Culture As Report Card – Part I

A pithy observation has tucked itself away within my memory. Though I can’t recall who said it (else I’d provide proper attribution), the comment begs for reflection and due consideration, especially as our social norms face new challenges almost every day.

Culture is the Report Card of the Church

Over the years, the terminology for a Report Card has morphed into something meant to sound less ominous:  Progress Report … Student Assessment … Quarterly Evaluation. Still, whatever it’s called, this periodic report often causes unnecessary dread for the person (or organization) being evaluated. Continue reading “Culture As Report Card – Part I”

Each Day As God’s Gift

On Palm Sunday when we were kids, it was the custom (as we exited the church building after services) for an usher to give each of us a small palm branch to carry home. It was an odd thing, meant (I suppose) to commemorate Jesus entering Jerusalem while riding a donkey. John 12:13 tells us “they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him” and they acknowledged Jesus as “the king of Israel.”

Looking at the palm leaves (the above image is just one example), I’m struck today by their beauty and symmetry. During childhood, I think we used the branches to tickle and torment each other. Today, my usual impulse is one of contemplation. These green fronds hold the last droplets of morning dew and invite peaceful reflection. Continue reading “Each Day As God’s Gift”

So Long, Farewell 2021

At the beginning of 2021, I posted a light verse poem titled Hello, 2021! It was an intentional way to dismiss from my recall the memories of 2020. I asked some specific questions in that post, but concluded “2021 may not be so different than 2020.” And here I am (on the final day of 2021) thinking I was something of a prophet.

No, I won’t indulge in complaints (though I have many) nor discuss the divergent opinions on the deep, dark hole down which we’ve traveled. I imagine everyone is as exhausted as I am about all things Covid-19 and its various rabbit trails. As a topic of conversation and news-reporting, I’ve begun to shut it out (figuratively plugging my ears and whispering la-la-la-la-la!). Continue reading “So Long, Farewell 2021”

Fifty-two Card Pickup

The rush of Christmas activities has been somewhat more fragmented this year due to my sister-in-law’s sudden passing. In fact, it wasn’t until my Beloved and I were halfway through “our day” that both of us realized, “Hey, today’s our 52nd anniversary!”

Through the years since our wedding in 1969, we’ve observed some with splashy celebrations while others have been quite subdued. When you have an anniversary during the holidays, you learn to adjust. Many other events take precedence. Continue reading “Fifty-two Card Pickup”

A Day Like None Other

Resurrection Day was a day like none other in the history of mankind! John 20 tells us: “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” The heavy stone which had been covering the entrance was rolled aside! The crucified Jesus was no longer buried within!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

What a shock that must have been for the people who followed Jesus! He’d been buried in a tomb, a heavy stone was positioned and the chief priests set some kind of seal on the stone. For extra security (Matthew 27:65-66), Pilate permitted them to post a guard at the tomb. No one was getting in or out of that tomb!

Except … Jesus did! A day like none other. Continue reading “A Day Like None Other”

The 15-Day Year

Remember 2020? It was March 11, 2020 when all the purported experts instructed people (all over the globe) that we needed “15 days to slow the spread. That 15 days turned into a month … and then six weeks … and here we are (a year later) still laboring through various “baby steps”  in hopes of recovering some semblance of normalcy.

globe with mask
Image by Frauke Riether from Pixabay

Does it seem like it’s been a year? From my vantage point, it seems as if a decade or more has gone by! When children look back on this time, I can just hear the question to grandma or grandpa:  Granny & Gramps, what was the world like when people didn’t have to wear masks or social distance? Were you really allowed to go outside your house with faces uncovered?!! Continue reading “The 15-Day Year”

Behold, The Rose

The old saying “Beauty is as beauty does” was a phrase my mother used often when I was a child. Naturally, she desired to impress upon me the maxim that outer beauty is mostly irrelevant (or worthless) if there’s no inner beauty. In my teens, I might have offered this observation about the rose. It doesn’t do anything. A rose is beautiful simply because it is.

a rose in all its splendor
Image by Bessi from Pixabay

Today, we have beauty consultants, beauty tips and trends, spas and wellness clinics … all these and more revolving around the pursuit of beauty. In fact, according to one source, the $532 billion beauty industry is “growing faster than ever before.” Indeed, multiple market forces combine everyday to expand this already-significant effort at satisfying consumer demand.

A SELF magazine post from 2017 indicates women spend amazing amounts on beauty products:  $15,000 during an average woman’s lifetime, including $3,000 on mascara, another $2,000 on eyeshadows, and a whopping $1,700 on lip colors to match the multiple shades contained within one woman’s makeup bag! These are averages; some women will spend more. Ah, the pursuit of beauty does come at a hefty price. Continue reading “Behold, The Rose”

Happy Birthday, My Beloved!

Today, March 1st, is a special day we’re celebrating at our house. It is my dear Beloved’s birthday. He is my best friend, a mentor, and my respected spiritual leader. It’s almost impossible for me to recall a time when he wasn’t part of my life. Even before I knew him, I knew the kind of man I hoped (and prayed) my husband would be … and when I met him, I knew he was the one I’d been waiting for.

Beloved Patriot

In the picture above, I positioned his face over the image. Among his other fine qualities, I’m glad to acknowledge he is a patriot. The notion of patriotism has lost some of its sheen, unfortunately. But I’m pretty certain if he’d been alive in 1776, his name would have been included with all the other signers on the Declaration of Independence (maybe not entirely legible though) and he’d have been standing next to George Washington on the battlefields, fighting during our War for Independence. Continue reading “Happy Birthday, My Beloved!”

The Devil Made Me Do It!

Black History Month for 2021 ends today. I had been thinking about a comedian, Flip Wilson, who was the first African-American to host a successful ’70s-era variety show on television. Though he died in 1998, one of Wilson’s standard routines was built around the statement:  the devil made me do it! The 5-minute 1970 video (below) from the Ed Sullivan Show provides a taste of Wilson’s humor.

Since I am ignorant of most pop culture, I was unaware there’s also a rapper album titled The Devil Made Me Do It, plus other references (none I’m familiar with). My only point of reference is Flip Wilson’s skit from the 70s. But a recent Facebook post reminded me of Wilson’s skit. (If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably seen the same post.)

Conversation between 2 devils

To the left is a screen capture (not the full FB post) but enough for it to be recognizable. The post emphasizes the similarities between our current age of fear (centered around Covid etc.) and the author’s suggestions on how to foment fear from “nearly 79 years ago.”

The original post credits C. S. Lewis (from his book The Screwtape Letters) as author. While this conversation between two devils does reflect a similar theme, there’s one problem. The words aren’t from The Screwtape Letters. Continue reading “The Devil Made Me Do It!”

What Is Love?

Who can explain love? L-O-V-E … Is love that junior high twitter-pation you experience when sitting across the lunch table from him/her? Is it that crazy weak-kneed feeling you get while dancing with your prom date? Or maybe the head-spinning breathlessness on your wedding day as you gaze down the aisle into the eyes of your future spouse? Maybe it’s all the above? Or none of the above? What is love?

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

When someone possesses the figurative key to your heart (beautifully illustrated above), you’re likely to experience a host of emotions, even contradictory emotions. Doomed … when your love seems to go unrequited. Blissful … when your loved one loves you back. Inconsolable … when something unforeseen has happened to your loved one. You may well face an emotional roller coaster whenever love is involved. Continue reading “What Is Love?”