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Showing posts from December, 2013

The Gift of the Carolers

I visit Norma periodically.  Norma lives with a variety of health problems, and together we get to enter the sacred ground of secrets from the past, crises in the present, and anxieties of the future.  We share, we pray, we laugh, we cry, we search Scripture, and we talk for hours.  I get to be her pastor, and that is a gift.

Norma has discovered that when you're sick, you're often alone.  Friends and family don't know what to say, so they say nothing.  They feel guilty that they cannot come around more often, so they don't come at all.  It's hard to love someone who's sick, and it's hard to be the someone who's sick and lonely.

But last week, some friends of mine, a small group at PCC's Westchester Campus, went caroling.  They asked for Norma's address; I asked Norma's permission to share her address; she agreed nervously; they knocked on lots of doors before actually finding Norma.  And then they sang to her and her husband.  

This is what No…

Blue Christmas: Waiting for Comfort

If you find yourself in a place of grief, hurt, or pain this Christmas morning, then I pray some of these words will acknowledge your reality on Christmas, and maybe offer some comfort or hope. However long we spend waiting, it almost always feels too long, right?Whether the outcome is good or bad, most of us would rather just get to it already instead of waiting another week, another day, or another hour.And yet, waiting must be endured as part of the human experience.To live is to wait.And while all waiting is challenging, some waiting is almost unbearably painful.
We wait for the depression to pass, for the dark cloud that follows our every footstep to dissipate.  We wait for the torrent of tears to subside.  We wait for the right medication to restore balance to our brains, so we can restore balance to our lives and our families before their patience runs out.
We wait for him to come back home, for her to change her mind and decide the marriage is worth fighting for.  We wait for a c…

Slavery, Then and Now

On a recent date night, my husband took me out to the movies.  He took me to see 12 Years a Slave, which is being heralded as one of the best movies of the year.  My husband says it’s the most powerful movie he’s ever seen. 
It was awful. 
Don’t get me wrong, the writing, storytelling, character development, believability of something so barbarically evil, and suspense were incredible.
But it was awful.
I got up and left at one point when the slave was defying his master, because I couldn’t bear to see what savagery would result from his insubordination.
I worked hard to keep down the popcorn.
I covered my ears and eyes. 
I could not wait for the mercy of the ending.
And then it was over.  And no one moved in the silent theater. 

How could we?  How could we get up, throw away our popcorn and soda, stop off at the bathroom, and go home to a comfortable, safe home after watching that movie?
And yet, that’s what we had to do. 
My husband and I had plans to stop for dessert after the movie.  I …

For Dr. Heard

I opened mail from my alma mater a few months ago to read that Dr. Heard had died.
My heart sank, and my eyes filled with tears.  
Dr. Betty Heard was my college adviser and a professor in the English department.  She taught me Milton, an English education class, and Victorian British Novel--which is my favorite kind of literature--I think--I do love Romantic poets...and American Transcendentalists...and Shakespeare...and Hemingway and Fitzgerald....  But Austen, Bronte, Hardy; it doesn't get any better than that.  (However, I could do without Dickens.  Twice in my educational career I failed to read assigned texts; both were Dickens.)
I wanted to attend the Homecoming Chapel service that honored her, but it was on a Sunday, and I kind of have a job that happens on Sundays.  I've thought a hundred times, "If I were the pastor who'd been asked to speak about her at the service, then what would I have said?"  
It's taken me three months to be able to form those wor…