Last month, Pope Francis made headlines by suggesting that it may be time to change the words of the Lord’s Prayer from “Lead us not into temptation” to “Do not let us fall into temptation.” The reason for this proposed change is to negate the notion that God would ever lead us into sin.

I started to write this post last month, but held off, as I kept finding the post coming back to #MeToo and things we’ve been hearing from the president. Hoping to steer away from topical, highly-charged issues and back to the prayer itself, I realized that this prayer is timeless as well as timely. Maybe the reason I can’t stop finding its resonance in the news and in the world at large is that it’s not only relevant – still – but it may contain solutions to these problems.

It’s more important than ever for anyone in a position of authority to seek God’s counsel to avoid the temptation of abusing their power. And the need to forgive seems just about continuous of late.

I looked at the wording of various translations of the line about forgiveness.

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors (New International Version)

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us (Roman Catholic version)

Forgive us for doing wrong as we forgive others (Contemporary English Version)

I’d like to add my own version, if you’d indulge me:

Hold my hand as I walk the path so I don’t lose touch with my own humanity.

Make me mindful that, at my worst, I’ve been unkind.

So when another child of God aims their pain at me, it’s best for my soul to let it go.

If only we had a universal translator to sort through what people are really saying, maybe we’d see that the world is a neighborhood. Everyone we meet is extended family. Somewhere between intention and interpretation, healing awaits.

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My son is an inventive thinker.  I, as my husband puts it, am ready to jump with only half a plan.  You’d be amazed just how often it works.

My father is focused on the past but because of his dementia doesn’t understand that it is the past.  But watching him I’ve started to wonder.  When we are frustrated and can’t figure out what is going on, just how often might this be our problem.  We are stuck in the past.  We haven’t emotionally or mentally kept up with the changes in the world.

Some of these changes have been fantastic.  I remember my father’s stories about not being allowed to swim for fear they’d contract polio.  Dad lived in the desert.  Getting rid of polio is a fantastic thing.  So is desegregation.

Global warming? That’s something we could all do without.

 

Good, bad and in between, this isn’t the world my father was born into.  It isn’t the world I was born into.  When we moved to this area, we were one of two non-Catholic families in our neighborhood.  That was a HUGE deal.  Now, in addition to the Catholic, Protestant and Baptist churches, we have a Thai wat and a mosque.

It doesn’t make sense to reach back for old solutions.  It is time to look forward.  The wonderful thing about it?  Past, present and future, God is in them all. It’s our focus that might need to be adjusted.

–SueBE

 

Last week, I watched a TED talk with a psychologist who joked about the tendency medical school students have to think they have whatever illness they are studying.  Specifically, the joked that his brother-in-law believed he had leprosy but that was only after worrying for a week that he had menopause.

The reality is that if we focus on something that is what we are going to find.  So how great a stretch is it to wonder if that is also what we will create?

I’m not saying that we should ignore injustice, poverty and hunger.  Don’t even go there!  We can’t address what we refuse to see.

But to work toward a solution, we have to believe a solution is possible.  We won’t reach for what we believe cannot exist. It is up to those of us who believe in the Light and Love of Christ to let others know what we see, what we believe in, and what we are working for every day.

–SueBE

 

Yesterday we celebrated my niece’s fifteenth birthday.  The last year of so she seems to really be coming into her own.  She’s on the pom pom squad and a gifted student who loves science.  She’s a budding photographer and spends hours perfecting just the right look with makeup and clothing.

“Oh, she’s so like you.”  That’s what people tell my make-up hound, clothes horse sister.  And to an extent this is true.

But my brother-in-law is also a gifted photographer.

And then there’s that part that is 100% unique to my niece.  Pom poms?  The vast majority of us can barely walk straight and we have the bumps and bruises to prove it.  But she’s doing all kinds of complicated dance routines.  That said, I won’t be shocked when she knocks something over.  She is my niece.

At fifteen she’s struggling with how people expect her to be vs how she envisions herself.

What’s my job as her crazy aunt?  I give out hugs every chance I get.  I tell her she’s amazing and funny and smart.  It doesn’t matter how old you are or how you identify yourself in terms of gender.  God created each of us in love.  Finding ourselves under society’s expectations can be tough.

–SueBE

Photo by Florian Dornauer on Unsplash

I really wish I were one of those people who dreamed at night of traveling to Tuscany, or of dancing on Broadway. Perhaps skydiving into the Grand Canyon. When I dream, it’s fairly jejune (love that word. It’s so fancy, for meaning something so dull!) although I do often receive what I consider to be words from Providence.

Just little reminders of what I already know but haven’t really taken to heart.

Here’s what I read last night:

You don’t plant weeds in your garden on purpose.

You don’t drink poison from a glass.

If you could pour regret into a glass and see it, you’d realize it was poison. You wouldn’t voluntarily drink it if it smelled noxious and tasted worse.

As I thought of something painful from the past just this morning, I realized that my stomach was in a knot. That’s when it occurred to me. Maybe that spare tire we all carry around our midriffs is really something else: Regret Storage. Poisonous pain we were meant to let go of, but held on to, and as a result, it seeped into our souls.

When I realized that thinking of painful things from the past was causing pain in my gut as I was standing there in the kitchen, I stopped thinking about those things. The pain went away. Right away. If only it were always that easy!

But at least I can remind myself that it’s more important to feel good and live well now than to deconstruct the past. I can’t change what happened, but I can decide that I won’t give away my joy to someone or something that has already hurt me once.

That’s why they call the present a gift. You can unwrap it afresh every day.

We’ve all met them.  They are the people who leave you walking a little lighter with a smile on your face.

One woman asks about my dad every time I see her.  She was in the same care facility but only temporarily while she underwent rehab.

A teen at our church changes her hair color on a regular basis.  She’s never content with one color but combines them and greets me every week with a hug.

Human contact.  We all need it and it can really change your day.  I make a point of talking to the checker in the grocery story and the man who picks up the gymnastic mats after yoga.  It is amazing to see the light come into their faces because someone has seen an acknowledged them.

But I’m not spreading just any light.  I’m spreading His Light and Love and Joy.  It is my little way of helping the people I encounter have a bit of hope in their hearts.

–SueBE

I’m an idea person.  Give me a problem, whether you need to find a specific type of story or a solution to a household problem, and I can start pitching out ideas.  I know they aren’t all good, but that’s okay.  Leave the lesser ones behind and choose the good.

But every now and again, I can’t think of an idea to save myself.  Most often, this happens when I’m just barely hungry, or not hungry yet, and someone wants to know what I want to eat.  That’s when I have to honestly answer either “I don’t know” or “I don’t care.”  And if I say I don’t care, trust me.  I don’t.  I care about all kinds of silly things – how the towels are folded, what color you paint the porch, and more.  If I say I don’t care, take it as fact.  I simply don’t care.  Pick something and as long as I’m not allergic to it, I’m along for the ride.

Imagine my surprise the first time I had to deal with a suggestion nay-sayer.  These are the people who consistently say or vote NO.  Your dinner suggestion? Not good enough.  The proposal for how to use the memorial fund?  No.  The idea for a new Bible study?  Ridiculous – no, No, NO.

Sometimes I think they do this simply because the number of ideas an idea person like me can generate overwhelms them.  Sometimes I think they do it because they are genuinely concerned about the situation.  Other times?  I think it is all about power.  It’s a form off passive aggression.

Our society is in a place where we need idea people.  We need people willing to solve energy problems and racial problems.  We need people with ideas about education and feeding people effectively.  We also need people who are good at dealing with the nay-sayers.  This, unfortunately, is not among the talents that God gave me.  Maybe it is one of yours.

–SueBE

This is something that writers have to do all the time.  If you want to publish and sell you need to know there things – who is your audience, what do they need, how does your writing fill that need.

This isn’t just success that you can put in the bank.  This is success at connecting with others because to know the answers to those questions, you have to know something about other people.  You have to connect. You have to be valuable to them.

Why should you have to be?  Certain segment of society have spent way too long expecting others to want to be like us.  We don’t need to know what you want.  What you need?  Irrelevant.  Judging by the divisions and the vocal animosity in our society, I’d say that path isn’t working.  Instead, we need to learn to be valuable to each other.

We have to be willing to let other people be themselves and still connect with them.  Who are you?  What do you care about? What do you need?

–SueBE

I’m starting to think I’m just not being heard. I send emails that get no replies. I ask questions that get no answers. I listen…and listen…and listen to what others have to say, but when I speak up, nobody has time. Or patience. Hello? Is anybody out there? Is this mic on?

We spend our lives — from newborn shrieks to deathbed confessions — trying to be heard. Why? What makes us so important? Nothing…and everything. We are, to ourselves anyway, infinitely important. But out there in the world? You’ve got millions of voices, all competing to be the loudest, the most heeded. What are the odds of an introvert winning that competition?

Once, long ago, a friend at work convinced me to join her in a primal scream. It was very satisfying…except to the company’s security guard who had no idea we were just trying to vent our frustrations. Oops.

If you want to be heard — really heard — you have to turn to prayer. Or poetry.

Even before I open my mouth
my confession is out there. Phrases thudding,
homely, unscrubbed as orphans. Pathetic, crude words
with sharp edges and blunt, dumb sounds.
Big, lumpy, dirt-encrusted words. They fall from me
like a curse, like the girl in the fairy tale
fated to speak in snakes and other slippery critters.
Who hears such ugly offerings?
Only one. The one we turn deaf ears to,
despite the shouts of sunsets, the “Hear this!”
of the scent of night jasmine. The one who calls us
to listen. For in listening, we will be heard. At last.

I had to really think about this one.  We all face challenges – slick spots on the road.  There are curves. There are uphill climbs.  And there are, fingers crossed, some smooth, easy driving parts.  The temptation is to think that the difference is the driver.

I’ve made a success of my life because I’ve paid attention to the road.  My success is all about me.

But the reality is something slightly different.  The road is a metaphor for life.  Some roads are truly worse than others.  There are more hardships, more potholes, more obstacles.  The question is whether or not the person has the tools to navigate them.

Some of these tools come with the individual.  Let’s face it – some people are more resilient than others.  I have a friend who is the mother of three.  Within something like 6 weeks, one daughter had to have emergency surgery and her son’s pancreas quit working completely.  But she’s one of the world’s resilient people.  Ask her how she was and things were “good, getting better and better every day.”

But some of us also have more opportunities than others.  Maybe we are born into money.  Or a super helpful extended family.  Or we have the priviledge of race.  Whatever the reason, we have more support and more opportunity to make it past the obstacles life places in the way.

Fortunately those of us who have opportunity can offer a hand to someone who does not.  In doing so, we can provide the roadside assistance that makes the difference between the road to success and the road to failure.  The help you provide may be monetary, it may be societal as you work to change an unfair policy, or it may be personal as you encourage someone along the way.

Success or failure.  Sometimes it all depends on the assistance we receive.

–SueBE

 

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