Tag Archives: community

I choose the way of life

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. has apparently urged students, staff and faculty at his Christian school to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon on campus. The purpose seems to be protection in the event of an attack.

“Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here,” Falwell reportedly said.

This from a man who purports to follow Jesus who told Peter to put away his sword.

But Falwell further appears to have added an Islamphobic remark.

“I’ve always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in,” Falwell said.

Donald Trump issued a call to bar Muslims from entering the United States.

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” a campaign press release reportedly said.

This from a man who claims to follow Jesus who continually crossed lines of prejudice and discrimination.

To Falwell and to Trump, I say “No! You do not speak for me.”

I reject these messages of hate.

I reject these messages of hate because of what I understand it to mean to be a citizen of the United States of America. We are the home of the brave and courage comes from inside ourselves and among ourselves not from being armed to the teeth and shooting first. The message of Lady Liberty is a message of welcome not a message of exclusion.

F26 Lift Highlands Camp, CO 25 August 2012

I reject these messages of hate because they are incompatible with my faith in Jesus.

Jesus calls us to include not to divide; to love not to fear; to respond to violence with creative nonviolence. Jesus invites us to live into hope; to make ourselves vulnerable; to build and nurture community.

The world is a scary place. I know that.

However, responding with weapons and violence and judgement and exclusion leads only to more fear, destruction, and death.

The way to life, and it takes hard, hard work,  is to recognize we are all God’s children, created with an amazing diversity, to honor God’s image in one another, and to love one another. It will involve challenges and risks and pain and sorrow. But it will also involve grace amazing and joy abounding and blessings abundant.

So I reject these, and all, messages of hate. And I choose the way of life. I will protest hate and I will love as well as I am able.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events

Beyond tolerance

ToleranceThe United Nations has designated today as the International Day for Tolerance.

This action followed on the United Nations Year for Tolerance, 1995, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 at the initiative of UNESCO , as outlined in the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance and Follow-up Plan of Action for the Year.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls “all people and governments to actively combat fear, hatred and extremism with dialogue, understanding and mutual respect.”

Tolerance is good.

Tolerance is important.

Dialogue, understanding and mutual respect are good and important.

But they are all starting points as we seek to honor and welcome one another as God’s children, live together as the human family, learn from one another, dismantle privilege and systems of oppression, build liveable communities of co-equality, and care for all creation, including the human creature.

May this day be a time to renew our efforts.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, United Nations

Thanks to my village!

A good friend gave me this plaque on Friday: IMG_3419

It speaks profoundly to my experience. We do not travel the Trail alone. We do so accompanied by family and friends who care for us, sometimes in ways we fail to realize. We do so surrounded by neighbors and people we do not know whose lives touch ours in surprising, amazing ways. And we do so supported by sisters and brothers we will never meet, sisters and brothers who work hard, and whose labor is sometimes exploited, to allow us to enjoy the lives we have. There is much to ponder.

For tonight, I use this plaque as an opportunity to thank those who support my self-care effort. Tricia, Sean, and Eric have been great! Certain friends are key to my effort. Many are always there. A number have become part of my community of accountability, receiving self-serving emails with gentle grace. Their support comes in many forms: reading what I write, responding, sending an unexpected text, providing a plaque and vitamins, answering questions, asking on Facebook, “Have you been to the gym?”, and more.

A wider community also takes care of me. People who like or comment on Facebook posts. People who take the moment to say encouraging words. People like Greg, who literally gushed about my progress before and after the service when I preached at the Church of the Covenant.

It takes a village to lose a boatload of weight and take care of oneself. At least it does for me. To each of you – to all of you – in  my village, my thanks. I hope I care for you as well as you care for me.

See you along the Trail.

 

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Filed under Exercise, Family, Food, Friends

Self care 1

The details are on my other blog, but today marked a break through in my self-care efforts. For the first time ever, I did more running that walking on the treadmill.

Over the past few days, I have been humbly and powerfully reminded of the importance of a community in this effort.

It will take a village to help me lose this boatload of weight and improve my conditioning.

For those in the village – thank you!

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Exercise, Food

Cheering section

We both stopped short as we came to the corner. I walked close to the building, too close I admit. Perhaps Ralph and Sally did, too. But we both stopped short; we averted a collision.

“Mark. You are losing weight again. Well done,” Ralph gushed.

His excitement and enthusiasm has remained with me all day. I have reflected on the experience all day.

Today marks the ninth day I have worked at self-care. This time. I have made many efforts in recent years as well. Sometimes I do well for a stretch and then everything falls apart. Eight days, soon nine, represents one of my longer efforts.

Ralph’s encouraging words, reminded me of how this time is different from earlier efforts and how this time is the same.

What is different, is this time I am working with a doctor with whom I feel connected. I have liked my earlier doctors. I have trusted them. But this time, something clicked with my new doctor from my first visit in May. I had a pretty good run after the appointment. Then I spent two weeks eating everything that did not move while at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s General Assembly. My second visit took place on June 23. She gave me advice and now I try to apply it.

What is the same, is the community of accountability that surrounds and sustains and supports me. It includes friends and family who have expressed concern for my health – and who have voiced support for my efforts. Some in the group comment on my Facebook posts or follow the blog where I make reports or engage me in conversations, virtual and real. They have made their support known to me and I appreciate it them deeply. They serve as my personal cheering section. Others, such as Ralph, cheer me on even when I am unaware of their presence.

To all the members of this accountability group, family and friends, known and unknown, I say thank you. With your support, I have made a great start. The journey continues.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Exercise, Family, Food, Friends, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

The light of love

Satpal Singh, chairperson of the World Sikh Council – American Region, recently published a reflection in response to the September 21 attack on Dr. Prabhjot Singh. His article, entitled, “Our Resolve in the Face of Terror and Hate,” tells of the work of Dr. Singh for a better community and analyzes the nature of hate crimes.

Such crimes are attacks against a person or a particular place. They are also attacks against a whole community. Satpal Singh puts it this way:

Beyond the death of innocents, their ‘victory’ lies in shaking the foundation of a free society. It manifests in a sense of fear in the society, with everyone looking over his or her shoulders. It manifests in a sense of suspicion of others, including neighbors, especially of those who look different. And even more perniciously, the terrorist victory lies in creating hate among people, and heightening the divisions within a society.

We deny hate its victory when we control our suspicions, build community, and overcome fear with love. Dr. Singh demonstrates this in his response to the attack he endured as reported by The Times of India:

“If I could speak to my attackers, I would ask them if they had any questions, if they knew what they were doing. May be invite them to the gurdwara where we worship, get to know who we are… Make sure they have an opportunity to move past this as well.”

Satpal Singh expresses a similar resolve and vision:

May God enlighten the attackers and bring peace and understanding to their mind. Let the light of love pierce through the clouds of hate and illuminate our hearts with universal love and harmony.

God made this world a wonderful place for all of us to live in peace and happiness. Let us not allow the terrorists to undermine the house of God.

Amen.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, New York

I need to try again

Communities of accountability have a way of intersecting.

The same people often appear in different communities to which we are accountable. A person may play a key role in one community and stand on the periphery of others. Or a person may hold a key place in several communities.

Make rosters of my communities of accountability and you will find Merdine T. Morris on many of those lists. A few years ago, I described her in these words:

Merdine T. and I have been friends for more than 20 years. Friend really does not do our relationship justice, she is my mentor, teacher, challenger, comforter, disturber of my peace, guide, anchor . . . the list goes on.

Today I add, Merdine T. Morris is practically a one person community of accountability for me.

Three years ago, Merdine T.’s health failed and I reflected on what I thought might be our last visit.

Merdine T. recovered.

On Tuesday, Tricia, Eric and I went to see her. We arrived and told the receptionist we wanted to visit Merdine T. She paused a moment and said, “I don’t think Merdine T. is here.”

She checked a list and informed us that Merdine T. had gone to lunch with a group. On the one hand, this was disappointing. On the other, it was great, good news.

I carry Merdine T. in my heart and head and will always do so. But I give thanks to know that she can get out and around.

And I need to try to see her again before I leave for New York.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Family, Friends