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Grace.  Say this word to me and I generally thing gift.  We are blessed by Christ’s gift of grace.  It isn’t something that we, flawed people that we are, can earn.  Nope.  It is truly a gift.

But it is also a prayer.  And, in all truth, prayer is also a gift.  Through prayer, we can converse with God.  It is one of the ways we have to connect with Him.  But it too is a gift.  When Christ gave people the Lord’s Prayer it was a revolutionary idea.  People going directly to God in prayer?  Not going through the priest after presenting an offering?  Christ gave us this gift, this connection to God.

But grace is also a way to live every day if we so choose.  We can carry God’s grace into the world.  We can help other people understand that they don’t have to be perfect to be worthy of love.  They don’t have to be perfect to have a place.  All they have to be is human.

No matter how you define grace at this particular moment it is a remarkable gift.



Knowledge and wisdom.  They aren’t quite the same thing although I was probably a teen when I figured this out.

That was when my friends and I started playing role playing games. We’d have to create a character to use in a series of adventures.  We had to note how high, or low, our character was in a variety of traits including both intelligence/knowledge and wisdom.

It was the first time in my life that I realized that you could have one without the other.  As an adult, I realized that this wasn’t just true of games but life as well. When I worked in an academic department at the university, there was no doubt that the professors I worked with were all very intelligent. They’d earned PhDs in a wide variety of topics and published papers and books.  These people were smart.

But wisdom?  That wasn’t something all of them could claim. This was obvious as I one professor drug me down the hall to count the floor tiles in another professor’s office.  Who had the most space?  A wise person would not there were differences and let it roll.  A smart person?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  They also had to be wise.

One professor in particular was both.  He had degrees in divinity and anthropology.  He had been a minister with his own church.  He had also worked with Vietnamese Buddhist refugees in Hawaii and Texas as well as Buddhists in Thailand.  He was a man who could note the facts, get down to what mattered and let the rest go.

Intelligence and wisdom.  They are both gifts from God.



Whether you are working for social justice, environmental awareness or simply trying to ease a friend’s burden, you are shining a light into the darkness.  Some will appreciate it.  Others?  Not so much.  But that’s okay.  Keep carrying Christ’s light into the world.  The world oh so badly needs it.



Sometimes we need to hear something more than once for the point to be made.  Today, I watched a TED Talk featuring Teresa Njoroge titled “What I Learned Serving Time for a Crime I Didn’t Commit.” (I’ve imbedded it below.)

Teresa started her talk by telling her story.  She worked in Kenya’s financial district in a job she loved.  She had studied hard to make it in this booming sector.  Then one day she was told that she had participated in a fraudulent transaction.  She was scared, but she hadn’t done anything.  By the time she was sent to prison, she has been asked several times to pay out large sums of money to make the problem “go away.” She didn’t so, in spite of her innocence, she went to prison for a year.  Her 3-month old daughter went with her.

In prison, she heard the stories of women.  Women with no educations.  Women from the poorest backgrounds.  Women who couldn’t pay bribes even if they didn’t trust the system.

By the time her one year sentence had been served, Teresa was determined to help women like these make better decisions and also have the resources needed to defend themselves from false accusations.  She founded Clean Start Kenya.

Teresa has since been exonerated of all charges.  She has also worked in the incarceration capital of the world – Louisiana, USA.

Yes.  The incarceration capital of the world is in the US.  Not North Korea.  Not Iraq or Afghanistan.  The US.

Thank God for Teresa Njoroge who refused to pay the bribe, who refused to write off her fellow prisoners.  This forest needs more trees like Teresa.


They say there are two primal reactions to any situation: fight or flight. Let me suggest a third: holding for a moment, letting God make the decision for you. As fearful as you are, as stressful as the situation might be, God will hold you up. It is a moment I often forget to take, as used as I am to thinking I am in total control of my life (a laughable concept). But a necessary one. As usual, I illustrate in poetry:

Plunge in.
The water’s cold,
so cold it stops your heart
for a moment. And then
you come back into yourself,
all at once, water — wet, breath — held,
eyes — open, to clear blue impossibilities.
You will panic or be at peace;
it doesn’t matter which,
except in terms of long-term survival.
You will swim, after a fashion, or not.
It will be easier if you let your body go,
but that requires a yes you may not be ready for.
Try to say it anyway. The tide will lift you,
even if the yes is a lie.

Tell me about a complicated man.

Muse, tell me how he wandered and was lost when he had wrecked the holy town of Troy, and where he went, and who he met, the pain he suffered in the storms at sea, and how he worked to save his life and bring his men back home.

He failed to keep them safe; poor fools, they ate the Sun God’s cattle, and the god kept them from home.

Now goddess, child of Zeus, tell the old story for our modern times.

Find the beginning.

These opening lines of Emily Wilson’s translation of “The Odyssey” struck me like a lightning bolt.

Some critics believe that her choice of words may affect the classic’s meaning.

“I want to make them see that all translations are interpretations,” she said.

The same can be said of the Bible. People curate specific texts and tailor them to pet peeves. Maybe they want women to “stay in their place,” so they quote Ephesians 5:22. They cherry-pick passages to berate gays, immigrants, trans people. You know. Anybody they don’t want in the neighborhood.

I was amazed to read an article about priests trying to deter annoying parishioners from becoming part of their church.

Sometimes we’re not even aware that we treat people who are different from us, well, differently.

It doesn’t take much to create a compassionate community. Just an open door. A kind manner. A heart for humanity.

It’s trusting that God knows what he’s doing. In a nutshell, it’s a timeless story with a happy ending. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get lost in translation.

Sometimes I have a hard time looking forward.  What can I say?  I’m a writer.  I want to rewrite the bits that didn’t turn out so well.  If only I had done this instead of that.  

But God doesn’t want us to constantly look back over our shoulders.  I’m convinced that that is the lesson we are supposed to get out of the story of Lot’s wife.  For those of you who aren’t familiar, Lot and his family are allowed to leave Sodom before the city is destroyed.  They are told to hurry and not look back, but Lot’s wife can’t resist a look back over her shoulder.  She is turned into a pillar of salt.

I think that God knows what looking back constantly does.  It freezes us in place.  We are unable to move forward.  Instead, our focus remains in the past.

Look forward.  Listen.  God will show you the way!



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