What if?

Last night I put my daughter to bed after a long negotiation. How many books would we read? Would the dog sleep near her head or at her feet? Nightlight on or off? Finally, tucked in, she fell asleep.

I am completely unbiased. She is a beautiful child. She really is! She is also even more beautiful when she is asleep. She looks like a little angel. Once again, I am totally unbiased.

I relish that time when she has just fallen asleep. At that moment, the worries of the day fade and I am reminded of every sweet thing she does. The world seems peaceful.

Of course, the world is not peaceful. News is filled with nastiness. You and I will be disappointed again and again by those we thought of as heroes. Is there anything good left in this world?

Yes, there is good left in this world. In fact, there is a lot of good to go around. Good in unexpected places, from unexpected and complicated people. Perhaps what is good in this world is you and me.

What if we saw ourselves as what was good in this world? We are the ambassadors of good, what would we share about our culture of good? How would others know that they too belong to the kind of kindness? How do we tell them?

Being good, participating in kindness is not a denial of evil or the pain of the world. It is the healing of the world. That is what we do, who we are, and what shall be.

Just keep writing

I finished a short story for a Christmas time anthology from Cozy Cat Press. I sent it on its way. I am so excited and energized. That delights me.

I guess that I forgot for a while that I enjoyed writing. Seems strange as I write this on a blog, but I did sort of stop writing for a while (pre-blog). Funny how you can forget about what gives you joy when you stop doing it. It is also funny that when you start again it can be awkward and strange.

So, I will keep writing. I will keep writing here, on Route 66. I will keep writing a mystery novel and some romance (of course, that will take more imagination). I will keep writing in my journal. I will just keep writing.

Rule of Life

I returned a little over a week ago from a Credo Conference. This was a week-long conference covering Spiritual, Vocational, Financial and Physical health. It is a ministry of the Church Pension Group in the Episcopal Church.

While I was there, we learned about each area of health. It culminated in creating our personal Rule of Life. Perhaps through practicing a “rule of life” one might gain resilience and spark joy in all areas of one’s life. So, I set out to write my rule of life.

I began writing and soon the problem became clear. I was making an excellent list of ideas. Ideas and notions about things I would never enact in my life. Of course I should wake up earlier and exercise. Uh huh, maybe I could also take up looming in my living room, but in reality, this list was just a list.

I had to step away. I took a walk and looked around. I chatted with others at the conference, and it came. The heart of my rule of life is this: “It is okay to be a platypus.” Yep, that is what I wrote.

I hope it makes you laugh. I know it makes me laugh, and it should. A rule of life isn’t a list of rules. Instead it is more like an expression of what you have already known as the truth. The truth is it is okay to be a platypus.

It is okay to not fit perfectly into one category or another. It is okay to be funny and cheerful. It is okay to play and share that with others.

So, there it is. My rule of life wrapped up in a platypus. What’s your rule?

Book Reading

Wednesday, June 21st at 6:30 PM, I will read portions of my novel “Volunteer to Die, A Denise Reed Mystery” and answer questions at Latter Library in New Orleans, Louisiana. If you would like to purchase of copy of the book, you can get it on Amazon! I hope I see you there!

Images of Jesus

jesus images

On Wednesday, last week, we put up an art installation at All Saints. These are images of Jesus from around the world and from our own community. Can we find the image of Jesus in others? Can we find his image in us? Can we find his image even if the image is unfamiliar to us? I hope so.

Meaningful prayers

I wrote this last year after the tragedy in Orlando. I was unsure where I would go with my writing, so I have held on to this piece. After the latest violence and terrorism in Manchester and London, I pulled out the piece. I think all these instances of violence are related. Since lately terrorism occurs almost every 10 days I thought I would share it.

“It has been over a week since the terrible tragedy in Orlando. A gunman murdered over 49 people and maimed at least another 50. Once again, we have the back and forth in the media and on Facebook. Some shout about gun control. Others offer limp prayers. Still others argue about the type of hate that motivated this particular attack.

On Sunday morning I wondered, along with a few others, what would be the appropriate response to this tragedy? Perhaps another prayer vigil? An angry worded letter to Congress? Frankly, the options of responses feel a little overdone and under-helpful.

As usual, per the script, people demand answers, shed a few tears and then return to Keeping Up with the Kardashians. We can only last so long in the heat of emotion. We can only pay attention so long until…oh look, alpacas! I think that we ask the wrong questions and I don’t think we want to hear the answers.

Why did this happen? Why did this man decided to shoot up a club filled with people having fun on a Saturday night? I think we sort of know the answer to this. This man was mentally unstable, felt hate for gay people and the LGBTQ community, and decided to express that hate as violently as possible using a powerful weapon, a gun.

Why does he feel so angry and hateful? Now, there is the question. We can speculate where that hate began. We can point back to moments of rage and instability in this person at earlier times, but we don’t know why exactly.

What can we do to stop this kind of violence again? Ugh, I am not sure that we can or that we would be willing to do what it takes to stop violence. We could take away guns, knives, and other items. We could medicate people as soon as they have a diagnosis of mental illness. We can prohibit any speech that is violent or offensive. Those steps might slow the actions, but will it get to the heart of hate?

I am not sure that you can combat hate. I think that hate has to be dismantled like an old Cadillac, one piece at a time. We have to commit to living lives of love, reaching out to the excluded, listening, confronting and dealing with emotions-even the ugly ones. Piece by piece, we speak the truth in love to one another. Piece by piece, we help each other work through anger and misunderstanding and not sweep it away. Piece by piece, we show new ways to deal with problems that do not use violence.”


Unconditional Love

There is a cute little song that we used to sing at summer camp. The words are: “Give me your unconditional love. The kind of love I deserve. The kind I want share. Uh-oh, uh-oh, oh-oh!” When you sing it, you clap. Next thing you know, you are dancing. Super peppy!

Thinking about this song, I wonder how often we give unconditional love. I wonder how often we receive unconditional love. The truth is we love what is likable.

We love sweet, cuddly puppies. We love smiling babies. We love those people and things that exude pleasantness. It is easy to love a fun personality and good character. What about those things or people who are not easy to love?

Can we love the unlikable? What about loving those who have lousy personalities and terrible character? What if that individual is even hostile and unwilling to love others or themselves? Is love conditioned on whether or not someone can reciprocate?

If I am totally honest, I struggle with loving unconditionally. For that I repent because love is not to be earned with good behavior or won because we are worthy or deserving. Love loves. Love is not based on my opinion or my measuring stick.

I am sure there is someone out there who finds my personality repellent and awful. They might detest my character. There are certainly times in my life I feel totally unlovable and yet I am loved. I am loved not because I do something cute or lovable. I am loved. Thank God, love is not based on condition.

You are loved. I am loved. The unlikable are loved. We are loved not because we are good but because God is good. Whatever the condition, we are loved.