At Last

When I climb into bed at night, I giggle. I’ve been giggling as I nestle under the sheets and onto my pillows for the past six and a half years and all indications are, the giggle isn’t going away. Mike noticed it first. “Do you realize you giggle when you crawl into bed next to me?” “Hmm! I guess I do” I agreed.

The giggle is pure delight. Mike is “at last this is flesh of my flesh” to me. Mike is home and my safest place. Mike is my other half. Seeing Mike makes me grin and I can’t help it. Between us, there’s a magnetic field of some sort—drawing us toward each other. We “met” on The first time we met for coffee was two months, a whole lot of e-mails and phone calls later. One of my first thoughts when I sat across from him made me blush, Becky! I said, in my head with the inflection my mother might have used when slightly incredulous and to set me straight, what are you thinking? I was thinking, I’d like to run my fingers through his hair right there at his temples.

His eyes are gentle and kind and…they twinkle and the hair at his temples is a gorgeous gray, highlighting his smiling eyes.

We both lived a long time before we found each other.

Mike was married before. His marriage lasted twenty-two years and produced three great kids. He and his ex-wife eventually had different priorities and they were divorced. The failure of his marriage was painful. Mike’s a family man. In fact, he moved out of the family home into an apartment just a block away so he could continue to be a very present father for the two of his children still at home. Sad, angry, lonely he built a new life for himself. When we met he’d been divorced for three years, his marriage had been over except on paper and in living arrangements for several more than that.

I was married before. I was married for nineteen years and our marriage produced three great kids. My ex-husband struggled with mental health issues. For many years he blamed his depression and struggles on external stresses, circumstances and people. Then, I started to get more of the blame. I was sad and lonely and one of my wisest, dearest friends guessed it. She asked “are you happy?” I told her “no, I’m just figuring it out one day at a time. This is the ‘for worse’ of the ‘for better for worse’ parts of the vows.” She said she couldn’t do it. She said she was crazy about her husband and he was crazy about her. I said “all marriages take work”. She said, “and some simply don’t work.” I told her mine was working just fine (even though it wasn’t).

A few months later a neighbor down the street sat me down to tell me she was concerned about my kids. “I don’t think you know what’s happening when you’re away at the church.” I didn’t know. She described a conversation she overheard putting away laundry in the hall while my son and her son and another neighbor boy were hanging out in her son’s room. The anger that had been turned on me was being turned on my children, too.

The divorce was pretty hellish. I don’t know many people who make it through divorce unscathed, we sure didn’t. So, when all the dust settled, and I eventually had full-custody of the kids, I moved home to Nebraska to be near my aging parents and one of my brothers. They helped me and the boys heal, and my brother and I helped our parents navigate some cruel blows from aging.

For eight years I said I was wearing a hat with three bills. Above one it said, “Mom” above another it said, “Daughter” and above the third it said, “Minister.” I just spun the hat around my head depending on the moment. Nowhere on the hat was there room for anything that said, simply, “Becky.”

A bit of Becky time eventually came. My elder two graduated from high school, my youngest was a high school junior, my mother “graduated” too.  And that’s when Mike and I met.

I didn’t know what was missing in my life until I met Mike. I had no idea what marriage could really be even though I tried my darndest to make a good marriage the first go around. There are other stories to be told about divorcing and dealing with guilt and the fact that all of us “miss the mark” all of us fall short in different ways at different times in life. We can wrestle later with thoughts about divorce and sin and forgiveness and the Bible and making sense out of what ancient, yet still living documents teach us about God’s will.

But, I can say this for sure. Mike is a gift to me from God. Of that I have absolutely no doubt.

Mike and I are wholly married to each other in the holy way God imagined and dreamed for all God’s children. Genesis says God looked on God’s very good creation and realized something not yet perfected, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” said God. And God fashioned another human just perfect for the first. Flesh of each other’s flesh, bone of each other’s bone.

All of this story brings me closer to the point I want to make.

Mike and I have six young adult children. What I want desperately for each of them is that they find someone fashioned just right for them to journey with through life. I want each of them to dance with delight because they are so well loved and to find the embrace of one with whom they know they are “home.” One who, at last, is flesh of their flesh. I want them to shiver with the pleasures of intimacy and break into grins when their special other turns the corner. I want them to have that someone they trust and can count on when cancer strikes, when stress is high. I want them to giggle when they climb into bed next to each other even when they are growing old.

I want that for each of our six children and for you and for your children and our neighbors and for our neighbor’s children. And here’s the kicker–one of our kids is gay and that doesn’t change one bit my hopes and prayers and dreams–they are the same for all six of our kids. I want them to know, if they want to know, I want them to really know love. I want them not to have to live life alone. And not to have to pretend to be who they aren’t because there isn’t anything more lonely than that. I don’t care if the one my kid loves is he, she or they. I want them to find the one for whom they say, “at last.”

Once upon a time and even now, there are those so caught up in religious rules and regulations they would deny the holiness of the love Mike and I share because we were both married before. And right now, this very week when there’s so much hurt and so much heart ache and sorrow out there and each of us needs another to shore us up and help us find home, this very week there are religious zealots who have written a heinous and ugly declaration denying the holiness of love to those who are LGBTQ+.

To them I say, Stop it already! God’s love is bigger than your limited imaginations.

And to God I say, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for second chances. Thank you for the gift of my Mike. Thank you that as soon as I finish writing and click “publish” I will go upstairs and climb into bed and giggle as I nestle under the sheets and onto my pillows and next to my already sleeping sweet husband.

Thank you, God. Thank you. Thank you.

Still Speaking

Mrs. Clark opened her door after I knocked. “I was baking bread this morning and thought of you. Here’s a loaf. I hope you like it.”  She took in a deep breath, bowed her head and crumpled forward like a flower drooping. Bringing her clasped hands up to her chest a second passed before she breathed again and straightened to meet my gaze. “You remembered.” She said. “You remembered. It’s been a year today since my Walter died.” We visited a little bit there on her cozy front porch before I headed back down the street two houses to my own house where one of my babies was napping and the other two needed to be picked up from nursery school.

I didn’t remember it was the anniversary of her Walter’s death but I let Helen think whatever she wanted to think. But here’s what happened:

I’d been at the church the night before. There was a meeting and as was fairly common for that congregation someone acted ugly about something. Some congregations are truly skilled at arguing about things about which Jesus, the Holy Spirit, God Almighty and all the angels don’t give a rat’s patootie. This congregation got a lot of things right, but boy–howdy some of them sure could act ugly. And sometimes they directed that ugliness at us, their co-pastors. Even when it wasn’t aimed directly at us, some of it usually splattered in our direction.

When I climbed into bed I congratulated myself for not being worked-up about the ugliness. My skin must be getting thicker, I thought. I’ve been doing ministry long enough I’ve learned to let things just roll off my back. I thought. Hmm. I thought, a little over ten years into this and I’m getting the knack of it.

At two a.m. I woke up because someone was sobbing. It took me a moment to realize the person sobbing was me. With a sleeping husband beside me and three sleeping little boys across the hall I stifled myself quickly. And then as I was just waking up to my heart-wrenching doubts that so frequently follow on the heels of church members complaining–I’m not cut out to be a minister, this has all been some big mistake–I heard, in my head, but plain as day, an instruction, “Go downstairs and read.”

For years and years a thin little volume called, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants (Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck, Nashville: The Upper Room, 1983.) has been my frequent companion, spiritual guide and source of strength. The morning of the church meeting I skipped my prayer time. The boys were little, life was demanding and I just skipped praying (it happens!) In our family room at 2:00 am I turned to the words I missed in the morning, the words I was told to go downstairs to read. The Psalm was about God not abandoning us in a pit. And one of the readings for reflection was from St. Teresa of Avila (Way of Perfection). Part of it read,

Sometimes, too, God allows his servants to have stormy days…although they are distressed and seek to calm themselves, they are unable to do so…Let them not tire themselves seeking to infuse sense into an understanding which is, at the moment incapable of it. But let them pray as well as they can and even not pray at all, but consider the soul to be sick and give it some rest, busying themselves in some other act of virtue.

Wow! I read the words again and again. They sure seemed to be written just for me, just for right then.

I spent the rest of that sleepless night writing a letter to one of our youth group kids who was going through a rough time and making some bad choices in the process and then baking bread so there was a fresh loaf for my family to wake up to and another to share.

By mid-morning I was wondering if I was maybe a little crazy for thinking God had time or inclination to call me downstairs in the night.  But then I took the loaf of bread to Helen Clark for no real reason other than she was the first person who came to mind when I thought about what to do with it.

I bowed my head on my way home from her house. I don’t know how, I don’t understand God’s mysterious ways, but it sure seemed to me, I’d just been used.

I’d just been used by God to carry comfort in the form of freshly baked bread to a woman who needed comforting, and in the process God lifted me from my own little pit of church drama and self-doubt to comfort me, too.

I don’t usually hear instructions in the night. But if God spoke to Joseph and Samuel and others of his servants in dreams and in that still small voice long ago, based on that one night when my children were young and I was, too, I have to believe, as our United Church of Christ brothers and sisters affirm, God is still speaking today. It’s up to us to be sure we listen.

In Bondage

I’m in bondage this morning to two overflowing hampers of dirty laundry.  A shortage of clean undergarments has become a near-crisis. Guests over the weekend disrupted the laundry-doing cycle and contributed three extra sets of sheets and towels to the normal weekly wash. The washing machine will be busy most of this morning. The nice thing about doing laundry is I can do my sermon-writing around it. Breaks to fold and to spray-and-wash stains gives my eyes a break from the computer screen and my brain a break to re-group and think through transitions.

Later today I’m meeting a church member to wash and sort toys in the church nursery. We’re moving the nursery from a great-big room at the end of a long hallway to a smaller, more infant and toddler friendly sized room closer to where most of the Sunday morning action is. Last week when we met we culled the collection of toys and pulled out at least five large garbage bags full of things to donate and another two or three to throw in the trash.

These are the days when I lament. We’re drowning in So.Much.Stuff. The Pixar movie Wall-e haunts me. Poor little Wall-e the trash compactor robot left to roam the earth after humans have fled to cruise-ship like spaceships, trying to compact all the trash piled all over it—I feel his pain especially on days like today.

I know why the church nursery has so many, many toys. People donate their children’s and grand-children’s gently-used toys and over time they just accumulate.

I know why I have all these sets of sheets and towels and extra beds. Mike and I have six adult children between us. We want them to feel free to come home to visit and to bring friends with them when they are able. I have all this laundry to do because we aim to be hospitable–but still, the mounds on my laundry room floor and the bags of toys for the Salvation Army store and the garbage bin remind me of a story from years ago.

I was twenty-six years old and just setting up house in Zaire. The two of us (my ex-husband and I) had been assigned a four bedroom home built by and for Disciple missionary families in the forties or fifties. The house had a lot of windows and I can sew, so an afternoon visit to the merchants in Mbandaka ten miles away provided me with ten dress-lengths of fabric from which to make curtains. The next morning the fabric was piled on a chair in our living room when Bontongu, one of our students at the Pastor’s Training Institute, came to help us out around the house. His eyes widened when he saw the stack of fabric. I told him I was going to make curtains from it and he nodded, still wide-eyed. He said, “My wife has one dress length of fabric from which she made her dress. It is the only one she has since she was full-grown.”

Later that same week Bontongu saw a couple broken drinking glasses in our kitchen trash. He asked if he could have them. “They’re broken.” I said. He nodded. “They’re sharp. You’ll be cut on them.” I said. He said, “I will use a stone to rub the sharp edges until they are smooth and we will be the only family in the school with our own drinking glasses.”

When I get to feeling that I’m in bondage to too much stuff I think of Bontongu who had next to nothing in material possessions and I remind myself that mine is a bondage of my own choosing. Nobody has ever forced me to buy anything. If I want to do something about having too much stuff, the good news is, I can.


I witnessed something breathtakingly beautiful yesterday.

It was ten minutes before worship. I was in the sanctuary greeting people and making sure everything was in place. I’m going to say the man’s name is Stan. I’m guessing he’s in his late seventies. In his prime he was a stellar athlete, an outstanding baseball player. Now it takes him twenty minutes just to walk from the sidewalk outside our building into the sanctuary and find his seat in the pew. When Stan walks, the man who used to soar around the bases is curled into the shape of the letter “C.” Lingering back injuries and Parkinson’s disease have ravaged his body. As Stan and I were chatting, little children were running around in the aisles.

I’ll say her name is Kaya. She’s just turned two years old and is as cute as any two year old child to whom God has ever given the gift of life. I mean, she’s make-your-innards-ache cute. Yesterday her red gingham dress was simply icing on the cuteness-cake. From the opposite end of our very long pews she spied me and squealed my name, “Dr. Becky!” Making a bee-line for me I reached my hand in front of Stan to receive Kaya’s spirited high-five. What joy!

Not one to stay in one place very long, Kaya turned and headed back to the other end of the pew. I said, “Kaya, wait.” She stopped and looked at me quizzically. “How about giving Mr. Stan a high-five, too?” She nodded her perfect little head, grinned her perfect little smile and came back. Looking directly up into Stan’s face, Kaya gave him “five” but it was a different gift than that which she bestowed on me. She was more gentle in her approach and then, just as she was about to pull her hand away quickly the way one does when “giving-five,” Kaya paused and simply rested her perfect little hand on top of Stan’s age-ravaged hand and looked him, kindly, in the eye before turning and running to the other end of the pew.

Did I mention, Kaya’s just turned two? It’s only been a month or two since she clung tightly to her mama or tata and peeked shyly from behind their legs.

A crippled-up, proud and kind old man, received his benediction, his blessing on his day, as a free gift from an impossibly beautiful cherub, just before formal worship began.

And God was in that place. And God was in that moment. And tears were in our eyes. And a little child led us.

I love the church.

I Haven’t been bored

Daniel, my middle son, was about eighteen months old when I walked into our kitchen and found him perched on top of the refrigerator. When he was six, I walked into the dining room and found him just hanging out at the top of the open door frame. He’d shimmied up with his bare feet and was perched there like some blonde-headed birdie. When he was fifteen, I opened the door from the kitchen into our garage to take out the recycling and was surprised to find the garage door up and one of Dan’s friends standing facing me in the driveway with his video camera aimed slightly up.

I dropped the recycling in the bin and nonchalantly sauntered toward Dan’s buddy. We nodded at each other and slowly I turned to see what he was filming. Perched on the edge of the garage roof was Daniel in his bright yellow bike helmet wearing knee pads on his bare legs, poised…with his pogo stick ready to jump.

“Hi Mom.”

“Whatcha doin’, Daniel?”

“This is going to be epic! It will make a really great video for YouTube.”

“Wrong. Dan. It’s not happening.”

“But, Mom!”

“Nope. You’re going to take your pogo stick and drop it onto the front lawn over there and climb down the ladder and put the ladder away.”

“Come on, Mom. I’ve got my helmet.”

“No Dan. You have my permission to jump off anything you want on your pogo stick when you’re a full grown man, paying your own medical insurance and your own homeowner’s insurance, but right now everything’s on my ticket and I get to say, ‘no way’.”

I’m waiting up for full-grown adult Daniel tonight. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA but has work to do in the Midwest this week. Frozen, ready to bake cookies (a softball team fundraiser for one of the church youth group kids) are in the oven. The guest beds are made. Sandwiches are ready to be thrown together if he and his crew of two traveling with him are hungry when they arrive. The crew are professional stunt pogo-stickers and Daniel is in management for the X-Pogo Corporation. It’s crazy, right? Little did I know when I made Dan get down from my garage roof that day that a little over a decade later he would be earning his living off of kids doing tricks on pogo sticks.

I briefly was engaged to be married when I was still in college. I was way too young to be getting married, and he was not the right man and it didn’t take too long for me to come to my senses (that time) but, I remember telling my Dad, “Dad I can already see exactly what my life is going to be like when I marry him. He’ll finish school, I’ll finish school. He’ll work. We’ll have kids. It’s going to be boring.” Daddy said simply, “Oh, believe me Becky, once you have kids your life will never be boring.”

My dad was right. One of the very best parts of my life is being a mom. I loved the craziness of having three little boys three and under. I was glad my years as a soccer mom were short, children’s musical theater mom years were splendid, Children’s Opera Chorus mom years were sublime, punk-rock mama years coincided with my becoming a single mom. Those years were tough but tolerable with good ear plugs. I wasn’t much use as a Marching Band mom, but the boys did fine. I managed not to be too much of a helicopter mom as the boys tested their wings. And now, they’re scattered, New York City, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh. Mike’s kids, too, are grown and mostly gone and on their own.

I probably should have let Dan jump off the roof that day. He’s landed on his feet everywhere life’s taken him so far. For tonight, though, I have absolutely no regrets. I’m simply glad life’s bringing him home to hang around for a few days. Being Dan’s mom has not once been boring and for that and for him I will always be thankful.


The East High School gym was filled with Samsonite card tables from various eras dug out of basements and garages and covered with white paper, and high school seniors and their parents drinking orange juice from Dixie Cups and pale lukewarm coffee in Styrofoam and eating sweet rolls. At 7:30 in the morning, the din of the senior awards breakfast was deafening. My middle son Daniel was among the honorees. The two of us shared a rickety table with Dan’s classmate Michael and his dad, Jack. People, movement, sound, light, energy was all around me.

I was inside my own bubble looking out. When Jack asked, “So, how are you, Becky? Things good at the church?” it took me a moment to process the thought that I should respond. What I said was, “My mother died last night.” My words fell like a cinder block. The four of us were startled by them. It wasn’t clear our little table could support their sudden weight.

How odd it was to me that the world was going on so normally, and that I and Daniel and the rest of our family would be going about such normal-life things. I’d never before lived a day without my mother being alive. I’d lived most of my adult life hundreds of miles away from Mom, and we weren’t the kind of mother and daughter who talked to each other on the phone all the time. But always, always, my whole life she’d been there. And now, not suddenly, because her death had been a long time coming, and not surprisingly, because we had been keeping vigil and caring for her as she labored into eternal life for weeks by that time, now she was simply, gone. It was an odd, disorienting feeling.

The memory of that morning, of my feelings nine years ago returned earlier this week and linger here. Out on the deck this ridiculously pleasant Saturday morning in mid-August in Nebraska, it is so beautiful I thought, “Even my Colorado cousins can’t beat this perfection.” But, just under the surface of that thought I am disoriented. Despite all the immediate surrounding evidence to the contrary, all is not well. The perfect breeze, the ideal temperature, the green, green trees and blue, blue sky belie the heavy truth.  Our nation is in trouble. Our churches are in trouble. Our neighbors are in trouble.

Vulnerable people all around the world have been in trouble always, but, this week, every week this past year, more and more of those whom I know and love who had been less vulnerable than the most vulnerable are feeling more and more threatened, more and more afraid. Immigrant friends, brown friends, gay friends, Muslim friends, and now Jewish friends—can it really be that in 2017 in the U.S.A. on Saturday morning a week ago a congregation at worship was menaced by Neo-Nazis wielding automatic weapons?

Out of the blue the other night a friend from far away texted me, “Are you concerned for your safety?” His reason for asking was different than my reason for replying a hesitant, simple, “Yes.”

I almost flunked the Rorschach ink-blot test when I took the battery of psychological tests required by the church before sending missionaries overseas back in my twenties. There was some image in which almost any sentient human being sees a gun, but Pollyanna me, I saw something completely innocuous instead. A night in my forties spent curled up in the fetal position bracing for the possibility I could be shot cured me of any lingering naiveté about how vulnerable all of us truly are to each other. One hurting, unglued human can wreak havoc.

I know that now. And now we see the evidence there are myriads of hurting humans among us and some of them are coming unglued.  It hasn’t happened suddenly and it shouldn’t be a surprise.

We have to process this thought; it’s time for each of us to respond. It’s time to speak up for those who are threatened, even if that means we may be threatened, too. It’s time to pray and to bravely unleash the power of love. Maybe there’s still time to make whole that which and those who are coming unglued around us.

On Being Sad Together

It was the red hair we shared that started up the conversation. (Mine was thanks to a great stylist, hers her own natural color). We were sitting opposite each other in the gynecological oncologist’s waiting room. Her parents sat in the seats next to her. There was anguish on both of their faces.

She and I talked about our hair, how mine had been red when my parents adopted me when I was three months old, but later it turned blonde, then blah, then when I was dating Mike he said something about me having the right coloring to be a red-head and I told him about when I was a baby and long story short, I’d been having my hair colored that way for about three years and something I never knew before but knew then was there’s a kind of red-head sorority out there. Red heads catch each other’s eye, nod sometimes. It’s a thing. She laughed and told me it sure is a thing. Her hair was red from day-one. In fact, did I want to see a picture? She just had her hair cut that morning.

In the picture her thick, silky straight red hair extended down past her waist. “I had it cut so I could be in control of it a little more.” “Starting chemo?” I asked. She nodded. Tears slipped silently down her mother’s sweetly wrinkled face. Her stoic father looked at his shoes.

She showed me pictures of her two sons. Her elder son was the age of my middle one. He was a marine and a new daddy. Her grandson was a fine specimen of a baby. I said, “You’re too young to be a grandma.” She told me she was fifty-one. (I was fifty-three). “Do you have grandchildren?” she asked. “No, not yet.” She said she was glad to have her grand baby this early. Her ovarian cancer will never go away. She had surgery but it was some horrid, virulent strain that always comes back, in some new organ, in some new unpredictable place. Surgery can remove it, chemo can slow it down, but it will always come back. For the rest of her life, however long she has to live–she will be fighting cancer, or waiting to fight cancer, wondering where it lies lurking within her. Her dad studied the palms of his hands, her mother daubed a hanky across her cheeks. She said, “I’m glad I get to know my grandson now.”

She asked me, “Are you okay? I mean, nobody is sitting here in this waiting room because everything’s wonderful.” I told her I was okay. I had uterine cancer, but they caught it very early and I didn’t have to have chemo or radiation, only surgery. “So you’re here for a check-up?” She asked. Not exactly, I told her. “I have some bleeding. I’m not healing up right. It’s just scar-tissue so it’s not scary. It’s just a pain. If it doesn’t heal they might want to re-do part of my surgery.” And I told her, because one can say things in the waiting room of the gynecological oncologist’s office that one wouldn’t ordinarily tell a brand new acquaintance, (and because her Dad had excused himself to go find a restroom), “really, the worst part of this whole thing for me now is that Mike and I are still kind-of newly-weds. We were both alone a long time before we met each other and, well, this just stinks. Sitting here, hearing your story, knowing what you’re up against I feel guilty even being sad, but I am sad. Every time I come for an appointment Dr. Nadkarni tells me Mike and I better wait another twelve weeks and then another twelve weeks before being intimate. What a dream-wife I’ve turned out to be.”

Quickly I said, “Truly, I’m sorry. My situation is nothing compared to yours.”

And this was her gift to me. She told me there’s no reason to compare. She told me, “You get to be sad. I get to be sad. Both of us have perfectly good reasons to be sad.”

Isn’t that a trap we sometimes fall into? Not wanting to lapse into self-pity, we err as well by not allowing ourselves the grace to grieve something difficult. My difficult situation doesn’t have to be as difficult as someone else’s difficult situation for it to qualify as legitimate cause for heartache.

“We both get to be sad,” my sister in the red-haired gynecological oncology sorority said. And her quietly weeping mother nodded her head.

Dr. Leo Perdue

I read today of the death at 70 of my first professor of the Bible.

Dr. Leo Perdue is to blame for me throwing and then stomping all over one of my expensive text books in my dorm room one night midway through my freshman year. “Agggh! This stuff is going to make me lose my faith!” I was legitimately afraid. Who would I be if the stuff he assigned us to read wiped away my faith?

I chose church youth group over ballet when I was fifteen. I refrained from doing (some) things in the back seat of cars with boys because I was the good Christian girl, president of the statewide youth group for my denomination. I was an upholder of good Christian morals. I hadn’t gone to college to lose my faith. I’d gone to deepen my faith and prepare to be a minister. If I lost my faith, who was I and what was I going to do with my life?

Myth in the Bible? No! It was all true, every last word. Different authors within the book of Genesis? How could that be? Various types of Biblical Criticism? Why would one criticize the Bible? Questions about Jesus’ virgin birth? If that’s questionable, what isn’t? If you pull out enough of the Jenga blocks it all falls down. Doesn’t it?

In the midst of my pique of frustration and fear, in my mind’s eye I saw Dr. Perdue. I remember distinctly thinking, he is a good, kind man. He obviously loves God and he loves us. If this stuff hasn’t ruined his faith, maybe I need to stick with it, too.

For your humor, kindness, intellect, faith, curiosity, encouragement and a beguiling touch of absent-mindedness (your burgundy v-neck sweater was inside out the day you arrived at class late because one of your babies had just been born), Dr. Leo Perdue, thank you.

You showed me how, after it first falls down, to build a faith that can be renewed.  For you, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Antidote to Despair

Go for a drive.

Go for a drive in a car donated by a couple in the church.

Go for a drive in a car donated by a couple in the church to a young man with ebony skin.

Go for a drive in a car donated by a couple in the church to a young man with ebony skin who six months ago had never even been on a bike, let alone in a car.

Go for a drive in a car donated by a couple in the church to a young man with ebony skin who six months ago had never even been on a bike, let alone in a car, who walked and was carried as a toddler by his brothers across two countries after their parents were murdered and their livestock stolen.

Go for a drive in a car donated by a couple in the church to a young man with ebony skin who six months ago had never even been on a bike, let alone in a car, who walked and was carried as a toddler by his brothers across two countries after their parents were murdered and their livestock stolen, who grew up in a camp.

Go for a drive in a car donated by a couple in the church to a young man with ebony skin who six months ago had never even been on a bike, let alone in a car, who walked and was carried as a toddler by his brothers across two countries after their parents were murdered and their livestock stolen, who grew up in a camp where he studied early childhood development and became a teacher to toddlers.

Go for a drive in a car donated by a couple in the church to a young man with ebony skin who six months ago had never even been on a bike, let alone in a car, who walked and was carried as a toddler by his brothers across two countries after their parents were murdered and their livestock stolen, who grew up in a camp where he studied early childhood development and became a teacher to toddlers and fasten your seat belt as he puts his learner’s permit to use.

Sit at the red light while a semi loaded with industrial light poles turns in front of his watching and wondering eyes.

What was that on the back of the truck?

Swallow your nervousness as he navigates the left lane past the Dental College being built.

Dental College?

(Doctors for teeth)

Doctors for teeth? Doctors only for teeth? Crazy!

(Slow down a little, what is the speed limit here?)

Take a breather in the parking lot–pull out a notebook, draw a diagram of the confusing intersection where yielding and merging were met by a car turning into our lane instead of his. Do you see what just happened?

I see. There are many things to see all at once.

See all at once, his brilliant smile, his resilient spirit and glimpses of his many gifts our nation in welcoming him has received.

Go for a drive with a refugee

you’ll feel better.

Not a story, but a prayer

Tomorrow’s pastoral prayer:

Oh God,

It’s beautiful here.

Here in this place, filled with light and your grace-

filled with our friends, filled with love and hope and peace.

It’s beautiful here.

Here in this place, calm our minds that race…

that race…



Racism, and an arms race, on our minds

but at arm’s length–

We want to keep these things away, away from beautiful here.

But here, in the middle of your house is your table

where each of us dines by and in your grace.

Where Paul the apostle reminds us to see, to know the body broken for us,

in us, around us, beyond us.

When one member of the body hurts, anywhere, here or there or further still…

All of us hurt.

When one is denied justice

All are denied justice.

Around this table in this beautiful place, we are one with each other

and all of your children across space and race and time.

God forgive every kernel of hate,

every inkling of superiority,

every smidgen of preemptive settling of a score–

the seed of every single human war.

In us, and in those who lead, break through hard heads and hard hearts

and let the humility of Christ’s arms opened wide in non-violence

and Bravest Love

guide, them and us, through these tumultuous times

to sweet and holy peace where racism, and war–among all evils–cease.

Comfort those who mourn. Comfort we who mourn, May we comfort those who mourn

and may we speak love where there is hate

and wisdom when there is folly

and prophetic truth when there are lies

In the name of Jesus Christ who taught us to pray…