Un-American Dream

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You know some mornings you just don’t even know what to say. You try to get up and be in a good mood. Have a positive attitude. You get on the computer and it takes about 1 minute to lose faith in the world again. Then you remember you are part of that world.

Watched that clip from Trump’s speech yesterday riffing off a crowd goer who “joked” about shooting migrants. Low. Watched his followers have a good ol’ laugh about it behind him. What fun. Knowing so many people who still will walk around unfazed and supportive of him. Depressing.

I was going to write about letting go and letting God support you today. Would love to do that.

You know there are very few people in my life I can actually talk to about what a shitstorm this nation has shown itself to be. Trump supporters either want to laugh it off or shake their heads as if it’s such a shame we can’t all just get along while quietly helping the bad guys win. And while I believe there are no real bad guys I also believe that there is bad behavior. Maybe we should hold a national forum and discuss what we all think “American” actually means because whatever that definition is seems to have been lost in my way of thinking.

Maybe I am just misguided but to me I always thought that America meant more than this country. America to me meant the world. The people who would help the world. The people who would embrace all people. Lift people up. Save people in trouble and defend those who were weaker. I know that’s naive I guess. I know there are always two sides to every story and I know the American story isn’t always clean, cut and dry. What country could claim such a thing?

So this part of the country’s history will be just that. A story. A part that will pass away and we’ll hopefully learn and grow from this. I like to think America will be greater in the long run. I like to think that America will actually remember who we are as a nation or rather who we always wanted to be as a nation.

It’s easy for me to say this is a story that will pass. I’m not a minority. I’m not an immigrant. I’m not LGBT. I’m not poor. I have a family. I have so many things that so many others don’t. Saying this story will pass sounds like a brush off. Should I walk around angry and resentful all the time or just let go and let God? That “let go and let God” attitude is the same one employed by the Trump folks who believe they are on the side of what is right.

So tired of sides. Let’s build more walls though. We need more of those for sure. If we could just label everything good and bad and then divide things up surely at some point we could separate everything and everyone one until finally we could have some peace and safety all alone while all those bad, dark things scratch at the door looking for love.

This is getting too dark. It’s where this is all headed though isn’t it? If you don’t look further down the path each of these “necessary” steps the country is taking eventually puts us in a box. No where to go. At least people will stand for that national anthem though. I understand why some people get so upset about that. It’s their whole life. The reason they did the things they did. I don’t fault them for it. What makes me angry is to see the manipulation of these people using that flag.

Maybe tomorrow will be a brighter day. I still have hope.

Thanks Obama. I mean that. ❤

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The Love of Jean Vanier

Since his last birthday I had the feeling that the sad news of Jean Vanier’s passing wasn’t far behind. Didn’t think it would be today. As coincidence would have it I was listening to that infamous sermon “You are beloved” by Henri Nouwen this morning on the drive to work. As I am sure you know Henri was deeply influenced and impacted by the work that Jean Vanier began at L’arche and lived and worked there for many years.

What can I say that you don’t already know? Jean Vanier was an important voice. He spoke endlessly about becoming more human. He not only spoke it but he lived it his entire life. I am so very grateful for the many words he left behind as a reminder and a path to follow.

His view of humanity is just so important. He always spoke of patience, kindness, compassion, gentleness and forgiveness. I don’t often read this but I feel like Jean Vanier was particularly important as a voice for men. I say this as a man constantly trying to evolve in a direction that is more human. A majority of the men in the world aren’t taught to see the world as Jean Vanier saw the world. A majority of the men in the world would never dare speak or live the way Jean Vanier did for fear of appearing weak or foolish. That’s part of why this world is in the mess it’s in right now. If more of us men could learn to be brave without guns and without force and without a need to control the world would transform.

Just to express an idea like that causes me some fear. I recall conversations with old friends or family or co-workers where an exact opposite world of what it means to be a man is taught and celebrated. We are taught to laugh at weakness or softness. Growing up in Texas that male group think was always to ridicule the weak ones or feel sorry for them. Strength and power and dominance and even cruelty was celebrated and patterned.  From how we spoke about sports to hunting to kids in your class at school. I understand now that that way of life stems from fear and weakness itself and I hold no grudges.

You spend a lifetime undoing and trying to rewire that thinking because you just aren’t even aware of what you are doing. When you begin that transformational journey it’s funny how hard it is to find a male role model to lead the way. Jean Vanier was an exceptional exception in my experience.  I hope his light continues to shine for new generations. I hope to grow and follow in his path as best as I can even if I’m just out of the gate and he’s already crossing the finish line.

Starman Come Down Off Your Cloud

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Starman, come down off your cloud
and show this world it’s been found.
Turn those eyes from the sky
and rewind all those lies.
Take our hand.
Lead us home.
You are never alone.
Starman, come down off your cloud
and tell the world you are proud.

Clearly some David Bowie and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure influence in this one but as I was about to post this today I was listening to a podcast called “Steve Harper: Holy Love: A Biblical Theology for Human Sexuality.” The words above were instantly born of that conversation and seemed to fit just right. Lots of hate and fear out there right now. Lots of people afraid. Lots of anger. Also a lot of new understanding. We don’t live in a black and white world. Every day is another chance to change your mind about how to love.

The podcast is right here if you have an interest: http://tamedcynic.org/category/podcasts/

Talking Transition

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Phew.  I subscribe to a page on Facebook called Molly’s Journey and on it people share stories of their family members dealing with alzheimer’s.  The stories usually end up with the passing of a Mother or Father. Not the most uplifting page on the surface but when you look at the bigger picture you see some incredibly honest and open communication taking place. Rarely do I see bickering amongst strangers. An unusual amount of love and compassion on display by everyone.

This morning I read one that told the story of the last 4 hours of this gentleman’s mother passing away and saying good-bye. It hit me in a powerful way.  Good thing I come into work early. 🙂

Why is it so hard to say good-bye? Even just ordinary good-bye like I’m going to work or school or the store? Am I the only one who has trouble with this seemingly simple transition? Does it say something about my beliefs that a simple transition to what’s next is a mental challenge sometimes? Do I not believe there is a “next?”

Thoughts to ponder.  Maybe you can relate?

So long. Farewell. These words we use. What’s “so long?” The journey or the time apart? Farewell! Is that like saying “Good luck out there! You’re going to need it!” lol Just sharing all the random things that pass through my headspace. Maybe putting into words what is always happening anyway is what makes this sort of thing difficult. Things are always changing even if we can’t see them change. Good-bye can be grounding.

I couldn’t resist posting this after all this so long farewell talk. Sorry.

Good-bye…for now.

Another Chance To See

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I remember when my Great Grandmother passed away.  Just barely remember. I always felt very close to her.  She had tremendous patience with me. Even as a little boy I was aware of this.

She lived in a tiny Texas town with little to do. She would spend hours sipping coffee and handing out quarters while I played video games in the truck stop by the interstate. I remember the sounds and smells of those days in vivid detail. There would usually be crackers and cheese with a dixie cup of Dr. Pepper for snack time. She’d always water it down and I spent a good portion of my childhood thinking that’s just how you drink Dr. Pepper. So funny.

I wish I could remember all the circumstances surrounding her death. I can’t recall if it was sudden or gradual. I’ll have to ask my parents for more details. What I do remember is a deep sense of denial when it happened. I did not want to accept that she was gone. I think she might have been the first person in my family that I felt close to that had died. I was not prepared. I did not go to her funeral. I couldn’t even bring myself to think about it. Looking back I have deep regrets about that choice. I feel like I never properly mourned her passing.  Or maybe I just did.

I still have difficulty accepting death although I’ve come a long way. I have seen all of my grandparents pass away now. I attended their funerals. I have lost close life long friends in other states and was unable to attend their funerals. There is probably some mourning yet to do there as well.

We’re taught so many things in our society about how to live. There isn’t much practical education on how to die. Probably wouldn’t be the most popular course.

A good friend of mine, in his 70’s, passed away from cancer this past year. He passed with incredible grace. I am not sure I recognized it at the time but I think that the mourning I have done for him has some connection to my great grandmother. I never thought about how similar in spirit they were until just now.

One final thought before I wrap this up.  The words “Good morning!”  Did you ever think about a deeper meaning that might be implied there?

Every day another chance to see.