Wednesday, October 28, 2015


·    I vow to embrace each moment with Not-Knowing, the Practice of Presence and Service as a way of being.
·    I vow to transform suffering and anger into wisdom and compassionate action.
·    I vow to speak from the heart; to listen wholeheartedly; and to seek the wisdom of council.
·    I vow to cultivate respect and dignity in all relationships.
·    I vow to use discernment from a perspective of unity and to nurture a culture of cooperation.
·    I vow to seek what is needed responsibly, to share generously, to work well with what I have, and to take only what is freely given.
·    I vow to promote solidarity and a just economic order.
·    I vow to care for the sacred elements--earth, water, air, and fire; to deeply respect the Net of Creation and its infinite forms of life and energy that co-create our precious earth and universe.

These are the words from a friend that she shared via email from her Zen friend’s priest ordination. These vows should be a daily checklist for me.

In my work, I hear a lot of mommas telling their very active daughters, “Girl, you do too much.” That is what I hear in these vows. “Girl, you do too much; you are too rushed, too busy; too fast; too concerned with little tasks and not understanding the priorities of importance. You need to be still and listen.”

When I get rushed, I forget that it is in the stillness that I remember to listen, to cultivate respect and dignity. That is what happened to me yesterday. I forgot to be still. I am not proud of myself for the way I handled a situation.

It wasn’t a big deal to most of the people around me, but it probably was too one man…and to me. He was acting like a child and I treated him as a child.

I was wrong.

When we think of treating one another as children, we talk down to that person. That is never good.

In the work that I do as manager of a food ministry, there is a fine line between hospitality and condescension, between charity and true caring. If I am too nice, I can be perceived as false. If I am too casual, I can be perceived as uncaring. I don’t want to be fawned over because what I am doing is something that helps people.

What I do, I do because I have been told to do it…by scripture and by God. Feeding people is not the cure for hunger due to poverty but it is what Jesus told us to do – Feed my people.

So, when people tell me thank you, I often say, no, thank you. By their willingness to ask/receive help, they offer me an opportunity to do what I feel I have been told to do. There is a certain reciprocity in that.

Therefore, when I fail to act in that way, regardless of how the man acted, I fail to do what I am supposed to do. He walked away unfed…in body and in spirit. 

To live a life according to these vows would take constant attention, full intention, and willingness. I can fully intend to do something good and be very willing but have my attention distracted by life its own self. However, it is in the intention that I can trust that it is what God would have me do.

Therefore, I vow to try to do these things, intentionally, understanding the vastness of my arrogant endeavor, knowing that in all things I do, I can do nothing without God.

And most of all, I will remember that I fail to feed people when they walk out the door unhappy with me…unfed. 

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Marked by Love

I’m thinking about Mother’s Day…or Mothers’ Day. So many articles out there this week prior to that day set aside by Hallmark to honor mothers. Living or dead, Facebook is full of poems and prose about how wonderful one mother or another is or was.

Mine is dead. But when she was alive, Mother’s Day belonged to her. It was never mine. She was my mother regardless of whether or not I had children.

In many ways, in fact, Mother’s Day continues to be about my mother regardless of the fact that she is no longer living.

I had a fairly great relationship with my mom…it grew into a mutual admiration relationship as adults built up from love from our lifetime together. I know that there are people who have not, do not have such a relationship with their mother. I am sympathetic to that problem. It is not this day with which I am concerned; rather, it is the relationship. I sorrow for that mother’s loss; for that child’s loss.

At one time, I wanted the day to be about me but since it rarely was about me other than for a few short minutes, after a while, the short minutes of hoopla became kind of silly. Don’t get me wrong…I love being thanked for all the things I have done and will continue to do…for all the unconditional love. It is nice.

And it means something.

However, I just cannot allow it to mean THAT much. Seriously. How can one day make up for a whole year…a lifetime? It cannot.

Am I less of a mother or more of a mother simply because or in spite of one day? Does it mean my children, born or adopted, by birth or by law, love me more because they give me a card or less because they forgot or didn’t have the dollars to do so or the desire or time to make one? Well, I hope not.

There are many women who have made an intentional choice to have no children. There are many women who have intentionally strived to have children to no avail. There are many women who have had children but were unable to raise them for whatever reason. That does not mean that there are no children who consider them important parts of their lives and love them accordingly.

And there are many women (and men) who have taken on the role of mother for a short time…or for a longer one…regardless of having chosen to do so.  

All mothers are not women; all women are not mothers.

Try as much as I would like, I cannot ignore this day. It is still about my mom. She loved me. She told me so on so many occasions. She showed me so in every look, even when it was the “hairy eyeball” look that meant I best change my evil ways. I especially remember the last time she showed me her love. There were no words because she was far passed being able to communicate through speech. But she communicated nonetheless. As she stared at me intently, her eyes told me how much she loved me.

I carry her love with me every day of my life. It is a banner; it is a shield.

I pray that I continue to let her love shine through me, marking me, reminding me of our time together. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

40 days and 40 nights

I owe a large amount of money to a financial institution in Texas who holds all my student loans. These have been in various stages over the past 9 years… deferment, forbearance, and now IBR (income based repayment). I have repaid a meager amount considering.
Recently, I was able to once again put the loans into the IBR mode. All I had to do was to fill out the request form and send that plus my most recent tax return and the low payment would be in place.
The other night, in the middle of the night, I woke up in a state of panic. I remembered seeing an email letting me know that I had a message awaiting me in my EdFinancial inbox. To my dismay, I suddenly had the thought that I didn’t send in the forms! They wouldn’t offer me the repayment option again! The payment was due on March 1! It was a full blown panic attack. The rest of the night was shot as far as sleep was concerned.
The next morning early, I began looking for the paperwork so that I could hurriedly get it in. I couldn’t find it anywhere. Finally, I looked upstairs and found the folder…but the forms I needed were missing.
Suddenly, I remembered…I had mailed in the forms the day after these were requested. The panic slowly receded from my body. Everything was ok.
The point of the retelling of the crazy scene is this:
There is so much drama in my life. Between trying to act as a source of encouragement to several people in my house who have different sources of anxiety plus trying to make certain that all things that need to be done by these people actually get done, there never seems to be enough time for me to do the things I need to do…for ME.
Obviously, that problem is causing me some of my own anxiety…and as I have already noted, I am a fairly anxious person all by myself.
So, in these 40 days and 40 nights, I am exploring that anxiety…which often shows its ugly head as anger. In that I process best when writing, I am not only exploring but trying to find new ways to alleviate the anxiety so that it turns into something positive rather than negative. Right now, I feel very negative.

I don’t know how long this will work, but for the moment, I am focusing on the inward aspects of self with a hope that it will clear a path to better see beyond. For now…we will see where it leads. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Go Farther Faster

I grew up on racing. Formula, stock, or funny cars, I craved speed. I loved to watch the races but more than that I loved to go fast in a car. I adore the recent car commercial of the little girl in the back seat as her daddy is driving. She has her own steering wheel that she is working hard as her daddy drives fast in circles and back and forth. I can tell that she feels like she is in heaven. It is a fearless world.

Interstate 30 used to be a toll road between Dallas and Fort Worth. Bridge St. ran alongside of the interstate from Brentwood to Oakland. If you didn’t want to go all the way to Dallas, that road was the one you had to take. There was a hill that I loved…Daddy would always accelerate going up the hill so that when we crested the hill our stomachs would slam into our throats. I would always squeal in extreme delight at the rush of adrenaline pumping through my body. I wanted to do it again and again.

I remember when Daddy bought a 1966 Grand Prix 2 door hardtop. My heart leaped in joy at the sight of its long low lines. I was only 11 but I could tell that it would roar down the highway eating up the pavement.   

Mom considered it incredibly inappropriate for a family of four. She didn’t like to drive it but I could tell she loved it as much as we did when we crested that hill.

As for me…I wanted to drive it. I wanted to feel the power surging through my hands and feet. I wanted to feel my heart leap as the fear sped away.

Daddy let me drive that big old hunk of metal down our driveway one day. It was a lane that was maybe a quarter of a mile. I am sure I scared the bejeezus out of him. It was the only time I got to do that. I know Mom would have yelled if she had known about it. All it made me want to do is to drive further faster.

My grandmother had let me drive her Plymouth Valiant with push-button transmisison from a very early age. She would get out to open the gate and I would drive through it and stop. I don’t remember how young I was the first time I did that but I would have pitched a fit if I thought my parents had let my daughter drive through anything at that age! But as for me, it felt so natural. Forget the fact that I basically had to stand up to touch the accelerator or the brake.

I hated going to the go-kart places until I was old enough to drive my own. Then…I loved it. More importantly, I was good at it. I wanted to be a race car driver. I didn’t care if it was at the Indy or Daytona…I just wanted to drive fast.

Fat chance of that. Danica Patrick has had her own problems breaking into the white man’s world of racing…I had no chance in my teen years.

When I learned to drive…formally…I sat through dull and boring classes learning all the do’s and don’ts of the road. The only part I liked was the driving. My driver education instructor was also my geography teacher. We could easily get him off of the lesson of the day by asking about his summers at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. He would show us videos of his races.

I got my first car for my 17th birthday. It was a 1970 Mustang fastback that my daddy had bought from a banker friend of his.  I almost got a 1971 Cutlass 442 but the guy who owned it came up with the back payments just in the nick of time. Oh my God, that yellow Cutlass was so hot! But I quickly adjusted to the Mustang. Even though there were very strict rules as to actually driving it, I would just go sit in it and dream of racing in my head.

The maddest I have ever been at my sister was one time when she snuck out my Mustang. For whatever reason, I was with Mom and Dad while she stayed at home. When we drove back into the driveway, it was immediately noticed by me that MY precious vehicle was GONE. Going into the house, it was quickly noted that my sister was nowhere to be found. Just about the time, as Daddy walked back outside, up drives my sister in MY car. She bounced over the curb and came to a rocking rest in the driveway. I was so angry that I don’t remember much but my dad saying to her, “you can’t even drive! You hit the curb!” And she belligerently and indignantly bellowed back, “I was driving just fine until I saw you standing there staring at me!” I think she was 13 at the time. Always sassy, my little sister. While it may be worth a smile or a giggle now, I was not amused at the time.

Over behind Bell Helicopter was a stretch of road that was perfect for drag racing. It is what is known as Trinity Blvd now but then, it was mostly an access road for the hundreds of people working at Bell to get to the parking lot. The road also led to Mosier Valley. Mosier Valley was the area of town where most of the black folk lived. Mosier Valley was the oldest black community in Tarrant County. It was founded by freed slaves in 1870 and named after a plantation that was home to slaves who had been brought from Tennessee to the Trinity River bottomland. (Read more here:

On Friday and Saturday nights, all the teens of the area would gather alongside the shoulders of Trinity Blvd. Cars would line up so that headlights could light the path of the screaming vehicles that raced down the road. The bit of road used was straight and perfect for drag racing…until the end. The race was over when the cars had to stop before going around a curve to the left or into the two lane road leading to Mosier Valley. There were numerous crashes when one driver or the other was so hell-bent on winning that they slowed too late.

I never raced out there on the weekends. In the first place, I, as a girl, would never have been allowed in the lineup. Secondly, my car was fast but it was not souped up enough for winning. But I would go out there on a week night. I would set my car at the start line, allow a mental countdown and bam! Foot to the floor I would be flying down that road. Too soon the curve would loom ahead of me and I would slow down. Many years later, as my little Bronco was rolling over and sliding on its side, as I saw the asphalt and grass flashing past me, I had a split second memory of the way the road looked as I raced down it.

Fear has been such a major part of my life. I have rarely been without it. But when I sit behind the wheel of a car, fear fades as the car accelerates. I can get into a zone and zoom in and out of cars, accelerating into curves, and focusing solely on the road ahead. It is a world of its own. Caution flies out the window when the “pedal meets the metal”.

I used to drive between Fort Worth and Ruidoso New Mexico on a fairly regular basis. On one journey, we were in a Good Times Van, one of those custom vans with all the comforts of home while on the road. It had a huge engine in it and gas was cheap. Traveling down U.S. Highway 380 was perfect. Long stretches of straight uninhabited highway. I could see for miles. At one point, the highway was on a upward grade and it traveled through a cut out…an area that was blown out so that the road could go through it. Just as I crested that cut out, I saw a Highway Patrol car on the other side. Too late. Sure enough, I saw him pull a u-turn in the highway and come speeding up behind me. I pulled over to the shoulder of the road and watched him angrily walked up to my window. He fiercely glared at me and asked, “Do you know how fast you were going?????” I innocently answered, “No, sir, I don’t.” He basically yelled at me, “Well, I don’t either but it was too damn fast!!!! Slow this vehicle down!!!” I said “Yes, sir.” He turned on his heel, marched back to his vehicle, slammed it in gear and spun out as he pulled another u-turn to go back from whence he came. I slowly put it in gear and took off, feeling fairly proud of myself. I am just as sure that before long, I was once again going far faster than he thought I should be going.

I suppose I could claim that a level of maturity brought me to the point that I slowed down…but no. That was not it. Rather, it was the speeding tickets. While I have not had one in a good many years and I did not get one that day, I have had a multitude of them in the past. That, plus the fact that racing a minivan doesn’t do much for me…it’s just not the same.

I find it rather ironic that driving fast is the one thing that makes the fear go away but at the same time, fear of being stopped for speeding is the reason for slowing down. If that understanding is maturity, I don’t really like it.

I still dream of racing every time I drive on I-44. With all its curves, it would be perfect for a little sports car low to the ground and capable of hugging the road.

I think I will always feel the call of the open road, the wind in my face, me racing past life, free of obstacles, the unknown ahead, the present left behind. Maybe I will go again…one day…but maybe not.

Maybe I have found other ways to be courageous and let fear fly out the window of my soul. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Web of Our Existence

or…the truth will set us free.

I didn’t go to Ash Wednesday services…I had the opportunity…two, in fact. I just didn’t go. It was a choice. It felt like a rebellious act, as though I was intentionally, pettily, childishly, pulling away from an overbearing parent. And that is the way a religious institution can sometimes feel.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Episcopal Church. I could have changed directions numerous times but did not simply because I love the ritual, the bells, the smells, the Tradition and the tradition. There is a freedom that is firmly anchored.

But it is time to detoxify a spirit long held captive by dis-ease. It is time to stop holding on so tightly to some of the sorrows in my past. Can a life be measured by deaths?

To me, my life as a child was as idyllic as an introverted, shy child’s could be. Surrounded by love, great amounts of family, just north of the heart of Texas, in the midst of one huge ranch that we lived on and the two separate farms of my grandparents, nature was our playground; our dogs and cats our playmates. Trees were our jungle gyms; dry creek beds our slides. We rode horses, jumped from the hayloft, swam in “tanks”, read books under big oak trees, felt the green grass and mud between our toes, turned brown under the summer sun and basically lived a life that was unknown to millions of people. We were always fed, always clean (for the most part), always loved. I lived with the words of my daddy in my heart, “You can be whatever you want to be.” It took me a very long time to realize that there were many obstacles within that truth.

It has taken me even longer to acknowledge the sorrows in my life.  My view of my childhood as a time free of anxiety or despair is not a reality. There was anxiety. There was despair. We have to look inward before we can see beyond.

My beloved grandfather, my “Poppy” died when I was ten. He was my mom’s step-dad but to me, the epitome of steadfast love. I could do no wrong and I worked very hard to do no wrong. To disappoint him would have been a true sorrow. His death was a tragedy for sure, one that paled the assassination of the President of the United States in comparison.  

Medger Evers and Malcolm X were not even on my radar.

We moved when I was in 6th grade from our idyllic setting to a rental house in the town of Comanche, Texas while we awaited the construction of the ranch manager’s house on Prather Ranch outside of town. We always called it the “rat house” because it was a pier and beam where rats had infested the under regions of the place. It was a horror. When we took baths, we could hear the rats running under the tub. We could hear them skittering at night. I shiver to think of it now. Thank God we only lived in the house for a couple of months.  It was the cause of a great many nightmares for me.

Not too long after moving to Comanche, while still living in the “rat house”, my mom was in a horrible car wreck. I was eleven. She lived but it took a very long time for her to heal. The old man who hit her died at the scene. I have breaks in my memory from that time. The next few years were indeed a time of high anxiety with multiple surgeries to reconstruct her face, arm and leg.

Not long after that, my daddy’s right hand man, Jesse, and Jesse’s mom died in a car accident. Jesse was driving her home from a doctor’s appointment. She was pregnant with her 14th child. Their family had lived on the Ulmer Ranch with us and followed my daddy when he became foreman of the Prather Ranch in Comanche. The tragedy was close to home. My sister and I were friends with three of Jesse’s younger siblings. They had to move from the ranch after the accident.  

Near the end of the “Civil Rights Era”, in 1967, my Granddaddy Sam died of suspicious circumstances. The suspicion was that his current wife withheld his heart medicine which resulted in a fatal heart attack. Of course, that could have been a distraught daughter thinking that…Colleen was not a nice person. It would have been easy to think she did something like that. My mom filed a lawsuit against Collie because she disposed of a lot of Granddaddy Sam’s estate prior without discussing it with Mom. He died without a will. The suit was dismissed. My mom got his guitar.

I have the guitar now. It means a great deal to me. When I was young and in the midst of a terror, I would hide. One of the places I would hide was behind a great big wingback chair in our living room. It was in a corner and a perfect fit for my scrawny body. My granddaddy came looking for me, knowing that I was in one of my fits. He found me in my corner and crawled back there with me. He lifted me up and sat me in his lap and then laid his guitar across my lap and started playing. Before I knew it, whatever fear that had seized me was gone and our laughter and singing galloped through the house.

By the time that Martin Luther King, Jr and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated, we had moved to the big city of Hurst, one of the Mid-Cities of Dallas-Fort Worth. Talk about anxiety…move that shy and anxious 12 year old girl out of the country and into the about terror. When we lived on Ulmer’s Ranch in Erath County, my fifth grade classroom was also inhabited by the third and fourth grades. All total, there were maybe twenty students in the room. Maybe. When I moved into the Comanche school district, the 6th grade had three times that many. Moving to a suburban junior high school was a leap outside my imagination. I was beyond terrified.

But I survived the onslaught of nasty boys and mean girls. I even made a couple of lifelong friends. There are even a few that I wish were still friends. The other 700 plus Class of 1971 that attended L. D. Bell High School … meh… If I attended high school reunions, it would be only to taunt the ultra-conservative factors that are so vocal today. To say our opinions are diametrically opposed is an understatement.

However, by 1970, I was entering into a state of awareness of those things around me. I had not yet come into the understanding of the correlation between poverty and war/race and war but I knew that many things were wrong. I knew that the basic alienation of human rights was wrong. I knew that the Baptist preacher was focused on the wrong message and that horse racing in Texas was not the real problem.

It was at this age that I began to recognize a deep dark anger. I do not know the origins of the anger. I would like to think it born from a profound sense of justice, a righteousness beyond my understanding. But I do not know that. At this age, that is how it manifests itself most often. But it has been something that I have had to learn how to hold in check. God has worked closely with me on it, I must say. I have overpowered God on numerous occasions. I continue to be a work in progress.

Looking back on my life and comparing it to the stories of others, pssht…it is nothing. It is calm, middle of the road. But there has always been the dis-ease, the certain uncertainty that made all life questionable. The gap that separated me from the lives of some of my childhood friends was wide, Grand-Canyon-esque in some cases. I knew no parental rages, no poverty, no strange bedrooms that were actually utility rooms or closets. I knew that my both my grandmothers had suffered mightily at the hands of one man or another. It seemed to touch me only superficially, but the rumbles were felt deep below the surface.

I have looked outward. I have stared inward.  Understanding lives somewhere in the midst of our life’s happenings. These seem random and unconnected but what hurts one, hurts us all. We are made up of the sorrows surrounding us. The unrest and worry of my mom as she wrestled with an altered life due to physical and emotional scars – both from the car wreck and her own childhood; the memories of both my grandmothers as they held in check their fears of abuse and violence so that they could go on to love and be loved by others; the alien goings-on in the lives of friends; all these things and many others are enmeshed within my own life, known and unknown. It is the web of our existence.

I am in a rebellious state and have been for quite some time. I feel as though I have complied with rules all my life. Over the past ten years, I have learned that playing by the rules makes one complicit with a good deal of the harm being done.

Some may believe that I have not played by the rules for a long while now but I tell you this – I have tried. I do not want to try any more.

I am not speaking of those little tax rules that are constantly broken or loopholes greedy ones jump through or those who toe the line to the point that they push the line into the space they want it. I am not speaking about breaking laws and getting away with it.

I am talking about truth. Truth as I see it. Truth as it is revealed to me. Truth as I believe it is revealed to me. Injustice. Disharmony. Dis-ease. Silence.

We are all a part of another, many others. We are connected. What hurts one, hurts all. There are always obstacles within the truth. But it is that connectedness that helps us get around the barriers and over the hurdles. It is the connectedness that holds us together…and sets us free.

I am ready for a new place where the webs I weave are for the good. I am ready to be free.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

What do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Mark 1:21-28

Wouldn't it be a great thing if we were able to see unclean spirits in another, cry out to these, “Be silent, and come out of him!”? And the unclean spirit would leave the infected person and all would be well…until the next unclean person came on the scene.

Doesn't the imagination just run wild thinking about all of those from whom we might like to exorcise demons? I see them every day on Facebook posts and in real life.

For surely the cause of our hateful ways is a demon. Surely, we cannot be held accountable for the moments when we act in nasty ways that do harm to another child of God.

Perhaps there is a good deal of merit to be found in the exclamation of the man with the unclean spirit. “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”

What do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?

I am thankful that God loves a doubter because there have been so many times in my life when I have wanted to just balk and yell loudly, “What the heck do you have to do with me, God? Why won’t you just leave me alone?”

Sometimes, I think it would be so much easier if God would just quieten the nagging; still the incessant tugging. OR if God would just make the pathway clear; the burdens less heavy. Fix it, please, for me. Sometimes, it feels as though God is trying to destroy that which is there so that a new might be created.

What have to you to do with me, Jesus of Nazareth?

I have been told that I need a cape to fit over my super-hero image of myself. It seems I am bullheaded enough to think that if people would just listen to reason, things would be so simple. This technique works on occasion maybe because the person to whom I am attempting to impart understanding just gets tired and gives in. That gives me a false sense of accomplishment. I got what I came for but that does not mean I made a difference in the long run. In fact, I sometimes create more of a problem that actually first existed. But it works simply because I got what I wanted or thought I needed at that moment.

Other times, it doesn’t work quite as well. Lately, more often than not, I run up against a bullheadedness that is so much larger than my own that I wear myself out in the mere contemplation of what lies ahead of me. The issues of today are so damn big.

What have you to do with me, Jesus?

Why in the world would I ever have developed some kind of misguided savior complex? I was a shy little girl; I am terribly introverted adult. (and by the way, Shy and Introverted are NOT the same)

Why would I think that something I have to say, some action I might take, would have more impact or mean more than what another might say or do?

Maybe the demon is silent acceptance of the status quo. Maybe the calling out is a call to be a presence in the face of bigotry, of hatred, of fear. Maybe the calling out is simply a call to a willingness to state the obvious…at least what seems obvious to a good many of like-minded people I know…a call to stand up and speak out against racism, ageism (I am seeing that far more often than I did a few years ago!), sexism. We have made such great strides in the fight against LGBT discrimination; it is so damn difficult to realize that we still have monster steps to take against the racism, ageism and sexism.

As an example, the white guy from Missouri who recently grabbed the young black waitress’s arm and told her that he would take her to see the place where he hung her grandfather…what a heinous example of racist evil. Yet so blatantly displayed in a public venue.

I have seen the question posed by several people, including myself – what has shifted in our culture that would allow such hatred/fear to be shown? It would be easy to think that the man was possessed of a demon and how nice it would be if we could just yell, “Be silent, and come out of him!”

But maybe he is not the one with the demon. Maybe Darren Wilson or even any of the other officers who seem to portray racists’ views are not the ones with the demon.

What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?

I well remember a class at Texas Christian University that I was taking…”Women in American Religion”. It was a very good class; one, I might add, which had a lasting effect on me. We were discussing the hardships that women in the history of religion in “America” had to overcome. It led us into a discussion about our own journeys. One woman, a white woman, stated that she was “so tired” of trying to find the right church or religion for herself. The professor, a black woman, cocked her head to the side and sardonically lamented, “How privileged of you. You are tired? Black women are bone tired, body and mind, but they have no course but to go forward. And you, in your white privilege, complain that you are tired of trying to find a church you like? Just how hard have you looked…and where?” Her response may sound a bit harsh and perhaps the context is lost outside of that particular setting, but to me it mattered greatly. It struck me personally and soundly.

It helped me realize that sitting back and letting life happen around me was not what I was supposed to be doing. I knew, in that little moment in time, that I had to act. The days of ignorance and silence were over. I had to be aware…and I had to act.

Maybe that professor, unknown to her at the time, cried out to the demon in me, “Be silent, and come out of her!” The demon had to be silenced but Christ in me had to be activated.

I am tired…but I realize that my privilege as a white person has been noted and must be used. It doesn't matter how tired I get of trying to save the world, or simply the people in my world, I have no choice but to continue trying. Even as I know that I am not a savior and I cannot save people, I do know that I can speak out against what I see to be injustices or a lack of mercy. I can continue to live my life in a manner that speaks far more loudly than my words.

I know what Jesus of Nazareth has to do with me. At least I know a little more today than I did yesterday. Hopefully, I will continue on that path, regardless of the way I feel at the moment.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

2 Peter 3:11-18 Advent 2 Evensong

When I first began to explore this strange thing of discernment, this inclination to have God take over my life, one of my most challenging questions was, “How do I blend the secular world and my spiritual world?”
One answer was, “Oh, you can’t. Just fill up as much as you can on Sunday and hope it lasts the whole week long.”
A friend of mine has a bumper sticker on her car. It states, “There is no secular world.” Just as simple as that.
The author of 2 Peter asks questions as we delve more deeply into Advent.
What sort of people should we be? How do our lives reflect holiness and godliness? Do we live our lives as though we are not only waiting for but working for the coming of the day of God? …Knowing…knowing that at that coming…on that day…the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved…and in that promise, we wait for a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness is at home…
…so how do we live our lives…IF we really believe that as truth…
Of course, that is exactly what the author of 2 Peter is speaking to…the worry that Christ had still not come even though he himself had said that he would return before that generation had died off. It was a difficult time for some to continue to believe that God was going to fulfill the promise that creation would be renewed and that evil would be destroyed and righteousness would at last have a home within that renewal.
But what is righteousness?         In the times of the Hebrew Scriptures, Righteousness was the status for the one found to be justified by the court – the one in whose favor the court found.
God’s righteousness was invoked by covenant – God was expected to deliver the people even as God judged those people. God also waited before judging, granting time for the people to repent, then restoring the fortunes of the people and by continuing to renew the covenant between God and the people.
So there were two settings for righteousness – the law court and the covenant. To have righteousness meant to belong to the covenant community, bound by the Torah, and the hope of which was God.
In the New Testament, Paul stresses that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ showed that God continued to show righteousness – God kept the covenant of Abraham, dealt properly with sin, showed no partiality and upheld all those who cast themselves upon God’s mercy. As believers in the Gospel, we are a part of that covenant community bound by the same things.
As God is creator and judge of all the earth and as God’s people, we are to reflect God’s own character. We have to see the justice which God desires and designs for the world, and that the church is to be an example of God’s intended new humanity, and the establishment of world-wide justice.
Sometimes, individualism and the idea that church and the world are separate can make justice an abstract value. I saw a bumper sticker that states, “there is no secular world” and I agree with that. And did you know – in the Bible, the word justice is mentioned twice as much as the word love…and seven times more than the word hell.
 The author of 2 Peter reminds us that as we await these new things promised, regardless of how long it takes, we are to remember that we must strive to be a reflection of God’s own character, not our own. Our own ways can lead us away from those things God desires and designs. Without a focus on God’s desire, we lose our stability. Our righteousness comes from God alone.
As I go more deeply into this time of waiting, watching and preparing, I want to hold close these questions:
What sort of person should I be? How does my life reflect holiness and godliness? Do I live my life as though I am not only waiting for but working for the coming of the day of God?

…Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.