Big Bird, Report to Ft. Hood — Please

Big Bird is on my mind these days. And Ernie and Cookie Monster and others. Today is the 40th anniversary of the first broadcast of Sesame Street.

Sesame StreetThat neighborhood, like Mr. Rogers’, is important to me even though I am not part of the Sesame Street generation. My daughters are, and I watched it with them. I feel like  like an uncle to Big Bird.

Did you notice that nobody ever killed anyone of Sesame Street? It may be the safest street in America. Characters had hurt feelings all the time, or misunderstood things, but nobody ever let anger, sadness, or depression, get so out of control that anyone died because of it.

I wish Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan could have remembered Sesame Street. Maybe he could have talked to someone about his troubles and anger. Or maybe the military personnel who give Muslim colleagues a hard time could remember the Sesame Street lessons about accepting everyone. Or maybe the FBI could have paid more attention.

Somehow, the folks on “the street” would have found a way to help. They are still teaching children about peace, and acceptance, and helping each other.

Help us, God, each one of us, to do the same. No more Ft. Hoods.

Good Attitude

Attitude is so important–not plastering on a happy face, but something much deeper.

Spiritual attitude. If you go through life expecting the worst, it probably will come your way. If you go through life not caring, you probably will get what others leave behind.

apple treeBut, if you go through life knowing that God wants the best for you and has plenty of it ready for you, you will know peace (no matter what life dishes out). Martin Luther said it well long ago, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

At a moment of great difficulty some years ago, a wise friend told me to do the best I could and let go of the results. It is sound advice at all times, even when things are going well.

Let’s plant apple trees today, friends.

La luta continua (the struggle continues)

Despite professional polling and pundits, we never entirely know what goes through the minds of other voters.

I really thought Maine voters would reject intolerance. And I hoped Virginia voters would be more balanced, perhaps slimming the margin of the candidate for Attorney General who thinks LGBT folks behave against natural law.

But enough of the voters, at least among those who voted, are still scared, I guess. In Maine, the Roman Catholic Church still holds considerable influence and its theological rigidity resists change.

Stay The CourseI continue to believe, however, that these losses are simply rear-guard actions, fighting off, for a time, the change that will come, the change that is coming, the change that is already here. We see a form of Massive Resistance in these results.

Like that earlier time, the day is coming when legislatures will pass, and Governors will proclaim,  apologies for injustice done, when the silent ones will be silent no more, when justice will “roll down like the waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing steam.”

La luta continua. The struggle continues. Stay the course. God reigns.

Caring for Ourselves Enough to Care for Each Other

“Community is hard work,” Sister Anne Shepard, Prioress of Mount St. Scholastica (a community of Benedictine nuns in Kansas), said on television the other day.

The golden rule by Norman Rockwell
"The Golden Rule," by Norman Rockwell

She is so right. In order to be in community with each other, we must let go of self-absorption, try to listen carefully to each other, speak our truth lovingly, and want everyone to win.

Win-win is not just slogan, or a catchy phrase. It is a way of thinking, a way of life. It is another way to commit ourselves to live by the Golden Rule.

When we seek mutual benefit in all our interactions, we start thinking in terms of other people. As Stephen Covey writes, win-win “profoundly affects what we see as ‘important,’ how we spend our time, our response in the moment of choice, and the results we get in our lives.”

The community of which I am most centrally part, Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond, is not made up of women, or men, religious. But we are community nonetheless.

We are stronger when we care as much for each other as we do ourselves, and we care enough for ourselves to care for each other.

A Smiling Day

fall leavesOn a walk this morning with Jonathan and Cocoa, the brilliant leaves seemed to smile at me. Perhaps they are reminding me that although it will soon be winter and the limbs bare, they will return again soon. Or maybe the riot of color is a celebration of the past few months of sun, warmth, and harvest.

Either way, I felt happy–the way a smile helps me feel.

It reminds me of this wisdom from Emmet Fox, “A smile is to personal contacts what oil is to machinery, and no intelligent engineer ever neglects lubrication.”Robin with earrings

So as I go through this day, I will smile as I see the smiles all around me, and with each smile there is the possibility of another–until the day itself becomes a smile.