I read a great devotion from one of our local pastors in our newspaper’s “Minister’s Moments” recently, and have asked permission to share it in full (make sure you read to the very end). This is so true and helpful, especially in times like these. He begins with a quote from another writer:
Part of the truth always includes our own shortcomings. We do well to begin by confessing them. When I confess my own sins, I tend to make peace, and when I confess the other person’s sins, I tend to make war. — Samuel M. Shoemaker
It is only natural to want to blame something or someone. Holding people accountable rings hollow because it has been said so many times with no measurable change. The finger pointing, telling others that they are responsible, the media is to blame and the list goes on, does not change the perception and action in our society. Our public conversations don’t go anywhere but around and around with no real path toward a resolution. My role in this? I get silent and stew.
Then this prayer comes to mind and I add the emphasis in italics. “Lord, make us (me) instrument(s) of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us (me) sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we (I) may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we (I) receive; it is in pardoning that we (I) are/am pardoned; and it is in dying that we (I) are/am born to eternal life” [quote from St. Francis of Assisi].
I realize this prayer is about me. I am not going to pretend that love will solve all the ills of society. I cannot change somebody’s life, but I can change mine. What I can do is pay close attention to those around me. Not to get others to do my will, but to seek to understand their fears, hopes, and dreams. I don’t seek to explain their and my fears away; I acknowledge that their fear is real for all of us.
How will I turn the tide of fear and hostility? I will work on living beyond the anxiety of this point in history. I will acknowledge my own dread and hostility and not share it with others. I will work on going in a different direction; I will go toward the hope, when faced with despair; I will move toward the light when in darkness; I can seek faith when in doubt; and when I am sad I will work on being open to joy. I can seek understanding before explaining. I will own the power of my own humanity and love. For me, it is about affirming the dignity of every human being through the love of Christ. This is how I choose to change the world and make peace for myself and for others. — Rev. Doug Wasinger, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Buffalo Bulletin, 2/21/18
We had fun hanging out with our friends in Jackson. There’s plenty to do, even without wifi or TV. In this photo we’re playing Left, Right, Center. My goal was to get rid of all the candy bars I had left over, and the scheme worked for me. Everyone else won rounds of the game except me.
There’s plenty of time to sit and admire the mountain views.
We took our friends to see the Cunningham cabin, and I couldn’t avoid taking a few “through the window” photos.
We also drove them through the National Park.
Then we returned home and shot some pop cans with a bb gun. We all found out it isn’t easy to shoot from a moving swing, but it was a lot of fun.
We had a great opportunity to watch the full eclipse of the sun at my dad’s home in Jackson Hole. Some friends from Kansas–Gretchen and Jim–came to join us, as well as two of our kids. Thankfully, the weather was great that day.
Paul and Jim set up tripods for their cameras and we watched the entire process with great enthusiasm. We had free glasses from the library.
We saw the crescent sun in the shadows from a colander we had on hand.
And also in the shadow of the trees.
But the most exciting moment, of course, is when totality arrives and the beautiful horizon lights up in all four directions.
We could clearly see the corona effect. Then, very soon, it was daylight again and it was cool to see a jet that had apparently come across the Tetons to view the total eclipse turn back to the North.
Here are more of the quotes that encouraged me while recovering from a bike accident this summer. Sometimes encouragement comes from a book, from something a family member shares, or from a post on Facebook. These quotes were just what I needed to hear:
He gives the best, and brings sweetness out of that which is harsh, forbidding, and wholly unpromising. –Derek Kidner
Faith is not primarily a function of how you feel. Faith is living out and believing what truth is despite what you feel. –Timothy Keller
To avoid facing our low sense of worth, we try to compensate by building self-esteem. Self-esteem is a way to be in control of our image in order to protect our sense of something missing within our hearts. Through self-esteem, achievements are a way of creating hope. Esteem for self rises and falls based upon the grade of our last performance. Sadly, we forget that our value is inherent at birth. –Chip Dodd, The Voice of the Heart, pg. 29
Never stop believing. Miracles happen every day. –Unknown
Here are more pics of my mother, the one I’ve been celebrating these last two weeks. She was loved by everyone. She was talented and willing to help others in many ways. She taught piano lessons when we were young. This nice photo at the piano was taken years later.
She learned how to cane chairs well and was wiling to help others with their projects.
I love this photo of her with two of the dogs.
And this one at the phone is typical of her–often conversing with friends.
Here she is with her dearest friend from college, Maggie:
My parents had many couples that were considered close, dear friends. They also spent a lot of time with various groups of friends. Here is my mother with Glen and Beth Exum.
And here she is with me! This is the last weekend she came to Buffalo: in May before she passed away in July of 2001. I’m glad we stopped briefly to have this photo taken.