FLAG OF OUR NATION

My late husband, the Rev. Richard E, Lake, wrote this poem twelve years ago. The nation was not seeing what he was seeing.
FLAG OF OUR NATION

Flags of our nation begin to sag,
Pride has diminished with the breeze;
Claims of our past now whimper and fade,
As news makes our chest simply squeeze.

To salute and pray as the banner sails by
Is empty and painful and sad
Remembering old claims we held as truth
Now makes our future look bad.

Hoping for truth yet discovering none,
We turn on others in anger,
Even allowing our ourselves to fool ourselves
and become part of the danger.

We seek a new way, a human way
To strive for peace with dignity,
And give to our kids a saner tomorrow
One with hope based on civility.

Richard E. Lake

Saturday, September 29, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007

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SMILE

I wrote about homeless and refugees a few months ago. Their plight reminds me daily how fortunate I am to have a roof over my head, food on the table, and family who care for me.

Verses from the Gospel of Matthew (25:35+) continue to haunt me: “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and care for you?’ He will answer: “When you did it for the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it for me.”

We must not leave it to our government to care for the individuals in our country, or those in other countries with which we should share. As the gospel indicates, it is up to each of us to care for those we meet, see, friend or stranger. For a stranger perhaps the person needs nothing more than a smile and a kind hello—just recognition that he or she is an individual, a presence, and not an anonymous  unseen ghost.

Each one of us can do something to make another’s life a tiny bit more pleasant for the day. It never hurts to smile. The exercise relaxes your face! These daffodils smile and put a smile on my face too.1-IMG_3152b

Life and Gravestones

 

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Laurie Buchanan’s post this week (http://tuesdayswithlaurie.com/2018/11/27/in-between/ ) prompted me with some thoughts that often float through my mind.

 My daughter and I have visited many old cemeteries searching for markers of ancestors. The dates on the stones may be in the 1800s, 1700s, or 1600s.

It is somewhat daunting to remember that every single person in the cemetery had a life of joys and sorrows—joys and sorrows like the ones we have faced, or are still part of our lives.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own events, we forget all those people whose names are on those stones lived a life like us. They had children and grandchildren, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers. They had people who brought them sadness and laughter. Some were comics, others too serious, some were optimistic, others pessimistic. Some traveled to many places in the world, and some lived their lives in one small town or village.

Whatever or wherever they went in life they knew the same sorrows and joys, tears and laughter that we have in our lives. Hopefully, when someone studies our gravestone a hundred years from now, that person will remember that we laughed and cried today.

The answer to Laurie’s question this week:  Life has gifted me with people and places and opportunities I would not have dreamed possible. I have had sadness, but it hasn’t overwhelmed the joys which God has given me in my family and the people He brought into my life.

 

TIMELY GENEROUSITY

What does it mean to be generous?

I was recently given a flyer about creating a congregational culture of generosity. As far as I could determine it was primarily about money, engaging the members and caring for the members to grow a larger sense of stewardship and the church budget. I’m nostock-photo-luxury-watch-isolated-on-a-white-background-103887638t against this, but I think there is more to being a generous person.

The Biblical basis of the program and of our lives is that all comes from God, so in thanks we give back those things we’ve been given.

What is the one thing we all have the most of? TIME

What is generosity of time?

Standing in a checkout lane with a basket full of items and a person behind you holds one or two things in their hand and you quickly step aside to let them go first? A gift of a few minutes.

The driver who stops to let you move into traffic from a side street is generously giving you a moment of their time.

The store clerk who must call assistance and wait for help? What’s happening to her blood pressure? Letting the clerk know you are sorry for her wait, but do not blame her is being generous. Offer a quiet comment? “It’s been a long day?” Or “It’s busy here today.” Or “Are you nearly finished work?”

One day I was shopping when a woman holding an address book said, “a gift for a teacher?” I responded “I rather have an ornament or something to eat.” We chatted for a few minutes. She was stressed out and needed to talk. She thanked me for listening. Those few minutes enriched my day.

Then there is the opposite of giving time and one of my favorite peeves.

It is a driver dashing back and forth across lanes to be first at the next stop light. If they are not going at least fifty miles, speeding will get that person to their destination only seconds earlier than if they’d stayed within the speed limit and in a single lane. I always want to ask, “What are you going to do with those nine seconds?” It’s not even time enough to take a deep breath.

The next time you are in a hurry, think about what you will do with any time you save or perhaps if you slow down something or someone will touch your life in a way you would have missed by hurrying.

What are other small ways to be generous with your time?

DAYS ARE CHANGING

Is it the coming end of summer marked by the opening of school? Is it the ripening of the decorative grasses putting up their seed heads, notifying me they are finished growing?

The porch boxes are overflowing with plants, including one with fresh lettuce waiting to be pulled. After months of slow growth, my caladiums are in full leaf, but they won’t survive a frost.IMG_20160822_115930

My kitchen counter was covered with ripe tomatoes that I waited all summer for those plants to produce. Now they have been reduced to juice for the winter.

Everything seems to have come to fruition. Why do I sit here feeling apathetic?

Evenings are shorter, morning comes later.

Perhaps it is simply I’m not ready to transition to autumn and winter.

How do you feel with a change in seasons?

WHO IS VERSA WHO ISN’T

What is there about us as people? Why we must push one person down to make ourselves seem better?

We have fought wars and continue these fights some with guns and some with words.

Who has the moral authority: Republican or Democrat?

What is the right color: black or white?

Who can be a better preacher: man or woman?

Who should marry: straights or gay/lesbians?

Which is right faith: Sunni or Shi’ite ? Jew or Gentile? Protestant or Catholic? Buddhist or Hindu? Religious or Atheist?

We divide ourselves up in our side and their side, like we did when I was in a one-room school. The self-appointed captains chose their favorites first and reluctantly took the rest of us on their teams.

This past week I spent two days with a group of Reformed Church women. The first woman in the Reformed Church in America (RCA) was ordained in 1973. It took the RCA another six years to work through the church judicial business committee before women could legally become ministers. There are still places—mostly in the Midwest—which do not allow women to hold office in their churches.

Last night I watched the news of the Supreme Court. I heard declarations that gays/lesbians shouldn’t marry because a child needs a father and a mother. Wouldn’t it be better for a child to have a home where two people of the same sex love them, than in a home where a man and woman treat each other badly? Consider the child who moves back and forth daily from their dad’s and stepmother’s home to mom’s and her new boyfriend’s home? Of these three homes, which gives the child the loving stability needed to grow? Which would you choose?

Every time we categorize a person or idea as bad, we seem to elevate ourselves. Not true! It only shows our true narrow-mindedness.

THAT CERTAIN SCRATCHY FEELING: LARYNGITIS

I woke at three in the morning with a scratchy feeling in the bottom of my throat. Oh, oh. I know that feeling. It means laryngitis. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been afflicted with it, but I can’t forget the tickle in that certain spot in my throat.

Several years ago, I could almost count on having no voice around early December and then again in the spring, near Easter. These I managed to bring on myself because I would push my voice to teach, sing or to direct a choir. Many times I could not sing “Gloria” or “Alleluia” when the holy days arrived.

One year, I went to the doctor complaining I couldn’t seem to get over my voice problems.
Dr. B. said, “Go home and stay there for a week. Rest!”
“But I have a job. I have to go to work!”
“Suit yourself.” Dr. B. was clearly annoyed with me. “You’re not going to get better unless you take care of yourself.”
It was not easy for me, but I did stay home an entire week. I slept, read, and did very, very little. Dr. B. was right. I got better.

Hopefully, I’m being a little smarter today. I stayed home from a group meeting. I will not go to choir rehearsal this week or plan to sing on Sunday. Perhaps with rest, my voice will recover.

Why do we often feel our presence is so important that we put our health and that of others in jeopardy?