Falling

falling

Here we are about halfway through Lent, and it feels like I have skipped right over to Good Friday and the darkness of the tomb. This has been a really, really tough few weeks. I won’t pretend to know how much of that I caused, how much God caused, how much was coincidence, and how much was a result of the changes I chose to make for Lent this year. There were a few doozies. And by far the most difficult Lenten discipline has been doing one thing. Just one thing. The idea came to me a week or so before Ash Wednesday, when I was thinking about what I needed to give up for Lent, what would really challenge me and help me make space in my life for God to fill. At the moment I had this thought, I was on the couch, “watching” The Daily Show, while I played Candy Crush, in between texts with my best friend, checking Facebook and email every time my phone buzzed with a notification alert. Continue reading “Falling”

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Two Freds (and me)

Fred_Phelps_on_his_pulpit

mister-rogers

They both showed up several times in my newsfeed today. Both Caucasian American men and both pastors named Fred, but otherwise they seemed complete opposites. Today was the birthday of Fred McFeely Rogers, a Presbyterian minister who passed away in 2003. His real congregation was the millions of children (including the one I was thirty years or so ago) who knew him through public television simply as their neighbor Mister Rogers. And today saw the death, after a long decline, of Fred Phelps, the pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, famous for picketing funerals and other events with signs proclaiming God’s hatred for some people. The juxtaposition was jarring. I thought about the two Freds all day, and couldn’t help wondering if they will meet in the afterlife. What would they say to one another? What does each of them know now about God that he got wrong while here on earth? (None of us gets it completely right, I’m sure, not even Mister Rogers.) Continue reading “Two Freds (and me)”

Spoken in a Touch

ashcross

A touch can speak beyond words. Many times in the hospital, a patient or family member will grab my hand and hold on so tightly that I know it isn’t really me they’re holding on to in that moment. A spinal cord injury patient who was paralyzed from the neck down always insisted that I hold his hand while I prayed with him, and I wondered why, when he couldn’t even feel it. During some visits, when there is nothing to be said, I will place my hand on someone’s shoulder, or rub calming circles on his back as he is bent with weeping. Sometimes this is still scary to me, and my touch is tentative, uncertain of the recipient’s response. A few times I have felt the person stiffen, or shrug away my hand, and I immediately retract it. But most of the time, the touch is welcomed for what it is — a means of connection. Continue reading “Spoken in a Touch”