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Archive for June, 2013

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When word came mid-morning that the Supreme Court had struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Jered let out a whoop and we raced to the organ console.  Using Nancy Wellington’s emailed directions, we figured out which buttons to push and then we rang the church bells for a good five minutes.  The ancient bells that had pealed at countless weddings, funerals, and Sundays at St. John the Evangelist, pealed again throughout the Summit neighborhood, joyfully and beautifully as they always do. This time they were celebrating a gigantic step for human rights.

Jered went to the front of the church to videotape the event for Facebook, and I stayed at the organ with the remote control to keep the bells going.  As I stood there, the tears flowed as I thought about my daughter and her marriage to wonderful Pam and the fact that the benefits and rights they so richly deserve would no longer be denied them.  I thought about my countless gay friends and St. Johns’ parishioners who must be rejoicing at this moment.  I remembered those for whom this decision is hard to fathom and doesn’t align with their moral values.  The significance of the moment sunk in, and it was overwhelming.

Yesterday, the Court made it harder to vote in many states and Texas immediately began redrawing the voting district boundaries and issuing old restrictions about voter ID’s.  Shamefully, someone posted a photo on Facebook of the Court with several members in KKK hoods.  Even though I hated the court’s decision on voting, I was disgusted by such disrespect.

Emotions are running high on all sides, that’s for sure.

Nothing is perfect, including our courts, government, and ourselves.  We will never all agree.  But in that imperfection, we can still seek and find the holy.  We can still move forward in love.  This is our calling.

      “Ring the bells that still can ring

      Forget your perfect offering.

     There is a crack in everything,

      That is how the light gets in.”

Leonard Cohen

See you in church.

Barbara

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THE BUS

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The woman sitting in front of me on the bus kept repeating herself: “I wish it was Friday. I wish I could sleep another hour.”  Again and again.  She seemed to have some mental health issues.  Geez, shut it down, I thought to myself.

The bus pulled up at a McDonald’s in West St. Paul and as she gathered her things and got off, I saw that she had the golden arches logo on her shirt so must work there. Normally my world and hers would not intersect.

Except that this wasn’t just any bus.  This was Metro Mobility, one of those white vans you see everywhere, often lifting people in or out as they sit in wheelchairs. Given the huge post-surgical boot on my foot and the fact that I am using a wheelchair for six weeks, I humbled myself (why should it feel that way?) and signed up for some rides.

It certainly didn’t feel normal.  Usually I whiz around in my trusty little Saturn whenever and wherever I want to.  I often drive too fast— over the speed limit at least; I am sometimes distracted by a compelling story on Pubic Radio or a fetching window box full of purple petunias.  On one trip I might make multiple stops doing errands in Midway, Roseville, at several garden stores, and then meeting friends at Café Latte for lunch.  And of course, I drive to work.  Riding on Metro Mobility—and the concessions you must make to do so – does not feel normal.

“Normal” seems to be eluding us all this lost spring.  It’s not only our own endless rain and cold, but violent, mile-wide tornadoes in Oklahoma and throughout the Plains states, and the fact that it’s too late now to plant a significant part of the corn crop – due to the weather.  That’s just eerie.  High school sports teams have lost most of their seasons.  It gets to you, especially the lack of sunshine

It is ironic that we consider “normal” to be when things are going well.  However, Old Testament writers reference times of plagues and famine that seemed to often visit the Israelites, and it is in these times that they most experienced (eventually) the saving grace and presence of God.

When normal is disrupted, your attention shifts to coping, understanding, adapting.  Perceptions change.  The search for God may become more urgent and allow things in that we would usually keep out.

So I am learning a lot riding the Metro Mobility bus several times a week.  For example, since MM is usually picking up and dropping off riders, and it’s never a direct route to where you’re going, I’ve found that it’s quite relaxing to be driven around the city for thirty minutes to and from work.  Yesterday on the way home, we visited my old neighborhood in West St. Paul, then South St Paul, and some beautiful residential neighborhoods in Mendota Heights. Since I wasn’t driving myself, I could pay attention to the lilacs, the azaleas, cozy homes with sweet little patios and cats peering out of the windows.  It’s bumpy, but I imagined myself on a stagecoach.

I saw what people I don’t know about do during the day: they were being driven to and from jobs, community centers, libraries, fitness centers.  Many of the riders were elderly and all were women.  Their disabilities sometimes weren’t evident, but I knew they had them since that’s how you qualify for the three-buck ride right to your door, along with help getting in the door which, for me, includes being pushed in a wheelchair up a perilous, winding, narrow wooden walkway through the yard to the deck.

I witnessed an astounding level of courtesy and care from the drivers, a panorama of races but few Caucasians.  No impatience; no under-the-breath comments; no rushing anyone.  Over the bus intercom, I could hear directions to other drivers throughout the city.  These things go everywhere – from Brooklyn Center to east St. Paul.  I had no idea.

It hit me that that there are countless other wonderful public and private programs who serve people who need them and most of us have no idea how important they are. I realized that, if I had to depend on MM all the time, terror would strike me if I heard this program might be cut.

That’s the thing: I had no idea but I do now.  The big understandings, the small blessings, the quiet grace moments were clear because I had the time to see them, as normal gave way to need.

See you in church (I’ll be the one getting out of the white van).

Barbara

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