In This Moment

Today I stood with friends I first met in first grade, fifth grade, ninth grade…..and as we stood reminiscing and talking about the nows of our lives, for about five minutes I wished we were standing around at recess again.  Hearing their voices was like coming home, and I remembered what that other life, that younger me was like.  Just hanging out at age five, ten, fifteen–worrying about things that now seem so small.

But then I’d have to relive 1998, 2009, 2011, 2013…..

and those were pretty hard years.

And so in the moment of accepting that now is the place where I’m meant to be, I realized there’s a reason clocks don’t run backwards.

And so we press forward.  Holding close the ones we have and loving them.

Making that a priority.  Now.  In this moment.

Love to all.

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“Double face” by Pierre EmD – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

redemption story

the truth is, we are all living a redemption story–
in any given moment we can change direction
make choices that take us on another path completely
rewrite our story
change up the cast of characters
have a set change and cull the props

at any point on our path
we can chart another course
and turn this life around
such that what was born of the dark times
can shine such beautiful light
eventually,
one day

and what was broken and caused all the pain
can lead others to the light, to beauty
and towards their own redemption story

all of us have that chance
for atonement and healing hearts,
as long we are on this journey
and putting one foot in front of the other
it is not too late

there always exists the choice
for small, great things
that can leave an imprint on the hearts and minds
of history
changing the course for all of us
if only we are strong and speak in truth
with courage
celebrating joy and leaving beauty marks in our wake

we are all living out our stories
it is for us to make it a good one

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be strong, true, joy / Walk in the Light / the story is always redemption

Note:  As I was making this picture with the Latin words, I used an on-line translator, as it’s been just a few years since my last Latin class.  To double check my translation, I reversed the process and learned the truest interpretation of the words here.  The one that made my the most joy-filled, the most hopeful is the last one.  Instead of saying “The redemption story is always possible,” it interpreted it to read, “The story is always redemption.”  So much hope there.  For all of us.  Love to all.  

The Sanctity of Life and the Miracle of Grace

In September 2011 I heard a name I’d not heard before.  I heard it on the radio, saw it on Facebook.

Troy Davis.

This young man only three weeks older than I am was convicted for the August 19, 1989 murder of Mark MacPhail, a police officer in Savannah, Georgia.  His execution was scheduled for September 21.  That day my heart was very heavy.  He had been denied clemency, but his execution did not happen at 7 p.m. as scheduled.  The Supreme Court was reviewing his case.

I sat on the edge of the bed in my dimly lit room.  My children were all asleep, the youngest piled in next to me.  The Fella was out of town for work and had been for quite some time.  I was alone, fervently praying for someone to save this man’s life, all the while fearing the worst.

In that moment, I realized that I did not, if I ever had before, have the stomach for capital punishment.

See, life and how very precious it is had just been impressed upon me greater than ever before.

My Daddy, my very much-loved Daddy, had just been admitted to Hospice only a few days earlier.

Life was precious.  And dwindling.

And in the quiet of the night, I begged God to step in, for someone to save a life that did not have to be ended.  Not like my Daddy’s.  His body had already given him a death sentence and clemency had been denied.

But for Troy Davis?  It could have been very different.

Only it was not to be.

The Supreme Court came back and denied a stay of execution.  And at 10:53 p.m. on September 21, 2011, Troy Davis was given a lethal injection.  Fifteen minutes later he was pronounced dead.

I can hardly type it without feeling sick.

I don’t want to argue the validity of capital punishment.  I don’t want to argue guilt or innocence.  I won’t even argue that if the function of prisons is to rehabilitate and change lives, why aren’t we rewarding those who do work towards that goal?

I am here to simply say, all lives matter.

If one says he or she is pro-life, doesn’t that mean pro-all life?

Earlier this past week, my sister-in-love shared the story of Kelly Gissendaner, who was scheduled to be executed on this past Wednesday night at 7 p.m. here in Georgia.  Kelly was convicted of plotting the murder of her husband.  The man who actually killed him is serving 25 years and will be up for parole in a few years.  I felt sick when I read the story my SIL shared for two reasons–the fact that I live here and this was the first I had heard of the story, and the fact that it was, once again, the willing ending of a life that didn’t have to be.

All that day my heart was heavy.  When the word came that the execution had been rescheduled for Monday, March 2, at 7 p.m. because of the inclement weather, I gave thanks.  I’ve never been so happy about snow in my life.

I’ve been piecing together Kelly’s story.  It is a heartbreaking and inspiring one, one of second chances and redemption.

I’m not going to talk about the certificate she earned while incarcerated.  You can read about that here.

I’m not going to talk about the women whose lives she touched and changed because of who she has become.  Her sisterfriends (and they call themselves that–oh my heart) do that so beautifully here.

I’m not going to share her words with you right now.  I hope you’ll watch this video and hear them for yourselves.

I’m not even going to talk about how unfair I think it is that the man who actually murdered Kelly’s husband, Doug, will be out of prison in 8 years because he took the plea deal first and testified against Kelly.  You can read about that here and find a link to copies of her request for clemency.

What I am going to say is that life is precious.  I know this.  For. A. Fact.  Like so many of us, I’ve had the lives of those I love taken away by disease and I. Am. Still. Heartbroken.   Because of that, I cannot be okay with inviting death in and ending a life like this.

I just can’t.

I was conversing with my wise writer friend, Lisa at My So Called Glamorous Life, about Kelly. Lisa lives out of state, and she shared this with me today:

“I had not heard of this case before I heard a radio dj mocking the prisoner because of her last meal order. I think that’s indicative of how people dismiss the value of a life.”

So tonight, as I stay up very late to finish this because time is of the essence, I’m not asking for anyone to do anything except–

PLEASE DO NOT DISMISS THE VALUE OF A LIFE.

All lives.  Yours.  Mine.  Kelly’s.  Everyone’s.

If you read her case, and think she deserves to die, then okay.  If you can be okay with it, then I have to respect that.  I hope you can respect that I cannot.

But if you read her case, and your heart cries out for things to be different, here are a couple of places you can go.  There is a Facebook page I just found that has a list of suggestions for helping here.  If you are a member of the clergy or know someone who is, you can sign this petition here.  (Out of state clergy are also encouraged to sign.)  At this point, it is my understanding that Governor Deal is the one who can step in and stop the execution.  I have emailed him twice, only to get no response, and I tried calling the number listed “in case of time sensitive matters,” and not only did I not get an answer but there also was no option to leave a message.  Simply no answer at all.  Here is the place to send him messages or call.  The video above also gives more contact information and ways to tag the Governor and the Parole Board if you are active on Social Media.

Thank you for reading this.  I am ashamed I was hesitant to write this at first.  I respect folks’ rights to their own opinions.  I don’t like to get into political rants, which is why I haven’t taken this to Facebook.  But my heart has been heavy about this–this is about life, the life of a woman who is my age.  Whose childhood and past led her to make some really bad choices and do some really, really bad things.  This evening I saw this on Love Wins Ministries‘ Facebook page, and I knew I had to write this.  Now.

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Because if I believe in redemption and grace, I have to believe in it for everyone.  And that’s why I’m writing tonight.  Because I do believe in grace.  And love.  And the sanctity of life.  Oh bless it, I know how precious it is.  That is why my thoughts and heavy heart have led me to write what I have the past two nights.

And I decided that I could not go to bed Monday night, whether the execution happens or not, if I didn’t speak up and ask for help.  Help in sending out the message that dismissing the value of a life, any life, is NOT OKAY.

Kelly Gissendaner after finishing her Theology degree through courses offered at the prison

Kelly Gissendaner in 2011 after graduating from the Theology program offered at the prison

May we all find ourselves filled with the peace that Kelly has found, and may a miracle come and give this story of redemption what it really deserves–grace.

Love to all.

 

the extinguished light

I stand cloaked in the words

that threaten to envelop me

if I do not give them breath and life

 

and still I stand

hesitant

unsure of the tempest

that will come

if they are given voice

 

for though I love the rain,

the storm both frightens and thrills me,

I seek shelter but do not cover my eyes

 

fascinated

intrigued

terrified

 

and then the darkness comes

as it always does

and the light is blown out,

it must be saved for others

for another

dark and cold

night

 

but not for this life

it doesn’t matter

she won’t need it anymore, they say

 

they don’t realize

the candle won’t be as bright

the next time they seek its glow

 

one less person to reflect

the radiance

 

and the tears fall

on the unhallowed ground

and no one grieves anymore

 

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what season are you in?

Yesterday in the midst of a lively conversation at our Sister Circle at Daybreak, we were on a roll.  I was at the dry erase board with marker in hand jotting down the things being shared about hitting roadblocks on our journeys and how we can help others.  I just about couldn’t write fast enough, the thoughts were pouring so quickly from my Sisters’ hearts and minds.

A question came to mind in the middle of the discussion.  When there was a break, I asked, “What season are we in?”

Miss G answered, patting her hand on the table in front of her emphatically, “This one.  Right.  Now.”

Wow.

I was looking for Christmas as an answer, but okay.

Yes.

This is just about the most perfect answer I’ve heard in a while.

Shouldn’t we all be in the season we are in now?

Let me rephrase this.

Shouldn’t I be (be present, let it be, be okay) in the season I am in now?  Without looking back and losing myself in the memories of the seasons past?  There’s a difference between remembering and dwelling.  Or without worrying over the seasons to come?  *patting the table for emphasis* Just be.  In this one.  Right. Now.

The season I am in right now is one of always having a little shadow and conversations constantly going and people following me into the bathroom, of running the dishwasher at least twice a day, and of mounds of clean laundry taking over the loveseat.  Pretty much permanently.  It is one of lessonbooks and storybooks flowing across the supper table and into chairs and stacks upon stacks on bookcases.  It is a season of goodbyes, as I’ve had to say more than a couple of those in the past three years.  It is also a season of saying hello to the new little ones who have come into our midst.  The season I am in now is one of transitions–of learning to be Mama to a near adult and finding out what it’s like to go on without the love and wisdom of those who knew me first and best.  In this season I am learning to embrace the color gray and I’m learning that the indignation of my youth has given way to a little more tolerance and a whole lot more perspective on what is really important in this world.  This is a season of celebrating on a whim and making myself more interruptible and realizing that the good guys don’t always win.  It is a season of grace–and I am thankful for the grace offered to me daily by those I love and by complete strangers on the street.  It’s a season of being “with” and realizing that sometimes the only answer is there is no answer.  And that I don’t always deserve what happens or comes at me in this life–both the good and the bad.  I think my favorite thing about this season is the people whom I do still have with me–the folks who love me in spite of my meltdowns and tears, my frustrations and quirks.  Those family and friends are what I love most about where I am right now.

One day the season will come where I will have more space than I want to myself.  I will stop finding cars and Star Wars figures on my kitchen counter or in my purse.  No one will call out asking me where something is or how to spell something.  There will be no more Lalaloopsy versus Mighty World adventures.  I won’t have extra clothes to fold or littles to pick up after.  I will be able to sit with a cup of coffee at my leisure at ten o’clock or two in the afternoon and write to my heart’s content, instead of typing until my eyes are drooping way past midnight.  I won’t have to maneuver around the teenager’s car in the driveway.  It will be a straight shot to the road when I’m headed out–not on a “taxiing someone around” mission.  I am thinking of all of these things not because I’m worrying over the season to come, but so I can put this season in perspective.  This one is not forever.  It is only fleeting, these moments of wiping noses on sleeves, correcting manners, and cuddling as we watch a show together.  Life is too short, though the heartbreak and brokenness can make it seem long. Way too long sometimes.

The best season to be in is the one I am in now.  I want to learn to embrace that.

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This is where I am.  And that’ll do for a Wednesday.