Monthly Archives: March 2012

Love in a Time of Hate

Last evening my husband and I attended a book reading and signing at Watermark books.  This independent book store is a jewel and worth visiting, but I digress.  The authors signed the book and wrote, “in celebration of unconditional love!”   The book, Our Family Outing, A memoir of coming out and coming throughis written by Joe Cobb and Leigh Anne Taylor.

At one time Joe was a United Methodist pastor and Leigh Anne was his wife.  They served in the Kansas West Conference.  Joe and I were ordained deacon the same year in 1985.  Joe was a shining star, talented in so many ways, as was Leigh Anne.    They were everything everyone wanted to see in a clergy couple, handsome, beautiful, and they sang together like angels.

Their book is a raw, vulnerable telling of Joe’s coming to grips with his homosexuality and Leigh Anne’s journey as well.  The telling is full of truth, of depth, of pain, of grace and of forgiveness.  The book is worth reading.

The story is told from both perspectives.  It is not always easy to read.  Perhaps because I have known Leigh Anne and Joe for so long and perhaps because I am sympathetic to their journey I was deeply moved by their truth and their vulneriblity in telling it.

Our world is so filled with hatred, prejudice, malice and mean-spiritiedness.   A young man can be shot and killed becuase he is wearing a hoodie in a gated community and is the wrong color.  Teenages can be harassed and bullied until they take their own life because other see them as “gay”.  Women and children can be killed in cold blood by a soldier who has served too many deployments and has lost his mind.  A Jewish rabbi and children as well as other soldiers are shot down in retaliation.  Where and how will it end?

Only, if and when we discover that unconditional love the Divine offers us.  It is so easy to be caught up in our own prejudices whatever they may be.  We need, I need the eyes of Christ who sees beyond the color of the skin, the accent of the voice, the clothing one wears, the religion one follows or the cultural or sexual orientation one might have.

I want to celebrate unconditional love.  I know I get it wrong more often then I get it right.  Leigh Anne and Joe’s story reminds me that hope is possible, that love is stronger than anything i can imagine and that God offers grace and healing to one and all.  Their journey was not an easy one, and yet they continue to live in love and grace in the midst of the laughter, the tears, the doubts, the uncertainties, and a world that would undermine the power of love.  I can only hope and pray that I could live that kind of love in this time that prefers hate.

As always, I am Graced to serve,

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Lessons from the garden

I had good intentions yesterday.  I planned to plant a few onions.  I know it is early, but luckily, onions can stand alot of weird weather.  I thought I would get a few red onions and a few yellow onions planted.  Soon it will be time to plant potatoes, radishes, lettuce and carrots.  Yes, it’s early, but the weather is just calling for some seeds to go in the ground.

We rotor-till in the fall.  So, I had planned to take my handy dandy pitch fork to the garden and turn over some dirt, rake and then hoe a small row or two and plant some onions.  Oh, the best laid plans….I put my pitch fork down in the dirt…and ran into rock!  How can this be?  For the last four years I have dug rock out of the garden!  I dug around until I could get underneath and then pried up chunks of concrete!

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After an hour and a half….you can see by the dark colored rocks exactly what I dug up!  No onions planted yesterday.  In fact….this is all I got done!

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A little patch about 6 feet by 4 feet.  Good strength training I am sure…and by my pedometer, about 3000 steps.  Alas, but nothing planted.   I have read that the freeze/thaw cycle of winter moves rocks from deep in the earth to the surface.  Years ago, this garden of ours was an old house that burned to the ground.  I keep thinking after several years all the old concrete/foundation should be gone.  Each year, in the same places, more chunks of rock, concrete and brick come up and have to be dug out.  If I don’t, then it keeps whatever I am planting from establishing deep roots.

In the midst of the digging and grumbling I began to wonder what in my own heart and spirit needed to be dug up and removed in order for new growth to occur.  What old foundations have broken and are pushed up by the freeze and thaw in the seasons of my own life?  What old bits of rock are keeping me from growing and becoming what God has created me to be?   What chunks of resentment, bitterness and fear are buried in a way that keep me from living in love, in faith and in hope?

I don’t like thinking these thoughts.  I would rather rake the surface dirt and plant a few seeds, water and see what the summer will bring.  Instead, with aching muscles, the rocks confront me.  In the parable of the sower, Jesus talks about seeds falling among the rocks, the thorns and the good ground.  I have found in the garden at my home, the parable is not so simple.  The rocks are deep beneath what appears to be good soil.  So on the surface, the garden should produce good fruit.  It is only in the digging of the dirt, digging deep that it becomes apparent that everything is not what it seems.

In my own life I would own that this is true.  The Psalmist refers to the deep that calls to deep.  If I am honest, there are rocks that I am not aware of until I dig deep.  Until I allow the

freeze and thaw of the seasons of my life to push to the surface that which hinders my own growth.  The digging is hard work and sometimes makes me ache.  In the midst of the hard work that my spiritual life requires, I trust the grace and love of God that promises that “the one who began a good work in me, will bring it to completion” (Philippianss 1: 6)  God has promised to be with me, to be with us all as we become who we are created to be.

I plan to continue to dig in the garden at my home and in my heart.  It is good work, hard work and work that offers new life and spirit.

I am graced to Serve.

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