I hope you'll take 90 seconds to watch this video, which has been praised across the nation and the world, from our own UCC folks, to other denominations for its depiction of inclusion and its message about faith in action.
The Language of God.....
We pull into the rental car lot to return the car that we have spent way too many hours in during the past week. Ahead of us is a young family with a little girl staring into space with that "What am I doing up this early?!" expression I probably have, too.
Turns out, they are on the same shuttle we are to the airport, and even cite the same airline to the driver. As we exit the bus in front of the airport, this seemingly mild-mannered mother, with limp blond hair and a somewhat mousy appearance, shouts, "SH*T!" She turns around and in a loud voice (perhaps so we can all purposely hear her or perhaps I'm just nosy) says, "HE left the car seat in the car, so he'll need to go back with you." Bummer, I think. I empathize, since I've left stuff in rental cars before, and have been equally as stressed traveling with young children while exhausted from short nights of not enough sleep.
As our family drags our luggage over, up, and across to the terminal, the woman's voice follows. She is narrating the situation....to her daughter? The 3-year-old right next to her? Seems to me it may be for public benefit (or again, maybe I'm just that sleep deprived that I'm inappropriately listening to this conversation) that she continues, "Daddy forgot your car seat and had to go back and get it." (Read I didn't forget the car seat....) I wonder if this is a contract they have: Ok, you're in charge of the car seat, and I'm in charge of what goes in the car seat (a/k/a sleepy daughter). Or is it one of those unspoken "understandings" most couples have but that trip us up at the most inopportune moments? (My dad *always* took care of the car seat! or You've always taken care of the car seat before....). She continues to narrate loudly, "We need to go over here and wait for Daddy and the car seat he went back for."
You may be wondering why I put so much thought into this. I don't know, really. Maybe it was the empathy I felt for this mom and my younger self, in my more self-conscious days as a parent of young children...
We get to security (I vow to get a new carry on bag so this process does not involve wrestling a laptop) and get to the gate where I strike up/continue a conversation with a woman we met yesterday on a college tour at the University of San Diego. Daddy shows up with the car seat. There is a (I'm not proud of this thought) disappointing lack of drama about it all. I think maybe he deserves some appreciation for the extra trip back to the car rental place in the shuttle all alone with the driver, hearing Mommy's voice in his head. I imagine the Gate Attendant on the PA in an Ed McMahon tone: "Ladies and gentlemen, seated today in row 10, it's Daddy--who has already today, before 8:00 in the morning, successfully retrieved a forgotten car seat from the rental car place AND made it to the gate in time to relax with his daughter before boarding! Let's hear it for Daddy!"
As we board the plane and head north, I'm left thinking that perhaps we all need a little more appreciation in our lives--just for making it through some days. So go ahead, borrow Ed McMahon's voice in your head for a minute. Think about something you did today--could be something you do every day--but something that no one really appreciated. Hear that, "Heeeere's YOU! Deserving of appreciation for _______________________! Let's hear it, folks!" Wild applause. Aw shucks. Thank you. Thank you very much. I'll be here all week......
On a recent trip to San Francisco, I was struck by the disparity just a few blocks apart. We were driving through town to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and meet relatives for dinner. We passed the massive concrete of the business district, viewed glimpses of Chinatown and North Beach, a heavily Italian neighborhood, and kept going. Further on, our borrowed TomTom device took us through a neighborhood teaming with activity. A couple of men sauntered down the street, beer cans in hand. Another literally wove his way across an intersection, while still another sped up and yelled something back to the weaver. A Sikh squatted against a brick wall and dropped a piece of his dinner, which looked to be contained in a foil wrapper. Women were conspicuously absent, and bars conspicuously adorned every ground floor window and door. it was the kind of neighborhood I wanted to notice every detail, yet at the same time, not be noticed noticing.
Just a few blocks north, the scene changed. More modern structures. Trendy diversity. Happier looking ethnic restaurants and businesses. Advertisements with clean, young, beautiful people of color. We crossed the bridge and entered a tunnel painted with a rainbow around the entrance. We looked at the view of this shining city in the evening sunlight. Ahhh, how beautiful!
I wondered later how many of the people in the "in-between" neighborhood were born into families who had planned for them, were ready financially to support them, had parents who wanted them and took time to understand them, learn about what they were going through at each stage in their lives, volunteer at their schools, help them through tough times, take them on vacation and buy souvenirs....Not that all those things are necessary to become a well-adjusted adult who is contributing to society, but they sure don't sure as heck don't hurt.
When people say that these residents need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, I always remember what my grandpa said: The presupposition to that statement is that the person has boots. Some people think that homelessness and drug-addicted lowlifes and poverty aren't their problem, but I disagree. Social issues like this are everyone's problem. They cost our entire society in lost income, crime, incarceration, medical services, not to mention, it's just the right thing to do to care for our neighbors, no matter which neighborhood they live in.
When I was in DC this spring, I met a young man who said he was a Professional Idealist. I tend to think along the same lines--you know, shoot for the moon, because even if you miss you'll land among the stars type of thing. And this is where I am regarding comprehensive sexuality education, because, call me crazy, but I tend to think that if everyone had complete and accurate information about their sexuality, relationships, and safety, and it were offered in a safe, caring, culturally relevant context and environment, it might make a difference how many people ended up with nothing else to do on a Monday night but saunter down a street filled with bars on the windows, drinking beer and looking for trouble.
So, I'll keep on keeping on. Because "someday, we''ll find it, the Rainbow Connection--the lovers, the dreamers and me..."
I know better. I really do. But every once in awhile I do something crazy like run errands involving purchasing Easter Candy during the lunch hour. When I'm hungry. Maybe it was a rebellious reaction to the "spring cleaning" yoga class I'd just attended--one designed to detoxify our bodies from heavy, fatty, sugar-laden food ingested during the holidays and winter months. Maybe it was just too much detoxification for me in one day. At any rate, suffice it to say that a small chocolate binge occurred in my presence this noon.
Later on, when I was looking for Easter in the storage closet (where are those boxes I so carefully re-organized earlier this year? Where did I put them? I know the stuff is in clear boxes--oh! There they are. Right next to Christmas. Hmmm. Appropriate....), I began to reminisce about this holiday.
When our boys were young, we would tie a string to a note or picture and they would follow the string to find their baskets. This evolved into picture clues, then multiple word clues in multiple places, generally alternating between up and down stairs, so they would wear off a bit of excitement before digging into chocolate and jelly beans and counting the change we'd hidden in plastic eggs. We'd cut some flowers from our yard for the cross at church, and proceed to our place of worship, where they would participate in another egg hunt. Sometimes, there was an extended family gathering with ham and fruit salad.
This year, we'll celebrate Easter apart--three of us on a plane to California for the Great 2010 College Tour, the fourth happily at college with his buddies. But I kind of feel like I've already been given my Hallelujahs this year, since I happened to be in Washington, DC when the health care legislation was passed. (I'd also like to note for the record, that Joe Biden stole my line. I didn't actually say the f-word though. On Sunday, when I was saying I wanted to eat dinner somewhere where we could watch the proceedings on CNN, the youth I was with were unimpressed by the historic relevance of this moment in time. "This is history!" I exclaimed! "Everything you've just said is history," they said, with the swagger and confidence of youth. "Well," I responded to their response, "it's....it's...it's a BFD is what it is! A Big Freakin' Deal!" At which point the Rabbi in the room who'd been listening to our conversation quietly got up and started streaming CNN on the laptop through the projector in the room. Gotta love Michael Namath.)
So anyway, a part of my soul feels like Easter already came, even though tomorrow is Good Friday, and there are forces at work to tear down the hard-won victory. Isn't that how it always goes, though? Work for good, someone might wreck it--do it anyway? (I'm paraphrasing here...).
This year, I'll put out the bunny and egg decorations, I'll lovingly create Easter baskets (a day early, and 2 "to go" ones for the college roommates), and I'll pray and sing Hallelujah on Sunday, no matter where I am. And this Easter, I will also hold in my heart and celebrate the face book status I read yesterday, attributed to John Fugelsang: "Obama is not a brown-skinned, anti-war socialist who gives away free health care. You're thinking of Jesus." Yeah, that Jesus. He was a BFD, too.