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Ruth is hosting today’s postings for Spiritual Journey Thursday. Click to go to her site. https://thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

…suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.

Romans 5: 4 

This Biblical verse was quoted by the Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry in his sermon for Pentecost this past Sunday. I have read this verse before. And every time, I feel a bit of discomfort. There’s the part of me that wishes we could have hope without suffering and endurance.

This last week has been suffering for all of us. Watching a brutal, senseless murder at the hands (or knee, rather) of people we are supposed to trust is both heart and gut-wrenching.

In the Episcopal prayers of baptism, we state that we will respect the dignity of every human being. There are no exclusives to this phrase. Every means every, not the ones who look or act like us. God calls us to be a community of love. Where do we place hatred? In God’s world, hatred has no place.

This time I want more than hope for a better world. I want to take an active part in creating one. I started with conversation. When I was growing up in Jackson, MS, I went to a high school that was 90% black. We walked the halls together. We had lockers side by side. We sang together in the chorus. We worked together on the yearbook. But, never did I socialize outside of school with an African American classmate.

On Tuesday, I reached out to my friend who is the executive director of our church’s mission, Solomon House. We sat in the courtyard and talked for an hour or so. She offered many insights, but the thing I remember most is her admonishment, “I need my white friends to stop feeling guilty about being white.”

I will move beyond this guilt and do more than hope for a change. I will find ways to be a part of the solution. There will be a peaceful protest in New Iberia on Saturday. I’ll be there.

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

buttercups

 

Bad things continue to happen.  Bad things always happen.  Last week, my friend’s home was destroyed in a fire.  When I stopped by her hair salon to take her a bag of clothes and to offer some comfort, she said, “We’re going to be OK.”

I know she’s right.  We are all OK.

One Good Friday 37 years ago when I was a senior in high school, our house flooded.  I didn’t know it would be OK.  We left everything in haste to escape the rising waters.  The car stalled halfway down the street.  My family was rescued and, in the aftermath, well cared for by friends.  But we lost our home and many of our belongings.  We went back in a boat to rescue our pets.  There were sad moments during those days.  Many times I asked if we would be OK.

Weeks later when the flood waters had receded, 21 people from our church showed up to clean out our house.  Things were sorted.  Things were thrown away.  As I walked around my house to the window by my bedroom, something caught my eye.  It was a stick.  It was my stick.

As a teenager, I attended youth retreats with our church’s youth group. At one of these retreats I had picked up a branch and stripped it of its bark.  I carried it around like a talisman.  The stick came to symbolize finding my way in the world.  But lying on the soggy ground outside among the muddy debris, the stick meant that everything was going to be OK.

On Easter Sunday, the priest’s message was this: Everything is going to be OK.  And even in the tragedies, the times when things do not seem OK, the resurrection assures us that it will be.

 

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Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts.  Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts. Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
–W.B. Yeats

We teachers have dreams laid at our feet. We should be careful. We need to remember to step with a light foot, like a feather brushing by, a slight wind to give direction, an uplifting to the wings of our tiny birds.

Ann Voskamp

Ann Voskamp

Hope holds us together.

Hope is the thing, the one with feathers,

the thing we all wish for

in the darkest night of despair

when our hearts are breaking.

Hope holds on

to the thin line of your mouth when you smile,

to the circles under your eyes,

the sparkle of tears on your cheek; Hope paints a rainbow there.

Plant hope in the hole in your heart.

Open to the sound of His song–

the hoot of the owl, the cry of the hawk.

His voice carries

across wild fields

over storm clouds

into your hands.

Get ready.

Open your palms when you pray.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.

Original photo (iPhonography) by Margaret Simon taken at Sugar Mill Pond, Youngsville, LA.

Original photo (iPhonography) by Margaret Simon taken at Sugar Mill Pond, Youngsville, LA.

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In Louisiana, we call a little something extra “lagniappe.” Well, Saturday was just that kind of day, lagniappe. With a little nip in the air, I set out on a morning dog walk. I took my phone with me. Not sure why, except that I was going out alone, and so I chose to clip it to my waistline. I hadn’t gotten far. In fact, Charlie was sniffing and marking the front yard when I heard a strange sound. At first I thought my neighbor was pressure washing her house. However, it sounded more like air and the sound wasn’t steady. It came in bursts with long breaks in between. Then I looked up. Above me was a huge hot-air balloon. I started jogging to catch a good shot if it. I took multiple pictures of this beautiful rainbow balloon floating in the crystal blue sky. What a thrill! As I continued my walk and the balloon drifted out of sight, I approached total strangers out in their yards or walking their own dogs, “Did you see the balloon? Look, I took pictures of it.” I felt like I was spreading good news.

When I got home, I told my husband and showed him the pictures. He said, “You should send the pictures to the newspaper.” I downloaded them, posted one on Facebook, and sent two to the local paper. And sure enough in the Sunday paper, there was my snapshot on page A9 complete with a byline and everything.

What is it that a hot-air balloon offers to us? Uplifting hope? Memories of favorite movies and books? I personally think of The Wizard of Oz and The Twenty-one Balloons, both stories of hope and resurrection.

Sunday morning at choir practice, I was hoping we would sing a new anthem we have been working on, and my soprano friend turned to me and said, “I think your head is still up in that hot-air balloon.”

I would like my head to stay up in the clouds a little longer. Whenever you are feeling down, just look up. Who knows what you might see!

Looking up!

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