Working it out…

Born into and raised in the Christian tradition, I took most of it for granted until after college when I latched onto an evangelical mindset and spent the next thirty years thinking I knew something. In the ’90s and after, as events near and far started rattling my self-assured psyche, I began to consider that I may have gotten it wrong about some of the important stuff… and nothing’s been the same since. Today, ten years after walking away from organized religion, communal faith practices, and corporate worship, I’m taking a socially-distanced look at the transformation of “the church” through the eyes of people who once loved it… and the number one sentiment I see is this:

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… and are notoriously unkind to LGBTQ people.

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“I keep wondering why so many Christians still think another human being’s relationship or marriage or body is any of their business.” – John Pavlovitz

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And there’s that thing where helping another human is somehow wrong now, even in the eyes of a lot of church factions. Organized Christianity having lost the plot so overwhelmingly that one can scarcely find the biblical Jesus in any of it, I can’t see going back for more condemnation and butt-whippin’s from people who struggle on a daily basis to deal with life in any cohesive way. Their “help” in the past has left me with permanent scars.

Fear and selfishness are turning the world on its ear, just when we’re on the cusp of new knowledge and technology that will change it for the better if we can keep humanity alive long enough. A stunted mindset doesn’t keep the boogeymen away, it just makes them trickier to deal with when they get here, and there’s so much that makes me glad I’m still around – the next decade is going to be on fire with advances, we’re going to learn amazing things, and I don’t want to miss it. Fear of change has the power to shut that all down… too sad for words.

I no longer think I know who or what might be out there running the show, or where this all goes from here… but I’m on a first-name basis with Karma, and I know from a lifetime of hit-or-miss attempts at being worthy of breath that these things are real and true:

And when I know better, I’ll do better. Amen.

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Sunny Saturday…

Flighty spring is giving us temps in the 60s today, with high 80s by Monday, so it stays interesting. Kim’s been playing PickleBall whenever and wherever he can, always a toss-up as to whether it’s outside or in – but I don’t know what today holds yet, beyond the regenerative breakfast we just scarfed down.

I’m going on autopilot for the foreseeable… golf… Royals baseball… so here are a few random saves from the past week…

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White Privilege is all the things we never even notice.

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Sainthood isn’t the bar for living.
Where it started… where we’re going.

Talk to me in Comments…

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Joy of Comfort Food…

It’s a gorgeous day! We’re working on a project that has us going back and forth to Kansas City and today was one of those, so we had a short meeting and then hit our new fav spot for lunch, where today’s specials were ham & beans, and hot-beef sandwiches. That big hot-beef plate looked and tasted like what my dad and I used to get at Mrs. Taylor’s Café in Dodge City America when I was in grade school, and that makes three times in as many weeks when I’ve been close to tears over food. Daddy would take me with him sometimes on sale days and treat the two of us to Mrs. Taylor’s on the way to the sale barn, sometimes sharing a piece of pie if cattle prices were up. Sight, sound, taste, aroma, all the things intrinsic to memory, were there today while I devoured the whole meal, leaving Kim shocked and grinning. And yes, good ol’ Wonder Bread, which I hadn’t eaten in decades. Feels like I’ve been hungry for a year but couldn’t make it go down – this was like buttah, and life is good. It was a fun day out, all three hours of it, but ask me how I know I’m in my third trimester of living and I’ll tell you it’s because I’d rather be home than anywhere else on the face of the earth.

Thoughts shared on a Thursday…

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Fresh air…

We clapped and cheered and cried… for justice, for the Floyd family, for America. It was almost more than we dared hope for, a clean sweep, guilty on all counts, and within seconds the killer’s bond had been revoked, he was (gently) handcuffed in front of us, and taken to jail, where our next sight of him is his mug shot, complete with orange jumpsuit. “The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long [seemingly endless], But it Bends Toward Justice.” Maybe we haven’t become a nation of monsters after all… and yet the struggle for equal treatment of all humans goes on into infinity. Just seconds before the Floyd verdict was delivered, a 16-year-old honor student involved in a neighborhood girl-fight was shot in the chest by a police officer, no questions asked, and died in her yard still wearing her rainbow Crocs. I hardly need mention that she was Black.

Yesterday’s verdict, the only possible right outcome, provides a sorely-needed whiff of hope that a heinous practice, set in stone in this country after 250 years, can be ended… somehow. The relentless hounding of people of color in this nation has to stop. Full stop. End of story.

The entire mindset of the country has to change, that’s not asking too much, is it?

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AMEN

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April… showers?

I got up at 6 o’clock this morning to watch it snow. That’s a lie, I got up for the bathroom and WOW, IS IT SNOWING!! We tried with limited success to capture the maelstrom on camera, but the sky is filled with big fat flakes that are building up on everything except the streets and sidewalks, and the new leaves look amazing under a layer of heavy white. We’re in a perfect snow-globe right now, and under a freeze warning for the next couple of nights, so I hope the little growing things will be safe. After gazing out the big windows, Kim decided this calls for a real breakfast because it’s imperative that we properly observe the unexpected – so he’s in the kitchen doing that thing he does… and now the mad swirl is starting to settle, as snow-globes do. A brief but fun diversion if one is simply determined to wake up early.

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I’m holding my breath for the verdict in the murder of George Floyd… and meanwhile trying to be one of these wherever possible…

The sun’s always there somewhere!

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An awed “Ohh… “

“Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable… I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours… Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unbearable sound of the roses singing… If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.”- Mary Oliver

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Good times…

Kim Smith 04/16/2021

A good thing to do on a rainy Friday is to make your own fun, so we took Rita to the restaurant where we had the killer roast beast the other day. She and I ordered the meatloaf, trusting that it would be the real deal, and there may actually be a god somewhere because our Aunt Bette could have made this one. Plus real mashed potatoes, brown gravy, green beans… and enough meatloaf left over for Rita to make a nice big sammie later, the best part of the whole meal. This time Kim had warm peach pie ala mode, and I took my requisite bite(s). Yes, it was good… but one day soon I have to remind both Kimmers and Rita that I’m the champion peach-pie maker of all time. In seventeen years I’ve made exactly one for Kim, so long ago he has no memory of it, but it’s the best, write that down, and it needs to happen at least one more time. We had a nice little drive over there in the rain… and back… and now it’s a “destination place.” Kim said monthly, I was thinking weekly…

Lunch was one of those sweet little chunks of life when everything feels right, which doesn’t happen nearly often enough. We’re in a new little town, in an establishment new to us, twice now, but we haven’t felt new there the way you do in some places. We might be chagrined to know that we’re sitting bold-faced in a roomful of dyed-in-the-wool MAGA faithfuls, but it doesn’t have that vibe at all… in fact, I just realized that I haven’t seen a single red cap there so far, and everyone comes in masked. Just this week alone, the news from the camo-and-neckbeard side of society has been crushing beyond words, with one after another Black unarmed citizen, often underage, shot on sight by police who are either terrified by the specter of black skin or it triggers an urge to kill… or both.

And Pam Bondi called Kyle Rittenhouse, the Kenosha killer, 17 years old, “a little boy.” Depends on which POV you’re trying to sell, I guess. Whatever it is… it’s.too.much.

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I’ve totally fasted from the news today, which I’m highly recommending to myself as a repeat event – it’s made that Old Home Week lunch settle delightfully.

Sweetness being at a premium, we tend to soak it up like flowers in the rain, and today has been nurturing. I’m looking out at the light rain still falling, and how green the world is, just since yesterday, with leaves already obscuring the neighborhood… and reminding me to appreciate… everything. Especially the guy who leadfoots us around the countryside to seek adventure and do exploits, while listening to our nonstop blather without hearing most of it.

That guy asked me about Ramadan the other night and what it entails. I told him that among other things it’s an entire month of fasting from morning ’til night, and then people gather at sundown to celebrate with food.

HIM: Oh, that’s why they’re called Ramadan Noodles!

ME:

HIM: And the people stay in Ramadan Inns, right?

ME:

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Wow, it’s Wonderful Wednesday…

Kim Smith 04/11/2020

It’s a beautiful day and Kim’s on his way to Menard’s on his e-bike to research a project – he wasn’t made for indoors so spring is especially timely this year. Just when I think I couldn’t love him more it’s another good day, and yesterday was one of those. After a morning meeting, we had lunch at a Bar & Grille new to us and got our socks blown off – wow. The menu is amazing, and we weren’t surprised that they were nearly at COVID-restriction full-capacity before we left. The specials were meatloaf, chicken enchiladas, and pot roast, the last of which we glommed onto before the waitress could walk away, and it was… OMG, so good. Fall-apart roast beef cooked with carrots, brown gravy, mashed potatoes, and cornbread… with real corn in it… and a bit of streusel on top. Felt like coming home to a big Sunday dinner and we couldn’t stop grinning at each other. We had no room for any one of the four desserts listed, but there’s always next time.

It’s been a heartbreaking week, and with more deaths and assaults of young Black men, I lack the stomach for watching the defense of George Floyd’s murderer. It pains everything I’ve got when people tell us we didn’t see what we saw, nor hear what we heard, nor do we recognize the evil that wears the killer’s skinsuit. It’s too much, all of it. Why do all the “accidents, mistakes, and errors in judgment” happen to Black people? A taser (8 oz.)… a gun (2 lbs.)… all same difference unless it’s a white person in the line of fire – then it matters. The anguish of Black mothers is gut-ripping, and even loving Anthony like I do I cannot register the depths of his mother’s love for him and his brothers and sisters, nor know her sleepless hours. It’s too much.

“I need to drive my two-year-old to daycare tomorrow morning. To ensure we arrive alive, we won’t take public transit (Oscar Grant). I removed all air fresheners from the vehicle and double-checked my registration status (Daunte Wright), and ensured my license plates were visible (Lt. Caron Nazario). I will be careful to follow all traffic rules (Philando Castille), signal every turn (Sandra Bland), keep the radio volume low (Jordan Davis), and I won’t stop at a fast food chain for a meal (Rayshard Brooks). I’m too afraid to pray (Rev. Clementa C. Pickney) so I just hope the car won’t break down (Corey Jones). When my wife picks him up at the end of the day, I’ll remind her not to dance (Elijah McClain), stop to play in a park (Tamir Rice), patronize the local convenience store for snacks (Trayvon Martin), or walk around the neighborhood (Mike Brown). Once they are home, we won’t stand in our backyard (Stephon Clark), eat ice cream on the couch (Botham Jean), or play any video games (Atatiana Jefferson). After my wife and I tuck him into bed around 7:30pm, neither of us will leave the house to go to Walmart (John Crawford) or to the gym (Tshyrand Oates) or on a jog (Ahmaud Arbery). We won’t even walk to see the birds (Christian Cooper). We’ll just sit and try not to breathe (George Floyd) and not to sleep (Breonna Taylor). These are things white people simply do not have to think about.”David Gray

“Today’s policing is nothing more than modern slave patrols.” -Bishop Talbert Swan

It’s.Too.Much.

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I read this morning that Lawrence still has some 200 people living outside, sleeping rough, and that efforts are being made to alleviate that, in keeping with the tent city already operating in “midtown.” Living here heals us in ways we could never have asked for.

Safe shelter for those who have none.

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I love sunny Sundays…

It’s a gorgeous morning and Kim’s on the balcony greeting the sun while I work my way through another weekend wake-up. We’re both ready for *consistently warmish* in the weather forecast, and he has plans with Marcello today for PickleBall and go-cart racing. Everyone’s still staying masked, but the parameters are perceptibly widening for getting back into life as we knew it. At present, Douglas County is the most vaccinated county in Kansas against COVID – close to half the population – but people who think it’s over and act accordingly are a fly in the ointment, so half is only halfway there.

The Kimster’s in his happy place when the sun’s shining.

This article from WaPo perfectly articulates how a return to the world feels right now, and I hope it won’t be behind a paywall. Short story, we introverts are conflicted… (and a heads-up, there’s more blog text after the link, so hit the MORE button to continue reading, if necessary).

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/introverts-are-dreading-a-return-to-the-noise-crowds-and-small-talk-of-normal-life/2021/04/09/386006b0-987b-11eb-b28d-bfa7bb5cb2a5_story.html?utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most&carta-url=https%3A%2F%2Fs2.washingtonpost.com%2Fcar-ln-tr%2F31ce4b3%2F6071c74d9d2fda1dfb4a1eec%2F59728e17ae7e8a1cf4ab33c8%2F60%2F72%2F6071c74d9d2fda1dfb4a1eec&fbclid=IwAR1eIuSq6X32M_HZyHbT3Q4U-BqkAOtlDCPoogMZvMkrXM6wpoWWroQNhTo More

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On into spring…

Kim Smith – Liberty Hall, Mass Street, Lawrence, KS 03/28/2021

One weekend wrapped up and another came and went since I last sat down with myself to write. Every day being what it is, it feels more like a year than ten days, and my head has been in a year’s worth of spaces in that time.

I cried through the first three days of eye-witness testimony in the trial of the male person who asphyxiated George Floyd during a nine-and-a-half minute knee-mail over a bogus $20 bill and sits in court like he’s large and in charge. And I’ve watched a large sampling of the proceedings since.

So… Mr. Floyd, on a sunny day in May, goes to the corner store with what he may or may not have known was a counterfeit twenty to buy cigarettes, and ends up summarily executed in the street for same. Not sure why there’s a full-fledged trial because we can watch what happened from every angle and our hearts and brains know what we’re seeing – the most cold-blooded of murders in broad daylight. The inadequate human who did this obviously saw George Floyd as a nothing, a nobody, a throwaway about whom nobody gave a shit… but the string of eye-witnesses and friends at trial told the opposite story. They showed us a vital young guy with an unfortunate opioid addiction that he and his girlfriend of three years were trying to break. He worked out every day, ran, played football and basketball, held steady jobs until COVID, was loved by the kids in his neighborhood because he played ball with them, a mama’s boy who changed after his mother died… and who kept girlfriend Courtney’s name in his phone as “Mama.”

Yesterday, Minneapolis Chief of Police Medaria Arradondo testified all day, never getting ruffled nor showing anything but mature professionalism, and the takeaway was that not one thing the accused did that day in May of 2020 fell within policy guidelines for the Minneapolis Police Department, nor presumably any other. The Chief, a fifth-generation Minnesotan who rose through the ranks from Cadet to Police Chief in under thirty years, said under oath that there is *no excuse* for what the killer did, end of story. Like a worm, the accused nonchalantly snuffed out a life, with no change of posture or expression, simply making sure George Floyd didn’t draw another breath. Justice for unarmed Black people is painfully hard to come by in America, but if we don’t see it happen in this trial we’ll be finished as a society and it would be well-deserved… because we will have become what we thought we abhorred.

Or maybe we already have…

Eddie Izzard, you called it – Cake or Death, man.

Yeah… the more I think of it… if we’re not there yet, we can see it from here.

Park Cannon, an elected Georgia Representative, may be facing seven years for knocking on a door she had a legislative right to access. The fine Americans on the right, taking the Capitol by force, will likely face nothing dire.

But… life goes on for most of us, we fortunate few. Kimmers and I enjoyed our Easter eggs this year as omelets, and celebrated the beautiful weather.

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