Friday, January 7, 2022

Freedom and Violence

How did the U.S. Capitol stormers justify their violence on Jan. 6, 2021? In American history we learn that the first patriots took up arms against the British, fighting for freedom.

Our country has a long history of standing up against overreaching government. The violent crowd at the Capitol last year may have imagined that they were continuing that fight. 

What they failed to grasp was that the U.S. Revolutionary War laid the foundation for representative democracy. Within that system we have the means to protest government without violence. They ignored the system of American freedom while fighting in the name of American freedom. The rioters claimed to be fighting for the very thing they were fighting against. The cause of that day was doomed from the beginning.

We have to acknowledge that violence began this country. But real freedom lives where violence has no place.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Wandering by Faith

I'm finding new appreciation for old Abraham. According to Genesis, God told Abram/Abraham to leave his country and his father's people and go to a land that God would show him (Genesis 12). This Abram did, and when he arrived in Canaan, he had done what God had asked. 

And he spent decades wandering around this land, even leaving it to live in Egypt for a while. God spoke to him and appeared to him during these wanderings. But it seems like there were long stretches when he heard nothing from God. All the while he had to trust God. Even during the silence.

I think following God for the long haul leads us to places like that. We have followed God, but we don't know what to do next. We wander and wait. We have to trust God that he will meet us again, direct us again. And during that time we learn to believe. We believe him in the silence. We have to remember what God has said. We have to hold on by faith.

God has not forgotten you. While you are waiting, just wander by faith. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

You Better Watch Out

Yes, I know that Santa won't be coming for another 356 days or so. But this might be a great time to notice your watching.

What are you paying attention to?

We are tuned into every sort of message from our phones: beeps, dings, vibrations, alarms. Ever been in public when a stranger’s phone sounds with your ringtone? We are like trained dogs, jumping to deal with the interruption. But this high alert may keep us from tuning in to the most important aspects of life.

So, maybe we need to begin the new year with a different kind of alertness.

Notice what you notice.
As you live life, what gets your attention?
Your phone (obviously), traffic, TV, problems, annoyances, weather, pets, kids, responsibilities...

Notice what you ignore.
Beauty, pain, heartache, your hidden talents, your flaws, love from your family, the gift of breath, symmetry, a car that starts, relationships, patterns in random events, similarities, sunshine, opportunity.

Take some time to slow down and see the life around you. Experience it. Engage with it.

As Yogi Berra says, “You can observe a lot by just watching.”

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Food for Luck

Yesterday I had a new (to me) dish, Hoppin' John. It contains ingredients intended to give you luck. The black-eyed peas symbolize pennies or coins; the greens add further to the wealth. Diners may leave three peas on the plate to ensure luck, fortune, and romance.

These food traditions have long histories, rich with cultural lore.

But for fun, here are some suggestions for new New Year's food traditions:

Ice cream to keep you cool.

Salsa to make you look hot.

String beans to make you slim.

Head of lettuce to make you smart.

Artichoke hearts to give you courage.

Popcorn for surprises.

Bacon for, well, no reason really needed for bacon.

Crock pot stew for patience.

And finally, eggs for breaking out of your shell.

Here's something else to ponder. If your diet really did chart your future, where would your diet lead you?

Saturday, January 1, 2022

We Survived

On New Year's Day, I like the feeling of the clean slate. I want to begin the year with hope. But more than ever, I have the sense of relief that the old year is gone.

We survivors share a sense of loss. So many of us have lost loved ones. Life will never be the same for those families.

But we have lost the feeling of a quick closure to the pandemic. The vaccine offered such hope. But the vaxxed can still get sick, still spread the disease. It's not the silver bullet after all.

And now the pandemic has brought us cancelled flights, rising prices, long waits at restaurants, longer family separations, school quarantines, rescheduled sports events, and cancelled concerts. After Broadway finally reopened, they quickly shut down again. We never know when to mask up. It changes day-to-day.

But we survived. And now it's 2022. 

Let's dare to hope again. We can adapt. We can recalibrate. We can find a way.

Let's do more than survive this year. Let's thrive. And the key to thriving is love. 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Wait of the World

The specter of another pandemic wave looms over this year's holiday plans. Broadway shows are canceled. Family plans are postponed. Even football games are up in the air. 

How long, O Lord? How long will we have to wait for a normal routine? When can we make plans without the if-there-isn't-too-much-COVID asterisk?

At first we knew that life would return to normal. Then we came to expect that life would eventually settle down. Maybe now we have resorted to hoping, or even praying.

This is the wait of the world right now. 

For Christians, Advent is also the season of waiting. We recall the long wait of the Jews, longing for a Messiah. They watched and waited for one who would free them from Roman oppression. Jesus came, lived, died, and rose again. But there was no freedom from military occupation. There was no change in the corrupt, exploitative religious establishment.

But a movement was born. Christ followers experienced an inward change of heart, a spiritual renewal springing from faith in the risen Jesus. This movement spread quickly and unofficially. These believers would not bow to political or religious pressure. They believed that loving God and loving neighbors would change the world. 

It has changed the world.

But we are still waiting for it to make all the difference in the world. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Harnessing Anger

Politicians are good at it. Facebook is perfecting it. Harnessed anger drives movements, like Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and the Proud Boys.

We can let others harness our anger, and we will most likely get played or used. We will share angry social media posts or write a big check. Harnessed anger drives nations to war, and pits people against other people. Politics today thrives on harnessed anger. Both left and right need angry people to drive their agendas. And they need a good enemy to help them raise money. 

What would happen if we harnessed our own anger? We can use that negative energy in a positive way, to fight cancer, human trafficking, or child abuse. We can harness that anger on a personal level, and hate poor health, foolish debt, addiction, and broken relationships enough to make a change.

If we start thinking about using anger in a positive way, we will take a closer look at that anger. Is it helping anything for you to be angry at that politician? that boss? that spouse? that broken appliance? that blind referee? 

If anger is such a strong motivator, why not use that to your own advantage? Be angry at the right things, and do something about it.

And, please, let's stop being played by all those people who thrive on the anger of the masses!