Last night, I listened to an interview with Todd Bol, the founder of Little Free Libraries.  For those of you who may not know what these are, they are the tiny libraries that look like elaborate mail boxes.  Set on posts in yards and parks throughout the country, those who put them up stock them with books for their communities.

Why?  As Bol explained in the interview, those who are illiterate are more likely to be incarcerated, to be hungry and to be homeless.  Not that others don’t suffer as well, but literacy is an amazing safety net.  And putting out these libraries shows the community that reading matters and that they, the people in this community, matter.

For me, the best part of the interview was when Bol mentioned all the griping and snarking being committed in the name of politics.  “That’s not who we are,” said Bol.  He emphasized that the American people are people who work together to solve problems.  That we are people who work together to build community.

Amen!

What is your favorite community building activity?  I’ve taken part in river clean ups, worked at the food pantry, and gone on hunger walks. In a community garden this summer, I learned how prickly “wild” cucumbers are and just how many 14 plants produce.

Community builders.  Provisioners. His hands and his feet in the world.  This is who we are.

–SueBE

 

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Seriously, there are times you would think that Lori, Ruth and I coordinate topics.  We’ve tried that.  What we write is so based on inspiration that scheduling something ahead of time can be tough.  But we do have these God moments – those times when God puts something into our hearts.

Think about all the people who could have, and probably did judge Ruth, because of her forgetfulness. If you haven’t read her post yet, click-through here.  It would have been easy to decide that she just didn’t take things as seriously as they did.  But if you know Ruth, you know that just isn’t the case.  I’m just happy that Ruth found so many people who were willing to join in her in a laugh and an understanding smile.  That’s something Ruth is amazingly good at creating – laughter and understanding.

And really we need more of that right now.  As election time nears again — yes, I mentioned it.  The stupid elections.

I’m already sick of it mainly because I’m sick of the way that people are talking to each other.  One of my friends has taken to posting pieces about Republican politicians.  She finds the haters.  Then she posts a news story about something they’ve said or done and she tags these stories.  “If you vote for this person, you are the problem.”

On the one hand, I understand her frustration.  Believe me.  I’m a liberal who was born in Texas and lives in Missouri.  I get the frustration.

But you aren’t engaging these people.  You aren’t asking them, why they voted for someone or what about the policies attracted them.

This isn’t doing good.  This is building a wall along political boundaries.

The saddest part is that Christ crossed boundaries.  He ate with tax collectors.  He came into contact with lepers.  He looked past problems and infirmities.  He looked into people’s eyes and saw the child of God within.

Be His hands.  Be His feet.  Go into the world and take down the walls.

–SueBE

Photo by Matt Collamer on UnsplashShowing up as someone other than your true self can be wearing.

As long as I can remember (!) I’ve had trouble remembering things I’ve done, people I’ve met, conversations we’d had. So I learned to make up for it with humor and this unrelenting cheerfulness that has become a lifelong habit. In my 20s, I’d use the phrase, I had a senior moment there! when I’d forget basic things. Co-workers would laugh and say, You’re too young to have those! and the infraction would be forgiven.

If I’d said, I don’t know why I can’t remember anything, and to be honest, it’s kind of upsetting, it would’ve gotten a moment of discussion or a shoulder shrug, but you could only do that so often. People would assume you weren’t applying yourself, or were just not that bright.

So most of the time I would flip a switch and turn into this upbeat version of myself, which meant I was always presenting a persona instead of being who I am. I needed to write lists of every task. Not a general to-do list, but pages of what I needed to do, checked off as I went. If it wasn’t documented there, I honestly couldn’t remember if I’d done it.

It was only after I was diagnosed with MS that I realized there was a reason for my forgetfulness.

It made me wonder: What is it we don’t know about the people with whom we interact? Is everybody grappling with something? It’s possible that someone in your life right now is feeling this way, but doesn’t know how to express it, or where to turn to make it better.

Maybe we’ll never know what others are going through. Assuming there’s a story might be enough for our collective compassion to kick in.

It always cracks me up when people ask me if I’m a glass is half empty person or a glass is half full person.  My answer?  Neither. I’m a functionalist.  “So that’s the glass?  I can work with that.”

I’m not trying to say  that I’m always upbeat because I’m not.  But I do try to work from where I am and how things are.

As I type this, I should be enjoying Pajama Day Part 1.  Pajama Day is a day where I dress down and don’t leave the house.  Ideally I’m home alone.  The boys should be on the road.  But my son got called in to work this morning.  The Jeep isn’t packed.  The things that I want to do?  I’ll get to them.

But here, now, I’m going to have lunch with the boys.  I could fuss and fume.  Or I could enjoy their company.

That is, after all, the glass before me.

–SueBE

When the whole world is a lie,
where do you go for truth?
Look inside yourself.
Find the one thing you would die for.
Extract it like a sliver.
Hold it up as high as you can.
(Don’t worry. Some
will not see, even if what you hold
is mountainous, epic, blinding.)
Your arm will wobble. Your chest
will heave with tears. Let them come.
God will see what you are holding:
If it is not worthy, you will know.
You can hide in the bowels of the earth;
still God will find you. If you are holding paper,
you will wither like a leaf in winter. If you hold
yourself, you will become a shadow. Only love
will shield you, so make yours vast, lavish,
even impractical. Stand in the light of one true thing,
and God will stand with you.

Some times ago, our church put on a play for Easter.  The choir provided the actors.  I got to be Mary M. and my friend Rich was Thomas.  Traditionally we are presented with Thomas as someone who doubts.  He has, according to tradition, very little faith.

Me? I’m not so sure.  Thomas asked questions.  As Rich read the part, it was easy to see Rich as Thomas. He’s a man of great faith and an engineer.  He’s a problem solver.  He works with fact and gathers information.

Once I heard Rich read the part, I can’t help but think of Thomas in the same way.  Here was someone presented with improbably things.

This is Jesus back from the dead.  No worries, said the others.

Prove it.  That was Thomas.  And I have to admit that I’m okay with that.  He was gathering information.

Asking questions and playing with ideas doesn’t mean that we don’t have faith.  As humans, we have limited understanding.  Faith enables us to grasp the things that are beyond us, things we cannot comprehend even when we have the facts.

Gathering data.  Asking questions.  It’s how some of our minds work.  But there reaches a point where even we have to make that final leap.

–SueBE

Tonight while my husband grills dinner, I’m going to clean up the patio set.  It’s a bit dusty and there are birds in the vicinity.  But I’ve also met two deadlines in the past week.  To put it simply, I’m feeling stressed.  Just a few too many people are turning to me with taksts that need to be done.

I feel the need to spend some time outside.

Sure, part of it is avoiding the fun.  Take it outside?  What if I dropped it on the paving stones?  It sounds like a bad idea.

I’m only half-joking.  I’m really not one of those people who always has her phone at her side.  I tend to lose it.

But there are weeds to pull.  And its supposed to rain on Friday.  I love listening to the rain on a corrugated roof.

Rain and wind.  Trees and grass.  All can help put things in perspective.

Breathe, they seem to say.  Be.  Be in and part of God’s Creation.    It is enough.

–SueBE

 

You have to be open.  It’s just a fact.  No one wants to talk to you if you are certain that only your way is correct.

When I saw this quote, I knew it was right but how?  I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  And then I saw a video  (see below) by Robin DiAngelo, author of What Fragility.  She discussed how we use phrases like “I’ve been taught not to see race” to shut the conversation down.

I’m not racist.  Boom.  The door slams shut.

This is a big part of why race and racism aren’t discussed openly in our society.  Even those of us who work hard not to be racist have these catch-phrases.  All we have to do and the conversation, the multiracial conversation, shuts down.  Those who might have something to teach you aren’t interested in being told that their experiences didn’t happen like they remember.  They are the ones misinterpreting what was said, what was done, and how they felt.

Us?  We’re good.  Because we aren’t racist.

My church is hosting another talk at the end of the month.  It is the last one we have scheduled before the holiday season.  Me?  I hope it is only the beginning.  Racism doesn’t have to be intentional to be a big deal.  As much as I don’t enjoy these meetings, I’m glad we are doing them.  It is a discussion we need to have as a society and as a Church.

–SueBE

“I can’t do it.”

Have you ever thought that when an idea pops into your head?  That’s what happened years ago when I had been praying about how to enrich my worship.  Simply attending service felt lean and unfulfilling.  There had to be more.  So I prayed.

Join the choir.

“I can’t do it.” I didn’t care what that still small voice said.  That was just crazy.  I had heard the soloists and that was not me.  Besides, family members laughed out loud when I told them.

But the thought wouldn’t leave me be.  It came to me in the labyrinth.  And then one Sunday the choir director walked up to me.  “You need to join.”  He never did tell me what moved him to approach me.  But I did join.

And I won’t lie.  It wasn’t easy.

I can’t read music.  I’m dyslexic.  And I hate it when people watch me.

But, oddly enough, I love choir.  And thank God, literally, that I’m tall enough to stand in the back row.  I feel like I’m hiding.

Not only did joining the choir enrich my worship, I’ve found great friends and a book idea.

It might not have been the right path for everyone, but it was for me.  When you hear that voice, listen.  Don’t make someone chase you down.

–SueBE

 

I just read a biography of Buddha, who’d been born a prince and lived a life of luxury, then gave it up. He came to believe Nirvana would be achieved by eliminating all desire.

I think the key to enlightenment is to stay in the Heaven in your head all the time instead of expecting some event, thing or person to complete you so you’ll feel worthy. Waiting for some momentous change may make us forget that there are blessings all around us, every day.

In a previous post, I wrote of how I was reminded during a power outage of all the daily gifts God sends to me. Love letters such as lights that turn on with the flick of a switch. Hot and cold running water. Toilets, faucets, gas burners. A little laundromat in my own basement.

Right there, in the dark, in the cold, I got into a warm fuzzy space in my own soul and I find that I can get there again, every time I read this line:  This was a gift to me today. A reminder to appreciate the power, all the way up to the power source.

The light-bulb moment comes when you accept that you’re blessed. You remember you’re remembered. You’re not forgotten. God loves you enough to send countless provisions your way every single day.

My moment of enlightenment came when the lights went out. I didn’t need the heat to work at that moment. I literally felt warmed up. I hadn’t felt like that when all of the systems in my life were percolating on as usual. It took a moment in which God blinked to remind me he’s always got his eye on me. That interruption in my life’s regular programming reminded me never to take grace for granted.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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