Selected posts from around our network of affiliated bloggers
The headline grabbed me right off the bat: Alberta couple blindsided after adopted girls turn out to have fetal alcohol disorder. The story was heartbreaking in the way that only stories about wounds inflicted from close proximity can be.
During key points in my life, I am sure that I heard people say, "That's just my cross to bear," but I can't think of any specific instances. Lately, I started thinking more about the cross of Christ and what it means when Christ warns us of the crosses that will come when we follow him.
I grew up in a house in which hung a print of The Last Meeting of Lee and Jackson (engraved by Frederick Halpin, after Everett Julio), that classic emblem of the Lost Cause. This was common then in my neighborhood in Old Town Portsmouth, Virginia. My father, a Civil War buff who would tell me about the battles as we drove around Virginia, never indicated that the cause was just, but honored both men as soldiers, tacticians, human beings, Virginians. Yet in his political life he angered people, including his own political party, to the point of death threats, by his political stands against the institutionally-protected racism of "massive resistance." I’m not sure how to reconcile these things.
I have burned one flag in my life. In college, some friends and I set a Confederate flag ablaze in a parking lot one summer afternoon. It was a symbolic way for us to renounce our racist heritage as young southern men. But renouncing it didn’t erase it.
I’m certain you’ve heard the news by now. Nine Black people were murdered Wednesday night at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The gunman, a White man, reportedly attended Bible study and prayed with his victims before he opened fire, killing most of those in attendance, including Clementa Pinckney, pastor and a state senator. I’ve mostly been glued to the coverage of this event, both via social media and cable news. I fell asleep for a short while Wednesday night knowing that yet another horrendous, racially-motivated act had been carried out against my people in the land that I call “home.”
I grew up in metropolitan Atlanta in the 1960s and 1970s. (I graduated from a high school in south Fulton County in 1975.) Atlanta was, of course, the hometown of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. So, when I was in elementary school, news about his work, about the hopes it inspired, and about the controversies it generated was “local news.” I often heard snippets of his sermons and speeches on television; they lodged in my mind and heart alongside the songs we sang in Sunday School
All these things are in the way, I sigh. Shuffle and shove to make space again. I am tired of working like this, I mutter. I want to sweep everything aside—the papers and the clutter and the laundry and the bills and the books and the toys and the shoes—and stare at a vacant desk.
The first time I engaged in the spiritual practice of walking a labyrinth was when I was entering seminary. My class traveled to a Catholic retreat center that had a labyrinth on its grounds. It was an 11-circuit, Chartres-style one with larger stones around the path and gravel on which to walk. After a brief explanation by one of our retreat leaders, we were released to give it a try. I've walked a labyrinth many times since, with mixed results.