Monthly Archives: December 2012

A cold neighbor

It is snowing in Chicago, and I’m indoors, observing the flakes from the warmth and safety of a comfy chair.  I’ve watched folks trudging down the streets, fighting the wind and cold, and have offered up murmurs of thanksgiving for a cup of hot tea, and the cat warming my lap.  My mind wandered back to a day a couple of years ago when I had an early 8 am dentist appointment one Saturday.  I’d walked to the dentist (a mere five blocks from my home), but while in the chair, a heavy snow storm hit.  Winds picked up.  It was near white-out at times.

When I left the dentist’s office, my face was numb: not only from the bitter wind, but also from the anesthesia I’d been given.  It had been a lengthy procedure, wherein old fillings from a childhood overseas were removed (having been deemed of poor quality) and replaced with more modern, quality material.  As I crossed the threshold out into the wintry mess, I wiped drool from the side of my cheek.  Ugh.  My eyes had watered during the procedure, and I was very aware of the mascara smudged beneath my eyes.  The sting of the wind was making my eyes water more.

I trudged the first block through about 8 inches of freshly fallen snow.  Beautiful, really.  But I’d not gone prepared, and my tennis shoes were slick and full of snow.  I glanced up and saw a man walking my direction and thought great… another one of the neighborhood’s homeless… expecting a handout.

As he approached I attempted to not make eye contact.  But he called out to me: “Lady?”  I glanced his way.

“Lady… you look really cold.  Could I buy you a sandwich? Or a cup of hot coffee?”  He pointed at the McDonald’s nearby.  And I stood there, gaping at the irony of my situation.  I mumbled a thank you, and he led me by the hand over a drift and into the restaurant.  I accepted a cup of coffee, and had an interesting conversation with someone from the neighborhood I would never have otherwise met.

He graciously mentioned that it was his faith tradition to help the poor and those in need.  I asked him what church he attended, and he pointed to the local mosque.  I smiled and mentioned I was baptist.  We rejoiced in the commonalities which bridge our faith, our neighborhood, and the human condition.

Winter in the city.

Winter in the city.



re-post: Observations of the divine…

This prayer was originally posted on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  It has been my mantra these last days.


new every morning is Love
and all day long it works for good in the world
it stirs up in us a desire to serve
and to live peaceably
and to devote our days to walking in ways which are life-giving

blessed be.

A prayer…

Charlotte Bacon, 6

Daniel Barden, 7

Rachel Davino, 29

Olivia Engel, 6

Josephine Gay, 7

Ana M Marquez-Greene, 6

Dylan Hockley, 6

Dawn Hocksprung, 47

Madeline F. Hsu, 6

Catherine V. Hubbard, 6

Chase Kowalski, 7

Jesse Lewis, 6

James Mattioli, 6

Grace McDonnell, 7

Anne Marie Murphy, 52

Emilie Parker, 6

Jack Pinto, 6

Noah Pozner, 6

Caroline Previdi, 6

Jessica Rekos, 6

Avielle Richman, 6

Lauren Russeau, 30*

Mary Sherlach, 56

Victoria Soto, 27

Benjamin Wheeler, 6

Allison N Wyatt, 6



A voice is heard in Newtown,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.

I am broken.
We are broken.

(Matthew 2:18; Jeremiah 31:15)

Identifying factors…

I was born with a very distinct birthmark on my knee: a dark mole about the size of a pencil eraser, just left of midline.  My father has a similar birthmark, only on the back of his leg.

Recently my birthmark has changed size and shape.  It is raised some, and I’ve caught it when shaving my legs. I went to a dermatologist to have it examined.  The doctor reassured me that she thought it was likely nothing to worry about, but since it was bothering me, she’d remove it and send it to pathology to ‘just be sure’.

My folks live several hours from me, so knowing I’d have a little anesthesia, I thought it best to let my parents know what I was doing.  My mother’s initial response:  “So how will I identify you?”

Huh?  What do you mean? I asked. I rarely wear skirts and my knees rarely are seen.

“Your body.  That was your distinguishing feature.  How will I identify your body if something should happen?” she inquired, quite seriously.

Stunned, I joked “Geesh, mom… I hope there is more than just a leg left of me when they call you in to identify me.”  She did NOT find that amusing, but we both realized how ridiculous her comment sounded.

Since this conversation, however, I’ve had some time to reflect. I think her ill-assumption about my possible fate is founded in a theology in which sacrifice is considered the highest calling, and in which there is no limits to the lengths to which God might test us.  This Job-ian theology is a theology in which not only ‘bad things happen to good people’, but faith indeed increases the likelihood of such trauma.  As if there is a certain amount of evil out there in the world, and if you are strong enough, God will reward you by allowing you to absorb more than your fair share of it (I Corinthians 10:13: “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear…”)

It is sick.