Love One Another! Let’s Try That!

We are now half way through the year, and I would be willing to bet that none of us could have predicted how this year would unfold. But unfold it has, and is still doing so. The challenges are many and varied, and they seem to just keep coming. The drastic measures put in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19 made a huge difference. Here in Montana the growth of new cases almost completely stopped for more than a month. But then the restrictions were relaxed, and now the numbers are once again on the rise. The problem of systemic racism has been with us for a long time, and this year we find ourselves confronted with it yet again, this time in ways which seem finally to be getting people’s attention. But still there is resistance and push back. These are but two examples. Some days it seems as if everywhere we turn there is some new challenge crying out for our attention. People everywhere are hurting, and all too often there don’t seem to be any good answers. But for those of us who seek to be people of faith, having no good answer need not stop us, because it is not just up to us to have all the answers or solve all the problems. We can only do what it is within our power to do, and trust in God to be with us in the process. It does mean, however, that we need to step up and do our part. As the sign I carried at the Human Rights Rally last week-end at the Capitol said, “Jesus said, ‘Love one another.’ Let’s try that!” Not just some mushy, feel-good love. We need to be about the business of whole-hearted, full-bodied love – a love that gets our hands dirty – a love that might make us uncomfortable. It means we are called to take the steps we can take to keep each other safe. Put on a mask (it’s to protect others from what you may unknowingly be carrying). Practice appropriate social distancing. Avoid crowds. It means we are called to listen to those who are hurting, and stand with them as they proclaim their truth. When I went to the Human Rights Rally (with my sign) I was prepared for a reporter to come talk to me (none did – but I was prepared). My response was going to be, and still will be at any future rally I attend, “I’m here to stand with, not to speak for. I encourage you to go find a person of color, or an indigenous person, or an LGBTQ person. Hear their pain. Listen to their story.” We are called to share the love of God through the living of our lives. As St. Francis once said, “Preach the gospel every day. If necessary, use words.” In these very challenging days in which we find ourselves, we cannot always (or ever) choose or control the challenges we face, but we can choose and control how we will face them. Love one another. Let’s start there!

64 Trips Around the Sun

Today is my 64th  birthday. It’s taken me a long time to get here. A lifetime to be exact. In units we use to measure the passage of time it’s been: 64 years, or 768 months, or 23,376 days, or 561,024 hours, or 33,661,440 minutes, or 2,019,686,400 seconds. As I said, a long time. And it’s been a long journey from there to here – approximately 37,376,000,000 miles (64 trips around the sun). Fortunately I didn’t have to walk the whole way, because that would have required approximately 65,781,760,000,000 steps.
All along this journey I have been profoundly blessed in far more ways than I can count. To quote an old Jimmy Buffet song, “Some of it’s magic, and some of it’s tragic, but I’ve had a good life all the way.” I have been loved, and cared for, and trusted. I have been surrounded by beauty that left me speechless. I have experienced life-shattering loss. I have lived in Sacred Presence. I have caught glimpses of the realm beyond what my senses are capable of perceiving. I have done my best to learn, and grow, and love along the way. I have taken approximately 591,037,455 breaths, and every single one of them has been a gift. In the words of Lila Flood, “Each breath I take is through Thy grace.”

I am now older than I have ever been, and younger than I will ever be again. There are more days behind me than there are in front of me. I do not know how many breaths I have left, but I do know that it is my intention to be grateful for each of them. I’m not done yet. There is still more loving left to do. There is still more beauty left to witness. There is still more of me left to discover. There is still more life left to share. In the words of Richard Bach, “Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you’re alive, it isn’t.”

To all of my family and friends – I do not have adequate words to fully express what your love and support have meant and continue to mean to me, so I will simply say “Thank you!” and trust that you will hear the deep gratitude behind the words. My life is full and rich and abundant, and each of you in your own unique ways have helped to shape the adventure. 

And so, on this day when I begin my 65th trip around the sun, I celebrate the amazing gift of being alive. The best is yet to come!

It’s All About the Love

It’s Father’s Day and I am qualified to celebrate not because of biology but because of love. None of my daughters are genetically related to me. What I share with them is heart connection. And for that I will forever be grateful. Each of them in their own unique ways have enhanced and enriched my life beyond my capacity to express. Before I met them I could not have imagined such a gift. Now I cannot imagine life without them in it. Love comes in all sorts of forms, and arrives by paths beyond our reckoning. The important thing is that it arrives, and when it does that we notice and open to it, embrace it and allow it to embrace us. On this Father’s Day I pause to remember and celebrate the gift of love which has arrived at my doorstep. My life has been forever changed. Gratitude abounds!

Sharing Beauty

For whatever reason (who knows what goes on in my brain), this song came to mind this morning. 

I was thinking about the Sarajevo cellist sharing his gift of music in the midst of the overwhelming insanity and horror of war (a true story, by the way), and that got me thinking about the situation we are currently facing. We don’t have bombs dropping like rain, but there is plenty of hatred, bigotry, violence, fear, and general ugliness. It was about then in this rambling internal pondering when I realized that I am trying to do something similar to the cellist in this song. I don’t know how to play the cello, but I have an eye for beauty and I own a camera. Sharing my photographs doesn’t require the kind of courage which the cellist exhibited, but this morning it occurred to me that our intentions are similar. In the face of overwhelming circumstances we are each called to do what we can, and one of the things I can do is to share beauty. What I’m really trying to do is remind myself, and anyone else who sees my photographs, that “the long forgotten beauty we thought was blown away” is, in fact, still with us, and has the power to help facilitate healing and transformation. I invite you to pay attention to what you are being called to share. When we each step up and do what we can the world will be changed.

Surprised by Grief

It’s been more than 10 years and I can still be surprised by grief. I was listening to random songs on my phone and this one came on. I don’t remember ever hearing it before but I must have because it’s on my phone. It only took a few words and my heart knew where this song was headed. Instantly I was transported back in time as tears started streaming down my face. I haven’t been caught off guard like that in a long time, but it’s nice to know I still can be. And then I heard John McCutcheon singing “Grief has a place at the table, for it’s part of what we’re each made of. And he’ll stay long enough to remind us his mother is love.” My life has been profoundly blessed by the love I have been privileged to share, and that sort of love leaves a mark. Those were holy and sacred tears flowing across my cheeks. I stand in grateful awe at the power of love to transcend time and space as it reminds me how truly blessed I am. I didn’t see it coming, but I’m glad I was there to receive the gift.