What do you want?

Amos 5:21-24 The Message (MSG)

21-24 “I can’t stand your religious meetings.
    I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
    your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
    your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
    When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
    I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
    That’s what I want. That’s all I want.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

Civil Rights Memorial, Southern Poverty Law Center, Montgomery AL

Awaken… Grieve… Act…

The prophet Micah tells us, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

Yesterday, the President of the United States of America decided he wanted a photo taken of himself holding a Bible in front of an historic church in Washington, D.C. 
Yesterday, people were legally and peacefully protesting when they were attacked by tear gas and rubber bullets, and they were pushed back by armored bodies. Clergy, who were at that church to assist those peaceful and legal protesters, were also pushed away from that church. No permission was asked, no warnings were given.

Should we remind ourselves WHY people were protesting? Brutality. The careless taking of a man’s life by a law enforcement officer while his fellow police officers did nothing to stop him. George Floyd is one man in a long line of people – black men in particular – who have died because they were perceived to be unworthy of justice. He wasn’t the first man in police custody who cried out that he couldn’t breathe while the very people we hire to PROTECT US become murderers.

Yesterday, the President of the United States of America decided he wanted a photo taken of himself holding a Bible in front of an historic church in Washington, D.C., and he wanted it before the mayor’s curfew began, so he gave an order – or a series of orders – that sent armored policing forces into battle using chemical weapons and rubber bullets against innocent American citizens. Are we supposed to be grateful that the bullets were made of hard rubber instead of steel?

The current President of the United States of America is a bully who likes to talk about being tough and using force. Rather than speaking words to calm hot tempers, he stirs the embers of hatred. He sows division instead of sewing us into a united people.

My heart is broken by the years of racist actions and policies in this country and by the realization that I have benefited from this even if only in small ways. I don’t fear the law enforcement officer stopping me for a traffic infraction. I didn’t worry when my sons were growing up and learning to drive that they would be seen as suspicious individuals. Oh, by that point in time I was aware that mothers of black and brown boys had those worries; it saddened me and angered me, but it wasn’t a burden I carried every day until the day it happened to a family I knew and loved. At that point my friends’ burden became my burden, too.

Yesterday, the President of the United States of America decided he wanted a photo taken of himself holding a Bible in front of an historic church in Washington, D.C., so without regard for anyone or anything else, he used his power to bully his way across the street and take what he wanted. Innocent people were hurt. He held up a book that contains God’s commandments to make himself look good.  But inside that book are these words:

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.”

Strange Spring

Monday afternoon in this strange spring of 2020

The cat is curled up in my lap right now. She’s 17 years old and we recently discovered she is deaf. This might explain why, after years of being petrified of the vacuum, she now enjoys being vacuumed. The Barefooter is mowing the lawn — second mowing of the year — and the buzz of the electric machine is distinguishable to my ears but not by much. Like most people my age who blasted music through her earbuds at a younger juncture of life, I’ve got a bit of hearing loss, but the thrumming tinnitus has been non-stop for 3 weeks and counting. I’d developed a bad headache on Easter Sunday and while the pain abated after a week or so, I’m still “hearing underwater.” After my almost sleepless night of listening to the imaginary hum of airplanes and slow-moving locomotives, I’m envious of the cat’s ability to sleep when she is tired. (The inability to sleep was last night; now I can barely hold my eyes open!)

The annual Lilac Festival would normally be happening over these next few weeks; yesterday should have been the 12-km Bloomsday run. But nothing is normal during a pandemic. Bloomsday has been rescheduled from May 3rd to September 20th, but I don’t believe it will be possible for nearly 50,000 people to gather and run or walk, or even half that many. No one is willing to acknowledge how very much life has changed and will remain different for the foreseeable time.

Petals fall like snow

bright and soft, we begin our lives
held tightly, nurtured, protected

we strain against that which holds us
seeking freedom, growth

but do we understand
that by our declaration of independence,
we are forever changed

Friday funnies: isolation edition

  • Half of us are going to come out of this quarantine as amazing cooks. The other half will come out with a drinking problem.
  • I used to spin that toilet paper like I was on Wheel of Fortune. Now I turn it like I’m cracking a safe.
  • Still haven’t decided where to go for Easter —– The Living Room or The Den.
  • Homeschooling is going well: 2 students suspended for fighting and 1 teacher fired for drinking on the job.
  • I don’t think anyone expected that when we changed the clocks we’d go from Standard Time to the Twilight Zone
  • This morning I saw a neighbor talking to her cat. It was obvious she thought her cat understood her. I came into my house, told my dog….. we laughed a lot.
  • Quarantine Day 5: Went to this restaurant called THE KITCHEN. You have to gather all the ingredients and make your own meal. I have no clue how this place is still in business.
  • My body has absorbed so much soap and disinfectant lately that when I pee it cleans the toilet.
  • Day 5 of Homeschooling: One of these little monsters called in a bomb threat.
  • I’m so excited — it’s time to take out the garbage. What should I wear?
  • I hope the weather is good tomorrow for my trip to Puerto Backyarda. I’m getting tired of Los Livingroom.
  • Classified Ad: Single man with toilet paper seeks woman with hand sanitizer for good clean fun.
  • Day 6 of Homeschooling: My child just said “I hope I don’t have the same teacher next year”…. I’m offended.
  • Better 6 feet apart than 6 feet under

Sleepless at Midnight

I’m not a morning person.

Detail of Stained Glass Window, First Presbyterian Church, Everett, Washington;
photo credit mine

Oh, I appreciate the early morning quiet — the solitude, the peacefulness of taking my first cuppa in holy silence — but it is a rare event. Because sleep is precious and important, and sleep doesn’t come easily to me; it never has. As a child I had many nights where I watched magic numbers on the newfangled digital clock.

  • 10:01
  • 10:10
  • 11:11
  • 11:22
  • 11:33
  • 11:44
  • 11:55
  • 11:59 as it turned to 12:00, the dot moving from the AM to PM position.
  • 12:12
  • 12:21
  • 12:34
  • 12:51 …a mirror image on a digital clock, the colon symbol reversing the image
  • 1:01
  • 1:11
  • 1:23

I didn’t see all those numbers every night, but I often saw at least half of them. It’s not confusing to me why I had so much trouble waking up in time to go to school, although I’m sure it perturbed my father who was the parent at home on those mornings.

Unfortunately, it appears I have passed that trait down to several of my own children.
Sorry, guys! You managed to get many traits from your father, but this is one you got from me.

Thwarted Plans

The Scout left after dinner yesterday to embark upon some social isolation hiking. We knew the state parks were closed, but he was very surprised when he got to his planned starting point and discovered this:

The article I read this afternoon tells me that over 7 MILLION ACRES have been closed — and that’s just in our state. My heart breaks for my son. Hiking is one of the few things he can do; he’s spent much of the past several years in his room, socially isolating because of Post Concussion Syndrome.
Yes, I know we’re supposed to be staying home due to the novel coronavirus and the dangers of COVID-19, and except for “essential” trips away from the house, that is what we are doing. Yesterday I drove him to two different medical appointments; I stayed in the car with my phone and a book while he went in to meet with those new-to-him doctors (all part of trying to find a way to heal from PCS). The doctors have no answers. They cannot explain why The Scout had 6 weeks of reprieve from his symptoms (chronic headache and cognitive impairment) after 3 months of hiking on the PCT last year. Since they have no answers, hiking again is his best chance for regaining his healthy self. Frankly, I see his solo hiking as somewhat essential for his mental and physical health. I do not begrudge him the chance to try again for that relief. He’s already changed plans twice this spring due to park closures (state and national) and the realization that he would be unwelcome visiting small towns for resupply.

I’ll leave you with this picture of him playing in the ocean with his brother 12 years ago on a mostly deserted Virginia beach (because, like today, it was cold and blustery), when no one but a hardy few were willing to get outside and experience the power of nature.