Category Archives: Life in General

Small is Huge

Peace LilyRob and Ruth asked if we’d like houseplants they can’t move to their new home.  “Sure!” I responded.  Ruth, with a green thumb and a love for gardening, has a gazillion plants in her home.

While Rob fixed us Saturday brunch, the rest of us walked from room to room, choosing plant after plant for the brand new homeless shelter my husband manages, Compass at First Presbyterian Church of Seattle*.  We loaded 7-foot palms, Christmas cacti in bloom, weeping begonias and Aspidstra; plus tables and artwork, African masks, Peruvian baskets, and two bags of clothing into our pick-up.  The stark white, newly renovated rooms of the shelter need softening.  These would make a good start.

Of the four of us, only Mark realized how much this would mean to the shelter guests.

When we arrived at the shelter, guests emptied the truck in minutes.  One guest with a horticultural degree called each plant by its botanical name as it came in the door.  Another was reminded of the Christmas cacti that filled the deck of her childhood home in California.  A man whose calligraphy decorates the dining area brainstormed where to hang a large, colorful Picasso.  Yet another removed a safari shirt from a bag and, beaming, told me, “This is my Christmas present.”

As we drove home, we were a stew of conflicting feelings:  joy, humility, and gratitude, horror and rage.  We wiped silent tears and blew our noses.  We were lost for words.  How does one speak of the unabashed joy and gratitude we encountered as we delivered what seemed to us like mere plants?  How does one not feel humbled by the guests’ appreciation for the beauty such seemingly small things bring?  How does one articulate awe at the joy of such folk as they decorate a warm, safe, hope-filled shelter for themselves and future guests?   And how does are society justify throwing away people when they or their circumstances become difficult?

HomelessTents_Seattle_KIRO7_620-620x370The next morning, we brought a second load of plants.  It was like walking straight into a geyser of joy, gratitude, and pride.  Guests showed us plants from the day before which they had trimmed and watered as beautifully as if they were in an expensive nursery and which made the rooms softer and more human.  The shelter was full of hardship, resilience, joy and community.

Mark and I headed upstairs for worship.  The scripture read and discussed was a fitting close to Thanksgiving weekend and the beginning of our preparations for Christmas.  As you proceed through the month of December, I pray it will stay with you as it has with me.  Even the small can be huge in impact.

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’  And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’  Matthew 25:31-40

*The newest shelter in Seattle, Compass at First Presbyterian, provides a safe temporary home 24/7 for 80 men and 20 women from homeless encampments in Seattle.  Staff works intensively to locate permanent housing in 60 days, assembling documents such as photo IDs and birth certificates and helping with employment, medical and psychological care as needed.   King County has the third largest concentration homeless in the U.S. behind New York and Los Angeles, 11,643.

 

Ten Tips to Keep from Showing Your Feathers on Thanksgiving

In the hope that you and I will not add to the number of turkeys present at our Thanksgiving feasts, here’s a reprise of my Top Ten Thanksgiving Tips .

  1. Ask others about their life more than you talk about yours.
  2. Say, “It’s good to see you,” instead of, “Wow, you’ve gained weight.”
  3. Ask the host(s) periodically, “May I be helpful in some way?”
  4. Say, “You look fantastic” instead of, “Wow, you’ve lost a ton of weight.”
  5. Ask someone in a painful life circumstance, “How are you doing these days?”  Most people appreciate the inquiry, even if they choose not to share.
  6. Cut up your food, not people.
  7. Advocate for children not to be pressured for hugs and kisses.
  8. Avoid the turkeys in the room – except the bird on your plate.
  9. If you become a turkey, apologize and eat humble pie.
  10. Most important:  Put a pebble in your pocket and, each time you touch it, give thanks for something. Gratitude is the best antidote for feathers.

    Photo credit: http://bpdbd.net/turkey-bird/

Pedophelia Is Not Christian

It’s past time to speak on behalf of the Christian Church and its witness.  Pedophilia is not Christian; no matter how much Roy Moore, Jerry Falwell, Jr., and some Evangelical Christians try to claim otherwise. The God of love and mercy for whom Jesus lived and died weeps and rages each time someone is raped, molested or sexually assaulted in any way.  God knows that even one such experience has a lifelong impact.  No matter how much someone claims these acts are done under the guise God’s will, destroying the lives of others in such a heinous way is never God’s will.

Brave women are sharing publicly for the first time their stories of being sexually assaulted as teenagers (as young as 8th grade) by the current Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama, Judge Roy Moore.  These women shared their stories privately years ago with family and friends; they did not wait until Moore was running for national office before telling what happened.  In addition, multiple people have reported that Moore was banned from a shopping mall and YMCA in his hometown in the 1980’s because of his known predilection for young girls.

Disgustingly, but sadly and not surprisingly, most of the political world, conservative media, and many Evangelical Christians are now contorting themselves to support this pedophile’s election to Congress.  Few call for him to pull out of the race or for voters to elect someone else (even a Democrat, if necessary).  I wish I could pray, “God, have mercy on their souls,” but I can’t yet.  Maybe I’ll have to leave the decision about mercy and forgiveness up to God.

Making their position even worse, most of the people who continue to support Roy Moore see no contradiction between his alleged behavior and his claim of Christian righteousness.   They continue to wrap him in a protective cloak of conservative Christianity because they think he is an exemplar of Christian morality.  And…wait for it…They argue that Jesus considers Moore’s behavior and multiple sexual assaults of girls inconsequential compared to the importance of having a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate.  How dare they!

An Alabama state official, Jim Zeigler, has been quoted nationally claiming that God has no problem with an adult male having sex with a 14-year-old girl.  As evidence of God’s benevolent stance toward such behavior, Zeigler claims that Jesus Christ is the off-spring of a sexual union between Mary (at age 14) and Joseph (an adult man to whom she was engaged), and that this was obviously sanctioned by God.  Most Christians I know would be horrified if they took time to realize what his argument really says.  The Bible says Jesus was conceived by Mary and the Holy Spirit, not Joseph.  This is known as the Doctrine of the Virgin Birth.  Those who acquiesce to these convenient convolutions of Christianity to elect a Republican pedophile to the U.S. Senate cover Christianity in slime.

Pedophilia is neither moral, nor legal, nor beneficial to a healthy society.  It has no place in our homes, schools, houses of worship, communities, or Congress.

Sexual molestation and assault always violate the victim/survivor’s humanity and being, but particularly so when she or he is a child or teen.  It ruptures the very foundation of Jesus’ message of love.  It is pure evil.

Therefore, I end where I began:  Pedophilia is not Christian.

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and God’s love is perfected in us” (I John 4:7-8, 12).