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Recently, our church book club read The Lemon Tree.  I can’t say that it is one of my favorite books, but it is an important book.  Why?  Because it tells a story all too few of us know.  It tells about the creation of Israel from the point of view of the Palestinians.  Unlike the narratives we hear so often, Israel is not the hero.  Not that the nation is demonized but this is a much more complete picture.

The book tells about driving Palestinian families from their homes.  It tells about explosives made to tempt children to pick them up.  Think about that one for a minute.  It tells about the demonization of a people, the Palestinians.

Now, don’t start.  I know my history.  I know about PLO atrocities.  But I also know both sides of the story.  I don’t look at just the parts that make this group of people easy to hate.

The eerie part of all of this was that the vast majority of people who read the book thought it was biased.  “It’s anti-Israeli!  It doesn’t tell about the things those Muslims did!”

Yes, yes, it did.  But it is so much easier to hold on to the misconceptions and narrow perspectives that allow us to hate.

This sort of reaction?  This is why I write about race.  It is why I write about diversity in religion.  It is why I write about tolerance as well as ethnocentrism.

This may not be a story that is comfortable for many of us.  But until we can see the whole reality without making excuses for it, we cannot truly be peacemakers.  And isn’t that the blessing we’d all love to rain down on this Earth?

–SueBE

 

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Some people talk to God as easily and readily as picking up a phone — they have God on speed dial. Through meditation, prayer or other means, they’ve perfected the art of hearing what God is telling them; their ears perk up at sounds outside the spectrum of human hearing. I admire them. I envy them.

My ears stretch and crane for the slightest peep. I hear only the silence of my own selfish heart. Would I believe the voice of God if it came to me? Or would I dismiss it as a figment of my own imagination? What does it take to hear God? Well, for one, it requires being attuned to your own inner self. This is difficult to do when one is not essentially interested in one’s inner self. Call it dint of long acquaintance, but I am thoroughly sick of my inner self. I’d like it replaced, please, with something better, holier, more interesting. I am tired of slogging through its sludgy waters.

Then I remember: St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta last heard the voice of God as a young woman traveling on a train. She never heard the voice again, not through the long years of her service to the poor, holding the hands of the dying, through her own illness and death. Not once. Her “dark night of the soul” lasted decades. And it would be difficult to argue that she wasn’t trying to do what God asked of her all those years ago on that train. She was. With a resounding silence as her reward.

So maybe God doesn’t speak to us with an eye as to what we deserve or even ask for. Maybe God figures once is enough for the right folks. Only when was my once? Was it deciding to go away to a college I’d never even visited before but which ended up creating lasting ties and thoroughly overhauling my spirituality? It was a decision that could certainly be described as providential. But I’d hate to think that the first, last and only time I heard or heeded God was at the raw age of 18. That’s a lot of wasted years.

Or is that I don’t know how to listen? That would be strange indeed, as I count listening as one of my greatest ministries. I’m the woman that strangers pour their hearts out to while standing in line at Walmart. I hear about other people’s crises of faith. So maybe I’m not supposed to hear but to be a conduit to the One Who Does Hear?

I wish I knew, but I suppose that would require a rather loud message that I, for whatever reason, lack the skill to interpret. It doesn’t mean that I am going to toss out my inner telephone. No, I’ll keep it on, hoping as I have through all these long years, that someone will give me a call. I’m waiting.

This is a tough one.  From my local community to book club meetings, I hear people talking about wanting peace, wanting things to be better.  Then in the next breath they want to put someone “in their place.”

Peace.  It has to be more than a buzz word.  And it has to be for everyone in every place.

Life is full of waves and ripples, winds and gentle breezes. Let God be the wind that moves you.

Encourage one another… 

So, I’ve written before about my health issues, and while I don’t want to bring anyone down, I do like to share what I’ve learned from having MS.

Like the time I took my son, Cole, and his friends, Luke and Nick, to the movies a few years back. On the way out, I asked if they’d seen another movie that was out at the time. “So did you guys see Thor?” Without batting an eye, Luke replied, “Yes, we saw it last week. You took us. Remember?”

But he knew I didn’t. The upside is that these kids are like family, and they’re used to my sieve-like memory. It didn’t phase them. When people are understanding of your limitations, it makes you feel supported.

That’s why I was so thrilled to come across this article about a cafe that employs dementia patients, called “The Restaurant of Order Mistakes.” So you ordered a hamburger? Well, how about some dumplings instead! This shows that if people are aware of your story, they give you more latitude.

It goes back to my theory that there’s always a story, and everyone is dealing with something, often something that’s not visible to the naked eye.

People have taken the challenges of their own pasts and turned them into positive action.

These men took the pain of coming to another country penniless and hungry, and turned it into a kind deed, offering people a free meal if they have no money.

Sometimes a small act of compassion can restore one’s faith in humanity. This hairdresser with a posh client list reaches out to people on the street with his “Do Something for Nothing” campaign, offering haircuts to the homeless. It’s amazing to see what this simple kindness can do for a person who often feels invisible. One gentlemen looked at himself after his haircut and asked, “Why did you do that for me? It’s not an everyday thing.” The hairdresser’s answer was, “I loved hearing your story.”

It’s nice to know we can write the story as we go, and we’re all in it together.

More and more often lately, I find that I just don’t want to participate in many of the conversations going on around me.

Sometimes it’s because a group of people just want to gripe.  Yes, your kid lost the race.  Someone will.  And your mad because that particular water feature in the pool wasn’t working correctly.  It probably has something to do with the storm we just had and the repairmen.  Yep, those guys right there.

But more often than not its just because there is nothing I can add.  When someone posts something on Facebook, I’ll click “like” or “frown” but it seem ridiculous to me to be one of 45 people saying “me, too!”

Other times its just because things are too overwhelming.  A friend just lost her husband and son.  In one weekend they went from being a family of four to a family of two.  I’m all the way across the country so it isn’t like I can take her food.  Besides, the fridge is full and so is the freezer.  And someone is with her pretty much constantly.  I’m very grateful for those friends who are near at hand.

Yet, I’ve signed up to be one of the herd of friends afar who make sure that she always has a positive message to greet her online.  This is going to be tough because really there is no upside to what happened.  And fool that I am, I volunteered for tomorrow.  I’m not good at idle chatter.  That should be pretty obvious.  After all, I call it idle chatter.

Fortunately, there is a message that I can send her.  God is there for you.  So are we, your friends.  Even when we don’t have something amazing to say.  We are here.  You are not alone.

–SueBE

 

 

A positive attitude really will help in many situations. If you annoy someone?  Ah, well.

I know, I know.  Not the best attitude to have about having a positive attitude but that’s just the way it goes some days.  On a good day, things will sometimes go wrong.  You won’t always get your way.

You can keep a good sense of humor about it or not.

Me?  I try to keep it all in perspective so that I can write a funny Facebook post later on.  God gave us the ability to laugh.  Use it and most situations really will be easier to handle.

–SueBE

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