Thursday – August 22, 2019
“She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.”– Toni Morrison, Beloved
“A book should be an ice axe to free the frozen seas within.” Franz Kafka
A Word of Hope
Can you remember a book that opened you, enlarged your world, transformed your life?
Toni Morrison’s Beloved was the work that broke me open in a way nothing had before. As Angela Davis argues: we can never see slavery the same way after reading the novel. Morrison takes us into the shadow side of history– into the claustrophobic bowels of slave ships, parched bodies packed upon one another. She takes us into the life of Sethe, a former slave, whose dangerous, “thick” love urges her to slit the throat of her baby girl with a handsaw rather than have the slave catchers “maim and dirty her so bad” she would forget who she was. Morrison’s imaginative genius gives flesh to the ghost of slavery as it haunts her characters’ lives. But she also demonstrates the healing grace of love as wounded people reach out to each other over the abyss of suffering. And she gives life to a community of African American women who are bold and redemptive, facing down threatening forces.
Beloved was the most challenging work I ever taught, the most challenging work my Seniors had ever studied. But year after year what began as a confusing and frustrating reading deepened into a powerful experience: debating the ethics of Sethe’s terrible-loving act, layering down through the text, navigating the multi-vocal narrative, the interior monologues, the motifs threading the work, the incantatory, poetic prose. The work was transformative.
After Morrison’s death, a profusion of images filled the media–the regal prophet with her thick grey dreadlocks, the young mother embracing her sons, the editor in her office, the smiling honoree as President Obama places the Medal of Freedom around her neck, the dignified iconic writer receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature. Tributes abound, some grieving that we have lost her in a time when we need her voice the most. And the stories from friends—cooking contests with Nikki Giovanni, her love of desserts, her extraordinarily forgiving and generous nature.
Rest in Glory, Toni Morrison, great soul, moral compass, friend of our mind.
Dr. Pat Saxon
Wednesday – August 21, 2019
“Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength is spent.” Psalm 71.9 NRSV
A Word of Hope
Today is National Senior Citizens Day in the United States. It is the one day of the year we bring attention to social, economic, and health issues for people that are classified as “senior citizens.” Some say you are a senior citizen if you are 55+ in age. Others declare that you are a senior citizen at 65+. In all cases, it is prudent for each of us to learn from people who are willing to share their knowledge and wisdom based on their experiences.
Once they reach a certain age, many people go to live in Senior Citizen Living communities or retirement communities. Some people are in nursing homes dependent upon their health status, economic situation, or their family situation. They may be older; however, their ability to coach and mentor would benefit the younger generations. In Psalm 71, the writer says “Do not cast me off in the time of old age, do not forsake me when my strength is spent.” This scripture is a message to us all. The writer of Psalms was letting us know that even though they may have progressed in age, we should not ignore them. Do not forsake them because their bodies have aged. They can work with their families, the communities, and society in general.
For some families and cultural traditions, they let their aging parents, aunts, uncles, and even cousins move in with them. The wisdom and knowledge can be passed on daily. In other cases, it might be best for them to be in a nursing home or another facility; however, it is good to visit and write them to let them know that you care and love them. In all cases, it will help them mentally and emotionally. Regularly being among family and friends is a great way to share and show love no matter what age a person attains.
Dear Alpha and Omega: You created us all and you know our beginning and our end. Allow us to learn from everyone so that we can benefit from great wisdom and knowledge you have shared with those that have come before us. May it be so in Your darling son Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Rev. Winner Laws
Cathedral of Hope Minister
Brite Divinity School Graduate
Tuesday – August 20, 2019
And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
–Matthew 27:46 New King James translation
A Word of Hope
“When You Feel Lonely”
I recall that there were times when I was a little boy that I felt afraid to be alone when my mother or father would tuck me in bed at night. I wanted my Mom or Dad to lie down beside me until I fell asleep. I remember my mother telling me that I was never really alone because God was always with me. That actually did bring me some comfort, but I realize that there are those people for whom the thought of an invisible being somehow always hovering nearby—even if it is the God of love—might only evoke creepiness rather than consolation!
As an adult, when I have felt lonely due to missing loved ones who were absent by distance or death, that is a loneliness for which there is no easy substitute. Simply saying, “Remember, God is with you!” doesn’t close the distance or restore a life that is dearly missed. Loneliness can be very real and very keenly felt.
I am comforted to know that the God of the universe, whom we can experience through discovering the life and love of Jesus, understands the ache of human emotion, including loneliness. It is God’s compassion and empathy that is also revealed by the Incarnation—God cared enough to show up! In taking-on human form in the presence of Jesus, God demonstrated that there is a deep connection and understanding between the human and Divine experience.
It has been said that there are no tears we may weep that have not once before rolled down the cheek of God. Jesus’ journey on earth was one that included friendship and betrayal, joyous elation and righteous indignation (anger), along with feelings of both intimacy and abandonment.
If feelings of loneliness, emptiness, or loss seem overwhelming for you, please know that you are loved by a God who understands, who cares, and who is at work for good in your life. Be willing to reach out, show up, make a human connection, ask for help, and fight against isolating yourself. Hold fast and fear not. The Gospel message is one of good news of great joy that is real and that can change how you view everything when you are open to accepting it.
Loving God, nudge me to listen to the hope that you bring and to refuse to succumb to despair or emptiness. Help me to look at my life with a fresh perspective and to trust in the possibilities that your presence brings. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Gary G. Kindley
Monday – August 19, 2019
“Woman,” Jesus said, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” John 20.15
A Word of Hope
In thinking about the character of Jesus, I love to wonder about what kind of personality he had. We know a few things about Jesus in that he was likely charismatic, at least enough to draw crowds. He enjoyed talking to people and giving them a sense of freedom and liberation. But, we also read that he would often go away into the wilderness seeking solitude. Who could blame him? It must’ve been frustrating leading a spiritual revolution in the first century. It was a time when you could literally lose your life for telling anyone you liked what Jesus had to say about freedom and liberation, not to mention that thing about loving each other. I ask myself, “Was Jesus an extravert or introvert?”
I don’t think modern psychological terms “extrovert” and “introvert” really describe the broad spectrum of anyone’s personality. There are times when I enjoy being around crowds and times when larger groups can feel overwhelming. I enjoy my social times and equally cherish my solitude and unpacking my day. But I think what I love most of all is conversation, deep conversation. Turns out, there’s a name for that too; “ambivert.”
I love people and learning what makes them tick while filling in the missing pieces to the giant puzzle of my good friends’ lives. All those hidden things are mysteries that demand to be solved. So it makes me wonder what Jesus thought of his fellow human beings, all the while being fully God and fully human. (Talk about ambivert!) How does that work?
What I look forward to asking him one day is “what did you think?“ Jesus is the Bible’s biggest celebrity, if I may use that very limiting term, but, I’m talking about his human side. We are told by the Gospel writers that Jesus had plenty of discussions with people who didn’t know him at all to those who claimed to have known him very, very well.
Based on those short and sketchy stories in the Gospels, we presume that we know so much about his life, but do we? So often, there is a time in my life that I want to get it right, asking myself what Jesus would want me to do in regard to myself or other people. It’s perhaps the most important question I could ask. In Christ’s perfect wisdom doesn’t there have to be a very simple answer about how we’re expected to live our lives, presuming that he even cares at all? The truth is that in his teachings, Jesus gave very few direct answers, but he did ask a lot of questions. Do you suppose he wanted us to figure things out for ourselves?
Jesus had to know that each of us is unique. There are extreme introverts and extroverts and everything in between living in the world. Each of us has to follow the message of the Christ in her or his own way. But what is that message to you for today? Is it to preach to the masses, love unconditionally, contemplate in solitude, teach others to pray, or to simply observe in silence? In Jesus’ examples, there were no limits to the options, but if we were to ask him, I have no doubt he would say, “What would you do?”
Help me to follow your way by never losing sight of who you created me to be.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Friday – August 16, 2019
But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved. Hebrews 10:30
A Word of Hope
I have an ambivalent relationship with the word “saved.” Maybe you do as well. I am “saved.” I think I still have the Bible somewhere in which I wrote the date on which I was saved. The only thing I remember about this now is that I was in middle school when I walked forward during the “altar call” at a minor league Billy Graham type crusade (I think it was Rev. Graham’s brother-in-law.)
I was officially “saved” but from what? This Hebrews text offers an interesting perspective on that. Earlier verses make clear that if we are “saved” we don’t “shrink back.” When we don’t shrink back, the text says, we are ready to endure hard struggles, to partner with those who abused and persecuted us, to have compassion for those in prison (even if they don’t “deserve” it.) Being saved, according to Hebrews means we know that we “possess something better and more lasting” than any material possession. In other words, being saved is having endurance fueled by hope and confidence in God’s promises. It means doing the right thing even though it is hard and may require us to work with people we’d rather not encounter. If we’re “lost” we live in fear and lack of clarity. We let the “what if’s” limit us and doubts define us. We allow ourselves to sit on our hands as we quietly console ourselves with the thought that anything we do won’t amount to much anyhow.
So today I confess I am still lost in many ways. I am praying for the strength to stop shrinking back. As my confession and prayer today, I write my own take on Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem “I Am Waiting.”
I am waiting for hope and confidence to outshine my shrinking back
and for dreams of what-could-be to kick my butt
I am waiting to see and waiting to do what is beyond my doubts and fears.
I am waiting to start wondering what am I waiting for.
I am waiting to put down my possessions,
my every-day routine and
start showing up at places where people are lonely, hungry or sick,
places where creation is being mistreated.
And I am waiting to get disgusted with my waiting.
I am waiting to be saved and to save myself from waiting. Lord, I want to hope and act, help my waiting.
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