Tag Archives: no words

Speaking out

I am tired. I don’t know about you, but I am weary of the hate-filled rhetoric. There are many times I might have blogged, but chose not to. I,often, have no words, I who am supposed to have a “word” for everything. I am a preacher after all, and am called to have something to say in times of joy, in times of sadness, in times of uncertainty, in times when words seem to fail.

I often have had to something to say, when there has been horrible violence:

Horror and Violence in the nth degree

Prayers for Paris,  

Another Shooting

When there are times that are anxious:

Anxiety, Fear, and Rumors of Wars

When I am upset and overwhelmed by racism or sexism:

Standing up, Speaking Out, Praying for Peace

#MeToo

And my blogging started years ago with the shooting of Dr. George Tiller and then the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford in a post:

Words Matter

Today, once again, I KNOW that words matter, that denigrating human beings and their homelands is bad, period. I can not be the only tired of the words that are coming from our nation’s capital. Words matter, language matters, manners matter and holding one’s self to a higher standard matters. It matters when the president of the United States does not condemn racist language or hateful speech. It matters when the president of the United States uses twitter to belittle other people, to bully other people, to make policy statements or post anything untrue. Words matter, even on twitter, even in private meetings about immigration.

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As an “old pastor,” one who has been around for a while, I often talk with new clergy about things that matter, words, certainly, but also dress and behavior and the higher standard to which we are held. It isn’t fair, it isn’t! When I was young, I lived in a very small town and not long after I was there, some of the people came to talk to me about how I dressed when coming downtown to pick up my mail. I saw nothing wrong with wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Some people saw it differently and said they didn’t want to be embarrassed to introduce me as their pastor.

Did that upset me? You bet it did. However, I decided as a young clergy woman, I had enough strikes me against me that I didn’t want my appearance or my clothing to distract from my service, my work, my calling, my ministry. I probably over dressed for a long time, but no one ever said they were embarrassed again about the way I dressed.

I also over the years have become aware that my facial expressions, my aside comments, my overheard comments and critiques can also be incredibly damaging. I confess, I have not always done well or that I don’t still fail pretty regularly. Rolling my eyes at things I think are ridiculous, making comments about situations or people, these are not only unhelpful, they are wrong and hurtful.

Anyone in public service, whether ministry, or teaching, or government are held to a higher standard of behavior and they should be. We are called to be leaders, we are called to thoughtful rhetoric. That doesn’t mean we have to agree with everyone. It doesn’t mean there can not be deeply held beliefs that are divisive. It doesn’t mean there can’t be heated argument, debate and disagreement.

What it does mean is that WORDS MATTER. Using offensive language to describe a person’s home country, making insulting and derogatory comments about human beings is unacceptable as a public servant, or for anyone. The Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church have made this statement about the offensive remarks .

I would invite the President, but more importantly all of us to re-think how we behave in private and in public. What he says, what we say can make a difference for good or ill, for peace or violence, for what is right and what is wrong. As a follower of Jesus, I am convicted that I must stand against racism, bigotry and words that incite hatred and violence.

My words matter, as do all of ours. I call on all of us to stand up against hatred, against racism, against any language that is used to put down, bully or insult other human beings regardless of their race, their age, their nationality, their gender, their orientation, their religion. I, we, can do better than this. Let us choose justice, let us choose goodness, let us choose a higher road and a higher standard for our behavior.

 

 

 

 

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No words

The last few weeks, my siblings and I have been walking that final journey with our mother.  The kindness of so many people has been so evident in their care of my mother. It is a blessing to watch and to be part of the love she receives in these last days..

As many have walked this same journey, they might appreciate the struggle that words bring.  Finding words or the right words to describe what is happening is difficult at best.  My mother is at a place where articulating words is almost impossible, but she still at times tries to share.

I remember a song from the musical My Fair Lady, “Words, words, words, I’m so sick of words.”  The song’s title is “Show Me.”  The youtube.com version is not a particularly good video cut, but the point of the song is that it’s not the words that matter, but the actions, hence the title “Show Me.”  Eliza Doolittle sings she is sick of words and wants to “see” what the words are supposed to mean.  

I am not sick of words.  I am not frustrated like Miss Doolittle, instead I am searching for words.  The English language does not seem to have enough synonyms for the response to the question “how are you?”  When the response is “okay” or “fine”, those words do not give a depth of meaning and yet, when I, like many others are walking holy paths, there may not be other words.    The other responses or synonyms are “all right, fair, middling, so-so, not bad” and they also do not articulate what is happening.

Being a midwife for someone from this life to the next is hard work, holy work, sad and joyous work.  Sometimes answering “okay” is the only answer when asked “how are you?”  It is not a silly response or an untruthful one.  For me, I don’t have the words to describe all the feelings that walking this sacred path with my mother entails.  

My sister took a couple of pictures yesterday of her and of me and my mom.  Rather than describing, perhaps “showing” makes more sense.

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Hands intertwined while she sat with mom and our mother slept, having moments, few and far between when she was lucid.  Or perhaps this:

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Small sips of water to wet her mouth and throat from the drying effects of the oxygen.  Both times wrapped in a cuddly warm animal print blanket, purchased by my sister, in order that she feel warm and cared for no matter what is happening.

These are truly sacred and holy moments which defy description but are blessed by the presence of Love and the Divine Spirit.  I believe that when John talks about “the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us” the gospel writer is not writing those phrases in order that people might “talk” about the Word, but might experience the Holy and Sacred presence of the Incarnation.  It is not so much about “words” but about God’s place among God’s people, fully, and present.  

As I walk these days, these hours and these moments, I deeply appreciate Paul’s words, “that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God.”  My mother’s journey will take her from this life, from love here, to life and love in the everlasting presence.  She is not separated from God, neither am I, nor my siblings nor any who have ever walked this final journey with a loved one.

Perhaps, in the end, no words are needed, only the strength, the power and comfort of Love.

 

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