Posts Tagged ‘universal

07
Apr
21

No Secret Cobbler

Way back in the W.Y. (“Working Years,” for the uninitiated), I went out to lunch with my pastor buddy Steven. We dined at a local burger place and discussed a few of the many mysteries of the pastoring life. 

I don’t remember everything we talked about that day, but I am sure that among the things we discussed were such esoteric, theological topics as, “So where do you go to get a really good drummer for the praise band?” and, “Are there really no circumstances in which it is OK to strike a parishioner?”

[Just joshing on that last one…]

I recall that I finished my burger and fries and – since we were still deep in conversation – I went back and ordered the special blackberry cobbler ala mode they were featuring on the menu that day. 

It was DELICIOUS!

When I got home that night, Joan asked me, “So… who did you have lunch with today?”

I said, “Steven,” thinking it was a little odd that she knew I had lunch with anyone at all.

She then followed up with, “So I guess you went back and had a little dessert, too!”

I said, “Now hang on a minute! How do you know that? Have you hired a private detective to follow me around all day? I mean, OK… I’m sorry I didn’t bring you any blackberry cobbler, but honestly honey, you’re freaking me out a little here.”

Joan then reminded me that our bank sends her a little “BING!” alert whenever there is a transaction on our jointly held debit card. She saw one swipe for the burger and fries and then a few minutes later, a second, lesser charge. 

So then, using her considerable powers of deduction, she was able to piece together the exact steps of my lunchtime behavior.

But I’m not going to lie; the whole thing was a tad unsettling. I mean, I didn’t particularly mind that my wife was alerted every time I used our debit card. After all, I had nothing to hide. The whole thing just sent out a “Big Brother Is Watching!” kind of vibe. 

So, in response to her financial vigilance, I resolved to become devious. I decided that every time I wanted to buy something goofy or frivolous, I would use cash, thereby subverting the whole family surveillance system. 

OK, here we go!” I bellowed to the sky. “Blackberry cobbler, morning, noon, and NIGHT!!”

It didn’t take me long for me to realize the futility of the path I had embarked upon. First of all, here I was… actively scheming to deceive my spouse. You know, the one I exchanged sacred vows with 20 years ago. The one with whom I had “become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NRSV). The one I had promised to “love, honor, and cherish.”

There is also the small matter that whatever I do… whatever I think… every word I say… is already known anyway. I may be able to hide a blackberry cobbler dessert from Joan by using cash or toss a soft-drink cup onto the road when no one is looking or keep that $5.00 bill that the cashier gave me by mistake, but none of that is secret.

All of that – and so much more – is utterly and completely known.

I am known, head to toe, inside and out, front to back, by The One Who Created Me.

So are you.

And while this revelation might sound like anything BUT good news, it is actually gloriously, ridiculously awesome news. 

Because that One who knows us better than we can possibly know ourselves also LOVES us gloriously and ridiculously and unconditionally.

And if that news isn’t worth celebrating with a slice of blackberry cobbler ala mode, I don’t know what is. 

Abundant blessings;

27
Nov
20

Thanks Be to All

viol

I dislike violence.

I mean, I REALLY dislike it.

I can’t stand violent sports like boxing or Mixed Martial Arts… although I somehow find a way to make an exception for the violence of American football.

I immediately turn away from gratuitous violence on both the small and big screen.

I am so queasy about violence I even have a hard time watching contestants as they are eliminated on game shows. 

Which, I suppose, is why I have such a hard time facing up to the violence that helped pave the way for the life I lead today. 

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, our time of gluttonous gratitude gatherings. And even though it was a somewhat isolated feast for Joan and me this year, it was still quite enjoyable. 

The Thanksgiving holiday always causes me to think back and remember the things I was taught in school about the origins of this special national holiday.

I can still remember being part of a pageant in the fourth grade that commemorated the first Thanksgiving feast… with “Pilgrims” in their construction-paper hats and collars sitting down with their “Native American neighbors” (wearing their multi-colored construction paper headdresses) to thank them for their valuable assistance in coping with the fierce North American winter. 

Nowhere in my entire formal education, however, did I learn about the genocidal violence inflicted upon those original people by the European settlers … violence that was justified as necessary to promote the advance of “civilization.”

Or, if I ever did hear about it, I probably turned away in denial, preferring to believe a more sanitized version of American history. You know… the version where the Europeans and the Native Americans all sat down around a big conference table and respectfully agreed that it would be in everyone’s best interest if those First People uprooted themselves from places they occupied for centuries and squeezed themselves into tiny settlements in some of the most inhospitable parts of the American West. 

As we now know that version is just not the way it happened. Blood was shed. Lives were lost. Families were destroyed. Terrible violence was employed in order to “open up” this country for European expansion. 

Yes, I still believe it is good and necessary to give thanks to God for the bounty and blessings of the life I lead today. It is necessary to admit that I have received unmerited grace and favor, and to be continually humble in receiving it.

But I believe it is also necessary to admit – as much as I detest it – that violence also played a significant part in placing me where I am today.

Today – the day after Thanksgiving – has been officially designated as Native American Heritage Day. And in an historic first, it is worth noting that there are now more Native Americans serving in the U.S. House of Representatives than ever before in our nation’s history. There are six; three women, three men. Three Republicans, and three Democrats. 

To celebrate and sum up the importance of this day, I will close with this fitting quote from one of them:

“Native Americans have a unique opportunity to educate their children and fellow Americans about the legacy and hardships Native Americans have overcome. We know the stories of our ancestors and we pass them on to future generations. Our history and our sovereignty are what bind us together.”

  • Markwayne Mullin, Congressman, Oklahoma, a member of the Cherokee Nation

We also remember that it is the undiluted, unconditional, universal love of God that binds all of us on this awesome planet together.

In our thanksgiving, let us remember to give thanks to ALL who have gone before. 

Abundant blessings; 

18
Jul
20

“We’re All In This Together!”

Homeless latinosYes, we are.

But in lots of ways, no, we absolutely are not.

This morning on NPR I heard the story of Daniel Garcia of Houston, Texas. (https://www.npr.org/2020/07/18/892593769/texas-man-on-what-its-like-being-evicted-during-the-covid-19-pandemic).

And it broke me.

Garcia is 46 years old. He was laid off from his job repossessing cars in April. Because Daniel’s wife is confined to a wheelchair, he is the sole breadwinner for his household. The Garcias also have a six-year-old son.

As I listened to his story, I found that Daniel also faces another obstacle in his effort to find a new job. He has a criminal record.

Two weeks ago, the Garcias were evicted from their apartment because they could not pay their rent. The housing court judge told Daniel he could appeal the decision, but that he would have to put up one full month’s rent first.

And so, Daniel, his wife and son packed their worldly belongings into a U-Haul and moved out. They were able to afford a few nights at a low-budget motel, but are now living in the back of their U-Haul, wondering what to do next.

My breaking point came when Daniel choked up on air and said, “I feel like I have failed my family.”

Yes, this pandemic has forced some unwanted changes for Joan and me. The Viking River cruise we planned to take in May from Nuremberg to Budapest was cancelled. We were not able to fly to Seattle this month to visit my siblings and 96-year-old stepmother. We have not been able to go to movies, see concerts, or watch live sporting events on television since early March. For a while, we had to use the order online, drive-up pickup service for grocery shopping.

Boo hoo! Poor us.

We still have our house and our cars. We still have food in our fridge. We still have our health. Since we are both retired, our employment status has not been affected by the virus at all. In fact, we both decided that had we each still been working at our previous jobs when the pandemic struck, we would probably have been able to continue working.

The presence of this virus on every continent, in every country, in every state, and in every community on earth gives this moment its shared and universal flavor. In reality, though, there is a wide, wide variance in how the virus is affecting people.

But what if…

… what if this moment helped us realize the vulnerability we share as human beings?

… what if we figured out how to use this moment to rekindle our compassion toward our neighbors?

… what if this moment helped us appreciate anew the quantum advances in the delivery of health care since the last pandemic a century ago?

… what if this moment led us all to a new kind of humility in the face of mystery of Creation?

… what if the “haves” suddenly realized that the “have nots” are actually their brothers and sisters?

… what if the existential anxiety of this moment caused us all to search for a deeper, more timeless, more unshakable narrative about the nature of the universe?

… what if this moment helped us realize that love can be just as communicable as this virus?

What if?

If any of that happened, my friend, we would ALL truly be in this together.

 

Abundant blessings;




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