Car Conversations

For whatever reason, some of the best conversations I’ve had with my children have been in the car.  Or truck.  Or whatever.

Tonight Cooter and I were on the way home from Evening Prayer together, just the two of us, when he suddenly asked one of THOSE questions.

You know, the ones where you gulp and feel yourself floundering for just the right words because you know, YOU KNOW, that he’s likely to remember your answer for a long, long time.

“Mama, why was there segregation?”

Oh my heart.

As the seconds ticked by the best I could come up with–and this is not a new conversation for us–was to remind him that sometimes people are afraid of people who are different and how some folks with light skin thought they were better than people with darker skin and even, at one point, thought they could own these people.

Once again, he was indignant over this injustice.

“We are all equal, we just have different gifts! Folks need to know that.  We all have different things we are good at, but we are all equal.”

Bless that heart.  Out of the mouths of babes…..

As he continued sharing his thoughts, it was heart-wrenching to hear him say, “Well, I’m glad that doesn’t happen anymore.”  Oh baby boy, how I wish.  Then he asked, “Mama, what should I do if someone is being unkind to someone else or is wanting to segregate people?  What should I do?  Should I just step away from the situation?”

How I wish I didn’t need to have these conversations with my child, but I’m so grateful he wants to have them.  That he’s genuinely asking me what is right.  I’m treading carefully here though.  This is way more important than multiplication or grammar or learning how a bill becomes a law.

So we talked about how the first thing you do when you know something is wrong is you stand up and say so.  Stand up for what you believe is right.

“Like you do?”

I searched my memory for what on earth he was referring to.  He continued, “So my friends and I should make signs and stand up to let folks know what is right?”

Oh bless. He’s thinking of the vigils for the people on death row.  He’s really been paying attention.  (Both wonderful and frightening, that.)

“Sure, buddy.  That’s a start.”

He talked about his friends and then, “You know, sometimes when I’m with my friends, and I hold back the way I’m feeling, sometimes it feels heavy on my shoulders.”

I know that feeling too, bud.

So we talked about the best way to share our thoughts and feelings with other people.  It was a good talk.  Hard, because I didn’t know he felt like he had to do that when he was with his friends, but a good one.

Good because he wanted to talk to me.

My little guy and I shared some really important things on the ride home tonight.

And it only takes us fifteen minutes to get home, y’all.

He’s a deep thinker for such a young fella.  But it didn’t take him long to swing it back around and start singing, “It was a Sunday morning and I ate four doughnuts, doughnuts, doughnuts, and it felt great…..until it didn’t…..”

And…..he’s back.  My class clown.  My self-proclaimed future comedian.

Tonight I’m thankful for rides home in the dark when hearts are open and shared.  I’m thankful for the one who talks, and that I can listen.  I love the deep conversations and the silly songs.  Because they are both very much a part of this journey we are on.  And it takes both to make it beautiful.

Love to all.

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By Pink Sherbet Photography from Utah, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Pancakes for Supper

There’s a lot of hurting and pain in the world.  Just in case you weren’t already aware.  And sometimes people respond to that hurt and pain with a whole lot of anger and pointing fingers and insisting that people who are speaking against what they believe need to be condemned.  They point at them and vent their anger in an effort to…..

fix it?

Ummm, okay, I think they might be going at it all wrong.

I read this article that I’ve thought about today–“It’s Okay to Eat Lucky Charms for Dinner.”  I really like what Alice Seuffert had to say.  Sometimes when the news is more than her heart can bear, she brings home Lucky Charms to have for supper.

And so that’s how I found myself making pancakes for the crew tonight.  It was a good day really.  A swim meet where our Princess did her best and had a great time and actually surpassed her personal bests in all her events.  The smile on her tired face when it was over said it all.

Despite the joy of today, what has weighed heavily on my heart is the dream I woke up from in the dark just before dawn.  It was a hard one.  My family and I were on some kind of trip, in a place where we’d never been before.  We were on some kind of open air trolley, and suddenly it stopped.  People started running, so of course we got the children off the trolley and ran…..away.  Away from people yelling and the gunshots that followed.  Young men in their teens were running around with guns shooting everywhere.  In our terror, we ran toward some trailers that resembled my first and second grade classrooms. We ran behind some for protection and found another one.  Outside of it was a comforting soul, a woman whose presence was soothing and reassuring.  She looked a lot like the priest I met at the vigil on Monday night.  She pointed toward the door on the porch of the trailer.  She told us to get in quickly, and then she was gone.  We moved quickly up the steps and towards the door as I saw out of the corner of my eye a woman with dark hair standing quietly and alone on the other corner of the porch.  Once inside, we breathed deeply and with relief.  I looked around and immediately my children were relaxed alongside others. Right behind us, the woman with the dark hair came in quietly behind us and closed the door. I started to worry, and then two things occurred to me.  The first was that in my other-conscious state (you know, the part of you that knows it is a dream–that happens when I’m about to come out of one), I knew she looked very much like a woman who has been in the news a lot this past week.  A woman whose sentencing hearing has caused a lot of anger and finger pointing and hurt.  Before I could be afraid, I was offered peace and I took it.  Suddenly I just knew we were all safe, and that it wasn’t for me to keep her out of this place where we could find peace and safety and comfort.  It wasn’t for me to lock the door and keep her out.

Just the opposite in fact.  Because we hadn’t locked it, she was able to find her way in herself.

As I woke up, rather shaken after such a dream, I sat in the darkness and waited for my heart to settle.  I wondered if I should write it all down so I wouldn’t forget.  I thought back over the events in the dream, and my mind replayed the moment she entered the room, one who has done wrong and been found guilty and so many are vilifying to the point of wanting to see her die–that moment when it was as if the words were whispered in the air, “It’s not for you to keep her out.”

Yeah.  It was with those words and thoughts on my heart, and wondering if I’m going to be able to live those words out in my own real life, that I went through my day.  Life is hard, y’all.  But I’m guessing you know that.  I’m guessing you could tell me some stories about how hard it is.  Whether it makes sense or not, it is easier for me to forgive someone whose story I hear than it is for me to forgive someone whose actions have crossed my own story and changed its course.  Even when the former one’s actions are far more damaging and permanent and violent than the latter.

I know.  It doesn’t make sense, but there it is.

The much used page from my Aunt Bee's Mayberry Cookbook by Ken Beck.  I was going to post a picture of the pancakes, but I was to late because, well, pancakes.

The much used page from my Aunt Bee’s Mayberry Cookbook by Ken Beck. I was going to post a picture of the pancakes, but I was too late because, well, pancakes.

So in all of those thoughts, I thought about the Lucky Charms as comfort food, and since I was too–I’ll just say it–lazy to go to the store this afternoon, I made pancakes.  Goober’s Pancakes 57 from Aunt Bee’s Mayberry Cookbook.  They are legendary in our house.  Not because they’re phenomenal or anything, but because my crew knows Goober’s story.

I’m glad they know his story.  All too soon the other stories will find them.  The dark ones.  The ones that will cause them to struggle with what they thought they knew, with all the grey of right and wrong and everything in between.  The ones that will challenge them to be forgiving and loving and leave the judging up to only One.  For now, the stories that make us smile and laugh and feel like home are just fine.

May you all have someone to eat pancakes or Lucky Charms with and to bring you comfort when the darkness threatens to envelop you.

Love to all.

 

 

********You can get your own copy of Aunt Bee’s Mayberry Cookbook by clicking on the title above.  Even if you never cook, you will enjoy reading it.  There’s even a recipe for her Kerosene Pickles!  

Columba pacis

This evening as my Aub and I gathered together in a circle of 100 or more people gathered at the Vigil, I looked down in the midst of the singing, and I saw this leaf there on the ground in front of me.  It intrigued me and comforted me.  As prayers were said for the one inside the building hidden by the woods, awaiting to know if her life was about to end or not, I focused my heart on the prayer and my eyes on the leaf.  As prayers were said for the ones who know and love her and would grieve for her both inside and outside of the building with the bars, I focused my heart on the prayer and my eyes on the leaf.

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At first I thought it was a cross, but as I looked a little longer, I realized it was a dove.  Of peace.

And my heart and soul breathed a sigh of release.

And a prayer for grace and mercy.

Tonight I am thankful for a life that is still being lived, a story still being told, and for the souls who shared their stories and hopes with us as we stood in the cold and hoped and prayed and laughed and cried together.  I am thankful for weather delays and cloudy medicines and the chance that hearts could still be changed and justice and mercy can go hand in hand to continue the life of one who cares, who has saved lives herself, and who has told folks they were better than their circumstances.  Of one who loves.

As for what tomorrow will bring, I focus my heart on the prayers and my eyes on the dove.  On peace.  And grace.  And mercy.

And I know that whatever story comes next, in the end, Love Wins.  It just has to.

Love to all.

 

 

 

Other Thoughts:  The Sanctity of Life and the Miracle of Grace

 

P

 

Thankful That It Makes No Sense to Them

The littles and I were heading back home this morning from our OutsandAbouts, when our Princess noticed the street sign.

“Mama, they have named a street after Mr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Look.”

I nodded.  “I see that.”  Interesting that after the years of Sundays travelling the street of that same name in Macon, she finally noticed the one we are rarely on in our own town.

“Martin Luther King.  Is he the one who stopped slavery?” Cooter asked.

“No, he’s the one who stopped ‘For Whites Only,'” she replied.

“Why would anyone want to do that.  For whites only.  Why?”

They both were quiet then.  I guess I was up to bat.

I sighed and focused on the traffic on the road.  “Well, I guess some people didn’t care for folks who were different from them, maybe they were scared.  So they didn’t believe that everyone had equal rights.  And they tried to keep them separate, away from them.”  I paused.  “But everyone was created by God and is loved by God–so everyone is equal, right?”

A check in the rearview mirror showed their nodding heads in agreement.

“That just doesn’t make sense.  For whites only.” Our Princess got very quiet.

But not Cooter.  He only gets louder the more excited he becomes.  “YEAH!  That doesn’t make ANY SENSE AT ALL!”  And he flung his arms out dramatically and then folded them to his chest in certain indignation.

Wow.

I’m not quite sure where they learned about Dr. King.  I’m replaying shows we’ve watched and books they’ve read in my memory bank files, and I can’t pinpoint where.  I will ask them tomorrow.  This morning I was so surprised by the turn of the conversation that I forgot to inquire how they knew who he was.

Tonight I’m thankful that things like this make no sense to my children.  I’m thankful that they have conversations like this one, every now and then, where I can see straight through to their hearts, beyond the bickering and drama of siblingship, straight through to what really matters.  I give thanks that they are indignant about injustices such as these.  Because I know, and one day they will too, that the struggle for true equality is far from over.  They will need their caring and indignant spirits to carry them through hard times and brokenness so they can make a difference, and maybe one day their children will find all that is happening today so far-fetched they will think their Mama or Daddy is making it up.

Fingers crossed.  And toes too.

Love to all.

 

All In My Chili

So today, I was toodling along, minding my very own business, and this happened.

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That’s what I get for looking at Facebook.

*sigh*

All in my chili…..

It’s true, isn’t it?

If I can’t or don’t try to stop something from happening, how can I depend on someone else to change it? And get angry when they don’t?

I can’t.

Mama used to have a rule about us not asking someone to do something for us that we weren’t willing to do ourselves.  It was probably to prevent sibling abuse, but yeah, it’s a good rule for life, I think.

I can’t sit back and see an injustice happening, do nothing, and then get angry over and over that it continues to exist, frustrated that “someone” isn’t stopping it. Not when I’m not making a move to stop it myself.

What I allow will continue to happen.

I can’t put up with someone mistreating me, ignoring my feelings, or disrespecting me–all the while shaking my head and hoping it will stop.

What I allow will continue to happen.

I can’t bury my head in the sand, continue homeschooling my littles, and ignore the woes of the children who are in the public school system and hope that the world will be a better place someday.  What is happening now won’t affect just those children in the schools, it does and will affect all of us.

What I allow will continue to happen.

Now that I know better about things like modern-day industrial slavery and fair trade, I cannot make purchases of certain things, turning a blind-eye to how they were made.

For if I do, the slavery will continue to happen.

The decline of our educational system will continue.

The abuse and wear and tear on my soul will continue to eat away at who I am.

The injustices, so many of them in this world, will continue, and those suffering at the hands of another, will be right that their voices aren’t being heard, feeling that their lives maybe just don’t count as much.  Not if I’m not willing to speak up for them.

The things in this world that can be lost if we allow it–

love, kindness, innocence, peace, freedom, wisdom, knowledge

a soul,

a life

Mama also had another quote she’d toss at us from time to time.  I dug around and couldn’t find the source of the quote, but that doesn’t detract from its truth.

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If I don’t like the way things are–the situation in the world, in this country, in my community and even in my own home–then I have to accept that if it is to be–if change is to happen–it must begin with me.  If I don’t make an effort to change what I see that isn’t right, it will continue.  And I also have to realize that if it continues…..

and I have been too busy or afraid or lost to take a step…..

it continues because I have allowed it to.

A tough pill to swallow tonight.

Like I said, they’re all in my chili, stirring me up tonight.

What is it that you are being called to change–to stop allowing?  To keep from continuing to happen?

Whether it’s fighting social injustice or a taking a stand to end bullying or making a request that clothes be turned right side out before being put in the laundry–it all matters.  If it brings peace to the world, go for it.

One step at a time, one person at a time, we can make a difference.

I know it’s a cliche’, but there is truth rolling around in there as well.

Reminds me of lyrics from  the song our teachers worked so hard to teach us to sing when we were practicing for our Eighth Grade Graduation.

“Let there be peace on earth

And let it begin with me…..”

Amen.