The human chain of life
I had a dream, under a cloud be-speckled blue sky
that we all joined hands with our nearby neighbors, to the right and to the left, whose opinions, possibly, probably, almost certainly, differ from our own. Me with thee and thee with thou until we reached the end of the lane, the boundaries of the neighborhood, the extent of the town, the limits of the principality, across the borders of countries, over the oceans, lakes and rivers until we encircled the world. We formed a human chain spanning races, nations, cultures, crossing opinion, without distinction ... gradually, incrementally, hardly noticeably; bridging every gap, grip by grip, person by person. No one concerned about contaminating viruses sticky fingers or dirt under the fingernails. So grateful were we for the touch of another human, we gave no thought to where the chain would lead, how or where it would link up with the other side on the other side because there would be no other side. Just the one continuous connection. Incremental effort, tugging us in each others' direction, extended arms encircling Mother Earth. She, who has the final word; Her Pull is the gravitational hug that grounds me, as the strength of connection tugs me toward you on my right and you on my left -- and you toward your neighbor, whose hands you hold for the sake of all life.
Come hungry. Really? It seems everyone is stuffed to the gills these days. Whoever would want a Thanksgiving turkey?
I had a delicious and delightful lunch with old high school friends this week. It was coordinated by a friend who is a Muslim, whose family emigrated here from Pakistan in 1958. (I didn’t know this about her when we were in high school, but now I do.) I had contacted her about “things Muslim” in my sports writing about Ramadan and the World Cup athletes and more recently about quotes I heard bandied about in anti-Muslim rhetoric. What I have learned about me is, I do better when I “seek first to understand, and then to be understood.”
This was alive and well among these friends, nerds all, of a sort: male and female, married and not, widowed and not, children and none. Employed, retired, stay at home, volunteer. Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, agnostic … quite diverse, except for our ages. We were once classmates and, now take an interest in what was important and meaningful to the other. Conversation is lively and relationship comes alive. Current events are front and center, honesty and forthrightness abounding. I just love these people. I was hungry for their company.
Afterward, I joined my Muslim friend at a gathering of community leaders, religious leaders and citizens in Montgomery County where I felt more companionship than I sometimes feel among “my own kind” these days. As some leading Christians claim that God put Donald Trump in office, the dissension in our own ranks is palpable. I keep asking, how could people following the same Lord be headed in such different directions?
Then I see this Amazon commercial and think, that is simply genius. How can anyone disagree with that? Yet, one commenter did, saying, “Supporting magical thinking, regardless of what you call your imaginary friend, is still harmful to humanity and the planet at large. Theism is a form of mental illness that needs treatment … cult… addict … delusion,” Seventy people gave her the thumbs up. The originator of the post replied frankly but politely and got many more thumbs ups. Still, I am shocked at this viewpoint I did not know even existed, let alone had a healthy following. Where did this distrust and hatred of God come from?
These times have been allowed by God (if we believe in a sovereign God). I don’t think He wanted this for us, but this is what we have chosen for ourselves. As Dusty Baker, manager of the Washington Nationals baseball team, said (and I heard prophetically) about removing his starting pitcher from a game, “I didn’t take him out. He took himself out.”
We are a people who hunger and thirst for God, yet we come to the table so full we don’t want Thanksgiving. God will not force feed us, and He would have every right to excuse us. But, in His great mercy, He invites us to sit and eat among those who disagree and with those who are disagreeable to teach us how to pitch in such a way that we can go the whole 9 innings, and one day pitch the perfect game that He catches.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Wendy, the Kinesthetic Christian
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
Can We Bring Back Going Steady?
So.Much.in.the.World. What ever happened to going steady?
Just the thought of it makes me smile, recalling Happy Days with the Fonz and Richie Cunningham sorting out teenage life at the malt shop. Going steady was what a boy did with a girl before asking her out or to the prom. Of course, after school you’d meet up to walk home together.
It may be old fashioned, but these days, going steady sounds really good to me. As a newly minted graduate, a cocky new employee, or a brand new Mom, I figured I knew what I needed to and what I didn’t know I’d look up, figure out or cross my fingers and fake it. the problem with all that individual effort and aptitude is it sets us on the course of our lives leaning WAYYY back on the boards when the boat takes us on the ride of our lives. When gale force winds blow, sailing solo may be exhilarating, but how long can you do that before capsizing? Then you’d better hope the rescue boats get there before the sharks do.
All it takes is one other sailor to balance the boat to keep things steady. If I start to tip, he brings things back upright. If I slip and scrabble for a hand hold, he grabs it and pulls me back. Even if I fall overboard, he hauls me back aboard. Even with the wind at our back, the ablest sailors need steadying. Life is full of rough waters, and navigating them in a one person ship is asking for trouble. To be sure, the voice of self-sufficiency that soon sounds of panic, angst and fear will always be more than happy to join you on the low side.
When life makes waves, we need someone else, one who can steady us. Yes, there will be days of smooth sailing that we can navigate alone or even invite others along for the “joy” ride. But let’s not let those days fool us. When the chop keeps coming and the waves get really big, we will need steadying. Very likely, the one doing the steadying won’t be there right next to you but may seem very far away. That’s because the further we tip, the more He rights.
Going steady may be old-fashioned, but I’d like to see it make a come-back. Smooth sailing is just not normative to human life these days, and the force of the waves seems to be growing. Everyone needs steadying. Thank goodness for the One who is steadfast in the storm.