A year ago, on the 11th birthday of my son, I was in Ohio with my parents when I got a phone call that changed my life. My 4 year old Yorkiepoo, Pretty, had run away.
A year ago, on the 11th birthday of my son, I was in Ohio with my parents when I got a phone call that changed my life. My 4 year old Yorkiepoo, Pretty, had run away.
Oh Facebook, you broke my heart this week. This reaction to the election went so much deeper than whose team lost. I've endured that. (Remember I'm from Ohio not Chicago). This is not about poor sportsmanship. This is about poor people - on both sides of this election result.
This week I lost the respect of my son and I lost the respect of my best friend. In those tests where they ask you if you'd rather be loved or admired I've answered "loved", without hesitation, every time.
Things have gotten out of hand
A house divided will not stand
The week my dog, "Pretty," went missing, our friends' son, Carson, also went missing. She was a 4-year-old Yorkiepoo. He was a 23-year-old ski instructor. While I was desperately searching for my dog, they were searching for their son. I felt frantically connected by a desperate search. A constant prayer of "Let us find them." "Lead us to them," was on my heart, even while I slept. We never found our dog. Tragically, their worst fears were realized when they found Carson's body in the frozen snow of the back of the mountain he had been skiing.
On St. Patrick's day, a friend of mine from my home town shared a startling Facebook post: "Stop what you are doing and pray right now!" I did! Then her profile picture changed to her son, a handsome boy in his 20s. I began praying more urgently and specifically. As a parent of young adults, I have posted enough of my own cryptic prayer requests with clues, so I knew what I was looking at.
The next post was that her son had flown from Ohio to San Francisco and was missing. I have a friend who lost her daughter to the bridge. I know that the Golden Gate bridge has become a romanticized symbol for suicidal individuals. I am very sad to say that is how my friend's beautiful son, Taylor, lost his life.
I have prayed and cried and watched these mommas grieve, feeling helpless and desperate for them. I don't know how to get through times like this. I only know how to pray, so I did.
Taylor's family started a Facebook page called "Paying forward for Taylor" (PFFT). Every day I have watched friends and loved ones go to the page to share the stories of their kind gestures, big and small, done in Taylor's honor. It has been uplifting. I've followed Taylor nudges when choosing my own PFFTs.
This brings me to yesterday. There was a celebration for our friends' son, Carson. His memorial service was like his life—AMAZING! That boy did more living in 24 years than most 90-year-olds have done. It was heartbreaking to see so many of his loved ones lost without him;
however, the music chosen and performed by Elephant Revival and other wonderful musicians, and the life he led, told by his friends and family, made it impossible to think anything other than that he conquered this level and had flown on to the next grand adventure.
When Stevie Wonder, a family friend, spoke before singing his song, you could have heard a pin drop. I loved hearing his music, as always, but the words he spoke were sacred. He spoke of his friends, the legends who have passed this year, and of course didn't leave out Prince OR Carson. He saw them as having been sent, as a gift, to teach us to love more and be kinder. I was too caught up in the moment to recall it verbatim. (I'm hoping a video exists). But my sense was, "Of course they had to go. Aren't we blessed that they came?"
Throughout the entire ceremony, I felt like I was honoring Taylor as well as Carson. I kept thinking "Oh this song would be such a comfort to his family...." I was determined to get a video, if one exists, or at least find the songs online to share with my friend.
After the ceremony, I was surprised to see Stevie was hanging around and there were lines of people wanting to talk with him. It occurred to me to wait so I could tell him how his words touched me and maybe get a picture for PFFT, but it seemed awkward. I don't like doing that kind of thing. I prayed, "God, if you need me to get something for Ginny, please work that out." Just then, Stevie got up and left, so I figured that was that.
As we were saying goodbye to our friends, paying our respects and telling them how much we appreciated the ceremony, they said, "We knew that being a musical family, you would love the musicians!" They then turned to my son, a 20-year-old music major, and said, "Did you meet Stevie?" When he said he hadn't, they said "Well he is right over there! Go introduce yourself!"
Now we HAD to do it. It would have been rude NOT to! As we were standing there waiting for him to be free, I watched him. He was patiently doing the selfie shuffle I've seen so many celebrities do. But he had such charisma, it seemed out of place somehow—like getting your picture taken with Mother Teresa or Ghandi.
Suddenly, he broke away from a "fan" to speak to a young woman in a wheel chair. He must have known she was coming, because he knew her back story.
I couldn't help but overhear (because I was leaning in straining my ears to do so!); I didn't catch it all, but part of what he said was something close to, "I know this was an accident, but not to God. My blindness was an accident, but God wanted to use it to show the world that He can still do great things through me. And that is what you should look for. That is what God can do for you!"
Then it was my turn. I would love to write about my poise and composure—musician to musician—but there was some babbling...okay a lot of babbling...and it wasn't coming from Stevie Wonder. That's what I do when I like someone. My words jump up out of me and onto you like a big eager dog with both paws to pin you down and lick you all over your stunned face.
But here's the thing—he got it. ALL of it! Like the musician he is, he thought, "OK cool. We are playing in this key. I can do that...." I told him how much I loved his music. "But I had expected to love it...I have always loved your music...but what blew me away were the words you spoke...." (At this point we had our arms around each other). I told him about my friend and how I was going to tell her what he said. He squeezed harder and turned closer and said emphatically, "YES! Tell her that!"
Then I blurted a thing about "Paying forward for Taylor". He said, not at all suspiciously, but for clarity, "Paying what?" And I explained it again. I said, "Can I take a picture for her?" He said, "OF COURSE!" As I was getting in the selfie position, I suddenly realized it was dumb for me to be in the picture. "But I want a selfie, too," I thought, "but I don't want him to have to pose for two of them...mine's not what's important here..." Because I can't have any unvoiced thoughts, I said, "This is dumb of me to be in this...well, I guess I'm standing in for my friend..."
Then HE said, "Can we make her a video?!" (OH MY GAWD, OH MY GAWD!!!!) I wish I had gotten off "selfie" mode, because I seem kind of ridiculously out of place in that video and I completely lost track of the selfie age-defying, chin-reducing angle.
His willingness to open his heart and let love lead, made that hallowed ground. And I feel changed by it. I woke up this morning feeling like Carson, Taylor, my children, all my loved ones past and present, Prince, and even my little lost dog, "Pretty," are in God's loving hands and part of a divine story, in which we are all blessed to be starring.
So...I marched in the Christian humility parade yesterday (to church). The whole hour was focused on God. The sermon was the last of the series on the fruits of the Spirit. (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control).
It was not a hand wringing "NOW what are we gonna do?!" sermon. That is because nothing has changed about what we are going to do. We are going to "love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind" and "love our neighbor as ourselves".
Christians opposed to same sex marriage need to stop being like Kanye West at the awards. Your person didn't win. Sit down. Not your mic. Not your time. Not your fans.
If you listen, you will hear story after story of people finally feeling free to share what it is like to live in fear and in shadow. Let them speak. Let them speak. Let them speak. Living free, living in the light, loving out loud has won the day.
The ideal of monogamous, committed, married love has been elevated and extended. Whether you agree or disagree about who those parties are, is of no consequence now. The party will go on with or without you. Love will find a way. Love has found a way. Listen. It sounds a lot like you.
I have been silently watching the Indiana fiasco until today. As one who finds comfort in the promise of the Noah rainbow and freedom in the pride flag rainbow, I am beyond annoyed that this is even a THING. Maybe I've watched too many episodes of "Scandal", but I wonder if it might not even BE a thing.
It seems so ridiculously beside the point in today's world that I wonder if it's a red herring to get the fishes fighting the loafers.
Today I broke my Facebook silence and shared a Christian essay coming out against this bill. I "liked" it because it pointed out a glaring over sight in the blind guide who supposedly champions this cause. If they speak for Jesus, they got the wrong guy. Jesus didn't turn anyone away for their lifestyle. Last I read He only turned away folks who CLAIMED to know and speak for Him.
So with that reasoning, nobody will be shopping in their own store. In fact, if we have to earn the right to be treated with dignity we are all doomed. I know I am for sure, at least a week a month. And the rest of the month I'm so proud of my good deeds that I am doomed for my self righteous heart those weeks too.
Any given hour any given day we would be turned away from shopping. Can you IMAGINE how hard it would be to plan your errands? I'm quite certain my dry cleaning would never be picked up.
So...I'm thinking the timing of this nonsense is too co-incidental to be an accident. This is a trick of the REAL Christians to T up the whole Easter message. (See what I did there?) The admittance fee to the cross of Christ is the same for all and never changes even after you decide the message resonates with you. And unlike the business of xtianity, where there is a "sin of the month club" - I'm pretty confident we are ALL getting it wrong as often as we are getting it right (and usually just when we finally think we ARE getting it right). In fact, any Christian business owner worth his salt would put a sign in front of his establishment requiring sinful behavior. Otherwise nobody but Christ Himself will be able to shop there.
I felt OK about what I blogged yesterday. I like taking a thought and running with it. If it's a half baked idea like "when did the cops stop being 'helping guys'?" that sparked yesterday's post - writing is a cathartic way to explore that thought further.
But just as a splinter only partially removed often causes more pain than the buried one, exposing my thoughts can make me aware of how shallow I have begun to dug. And it gnaws on me until I get it all the way out.
Ignorance is blistering I'm afraid. I want life to be simple. The issue without the complexity of the facts is so absurd and obvious. Racism has always been so perplexing. I keep waiting for people to say "WTF are we doing?" and just stop. In the meantime, I want it to be OK not to look. But it isn't. And I know that. It just hurts too much to look.
But I looked anyway. And I saw what I knew was there. If Jezebel.com doesn't know what to do with 'good' white people that makes two of us. I don't know what to do with myself either!
So who am I calling a good white person? I don't know if the shoe fits and I should wear it or not. Intention has to still count for something, as must empathy. It hurts. It all hurts too deeply for justice to ever be felt deeply enough. I want to make it right. I want to do it right (whatever "it" is) but there is just no way to do it "right".
It reminds me of that scene in Forrest Gump where Jenny begins to throw rocks at her childhood home, the sight of terrible abuse. After she is spent from the rage and effort of throwing Forrest says, "sometimes there just aren't enough rocks".
How can any one of us make it right enough for what has been so wrong and for whom have been so wronged? I want to live MY story but it is caught up in such a history that I must repeatedly check my blessings at the door and remember to lament what has come before.
The rocks are deserved. Yet there are not enough of them to atone. What DO I do now? Do I dip into the blood bath? Do I wait it out until the inflammation has subsided? Do I shut the fuck up because it's not my fight but vote privately and pray mightily for justice?
I am working hard, so hard, to raise good white people. It takes all of me. And I want them to believe in a world like the one I want them to aspire to create. I am their educator and I dread the telling of this story. Shame is hard to strain out, if I plan to tell the whole truth about our country. I don't want them (or anyone) to learn shame or self loathing. And to explain to my innocent what racism is draws attention to the absurdity of judging any person 'less than' for any reason - the least of which being that into which they were born.
But I'm still working this out as our country works this out. Please forgive me for not doing it "right" or for even doing it "wrong". I can't atone but I will work harder not to ignore.
As for the stones, in my life I fight hard against the temptation to judge. I took to heart the words "let he who is without sin be the first to pick up a stone." I think the wisdom in that lies in the knowledge that no one can throw just one. For every stone thrown another person feels entitled to pick up their stone. Before you know it the whole human race is stoned (and not in a good way). Whatever needs to be done, I know we can all do it better. I still believe that peace is possible and more than a stone's throw away.
I don't watch much on TV involving real people (unless you count the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills). I don't watch any real people on the news. I just don't have time. Who has several weeks to take to bed and curl up in a fetal ball with a case of Nutella? An hour spent with CNN would require months of digging in the sand to re-bury my head.
Despite my best efforts to remain shallow, self-absorbed, and ignorant, the news seeps in between posting selfies and counting my "likes" on Facebook. I get most of my news like a contact high, caught from being close to friends under the influence.
For instance, I know that things have been getting heated because the police have been using their heat in questionable ways. It's impossible to avoid the name Ferguson. It's a household word. I remember when the only unavoidable household Ferguson was the toilet. Ferguson misery is much different from Ferguson Missouri but there is a lot of crap going down in both cases.
Thanks to second hand smoking guns, I know about a lot of dead unarmed black men. I don't need to be told to be devastated about the injustices and inequities. I didn't need to be told that racism is still a "thing". So is classism and so many isms that the schisms between usms widen with each perceived slight to 'ism's and 'ersm's sense of entitlement.
The whole dam country is a flood of emotion it would seem. And yet...every now and then a story peeks through. A cop pays a woman's grocery debt, hugs a protestor, saves a baby seal from being clubbed. (I may have dreamed that last one).
Since I don't follow these stories close enough to be in any danger of being an expert, I am in the perfect position to have the solution. Since the heat using heat is a hot topic, I think the whole issue of police brutality might be a good place to start. Hey Police, don't hire brutes or train people to be brutal. There. Problem solved. It's probably just a misunderstanding requiring a simple re-write. (Or "re-right", if you prefer).
Because "police brutality" has become a cliché like "armed and dangerous" I think a name change is in order. When my kids were little we called the police "helping guys". Now that we have the solution, we will need to educate people starting with kindergarten.
Police Academy: Police officers are helping guys not thumping, bossing, bullying guys. Sometimes helping guys need to help harder than other times, but the helping should always be the main focus. Hopefully, most officers won't have to help someone not murder them. That gets messy. Use your words not your tasers, guns, choke holds or other scary toys.
Public school: Use your words. Don't take things that don't belong to you. Don't tell lies, or throw a fit to get what you want. Ask for help from a grown up if your words don't work. Don't throw a brick at a helping guy or burn down your neighbor's store. Try not to push the helping guys into helping you too hard.
Mostly, I think the whole world needs a time out. A nap would be nice. You'd be surprised how much better life works with an outdoor recess, a little juice, a story, a sing along, and a buddy to hold your hand so you won't lose your place in line.
In Harry Potter, the unspeakable evil that 'He Who Must Not Be Named' committed, (besides some unicorn slayings and a death curse or two), was the dividing of his soul into Horcruxes so that he would live forever. As is often the case when I try to do math, with each division, his soul was diminished.
Our world is divided into so many pieces. Just like Voldemort's Horcruxes, we dilute a bit of our collective soul with each division.
Some see this as the 'end times'. Some others see this as the clash of archaic religious superstition vs. reason. I don't know what time it is. But I don't care. I can't tell time (math again).
Perhaps it is some sort of cosmic, spiritual or historical puberty. But whatever it is, I am reminded once again of those wise words spoken by the King of Kings, then MLK, and best understood in the plaintive cry of Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?!"
Truth is, EVERYONE feels justified in their hatred. But truth is, none of us are. And the truth is, all of us are. What makes haters? Hate. But we have to make it stop somewhere. And I think stopping it EVERYWHERE is a good place to start.