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Yesterday was an all around stormy day meaning that the storms were both literal and figurative.  Leaving the gym, I got to make a choice.  Rain jacket covering me or my yoga gear?  I decided to protect my mat which sops up water much more easily than it releases it again.  But we’ve been in a drought so rain is good.

Still, I could have lived without the flickering power and the lost job.  Yep.  Got home only to discover that an assignment had been pulled.  Well, not quite pulled.  I could keep it if I didn’t mind  . . .   I’ve said no to the new terms before and I said no again.  Oh, well.  I’ve been meaning to work on that novel.

But wait.  Then I found out about another possible job.  I’m still waiting on the details for this one but it looks like things may work out for the better.  I couldn’t have fit this one in if I still had the other.

I don’t think of myself as a particularly faithful or trusting person.  I question God all the time.  In fact, question is probably a tad polite.  But when I finish a job or a company I’m working for quite using freelancers, something else always comes my way.  And the funny thing?  Many are amazing experiences that I never would have looked for on my own.  God definitely has my back but the storms?  I wouldn’t mind a smoother transition.

–SueBE

 

 

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At first glance, you may think this quote is blowing off your failures or making light of your hard times.   Think again!

Try photography sometimes.  Occasionally you are going to get the shot you need in one try.  More often than not, you will have a dozen failures before you get that perfect shot.

If things don’t turn out, try again.  Persist.  Tuck your chin and move forward.  Don’t give up.

Many of the tasks that God puts before us are tough.  They don’t come easy.  It may even take time to work up the courage to try and then the failures come.  We aren’t even going to discuss how many wrong notes I hit in choir.  But that’s where God wants me.  So I show up every week and try again.  Maybe this week I’ll get through a rehearsal with no wrong notes.  I doubt it but regardless, I’ll be trying again.

–SueBE

“Inartful” is such an inartful word, isn’t it? It sounds as if somebody was just sitting around, chewing the fat with a bud, and asked, What’s the word for something that doesn’t have any aesthetics to it? No artistic merit at all?

His pal – let’s call him Art – replies, Inartlike? Unartley? Then they both land on: inartful.

Same thing with “impactful.” I’ve seen it an awful lot lately, and every time I do, my mind says, That’s not a word! Somebody just tacked “-ful” onto the end of “impact” one day in a meeting when they were grasping for the right word.

But that’s the beauty of the language. It really does change with the times. Mind you, I’ve had issues with some invented lingo on the web, such as “life hacks.”

Still, that’s what should happen. Our way of speaking should reflect our way of living.

That may not hold true for religions, I realize, but there should be some consideration given to the fact that times change. You can’t change the tenets of any given faith because you don’t agree with them, but they were founded so long ago that some updating wouldn’t hurt. The role of women should be honored, and everyone should be made to feel welcome, no matter who they love, where they’re from, or how much money is in their pocket.

Forgive me if I’m being inartful, but my faith has been so impactful, it’s more than a life hack. It’s the solace of my soul. Grace. Now that’s a real word.

Sometimes I’m sure that doctors, teachers, and emergency workers are the lucky ones.  They know that they are making a difference in the lives of others.  I say that, but I have to admit that it is an assumption.  There may be days that they know they are making a living but they aren’t sure if what they do matters to anyone.  There is always someone else in trouble, a patient who would be doing better if only they had listened, and numerous students who ignore every other thing they are told.

My request to all of you who reads this – let someone know that they have made a difference in your life.  This could mean writing a note to a teacher or messaging a co-worker on Facebook.  Or it could be as simply as letting a kind person that you bump into know that their smile is contagious.

Why bother?  Because if you do, you will be making a difference in someone’s life.

–SueBE

 

What are your plans for the weekend?  Can I make a recommendation?

Don’t Tweet.  Don’t post on Facebook.  Take a few days away from social media.  We cannot make peace as long as one side is shouting at the other.  And it doesn’t really matter which side you are on.  Both groups need to listen.  It is almost impossible to make peace as long as “civil conversation” involves telling people what simple solutions they have missed and that they need to shush up and listen.

Remember, we are all children of God.  All of us.  Even the ones you disagree with.

When we were kids and we would squabble, my mom would tell us to go outside.  Sometimes she just wanted peace.  But I think she also realized that if we would spend time in the sunlight and the wind, we would reorient ourselves, our minds, and our souls.

Seriously.  Outside.

And if you don’t?  Suit yourself.  Maybe you’re more patient than I am.

I’m going out to look for God.  I’ll be back in a day or two.

Note: I’m not walking away from anyone here, but I’ve had a few too many people elsewhere ‘splaining things.  And it ain’t just man-splaining.   I am having a really hard time not counter-explaining that I do not need to have things put SIMPLY. I know counter-explaining would not be productive.  So I’m going out and looking for God.

TTFN (ta ta for now)

–SueBE

 

 

There’s just so much not to talk about today! Take the latest school shooting, for example. Oh, it’s being talked about now. But just give it a few days. Things will settle back to ordinary. And then there will be yet another shooting. It’s cool. We’re okay with this course of events. America has elected a new god and it is guns — singular and plural — and we are perfectly willing to sacrifice our children on our new god’s altar. Eighteen times in 30 days! No one can say we are not devout.

Let’s also not talk about Father James Martin, dubbed the most dangerous man in the Catholic Church for implying, hinting, suggesting that we ought to treat LGBTQ Catholics with dignity and kindness. For this, Father Martin receives all manner of hate mail. It’s good to know that I needn’t turn to another faith practice in order to find the most small-minded one on earth. I can remain a Catholic!

What else should we not discuss? Golly, there’s so much. But no one listens when I get angry. Let me turn instead to my old friend poetry.

Stitch my eyes shut:
I will still see. Numb my mouth
with platitudes and prayer:
I will rouse my tongue.
Tell me I cannot change
people, places, things:
I will wave you away
like a phantasm.
Heaven dropped fire
into my soul. I will scald,
blacken, raise flame.
Even in silence, I smolder.

Let me dazzle you with
incendiary verbiage;
fireworks of thought —
wonder! Delight! Gape
as sparks fly
into upturned mouths.
I need only enflame
one tongue. Then,
and only then,
can I rest in ashes.

Yesterday I was interviewed by Henry Stone, the managing editor of the PC USA’s Unbound which focuses on social justice and social ministry.  First he asked me how I came to write Black Lives Matter and What Are Race and Racism.  I told him about being approached by the editor to write about the modern civil rights movement and police shootings.  We discussed how surreal it all feels to write about race and racism and to be told by teachers that you are having an impact and still . . .

You wake up the next morning and racism is still here.  The world is still broken.  People remain deeply flawed.

“Do you think racism will ever be fixed?  If not, why do you do what you do?”

As flawed as we are, the world does change.  Sometimes it changes for the better.  Slavery is illegal.  Families are no longer torn apart on the auction block.

Does that mean everything is well and good?  Of course not.  We see the legacy of slavery every day in racist policies and stereotypes and how we try to pigeon-hole people.  We can enact change but it is slow and it will take time for the ripples of the evil that went before to stop spreading.

This is the reality whether we are working to solve problems of race or rage or gun violence.  Change can come but legislation is not a fix-all.  We will have to look deep into our hearts and at what we value vs who we do not.

–SueBE

 

The funny thing is that no one believes that, at one point in my life, I was painfully shy.  It isn’t that I wouldn’t speak because I would volunteer information at school.  But if someone challenged me or yelled at me?  I simply shrank.

Sometimes we don’t  immediately recognize the help God sends our way.  My help came in the form of a radical professor.  She was an outspoken black woman whom no one was going to silence.  She had grown up in the poorest neighborhoods in St. Louis but she had made it into a tenure track position at a midwestern university.  And every day in class she pushed me.  And I don’t mean the way a teacher pushes a student to try harder.  This was personal and always a little mean.

And every day I wondered why.  I worked harder but still she pushed.  I couldn’t figure out why.

One day we were discussing our projects and she referred to something I had done as stupid.  To put it politely, I lost it.  I explained to her, none too quietly, that I was not stupid and that although my interpretation wasn’t her interpretation it was valid because of XYZ.

And then it hit me.  I was practically yelling at a professor.  Oh . . . no.

By the time I made eye contact, I was about to get sick.  But she was laughing.  Seriously laughing.  She ran up to me and hugged me.  “I didn’t think I was every going to get you to stand up for yourself.  Do you know how worried I’ve been that the world was going to eat you up?”

At the time, I didn’t appreciate what she had done.  But now?  When I need to speak up, I may be afraid but I am able to be heard and I recognize what a gift God sent my way.

–SueBE

By nature, I’m a “prepare for the worst, hope for the best” kind of person.  On a good day, I manage to believe peace is possible.  Here’s hoping and praying for a good day…

–SueBE

 

Think about all the changes you would like to see.  First let’s consider our own lives.  Me?  I’d like to be thinner.  And there are rooms in my house that couldn’t be company ready in a month. Obviously, the key to changing these things is to change something I do.  So I’m spending more time rowing and I’m focusing on one “disaster” room at a time.  This has only been going on for about five weeks, but already I’m seeing changes.  It isn’t hard to see that if you want your life to change you need to change something in it.

But now let’s consider something in the larger world. I want greater social justice. So how should I bring this about?  I could demand changes from those around me.  “Do this!  Do that!  Because I want it, that’s why!”

Or I could make a change in my daily habits.  One of the biggest obstacles to social justice is the fact that many whites simply don’t see the injustice.  I can educate myself and I can speak out.  This is where I have to be careful.  Telling someone that they are doing it all wrong and that they are repressing others is only going to help a little.  Very few people respond positively to being pushed.  But I can tell about the things that surprised me when I realized them.

Change can happen.  But you have to make the decision to do something differently.  So, what will it be?

–SueBE

 

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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