting orphans from impoverished nations, speaking out on gun control or paying lip service to equal rights for women, minorities, and marriage rights. When push comes to shove, we must also find our voices when “we all knew” something wasn’t right or when we cry out “me too” after hearing about a shared experience of sexual exploitation at the hands of someone in a powerful position.

Is it easy to speak up? Absolutely not! But, no one promised us living life as an ethical, compassionate, loving human being would be easy.  God calls us to step into history. We think of Isaiah and Samuel with their hesitant, but definite, “Here I am…” Where is our response to those in need? Will it only come when it’s comfortable to say “Me too”? Or will we step boldly into history, leading the cry that resonates in and through our culture to change those things that are wrong? Will we be the one that steps out in faith…and fear…to challenge the powerful?

Or will we remain quiet to evil and wrong while untold numbers of others face our fate simply because to speak up might change the course of our own, personal history?

We are not called to save ourselves. We are called to love God and love our neighbor. We also know that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another. That doesn’t always mean we need to die for another. Sometimes it simply means that we step out of our own life dreams long enough to deliver another or others from a devastating situation. It only makes sense that if we know something or someone is abusive, we must speak out so that our story never becomes someone else’s story…even if it means not getting that next big movie or television contract.

So, my message to the indignant Hollywood types who are busy hashtagging and saying, “We all knew…”, well, you knew and did nothing. Where is the honor in that?

For the rest of us, we need to consciously see where we are called to change a distorted historical trajectory by responding, “Here I am…” to God’s plea of “Whom shall I send?”


Right now…


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A group of vegans in Berkley, California protested a butcher shop until the owners agreed to put a sign in their window about animal rights. Their ultimate goal is to make it unlawful to sell meat anywhere in Berkley.

White supremacists protested the removal of a Civil War memorial statue in Charlottesville, VA and were met with a counter protest from anti-racist and anti-fascist demonstrators. A woman died as a result of an angry man focused on superiority.

The president tweets and the media pounces on ‘his intent’ by twisting each of his actual or missing words looking for an assumed intent to support their agenda of who he is and what he stands for.

Someone spews to a mutual friend distorted perceptions of another’s actions fueled by  anger, hurt and jealousy. The story spreads from friend to friend until it is so well known that it becomes a distorted truth.

All the while we cling to noble reasons for our behavior. We are acting out of religious beliefs; secular altruism; distorted world views; personal frustration; boredom; elevated perception of self; crowd mentality; or an array of other twisted beliefs that fuel dangerous and twisted behaviors.

We use our understanding of God to justify atrocious behaviors when indeed God’s plan for creation had nothing to do with hate, lies, violence, exclusivity or superiority.

We ennoble ourselves when we align ourselves with a group that gives itself title to determining who is moral and who is not. Then, we shout our opinion never taking a moment to listen to the other who is, most likely, as quick to shout back their opposing opinion.

We spin local and world events in a way that fits our ultimate agenda. Have you ever looked at the headlines of a conservative media outlet and compared the same event to a liberal source’s headlines? It’s hard to tell it’s the same event making it even more difficult to find fact and truth.

In our personal relationships we become hurt when someone doesn’t cave into our perceptions. We rant and spew, hoping they will see our perspective…and when they don’t, we tell our side to the story to anyone who will listen – hoping to gain their allegiance making inappropriate categories of us against them.

We want to be special, exclusive and above the other. We claw our way to the top with words, demonstrations, religions, economics and war.

And for what?

We are created to live and love in God’s world…period. Not to convince, connive, plot, scheme or manipulate anyone into living life based on our personal litany of rules. We are to come together to correct wrongs by collaborating with those who have different experiences and wisdoms than we do. It means discerning who we are and Whose we are in this amazing creation and living as if that matters. It means understanding that we will all be better off if we make decisions based on what’s good for all – myself and my neighbor – instead of simply looking at what I want or need to be to gain power.

Don’t you know the Divine, by whatever name you call out to – God, Allah, Yahweh –  weeps when we distort our created need for love and relationship into a scramble for wealth, power, and superiority?

During the turbulence of the 60’s and 70’s, a group called the Youngbloods recorded a song written by Dino Valenti. The pleading lyrics never grow old…

Love is but a song to sing
Fear’s the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Some may come and some may go
We shall surely pass
When the one that left us here
Returns for us at last
We are but a moment’s sunlight
Fading in the grass

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now.

If you hear the song I sing
You will understand (listen!)
You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It’s there at your command.

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Right now!
Right now!

This has to stop…now…


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The Kathy Griffin controversy has completely missed the point. Yes, we have freedom of speech in the United States of America. And, yes, when public opinion and sources of income cringed at her form of twisted comedy, she ‘apologized’. It was a general apology directed at no one. Just an ambiguous “Oh, gosh…I guess I crossed a line” form of apology.

I would like to suggest that Ms Griffin consider whom she affected with her twisted and dark attempt at comedy. The obvious victims are President Trump and his family. Unfortunately both sides of our country’s political war are to blame. We have hung presidents in effigy; we have maligned the integrity of our elected leaders through biased media; we have made those who serve our nation in the executive, legislative and judicial branch into dysfunctional caricatures ; we have impersonated grossly exaggerated traits in the name of comedy; and the list goes on.

Sidebar: And we wonder why we have a problem with bullying in our schools…another topic for another day…

There are others who have been deeply affected by her hateful and self-serving attempt at humor. Does anyone remember Daniel Pearl? He was one of many who was murdered by radical terrorists. His head was severed from his body and held for the world to see and absorb the depth of threat this savage group posed to all of us. There were others…James Foley, Peter Kassig and others who we never knew their names including innocent children. And this is a symbol to be used as a form of political comedy? Ask the families of the dead if they are laughing now. Ask them if they see the humor. Rather, a sincere and heartfelt apology might be appropriate.

A day doesn’t go by that we don’t read about another terrorist attack. Manchester, Brussels, Paris, Afghanistan, New York, Florida, San Bernadino, Boston…to name a few. Innocent people, including children, have been killed by terrorist suicide bombers. The headlines never stop. They keep increasing, terrifying and numbing us to the fact that this isn’t the way God, or by whatever name you call the Divine, created life to be.

I remember being a young woman and reading about bombings in Northern Ireland or conflicts in Israel. I wondered what it would be like to live under such circumstances – never knowing where it is safe. It seemed so foreign and unacceptable. Our worries started and ended with concerns about car accidents and cancer. Never did we imagine that no place, not even a house of worship, is totally safe. Yet, here we are today. We consider where we go and what we do based on the threat level and whether or not the chance is worth it. Some simply stay home. Some try to protect themselves with weapons. Most of us go about life as usual, only more aware of who and what is surrounding us.

So, Ms Griffin, here are several more groups of people who deserve your apology. We have to remember all of the souls that have been lost to these vicious barbarians and the families who suffer their loss. We have to think of the women who have been brutally victimized simply because they are women. We have to think about the children who have been tortured and killed, or those who have been brainwashed into becoming the next generation of merciless beasts. We have to think about the men who have been butchered because they couldn’t and wouldn’t join the ‘forces’. A lame “oops” isn’t going to soothe their pain.

Finally, we cannot forget the armed forces that fight daily to change the course of this scourge. There are young people from most countries in the free world who sacrifice to allow us the comforts of freedom, including free speech. I might also add to this list the families of these young soldiers and sailors; the families of the commanders, admirals and generals; and the mothers, fathers, children and spouses of the fallen as those who need to hear your humble gratitude for all they have given to you so that you ‘have the right’ to defame them in the name of free speech. Which, I might add, is exactly what you did when you used an exceedingly savage symbol in your ‘funny’ hate-filled picture.

This has to stop…now! It isn’t about a comedian making fun of a president whom she doesn’t agree with. This is about each and every one of us understanding how our actions affect others. It’s about living with compassion and character. It’s about humility. It’s about living in relationship with those around us, even when we don’t agree with them. It’s about changing the wrongs in the world through working together. It’s about so much more than getting the last laugh no matter who it hurts. It’s about knowing that no person or group should be the butt of our jokes no matter what! It’s about knowing that we have the right to disagree, but never the right to maliciously malign another person.

Ellen DeGeneres once said she would never make a joke at someone else’s expense. This, friends, is a great comedian and compassionate woman.

Ms Griffin? Not so much…





Leggings, rules and anarchy…



Several recent news articles have gone viral. One, in particular, tells the story of three teenage girls who were not allowed to fly on a large, national airline because they were wearing leggings. Another is about a family in Georgia that was denied the right to pick a surname for their daughter. Other articles emphasize the right of cities to claim they are sanctuaries for those who live in our country illegally. All of these stories have something in common. They are all stories people who deny that the rules apply to them.

The fact that three girls chose to wear leggings while flying from Denver to Minneapolis isn’t the issue. The small print clarified that the girls were flying on corporate passes, a benefit enjoyed by those who work for most of our national airlines. The airline in question was interviewed and specified that they have rules to be followed when such a pass is used. The rule was either ignored or disregarded when the young ladies showed up, ready to board the airplane, wearing spandex leggings.

A young family in Georgia would like to choose a surname for their child that isn’t either the mother’s or the father’s last name or a combination of their names. This is not consistent with Georgia law. A unique surname can be selected if the parents apply for a name change after the child is originally named based on the law. In this case, the parents disagree with the law and are fighting to not comply with it.

We have cities in this country that offer sanctuary to immigrants who crossed our nations borders illegally. This creates a huge emotional and legal conundrum! Yet, the underlying message is that our laws mean little to those who have come here illegally as well as to the cities who refuse to follow federal guidelines for immigration.

Of course, there are profoundly agonizing reasons why people have risked their lives to cross our borders; why they did not have the time or resources to recognize and proceed through the ‘proper’ channels; and why cities choose to offer them sanctuary without the fear of deportation.

Please note, this is not a dissertation on opening our arms to the weary, weak, and those in dire need of a safe haven they can call home. This is about rules and who is bound by them and who is not.

You see, when we pick and choose the rules or laws that we follow based on what we agree with and what we don’t agree with, we are walking into a dangerous landscape. Leggings on an airplane are not a problem. Choosing a name for a child is not a problem. Offering hope and a home for someone who is simply looking for a better life is not a problem.

However, embedded in each of these situations is a quandary that should garner all of our attention. The problem is when individuals decide what rules and laws should apply to them and which ones should not.

My daughter was driving to work today and came across an intersection with a green light in her direction. A bus was in the right lane, stopped for passengers to get on and off. As she approached, a man walked into her lane from in front of the bus. Yes, he was in the crosswalk. No, the light in his direction did not give him the right to cross at that point in time. He chose to cross against a red light on a busy city street. Because of good breaks on my daughter’s car and his quick reflexes, he was not injured. However, his decision to ignore the rules almost cost him his life. He knew the rules, but – for whatever reasons – chose not to follow them.

You see, dear reader, we as individuals cannot pick and choose which rules and laws we like…or not…and follow them accordingly…or not. Our obligation is to understand that rules and laws were made for a reason. If they are outdated or inappropriate, it is our privilege and right to go through the proper channels to change the rules that need changing. To repeat, that is indeed our right!

It is also the right of others to have their voices heard. And, whether or not we like the outcome, it is our responsibility to follow the rules and laws that come about as a result of our collective conversations until said rules and laws are changed. It is also our responsibility to speak out and work relentlessly to change those laws that oppress anyone’s undeniable rights and freedoms without deference to ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or any of the litany of labels we use to demoralize or marginalize others.

I am not naive enough to think that all of our rules and laws are perfect. I also am not foolish enough to think that it is an unjustified assault on our personal freedom when we are held accountable to a standard. We are fortunate enough to live in a country where we can speak out about injustice and work toward change – through the proper channels. If we make unilateral choices and personal preferences the determining factor about what rules and laws we decide to follow, no matter how seemingly unimportant the rule or how deeply nobel or necessary the cause, we are paving the road to anarchy one decision at a time.



Relationships only work if…


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Relationships only work if…

The fill-in-the-blank on that one seems obvious. In reality, it is subject to many deviations from reality. Children come home from school professing to hate a former best friend because they didn’t agree on something. Group mentality prevents one faction from embracing another because of loyalties to the club, gang, team, religion or whatever chasm divides them into rivals or enemies. A spouse has expectations that aren’t met and withdraws rather than entering conversation toward understanding. Relationships…

We rant about those who think, look, speak, worship or love differently than we do, all the while circling ourselves with those who reflect our views and attitudes in a disturbing attempt to be on the right side…as if that alone gives us worth as a person. Indeed, that thought process simply causes us to diminish the perceived worth of those who do not meet our beliefs and expectations. Relationships…

We have come to a place in our society where groups pride themselves on polarization and vilifying those who don’t share their mandated common cause. I read a news article today that gave permission to hate someone who voted for a candidate the reader didn’t like. Seriously!!! Our freedom to vote for the candidate of our choice was leveled to a school yard fight. It’s the old “my way or the highway” concept of how to get along in life – a philosophy that has never worked to promote a healthy relationship.

What ever happened to listening? You know, two ears and one mouth…use them proportionately? What about listening to another’s views, beliefs and attitudes openly and honestly to understand what they think, feel and love? What about finding common ground and growing out of that commonality? What about recognizing that life experiences lead all of us in different directions and to different understandings? And, what about sharing our collective wisdoms to find solutions that are cooperative and greater than any one perspective could ever produce? Relationships!!!

Instead, we tend to dig in our heels and deny that any mindset other than the one we share with our cronies has validity. We jump into conflict and believe resolution will come only when we get our way. And, we believe this at all cost. Friends, it is where we are at in our country, our neighborhoods, our families, our churches, our offices, our schools… We have become the Polarized States of America. Unity is gone and we believe it won’t return until  everyone else buys into our narrow-minded rhetoric. Be very clear, it is all narrow minded rhetoric when it becomes a rabidly held belief, no matter how liberal or conservative the motives are.

Our demise will come from our inability to listen…to understand…to believe in the good of someone who disagrees with us…to respect differing opinions. All we really need to do is listen and understand that our own hot air professions aren’t the only game in town. Finally, the goal shouldn’t be about who wins and who loses…the goal should be about how we nurture relationships.

And, relationships only work if…

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”   – Maya Angelou

When the march is over…


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We march for racial equality; for candidates and against candidates; for women’s rights; for refugees; for immigration; for border walls and for no border walls. We march for causes that affect a few and causes that affect many. Some marches are joyful, and some are filled with sadness and pain. Some marches destroy businesses, homes and cars while others are peaceful. Some stop traffic. Some perpetuate caustic and potentially unrealistic perspectives, while others promote excitement and hope.

But, at the end of the day…what happens when the march is over? What happens to the children, the women, the immigrants, the refugees and the causes we marched for? What happens to the racial divide we hope to bridge and the politicians we hope to silence? What happens when we go home to our families and our lives…when the march is over?

I am not a demonstrative person. A personal philosophy of mine is, “When you know what red tape you are facing, figure out a way to cut through it.” Red tape doesn’t go away through demonstration. Most often it becomes a red ravine with ‘we-uns’ on one side and ‘you-uns’ on the other. We polarize and spew disbelief and hate at those who don’t think the way we think or believe the solutions we propose. The more we demonstrate, the deeper the ravine becomes until we can’t even see that our way is not the only game in town. We become encapsulated in a solution that solves our agenda without realizing that said solution may be cause for another to demonstrate just as earnestly and violently as we just did.

You see, we are not all the same. We all come into life innocent and full of hope. Life, then,  pulls us in a myriad of directions to form us into the people we are today. For some, life is full of freedom and trust. For others it is merely something to survive. Some are strong, while others succumb to less desirable paths simply to make it from day to day. Marches happen when the stronger people see the injustices placed on others and take on the cause to improve opportunities for the marginalized. That is a noble cause!

However, I continue to ask – What happens when the march is over?

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent questions is, ‘what are you doing for others?'”

When the march is over, what are we doing to promote our cause? What are we doing to improve racial relations? Are we lifting men and women in poverty up so that they are able to find the freedom from financial devastation? Are we teaching and mentoring children who are struggling with horrible home lives to see the value in who they are as individuals in this world? Are we doing something as simple as meeting our neighbors?

Unfortunately, when the march is over, many will go home and talk about the march as if the event alone will improve deplorable conditions. They will build a coalition of people who think as they do and march again and again, just to prove a point.

But, what does the march do for those in need of change?

John F. Kennedy aptly said, “No amount of laws can make a man do right.”

We can lobby congress, meticulously select judges, and write platforms at caucuses. We can campaign for our candidates and put signs in our yards. Yet, all of this is simply relying on others to do what we should be doing ourselves. Each and every one of us has the ability to roll up our sleeves and to start or join organizations focused on giving hope to those who have none. It can be a food pantry, a youth program, substance abuse mentoring, volunteer tutoring, prison counseling or simply participating in an organization with people who see life differently than you do because of who they are and where they come from.

And – we need to do it without judgment. We all have a story to tell. When we listen to others tell the story of who they are and where they come from , we will expand our compassion beyond our limited experiences and see the world through a different lens. Little by little we all will grow together as God’s people, loving others as we love ourselves.

The march may or may not be step one. What I know for sure is that work needs to happen when the march is over. The surest way for change to occur is when we step outside of our lives and enter into the lives of others as individuals who care, who can offer hope, and who can help one another navigate this crazy thing called life. The challenge is staggering, but it can happen if we take it one step at a time and, quite realistically, one person at a time. Mistakes will be made and we will all need to seek forgiveness and grace…one step at a time, one person at a time.

Where will you be when the march is over?

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ and I said, ‘Here I am, Lord.'”     Isaiah 6:8