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Praying for Charlottesville

jeffersonstatue_04hr_utCharlottesville, Virginia,
l’il college town,
All the school year, full of UVA Wahoos,
going to football games, going to class,
going to pubs down at the Corner.
Just like everybody.

Come from Virginia and everywhere,
to Mr. Jefferson’s University,
to get a college degree and
to learn about life,
in the classroom and on the lawn,
from their professors and from each other.
The University in Virginia.

Charlottesville, Virginia,
Situated in the center, caught in the middle,
between north and south,
black and white,
slave and free.
Where combatants gather, Lee Statue
tempers flare
and the shouting starts.

“It’s my right to say what I want,” they say.
Unfurling words.
Words of unkindness,
words of disrespect,
words of damnation.
Words that pelt, pummel, and break.
More than rocks through a glass window,
words leave shards, lying on the pavement.

The war of words has come to Virginia.
We the people of the middle.
To Charlottesville, family home of a
man of great words. History remembers him.
Founding father.
Declaration author.
University benefactor.
Slave owner.

Charlottesville history sign

History belongs to no one.
The future belongs to someone.
Not you. Not me.
We.
We,
the People,
of the Middle.

Bold enough to see
that freedom is extended, as well as taken.
It’s not mine, if it’s not also yours.

chapel Charlottesville

If what I say hurts you,
I must strike that, not you.

Praying for Charlottesville …
Tender town in the center;
where the words
I pray for you
incline your heart
to pray for me.
In Thee,
We.

How you say Goodbye makes ALL the Difference

Please allow me one moment of parental pride. Our daughter, Stephanie, graduated from the University of Virginia this weekend. She “walked the lawn” along with thousands of other students en route to their destination: graduation. It has been her objective for four years. Poof! You are a graduate.

It doesn’t seem real to her. “My friends and I agreed,” she tells me, “we’re prepared to graduate, but we’re not ready to leave.”

She loves her university. Loved it from the start. She engaged, excelled, drank fully of the Wahoo cup. The last semester just couldn’t contain her. So many things she wanted to do, try, be part of, experience, before she left. Alas, every good thing must come to an end. And so it has.

She walked the lawn, found her seat among all her classmates, and sat behind many, many rows of graduate students, professional students, nursing students and others. LeBolt Stephanie Diane, there in the middle of the masses, most of the way to the back. So far back, in fact, that she couldn’t hear the graduation speaker, or the president of the University who stood and spoke the words she had waited four years to hear: “I confer upon you the degree of Bachelor of Arts, and all privileges belonging there in.”

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I sat approximately 100 miles away, in the ticketed seats for ‘special guests.’ We saw it all on Jumbo-trons placed strategically along the lawn. I could hear just fine. It was an event. A spectacle. The advancing of a tradition. The pomp and circumstance, regalia and formality were right for the day.

Still, I came to celebrate my little girl. One in the crowd. Incredible blue eyes and the biggest, kindest smile you will ever see. I was glad that the departmental diplomas would be awarded in a small ceremony after the event.

Rotunda at UVAHere, in the Rotunda, the symbolic landmark of the University.

Except we were prevented from entering by a tall, serious man behind blue velvet roping. His stance, frown and hand wave meant No Trespassing. We asked a nearby faculty member (you can pick them out by their colorful graduation gowns) where to get in and she directed us down and around and up 2 flights of stairs. This time we talked our way past Mr. No (from the inside) and were the first parental arrivals in the upper room.

Steph gets her diplomaThe ceremony was more personal, albeit brief. Just a handful of grads to receive their scrolls and their handshakes. A few hugs and hearty well-wishes later, we are snapping last photos from a window atop the Rotunda looking out onto the lawn where many of the crowd are still gathered below. IMG_5510

We descend the steps and, reluctantly, make our way to the exit. “Thank you for coming,” says Mr. No, now pulling aside the roping so we can depart.

I chuckle at the irony. Four glorious years end with, “Thanks for coming.”

Our small procession, Mom, Dad, shiny new graduate and her 2 sisters, makes its way past the statue of Thomas Jefferson, past the steps of the Rotunda – well, around, because the nursing school grads are gathered on the steps – on the path toward homeward bound. We are ushering her off the premises, pausing for the traffic light at the corner. A police officer punches the walk-request button. We wait.

A baby blue convertible accelerates through the intersection. Its driver, a young Asian woman, waves happily at Steph and shouts, “You look smashing in your gown!” We all laugh as this driver disappears around the corner.

Steph smiles awkwardly, turning to us. “She probably thinks I am someone she knows.”

A blue-clad, be-tassled faculty member waiting at the light with us says wryly, “That was the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.” UVA Dean Woo

The Dean knows you Steph! You’re the one who looks smashing in your gown. You’re gonna knock ’em dead! She can tell by looking. Even in drive-by, on her way outta town.

You look smashing!

You look smashing!

The world says you’re worth more today than you were yesterday. They’re wrong. You had infinite value yesterday, as you do today as you will always. A pearl of great price. Worth selling all that I have to buy back. Smashing, indeed!

Death gives life, science says so

I have added a new “category” to the blog called cool science. I am, after all, a scientist and very often there is a bit of science in the natural order of things that speaks of God to me. Technically, this is not kinesthetic – unless I pick it up and turn it over in my mind, in which case anything goes I suppose.

But this week I am at a sports medicine conference and everyone is speaking science. Very quickly and much of the time somewhat illegibly. Whoa. Can you say that about speaking? Slow your talking down; I can’t read your handwriting!!

Anyway, today’s cool science doesn’t come directly from the conference (That will go on my Fit2Finish business blog.) but instead from research done at UVA School of Medicine and published in the magazine Nature. In studies of muscle cells, they have found that dying cells (which have long been considered debris that must be removed from the body to avoid causing tissue inflammation) are necessary in the process of muscle cell formation. “A small number of myoblasts – precursor cells that develop into muscle tissue – must die to allow muscle formation.”

I am prone to think of death as a terrible thing. Such a waste. Such a mistake. So ill-conceived. Why in the world must we die? And then on the tiniest of scales, the most intricate of platforms, in the cells themselves, we literally can see that death is necessary for new life.

A cell must die so that others can live.

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. ~ John 12:24

So Scientific. So Scriptural. Almost like we were made this way.

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