#WhyIMarch

I told my sister I was proud that she was marching, but I could not do it. I was very anxious about being in crowds upon crowds of people. Then, she decided to march close to home, in Atlanta. I decided if I could name the reasons I should march, then I would do it. Here is what I came up with. This is why I plan to march on January 21, 2017. Because marching is a visual signal of the multitude of people who have something to say. It’s one thing to claim “alot of people.” It is quite another thing to see the impact on cities around the globe when people show up by the thousands, stand in city streets, and speak. This visual reminder becomes part of our imagination when we talk about “We, the People.” Because I am choosing to have trust in those who love me. I am trusting that they will love me more than they dislike my views. There is some risk for me in marching, in that my presence there will offend some family and friends. My husband and my Dad wholeheartedly support me marching, even thought they will not be there. I know that others may be surprised, offended or confused that I would participate. I am trusting that they will continue to love me in spite of how we see things differently. I have listened when they share. I have respectfully watched Fox News when it is on in their homes. Mostly, I don’t bring up political thoughts, because I am usually not interested in that being the focus....

Hairnets and Hope: #stophungernow

My friends and I made over 12,000 meals last Sunday afternoon. If that number sounds staggering, it did to me, too. We hosted a meal-packing event with an organization called Stop Hunger Now. In less than two hours, we worked together to pour, package, seal and box thousands of meals. The meals will go to areas of the world where hunger and starvation are a crisis. We know that the number of people in this world who are hungry is staggering. When I first heard about this organization, I knew we had to host a meal-packing day. Our congregation needed this event. I needed this event. We needed this moment of joining together in work that reaches people in need. To be sure, my congregation does a lot of faithful work to help people in need. But something about the simplicity of the work – scooping, bagging, boxing – set next to the complexity of world hunger seemed like just the sort of challenge that would impact us. We got busy planning. We set the date and invited people to come. The one question I heard about 12,000 times regarding these 12,000 meals was: So, how does this work exactly? What will we do? It was difficult to imagine how the whole project would come together, especially since a major selling point of our invitation to people was: This is an event for the whole family. All generations from preschoolers to senior adults. We had never done an event exactly like this before, and some folks had a hard time understanding how we would get it done. My friend Jeff leaned...

Hand in Hand Church

My son participated in his first mission project when he was two months old. Our church at that time had a summer program of delivering lunches to children in need. Church members and community folks spent all summer packing sack lunches and driving all over the county. One day in late July, there was a need for a driver to deliver lunches. I whispered to my infant son, “Now is as good a time as any to learn, buddy. In this family, this is what we do.” I loaded him up in the carseat, warned the deacon in the passenger seat that I had no idea how many times we would need to stop. She smiled and said “Let’s roll.” A little commotion from a baby didn’t scare her. Yesterday, my family got to serve together again. Our church hosted a mission project day called “Hand in Hand.” Our focus this time was caring for children in foster care in our city. The youngest person was 15 months old and the oldest person was ninety-two years old. Generations ate lunch and worked together. Around the tables were people who would have baffled any political poll. Correlational analysis would struggle to make connections between the views of the mother with three young children, the college professor, the artist, and the retired judge. We split into groups for five different small projects so that we worked with people who were not in our household. Toddlers and empty-nesters filled brown paper sacks with food for children. Teenagers and gray-haired businessmen tied knots to make blankets. A grandson explained to his grandmother what a...

Listening

I am listening to a lot of voices. I saw a challenge for people who maybe have not directly experienced racism (those of us who are, if we’re honest, privileged) to hush. To give it a few days before responding. So, resisting the temptation to cry out, I have decided to listen. And read. And listen some more. In my experience, listening goes a long way toward change. Gosh, there’s a lot of chatter and statements and continuous commentary out there. There’s a lot to listen to. As much as some comments have made me want to throw things and other comments have brought me to tears, my prayers for peace have led me to listen still. Not listening the way we do in the middle of an argument, where you’re putting your words together in a retort WHILE your person is talking. That’s not listening. I mean stopping your trigger finger on the response to HEAR what is really being said. From all sides. To sit with it and let the words work in you for a minute, even if you reject them with all you’ve got. Hold the words and the images and the cries and listen for what they are saying. Even if, especially if, the voices say something that doesn’t line up with what we are just so sure we think. Listen anyway. Let’s ask ourselves: What am I hearing? What would make them shout this out loud? Is there a situation that would make me shout like this? Is there a situation that would evoke emotions like this for me? Why are they focused...