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It doesn’t matter how great you think your country is, there is probably something you would love to change.  Think about what that is.  Now think what action you can take to bring that about.

I’m a writer so, among other things, literacy and books are very important to me.  And clearly I’m not the only person who wants to encourage people to read.  I say clearly because I just read a series of posts on Facebook about Little Free Libraries in my area.  I’d spotted one of them but not the others.  I will now be on the lookout.

I also saw a Tweet about a woman who is giving books to Trick-or-Treaters.  That sounds like fun but we tend to get something like 100 kids.  This thought would make my husband super happy and he’d probably even volunteer to haul the books to the front door.  And really, as I look around my office, I realize that I’ve got 600+ books in here with me.  Another 100 or so in my bedroom.  Maybe, just maybe…




I have to admit it.  For those of you who hadn’t already figured it out – I was  and still am an Obama fangirl.  This is one of my favorite Obama quotes.

At the moment, there are so many causes and situations where people need our help.  There are still protests going on in my area.  Protests than can easily become another act of violence against African-Americans.  Protests that, after dark when new participants come out, easily turn into riots.

There are so many people throughout the US and the Caribbean who need post-hurricane help.  Efforts to help those in Puerto Rico again and again seem to be hobbled by politics.

Mexico City.  Bangladesh.  Syria.  The list goes on and on.

It can feel overwhelming to the point that we want to pull back and pull into ourselves.  And you may need to do that for a while.  Perhaps you’ve been sick.  Or you’re going through a divorce.  Or there is something else on your plate, something that is pulling down your energy, sapping your strength, and leaving you numb.

And that’s okay.  After all, even as we look over each other, sometimes we are among those who needs some TLC.


Every time I click on a viral video of surprise soldier homecomings, I tell myself it’s not going to get to me, but it does. Every time!

Of course, on this Memorial Day, we remember the members of the military services who never made it home. It’s also a time to reflect on the ones who did come back, only to find that the war at home was still underway.

My father-in-law fought in Korea and Vietnam, and even though he came back alive, so many things had changed for him that it seemed some parts of his life had died.

He kept extending his tenure in the army in order to ensure that his family was taken care of. They lived on an army base, so housing, healthcare and education were provided. Even though he had little formal education of his own, all five of his children graduated college.

But the long deployments away from home affected his relationship with his family, and when he finally did return, it didn’t feel like home anymore. He felt like a stranger to his wife, and for many reasons, seemed to be regarded by his own kids as an enemy.

In the military, there’s a saying: “No one should be left behind.”

Generally speaking, I’m not in favor of military action in any situation. It doesn’t resolve the problem; oftentimes, it only exacerbates it. But I am in favor of the soldiers who put their lives on the line in many different ways. Some gave all. All gave some. Now it’s our turn to give something back to them, not the least of which is respect.

Today, at Arlington Cemetery, President Obama said everything that I’ve been trying to say in this post:

“Truly remembering, truly honoring these fallen Americans means being there for their parents and spouses and children,” the President said. “Truly remembering means that after our fallen heroes gave everything to get their battle buddies home, we have to make sure they get everything they have earned — from good health care to good jobs. And we have to do better. Our work is never done.”

Watching Religion & Ethics Weekly the other day, I saw a news story about President Obama addressing the United Nations General Assembly.

Some may disagree, but I believe that America is exceptional – in part because we have shown a willingness, through the sacrifice of blood and treasure, to stand up not only for our own narrow self-interest, but for the interests of all.”

Now, I’m grateful to have been born in this country. But at a gathering of all the (reasonable) countries in the world, is it really necessary to say, “We’re still bigger and better than the rest of you!”

It’s the same with world religions. Every one of them seems to think their God is bigger and better than anyone else’s.

When I was a teenager, I was baby-sitting my next-door neighbor’s kids. As she was leaving for the restaurant, one of them asked a very deep question that left her discombobulated.

Mama?” he asked, all wide-eyed innocence. “Who’s more powerful. Jesus or Shiva?”

She had a look on her face that spoke volumes. As in, I don’t want to talk about this to my seven and nine year old kids, but our family is Hindu, so…

Well, I guess… Shiva.”

Why Mama?”

God is a belief, honey. Nothing to do with your real life. Shiva is just the one that we believe in, that’s all. Right, Ruthie?”

I flashed back in my mind – a recent emergency appendectomy had left me “minutes from death” according to my surgeon, so I’d gotten right with God, right quick. I took the altar call at a local church, figuring I had to commit fully to God’s path and never look back.

So when my neighbor asked me to agree with her, I didn’t know how to respond.

God is a belief! Goodness gracious. At the time, I thought that if I said or thought the wrong thing, God would smite me down. I didn’t have a foundation of faith so much as a fixation on fear. If I’d been minutes from death in the hospital and had been given a second chance, clearly I should spend the rest of my life trying to toe the line so that I wouldn’t be denied entry into Heaven.

Luckily, the conversation petered out as the kids turned their attention to Scooby-Doo.

It would take me years before I realized that having faith wasn’t about staving off doom. It’s about living fully and embracing the positive. Light and laughter. Joy, not judgment. A sense of purpose and a sense of community.

We may pray in unique ways and call Him by different names, but, in truth, we all worship the same God. Holding on to hope in a world that dares us to believe is an act of faith in itself. As it turns out, there’s nothing bigger or better than walking the divine path with peace in your heart and hope for the future.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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