Category Archives: In Action

Dear Graduates, chart your own course

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Caps and gowns everywhere! Smiling faces. Proud parents. Adoring Grands and even congratulatory hugs from siblings. It’s a great occasion and we mark it with well-deserved fanfare. Pomp. and. circumstance.

So many graduates! I imagine each of them bouncing on their own personalized trampolines, springing giddily into the air, paying no heed to the creaking complaints of metal springs better suited to children’s play. These celebrants are ready to boing to their next appointment: be it career or college, military or volunteer service, or perhaps just promotion to the next grade or next level school.

Congratulations! Way to go! But, I pray, dear young people, that this day is more than lift-off for you. May it also be deflection pointtrampoline high jump

Because so much in your world to this point has demanded that you achieve maximum height: jump higher, score better, achieve more, set new records or perform the best aerial trick. Success on that life-trampoline rewards perfect landing and launching from the same spot. No deviation. Simply master the repetitive motion. That’s more tantrum than lift-off.

I pray that on this graduation day you may embrace a little deflection. Accept permission to stop jumping straight up-and-down.

On an Easter evening two millennia ago, the disciples of Jesus experienced a graduation ceremony of their own, but it was no cause for celebration. Jesus had been crucified, died and was buried. Up until then, when Jesus said, Jump; they said, How high? But now, without the one who was their teacher, leader, and counselor, they cowered in fear.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. ~ (John 20:19-22) 

The disciples needed deflection. Following the leader was no longer an option. To stay the course, they needed to chart it themselves. In the peace that only Jesus can bring, their Lord sent them.

Dear Graduates, congratulations on your arrival at this day. From its precipice, look into your distance to notice what calls you, and listen for what draws you. Breathe that in. Let it inspire you. Let it energize you. Allow it to bring you peace. And then, let it deflect you toward a future that has been designed for you. Play that angle. Even the slightest deviation, multiplied by your landing force, will send you into new air space that you have not yet sampled.

DSC_0344Memorize that feeling; it’s called courage. You’re charting new territory. Take your momentum with you and spring for all your worth. Hey, bouncing up and down on your backyard trampoline never had much growth potential anyway. Let the deflection take you — to scary places, challenging places, and into untrod territory that desperately needs new minds to solve old problems.

Go and may the peace of Christ be with you.

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Still, not stationary

Still.

Is it even possible
to be still,
in the presence of one who
is never still?
Mirror neurons, they
are a-buzzin’

How is it
that God,
who is stillness,
is strength and power,
endurance and accomplishment,
rest and calm,
undiminished all?

While I,
overtaken by sorrow at the weeping,
muffled by the world’s accounting,
leaden with the weary travelers,
am overcome by the task
of stillness.

Stilled by God,
Ah, stilled by God,
I am still, not stationary.
Poised in power,
Coiled in crouch,
Ready and waiting.
Neurons, they
are a-buzzin’

Still.

What do I do with my “me too”? One Woman’s Manifesto

Me too projectMe too…I am seeing it on Facebook posts, in comments and in conversation far and wide.

I am not sure where it came from, but it’s picking up steam. Why? Because it’s the skeleton in every woman’s closet, the elephant in every room. We’ve carried it cautiously, buried it fastidiously, and borne it boldly until someone tugged it out. Now we’re shocked at the commonness of our experience.

Me too. ME TOO. Me too, we type. We read and think, oh my, you too? And in confessing, we join hands. Fervently, supportively, collegially, then boldly and angrily, but to what effect? We’re angry with no place to put our anger.

Here’s the thing. Everyone who acknowledges and shares a “me too” takes themselves back to that moment in time and place and sensation. We re-live that abuse, that violation, that pain. That’s the way the mind works: our past, when recalled, becomes our present, even if it was a long, long time ago.

This is the invisible danger of the injury perpetrated by sexual harassment and abuse. Borne quietly, culturally dismissed, left unaddressed or without proper resolution, this wounding leaves scars. We are the nesting dolls of ourselves. Everything we have ever lived is re-shaped and covered over by layer upon layer of our next set of selves. Our minds hold the experience of our bodies, even when no scars are apparent. A “me too” campaign activates those all over again.

The pain out there is a real and present danger to full mind and body health. Seeing the magnitude of this effect leaves me both bereft and emboldened. It has me asking, How did what happened to me effect me? How has this behavior been perpetuated?  

First, I thank God for the safe haven He provides me to return in my mind to the scene of this crime. A minor incident, I would call it, though my recollection after nearly thirty years would disavow that.

I didn’t say anything. What would I say? No harm done, no physical evidence, no witnesses. Confrontation would have risked elevation, exposure or worse, but I had no conscious thought of these things at the time. There was disgust, acknowledgement of my powerlessness and, yes, even consideration that somehow what I wore that day — skirt and top befitting a college professor in modern fashion — might have made me a target. Should I have been more observant? Was I too trusting of strangers? too naive? (How do we manage to re-work things to find ourselves at fault?)

Just imagine, all that percolation from a moment three decades old, which the “me too” project has bubbling to the surface. I don’t appreciate that, but here we are and I am very not alone. My question for me is, What do I do with my Me Too? Because victim is a role I have never played very well.

Here is my manifesto:

  1. As a woman, I have heard men say that their private misbehavior is no one else’s business. It is. It leaves lasting scars on the people they have wronged, both the victim of their sexual affront and the family which suffers under the weight of it.  My to do: I will speak the truth to any individual who hides behind this lie.
  2. As a voter, I have heard our President confess that he has participated in sexual assault and then dismiss it as “locker room talk.” My to do: I will continue to cast my vote only for individuals who demonstrate good character and responsible behavior and NEVER for a professed and unrepentant assaulter.
  3. As a colleague and friend, I now realize that there are many women living with these secret wounds. My to do: I will offer a listening heart to those who want and need to share their story, hoping that some healing will come of this. 
  4. As the mother of three daughters, I now realize how pervasive is the brokenness and sexual sin-sickness in the world they are entering as young adult women. My to do: I will boldly work for a safe and healthy world for them, demonstrating by my words and actions that gender fear has no place here. 
  5. As a writer, I cannot leave these things unwritten or unsaid.

The “Me too” barrage has me marveling at the design of the human mind, equipped as it is, with memory prone to be prodded by emotionally charged things–good, bad or indifferent. We must tread here with caution because these bits do linger and have the power to change us. There in the shadows they may influence us, even without our permission or intention.

While God has the power to forget and forgive, we fragile humans tend to recall things. We can call on God to help us heal those memories, allowing Him to fill in and smooth out the rough places to make a way toward a firmer future.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11 

God has got plans for you and me, too.

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