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pray for our nation. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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i am a sign-reader.  whether i am driving or riding in the car, i read signs.  billboards, people’s clever license plates, bumper stickers, storefronts, oh, and road signs.  there are certain areas of the country where signs for attorneys are rampant.  other areas tout strong religious beliefs.  some signs are clever “buckle up next million miles” and some are deeply insightful “when there’s only one race and that’s mankind… love is in you.”  because we adore both road trips and short drives, we are privy to signs galore.  one of my pet peeves is to see blatant spelling or punctuation errors on billboards; it makes me rant for several minutes about editors and proof-reading and the propensity for people to ignore the amazing thing called the dictionary.

we took a drive the other day.  it was after all the services of the week were over and we were unplugging.  turning the car west we headed out in search of a new hiking trail.  on our drive we passed this sign.  PRAY FOR OUR NATION.  no fancy font, no centered spacing, just four simple words.  i don’t know how long that sign has been there.  it’s not in the front yard of any religious building; it’s just there, in a small park-like setting.  i thought, “no kidding.”  it seems apt timing.

instead of reading the paper first thing everyday now, we are reading meditations.  we are considering the mica moments of the day before, the mica moments to come.  we are trying to be hopeful, trying to slough off pettiness and disagreement, trying to avoid those who are clearly toxic to themselves and others, trying to engage in positive ways, trying to spend time doing things that advance us as humans in a big world rather than mire us in stunted selfish plots to further polarize and make inequity even more profound.

PRAY FOR OUR NATION doesn’t just start with folding hands and closing eyes, as much as that may help.  it also starts with reaching out hands, opening your eyes, listening, learning, believing that there is only one race and it is mankind.

buckle up.  next million miles.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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kindness. every day. [two artists tuesday]

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on this day, election day in the united states, i cannot think of a better antidote… er…aspiration than to embrace the upcoming world kindness day wholeheartedly, emphatically, honestly.

the mission of the world kindness movement and world kindness day is to create a kinder world by inspiring individuals and nations towards greater kindness.

the goal of the non-profit organization is “making kindness a greater part of everyone’s daily lives and increasing the awareness of the positive benefits of kindness to health and the overall well-being of society.”

“this day (world kindness day) aims to increase the value of kindness in society as well as increase the amount of kind acts that take place nationwide, making kindness a greater part of day to day life.”

i cannot help but think of my sweet momma as i write this.  she didn’t need a celebratory calendar-day to pledge to be kind.  she just was.  she would be disheartened by our current state of affairs, determined to make a difference one little moment at a time, one kindness at a time.  for as i look around, that is what is lacking.  basic kindness.  what i see in its place is ugly; anger and passionate division, fear and volatility, rudeness and a combative disrespect for humanity.

“on this day, participants attempt to make the world a better place by celebrating and promoting good deeds and pledging acts of kindness, either as individuals or as organizations.”

acts of kindness.  how about every day?

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our BE KIND reminders:

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read DAVID’S thoughts on this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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the twain. [merely a thought monday]

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i shudder when i hear the words “…and never the twain shall meet…”(rudyard kipling)  in my head when i read this.  but sue aikens’ words (on life below zero, she is a strong alaska-proof woman living in the arctic) were not a viewpoint on the polarization of our country.  they were merely the way she was describing the ropes she sets outside her buildings so that in the middle of fierce snowstorms she will be able to find her way, despite not being able to see in the swirling snow.

in life – intellectual, emotional, political life – however, there is a middle ground.  but it has become difficult in our current climate to sort to the middle, to not stand firmly on one side or the other of the great divide, a place that grows larger by the day, with an ever-brewing moat of hatred and vitriol, terrifyingly divisive to families, relationships, communities. there is danger on the far sides, danger in stubbornly and feverishly clinging to the left or the right, without considering ramifications, without any compassion, with an unbending dedication to absolutism, with no room or moment for thoughtful consideration, with breakneck righteous reactivity.

in sue aikens’ world, it will save her life to unconditionally sort left or sort right.  in ours, it may destroy us.

read DAVID’S thoughts on this MERELY A THOUGHT MONDAY

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self-control. [flawed cartoon wednesday]

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yesterday on her way out of church one of my friends stopped to talk to me.  she said (words to the effect) that the only reason she was able to sing the last song (which was o beautiful for spacious skies) was because the last line has the expression “self-control” in it.  more specifically, “america! america!  God mend thine every flaw, confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.”  she asked if i had picked it intentionally, this one patriotic song she felt she could actually sing at this moment in time – beCAUSE of the expression “self-control.”  i couldn’t stake claim to the wisdom of picking this one; ptom had requested it weeks earlier for yesterday.  but i understood her completely.

self-control.  america.  it doesn’t seem, these days, that these go together.  if you’ve ever had the chance to look at a small child’s coloring book – you know, the ones where they have puzzles in them also…the one where there are four shapes, for example, three circles and a square and at the top of the page it says, “circle/color the shape that doesn’t go with the others”, you will know what i mean when i say this.  perhaps there is a coloring book page with the words “america”, “division”, “polarity”, “untruths”, “inequality”, “retrograding” and “self-control”; the directions on the top of the page read “circle the word that doesn’t go with the others.”  you would be hard-pressed to NOT circle “self-control”.  so i understand marykay’s ability to sing this song with the YEARNING of the soul of God confirmed in self-control.

this coming sunday, the other weekend flanking this week of the fourth of july, the sending hymn will be this is my song, lyrics by lloyd stone and georgia harkness with music by jean sibelius (the tune of finlandia) and i AM choosing it intentionally.  these are the lyrics:

this is my song o God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine. 
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

my country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
so hear my song, o God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

this is my prayer, o God of all earth’s kingdoms,
your kingdom come; on earth your will be done.
o God, be lifted up till all shall serve you,
and hearts united learn to live as one.
so hear my prayer, o God of all the nations;
myself i give you; let your will be done.

for the world i want to live in is a world of peace.  it is people (each of us striving individually and in community) in a world continuing to move toward MORE unity, MORE equality, LESS judgment, MORE truth, LESS division, MORE generosity, LESS polarization, LESS elitism, MORE inclusiveness, LESS hatred, LESS self-serving indulgence, LESS excuses, MORE respect, with the soul of God (or whatever you call this spiritual magnificence) clearly demonstrated in our mindful self-control.

happy independence day.

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