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Sunday, July 29, 2012


After two weeks in a nursing home and sharing some of my daily stories, at least two dozen people have told me, "you should write a book about this place."

Well, maybe. I'm discussing that with the Lord, and with all of you, if anyone responds. There certainly are plenty of "characters," some who make me cry, some who make me laugh, and others, yes, who make me want to scream.

Two events put me in mind of their place in our nation's history. One was a blog of growing up in the '50s and '60s (and that's more my generation's story than the story of these folks). 

The other way a concert by the "piano man." He specializes in performing Elvis Presley songs. The lobby was nearly full of people who spend much of their time asleep or mumbling to themselves.  

Listening to the King's music transformed them. They were toe tapping, hand clapping, singing along with the performer. And I looked at the white-haired ladies and thought, "these people were the first rock-n-rollers. As girls they went crazy at Elvis concerts." How time changes us all. 

These seniors won't be remembered as the greatest generation. Most of them just missed it, growing up during the war, changed by it, but not leading. Their time came a decade later. They led us into the uneasy peace after World War II and into the space and atomic eras. My mother, now home with the Lord, is part of this generation. 

When I think of what happened from, say, 1945-1960, I think of these events:

  • Televisions became a staple in nearly every home.
  • A seamstress and an unknown preacher started a boycott of a segregated bus system that swept through the nation, changing us forever.
  • The first ship went into space.
  • America emerged as the first (and only, so far) country to let loose an atomic bomb on an enemy.
  • They married and had children in record numbers (I'm one of them).
  • They raised their children, terrified not by the threat of planes crashing into buildings (as terrible as that was); no, they feared that Russia would bomb them and kill entire cities. They built bomb shelters and taught us to cover our heads and roll.
  • They fought the Communist menace with every resource at their disposal, with all the passion we now spend on fighting "terrorists" (Muslim extremists or other kinds).
  • They elected the first (and to do, date, only? I think) non-protestant president. 
  • They fought in the forgotten war in Korea and by the end of the the 50s, they were already heading for the little known country of Viet Nam.
  • Senator McCarthy emerged as the leader of an extreme anti-communist movement.
  • They rejected their parents' music.
  • The miracle of the polio vaccine and pennicillin brought new hope at a time the threat was real, before vaccines made the scurge of childhood illness largely a thing of the past.
I'm sure I would come up with a dozen more if I stayed here long enough.

Do you hear the echoes of what today's generation contends with?

These are the people now in their 70s and 80s. In this home, most are frail of body and even frailer of mind. But when I think of all they endured and accomplished, I must admire and honor them.

Even if the constant fault-finding drives me crazy. 

P.S. Add to my list of important events during the time period.

P.P.S.  How do you like the idea of a book (a novel, of course) with these seniors as the protagonists?

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I haven't been absence from here by choice. . .and I was going to explain all of what led to my being in a nursing home today.

But sometimes events shake us and make us think of things in a different way. The movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, a place I have watched movies myself, if one of those times. The nation is shocked, the people of Denver (Aurora is a suburb) more so than anyone else . . . does anyone else wonder, why us? again? Wasn't Columbine enough?

So I thought I would post, with her consent, this thoughtful piece from my friend Karla Johnson.

There is a tear in our community today.

I believe the only way we get through life is to close our eyes to the fact that anything can happen to anyone at any time.  We simply can't laugh or love or care with that truth close and high in our minds.  So we simply shut the thought away.  Then, in a slap of a reminder, something like the Aurora Theater tragedy happens . . . 

And we are struck with the reality that life is fragile and our close-by neighbors can be struck down and torn down without notice.

As our hearts are stinging from the slap of the killings, our souls are suddenly uncomfortable with God. Our minds try to make up the difference by scrambling for that nugget of truth will help us make sense of it all.  Who would do that?   How could such a thing happen?

Let us remember, if we can:

-Dark forces and bad people do exist.  They are real.   But the darkness doesn't get to win.  When we see the results of this killing power, we must remember that light overcomes.  Had this not been true throughout the ages, humankind would have ceased to exist eons ago.  Our power to love and to care will always be the stronger force in this world.

-There is no such thing as a bad emotion right now.  Shock, anger, ambivalence, horror, and shutting down are all within the normal range of human emotions.  We are allowed.

-Stories like this leave us feeling helpless.  But we always have the power to impact a situation:  We can care.  We can grieve and share the load of this tear.  We can pray.  We can offer love. People have often said to me:  "When I went through that dark season, I could feel the prayers.  They gave me strength and lifted me through the impossible."  Prayer makes a difference, no matter who you are or how little or much you pray throughout your days.

-Remember to reject any ideas of blame or condemnation.  The shooting was not the fault of a neighborhood, race, class, or otherwise.  Blaming the victims may let is off the hook emotionally, but the truth is . . . anything can happen to anybody at any time.  There has already been too much darkness, and it is time to claim compassion as fellow humans.

-Today--in the midst of the shock--is the day to ask God all of those uncomfortable questions.  And don't worry, there's no rule against it.  In fact, a great deal of my sacred text is dedicated to laments and hard questions.  We're all allowed, and we don't get points taken off for being real. As a would-be "God" scholar, I believe having the courage to ask God hard questions is counted as faith.  In my experience, God does not always offer up palatable answers.  But God does offer comfort and an unfailing presence of care.

-Many churches are holding services this evening.  We are spiritual beings as well as physical beings, and we all need spiritual care.  Go where you can to get what yourSOUL needs.  The churches and spiritual houses around you will welcome you, no matter your past, your faith background, or your present.  This is a time to come together.  (I can recommend some services if that would help). 

-Reach out.  What else can we do? Coming together will help mend this tear, even though our fabric will never again be the same.  

If you can, please join me

God, we care.  We are angry.  We are shocked.  We are horrified. We don't know how this is possible.  We don't know how You could have let this happen.  Give us comfort.  Give us strength.

Be with those who lost loved ones.  There are no words that will hold their grief, and we pray You would be there--be as present and as loud as their horror.  Be with the moms and dads and brothers and sisters and friends and neighbors and grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles who will face an empty space at the table for the rest of their days.  

Give strength to the first responders, the chaplains, the investigators, and the support system around this tragedy.  

Remember the forgotten ones who have no direct care.  Remember the invisible pains and the empty spaces within each person across the nation.

Be present, God.  Be present.   And help us all bring more light, more love, more care, and more humanity into this fragile state we know as life.


All that  Karla asks in return for reposting her prayer is the opportunity to minister to you further through her Community Prayer Day. Check her out at and feel your way to her prayer group. (sorry, I don't have the exact instructions)

Karla lives in Aurora. I lived in Denver for 20 years.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fourth of July is upon us. I'm proud to be an American and all that.

A post on Facebook asked "how would you respond if you were given a choice--deny your faith and live? Or stay true and be killed?"

Of course I hope I won't renounce by faith. But I think that misses the point.

I don't have to know today how I would respond. I don't need the grace today to remain steadfast (although I acknowledge that today's choices will influence my later decisions.) Jesus Himself said "But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say," (Matthew 10:19)

God gives me the grace I need for today. He has brought me safely through every day this far. I trust He will whatever happens tomorrow.

So I won't worry about who wins the presidential election (even though I dislike either choice more than ever)

Whether I stay at home or go into a nursing home. . .I trust God will be with me there.