It would be so easy to read this quote and think, “Aha.  She’s a Dem and she’s commenting on the whole situation at the border.”  And the funny thing is that you wouldn’t be entirely wrong.

I am a Dem.  I have incredibly strong opinions about what is going on at our Southern border.  I’ve shared those opinions with our state Senator – the one that is running for reelection.  He’s a Republican and we disagree about 97% of the time so I could have let him have it.

Instead I started out my letter by wishing him a happy Father’s Day and thanking him for all the time and energy who puts into his job.  Like my grandmother always said, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  If I didn’t back down, next would be ‘keep a civil tongue in your head.’

G-ma would definitely have agreed with Lori.  We are so caught up in making sure that people know, in minute detail, what we think, that we are leaving Christ and his love behind.  We go on and on about the fact that there are no compromises anymore, people stick with their party.

But we also forget that we are just as guilty when it comes to the name calling.  Conservative.  Republican.  Liberal.  Fool.  Whatever term we use, the contempt comes through loud and clear.

Why not try something new?  Don’t just have compassion for whoever you think is being ignored – immigrants, the American worker, or whoever.  Try to see into the heart of the person you are disagreeing with.  We are all God’s children and he probably wouldn’t mind if we all tried to remember that.

Compassion and kindness.  Honey and civility.

–SueBE

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We are picking our teams
(red team, blue team)
with alacrity (rushing to
curry favor with the captain
of choice) in louder and louder
voices (playground voices;
no one listens to inside voices anymore)
touting superiority of size, of mind, of soul,
of strength and riches and greed and hatred.
We are choosing sides for a most important game.

The only trouble is
Jesus keeps getting picked last.

As soon as I read this, I thought “this looks like a manual for discipleship.”

Dare to fight back.  Dare to lend a hand. Dare to do.  Dare to heal.  Dare to make someone smile.

Come on.  I double dare you.

–SueBE

I spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about parenting, probably because yesterday was Father’s Day.  For me, one of the toughest things about being a parent has been letting him be his own person.

I wish he was neater.

I’d love a kid who loves crafting as much as I do.

Hunting?  Ugh.

But there are amazing aspects to his personality too.  He may not care if his surroundings are perfect, but he’s forgiving.  People don’t have to be perfect either.

Crafting is out but building and repairs are in. He’s reglued chairs, helped me paint and more.

He has no fear of being out in the forest.  Every little noise has me looking over my shoulder.  This is his space and he loves it.  And because of that he works to protect it.

Me, you, that kiddo who is technically an adult?  God created us all to be unique individual people.  The great thing about that?  We each have special skills, concerns and abilities.  He made us that way.  Celebrate the diversity in God’s creation!

–SueBE

I’ve got an out-there theory about that 80s pop song that won’t get out of my head. I think it’s an alien radio wave, cleverly disguised as the Eurythmics. After all, what are light years to aliens? They call it, yesterday. My guess is that they experience everything all at once: past, present, future, and have only one tense in their language – “init,” meaning you’re in it – all time, at all times. 

I’m fascinated by news related to science, if only because it allows me to use my imagination. It also takes my mind off the rest of the news. Why is it that the only time an event makes its way into the headlines – and into our collective psyche – is when it’s something terrible? You almost need a red button of sorts to warn you. This is bad for you. It will add nothing good to your life.

I’m not saying that journalists shouldn’t cover actual news stories that impact our lives, but I haven’t read anything in the news today that improved my life for my having read it. Not one blessed thing.

Maybe that’s the real issue here. Not one blessed thing was in the news today. Only the cursed things. The things that make us cry and curse and shake a fist in anger. Maybe no news really is good news. Or at least fewer negative news stories. Finding positive news online and in life is possible. You just have to adjust your antenna.

When we were kids, my best friend and I would announce it was “opposite day” and turn our jackets or sweaters around backwards.  Who knew that this silly childhood game would become a national pastime.

Did someone there on the right disagree with me?  Sorry, couldn’t hear him.  I’m already running my mouth again or jabbing my phone to post a snippy response on social media.

Step back.  Take a deep breath.

If this is something you truly believe in, leave off the snotty Facebook posts. Look for a protest march to join.  Write a letter to your Congress people.   Mine is going to include a quote from Romans.  A slightly longer quote than the one used to justify the abuse of children.

Yeah.  I said it – abuse.  But it isn’t a term I selected in anger.  Being slow to anger doesn’t mean ignoring wrongs.  It just means you need to hear them out in good faith.  Then you get to have your say.

–SueBE

My friend Alice is collecting answers to the above question. Feel free to chime in. As for me, I always speak most clearly in poetry.

Providence is the hand of God in the world.
It is like the wind: You cannot see it,
you can only see what it does
(stir a sailboat, rustle a leaf
loosed from a tree),
and even this is best glimpsed
in your memory’s rear view mirror.
It is a confetti storm of pieces of paper,
a single word printed on each,
that somehow settles into a book.
You could have read it weeks ago,
but your eyes were not ready.
It is the tiniest movement of a fly
on a leaf that sends a drop of water
skittering to the ground below where
a seed has been mislaid, unlikely to ever
make anything of itself. Instead it flowers.
Perhaps it will be a rose, perhaps a cactus.
But even that will make sense when you are
lost in the desert, and in falling over, parched,
you break open the limb of a saguaro and there is water
cool and reviving, inside.*

 

 

* Just a metaphor. Do not do this in real life.

 

 

You can tell a lot about a person by how they handle things they don’t like.  The other day I walked into the community center with a group from my yoga class.  As we walked in from the parking lot, we noted that the flag was flying at half mast.  None of us knew why.

One of the women marched up to the receptionist’s desk.  “Why is that flag at half mast?”  No “excuse me” or “good morning.”  Her tone wasn’t even polite. I’ve since learned that this woman treats everything she doesn’t like as a personal affront. If she’s happy, every one is happy because she’s very gracious.  Unhappy?  Well, she shares that too.

I’m not going to say that I don’t. But I try to start things out with a smile and a kind word.  It’s my way of trying to reflect a bit of God’s light.  There’s enough darkness without creating more.

–SueBE

 

I have to admit that I laughed when I read Miss Ruth’s post on whether or not we see each other around our own world view. I do not change directions easily.  I don’t think I’m narrow-minded but my brain seems to hard wire things.  This is X.  That is Y.  When I find out that I had it backward, it takes me a few minutes to reorient my brain.

Yesterday our Bible class was discussing Jonah.  Pastor Sean pointed out how important it is for us to understand that the Israelites saw the sea, any sea, as chaos.  The giant fish?  A beast of chaos.

As much as I loathe water and swimming, I would have remembered this if I had ever heard it before. It so fits my world view!

But my grandad grew up on Biloxi Bay.  He was a bay life guard and swam in the ocean, the ocean that scared me silly.

My great uncles on the other side were river fishermen.  My grandmother and aunt pointed out that out often.  “Fishermen, Susie.  Just like the apostles.”  For my family, the fact that they were fishermen made them, and faith, that much more accessible.

Chaos?  Really?

The problem with this mental reversal was that I was teaching the class.  Not the best time to sit there and reorient your world view.  Fortunately, most of them have known me since I was 12.  Chaos.  I had it backwards?  One tiny step forward but still not wise.

–SueBE

In a new story I’m writing, one of the characters is an older Chinese woman. I searched “older women in Chinese culture 2018,” but couldn’t find anything relevant.

Ten pages of results yielded articles about a teenager’s prom dress causing controversy and the fact that educated, professional women in China aren’t marrying these days, but nothing about what life is like today for a women of 65. On page 13 of the search results, I did find an interesting article about how a three-digit “social score” can change the course of a person’s life in China, but still, nothing about the experience of older women.

It shouldn’t take miles of search pages to find out the most basic facts about older women in China. Should it? It’s disheartening that the algorithm we all rely on to bring us the world is leaving out large chunks of humanity. At least older people and women as a group can exist online. Can’t they?

But then again, do we ever really see each other?

Last year during a MOOC about poetry, I watched a terrific video lecture from poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Despite viewing it many times, I didn’t realize that she had on a bow tie, even though it’s obviously a bow tie. My mind assumed it was a scarf. Why? Because I like scarves. I wear scarves. I knit scarves. I was wearing a scarf as I was watching the video. Later, I realized that this poet identifies as gender non-conforming. All I saw was my own worldview.

No matter how open-minded we may think we are, we always see the picture through our own frame. Like a reverse selfie of sorts. Maybe we all need to be double-exposed to new ideas to view the world as a group-photo waiting to happen.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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