one day I hope grace and love and mercy will prevail

grace can come in so many ways
on days such as these
much like love

in the reaching of a hand
as the words “I forgive” pour forth
freely and quickly

in the vehemence of a child
who doesn’t understand why killing
would ever be okay
and says that the folks in that big city
must be out of their minds
except for the ones who run that doll store
“because it really is lovely though”

in a cup of coffee and a muffin
gifted over the miles
to lift a spirit and share light
in the darkness

in the signs held by hands
that are weary
from the weight of worry
but still join together
in prayerful petitions and praises

in the messages sent by family
and friends
with encouragement
and permission to shed tears
and be angry
and then to move on…..
as on is the only place left to go
and make all of this mean
something

love and grace can be found
in all of these small moments
and so many more
and when I look back on this day,
I hope that I remember those
the most

that love and grace
joined together
and erased the lines between people
and we all held hands and
hoped that love would win
and grace would triumph
and mercy would be granted

love to all

IMG_9760

The Case for Grace

I was aware of the situation.  I knew.  I hadn’t read everything about it, but I knew the date was coming soon, and I felt like wringing my hands–unsure of what I could do, of anything I could do to change things.

And so, with all that I had going on–from my day to dailies with all the extras added in–I let it go. I let it slide.

And.  I did.  Nothing.

Today as I was about to head out on yet another errand, I saw the notice that this was the day.  I sighed.  It was inevitable, I guess.  No one was listening, and so it would happen as planned.

And I went on my way, resigned to that fact.

Richard Glossip would be executed at 4 p.m. this afternoon in Oklahoma.

Despite the new evidence and appeals to the Governor for a 60 day stay of execution, it would go through as scheduled.

When I came out of our second errand of the day, I had a notice on my phone.  I sat in the parking lot in my vehicle, and I clicked on it.

And there it was:

Oklahoma Court Halts Execution Of Richard Glossip Amidst Claims He’s Innocent

I had hardly read the heading all the way through before tears were springing from my eyes, and I found myself sobbing.

“Oh, thank God!” I said, choked up.  I whispered the words, but my hesitation of cranking up our vehicle and moving along had the littles in the back curious as to what was going on.

The thing is, I hadn’t fully realized how much this was weighing on me today until it wasn’t.  The life of this man I never met mattered more to me than I knew.

And I think that’s kind of how it should be.  Life is precious.  Too many die each day from things we can’t control.  Cancer.  Heart disease.  Tragic accidents.  So many things.  I cannot wrap my heart and brain around the killing of someone when it can be controlled.  No matter which side of the law the person doing it is on.

As I attempted to explain to my two littles why my heart was happy and why suddenly I was dancing to nearly every song on the radio, they tried to make sense of it.  Cooter wanted to know if it was supposed to have been execution by beheading (yes, we’ve talked a bit about those days).  They wanted to know if Mr. Glossip had committed the crime he’d been accused of, and I explained that there were some serious doubts that had been presented.  It was then that our Princess asked me the question that took my breath away.

“Is he African-American?”

Oh no. What?

“No, he isn’t.”

“Oh.  Huh.  Well, huh.”  She paused.  I asked her why she had asked that. “Well, when I read that book about the woman who wouldn’t give up her seat on the bus…..mmmmm…..”

“Rosa Parks!” Cooter piped up from the backseat.

“Yes!  Rosa Parks!  Well, in that book she talked about how sometimes folks accused African-Americans of doing things they hadn’t done just because they didn’t like them.  I was thinking that might have happened this time if he had been dark-skinned like her.”

Y’all.  I don’t even know what to do with that.  My children are aware of social injustices at ages 8 and 10.  Which is a hard and good and sad thing all at the same time.

I want them to understand.  I know that is important for them to affect change and help this world heal and be better for all.

And yet, I wish we had more talks about the life cycle of the earthworm or how funny the idea of a swan with a trumpet is or about the nutritional merit of Cooter’s favorite cereal.  I want to talk about happy, random things more and the serious business of life and death and justice less.

But that is not to be.

Not if I want them to grow to be strong and wise advocates for goodness, justice, and mercy.

And I do want that.

Very badly.

Tonight I’m thankful for the people who didn’t look the other way in Richard Glossip’s case, the ones who have hung in there and fought for justice for this man.  I give thanks for the people of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals who gave him a stay of execution for two weeks.  I hope that is enough time for his attorneys to convince the powers that be to do the right thing.  And I hope that is enough time for me to figure out how to stand up and speak out more on this very subject.  Because it’s more than a case–it’s a life.

And I know very dearly how precious each breath each person on this earth takes is.  As long as someone is taking a breath, there is a chance, no matter how big or small, for redemption.

At least that’s what I have to believe.

Because I need that grace myself each and every day.

Love to all.

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All of our voices matter and can make a difference in protecting another life–one filled with grace and redemption.  Read more here on how you can help.  #kellyonmymind  and the story of her vigil here and here

Goliath’s Mama

pic of david and goliath

A couple of years ago my little guy, when he was about four, became very fascinated with this story.  David and Goliath–only he called them David and “Cletus.”  Ahem.  Anyway, he loved all tales of good vs. evil, and he still does.   Thus the current fascination with all things Star Wars.  The thing is that he loves the bad guys.  I was really worried about this until I was assured by more than one grown, law-abiding adult male that this is a normal thing.  Ahhh.  Huge sigh of relief.

So the story of David and Cletus.  I had to tell it many times until he had it memorized himself.  I thought maybe he had forgotten it until about three weeks ago.  He came up and with a serious expression on his precious little face, he asked, “Mama, who was Goliath’s Mama?”

Wow.

Once again, I had to answer that I didn’t know.  We talked about it again today, and he said he just wants to know who she was.  There is no reason why, “I just want to know.”

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot the past two days.

{Warning–no nap yesterday or today (and it wasn’t for lack of trying) so my filter is once again broken.  I’m just going to say what I think.   I respect your right to disagree, and I even appreciate hearing your thoughts on the subject.  But respect is the key factor here, okay?}

I follow Confessions of a Funeral Director on Facebook.  I know, an interesting choice.  And Caleb Wilde is interesting.  I first became acquainted with his writing when he wrote about “The Homeless Man and the Scone.”  Powerful.   Really good stuff.  Sometimes he posts questions, like he did yesterday.  I am sure that many of the folks who responded were also funeral directors, but still, it made me think.

He asked: Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors accepted the body of Boston Bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.  But, the cemeteries in Mass. refuse to accept his body.  
How would you feel if Tsarnaev was buried in a cemetery with your relatives?  
Furthermore, do we believe that EVERYONE is entitled to a respectful burial?

Oh boy how the responses varied and how passionate they were.  Y’all may have seen similar conversations.   I was so upset by many of the comments that I talked with my Aunt about this yesterday.  Let me preface this by saying, I did not lose anyone in the Boston bombings, and I cannot say how or if that would change what I think.  Having said that, I do not see how refusing to care for the body or to provide a burial will accomplish anything.

Except more hate.  Yeah, there’s that.

I was raised by a Mama who told us, “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” at least once a day.  Seriously, with four of us, we needed reminding rather frequently.  In later years, she would add, “I know you’re all very bright, why do you constantly need reminding? TWO WRONGS DO NOT MAKE A RIGHT!”

What this young man is accused of doing is horrible, tragic, heartbreaking, and irreversible.  People will be broken from this, by this, for a long, long time.  I wonder though, what good can be served by perpetuating the brokenness beyond his death?  What good can come from returning evil with anger?  I’m just asking.

Because there is that book again, the Good Book, that holds so much good in it.   Many folks whom I know love this Book are forgetting some of the guidance about how to deal with evil and those we call enemies.    My Mama used to talk about heaping coals of kindness on people who had hurt us or made us angry.  It was something she expected us to do, and she empowered us to do it.  I guess she was paraphrasing (or misquoting, who knows) Romans 12:20:  “On the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”  (Okay, Mama’s was a bit different but I think she got the gist.)  Proverbs 25:21 also tells us to feed our hungry enemy and give our thirsty enemy something to drink.

Here’s the whopper though.  In Matthew 5:44 we are told to “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”  Really? Love? Seriously?  What if I don’t want to?  What if they were really, really evil?

I don’t think there’s a clause for that.

So I thought about this situation last night, and then today Confessions of a Funeral Director shared this:

Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body has been offered a cemetery plot in a Mass. cemetery.  Paul Keane, the owner of the plot (and Yale Divinity graduate), wrote in his blog “The Anti Yale” that he would like to “donate a burial plot next to my mother in Mt. Carmel Burying Ground to the Tsarnaev family if they cannot obtain a plot. The only condition is that I do it in memory of my mother who taught Sunday School at the Mt. Carmel Congregational Church for twenty years and taught me to ‘love thine enemy’.”

Wow.  Again.

I am moved to tears by Mr. Keane and his generosity and kindness, just as I was moved by a video from a young man in his last days saying that those two things are what count, what it is all about–being kind, being generous.  What a beautiful tribute to his mother.  I wish I could have met Mr. Keane’s Mama.  She raised him right.  I wonder if my Mama has met her and shared stories with her yet.  I think they might just be kindred spirits.

So Goliath…..and his Mama.  I am not sure of the connection, or if there is one.  Maybe just how my mind wanders.  Or maybe I would like to think that this could be a compassionate side coming out in my little guy.   Wondering about Goliath’s family, if anyone was upset about what had happened, if anyone missed him after he was gone.  Because I came across this picture by a Russian artist–and something in David’s face makes me think about Goliath’s own story…..and that maybe David is wondering some of what my little one is wondering lately…..

David and Goliath by Arsen Kurbanov

David and Goliath by Arsen Kurbanov

I really can’t be sure, but I can be sure of this.  Two wrongs don’t make a right.  I know it.  Mama said so.  Heapin’ coals. Hard as it can be, it’s the right thing to do.