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I CRIED TODAY!

 

Today is “National Widows Day”

And

I cried today

But

I did not cry because I am a widow

Even though I am a widow

But

I did not cry today

Because he is no longer present

I cried today

Because some people took the time to say,

“You are not forgotten”

I did not know that tender place existed

Until

“You are not forgotten”

It is so easy for widows to be lost in the fog of grief

I do not mean a widow loses her way because of her grief

Though this is possible

The journey on the path of the new normal can be quite circuitous

Fraught with fear of the unknown

Strengths to be discovered

Obstacles to overcome

Courage to be cultivated

But this is not what I mean

When I say a widow is often shrouded in the fog of grief

I mean too often others lose sight of her because of her grief

Unable to relate to the loss

Or her struggle in the loss

They lose sight of her because of her grief

Familiar voices no longer call out to her

Familiar faces fade away

Memories are sometimes her only recourse

But they too are painful reminders

Of forced isolation

That which is too often a part of mourning

Others try to construct a timeline

For her grief

As though they know what that timeline should be

For her grief

Married friends

Challenged by her singleness

Begin to exclude rather than include

They do not realize

That “single” only means to the widow

A double bed that now only makes room for one

The spouse’s name is no longer spoken

Unless she speaks it

The stories she so treasures

No longer told

Unless she tells them to herself

It’s the widow’s walk without the wail

Or a mournful claque

To encourage the grief over loss

The supportive recognition of her sorrow

Dissipates

After “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”

She is alone

Shrouded in her grief

As though she was buried

With her husband

“Donna, you are not forgotten”

Yeah, I cried today

For additional information about “Widow Wednesday:” http://widowwednesday.com/national-widows-day/

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GREASY LEGS, THONGY STRINGY SHOES, NO DRAWS (aka DRAWERS) AND WORSHIP!

I saw the thread on Facebook before I watched the “Kev on Stage” video. Apparently Dr. Juanita Bynum has taken umbrage, and passionately so, to some current dress trends of church women, especially those who stand in front of the church to lead the congregation in worship.

As a worship leader, I guess I am in her line of fire  I quit stockings long ago. They were expensive and were only good for one wear before a run would inch its way up from a toe or wind its way down from the crotch (should I say crotch in this post?).

I will admit it gave me some pause when I first went stockingless;  what would people say? What would they think? What would bare legs say about me as a woman? Would it be safe for me to walk down the street bare-legged, less known, into the sanctuary? Would I be accosted by hungry deacons on the prowl who might mistake my bare legs for solicitation? Would my bare and greasy legs blind the people to the presence of God? Would God dwell in a temple supported by bare and greasy legs? I don’t do stringy shoes or go draw-less so would my bare and greasy legs be more than enough to mark me with the scarlet “T” for THOT? Also, I don’t do greasy legs well. My dry skin absorbs lotion and coconut oil like they’re addicted to the stuff, so is bare-legged and ashy a minor fault? Is it okay for me to stay on the worship team bare-legged and ashy?

Okay, so the above is a bit of facetious hyperbole, but the thread and the video resulted in this blog.

I can see both sides of the argument about modesty and the believing woman. I get the concerns on both sides  But, listen Linda, listen (you too Joe), the external is no true indication of what’s happening in a person’s heart (but you already knew that, right?). This legalism of judging people by their appearance has got to go. How many times have we missed the opportunity to truly minister to someone just because they didn’t look right, didn’t sound right, didn’t dress right? How many broken people have left the church still broken because they weren’t like us and thus unacceptable for us to reach out to them? How many former members are now bitter church expatriates because of the banging of loud and hateful gavels by self-appointed church judges?

And listen, “Cash me outside” with Dr. Bynum’s colorful expressions in her rant  “How ’bout dah?”  Was there no better way for her to express her despair over these  greasy bare-legged stringy shoe wearing draw-less worship leaders  who are, apparently between services, doing the deacons over in the corner?

Donna, you’re judging, now.

Yes, my point exactly.

You see, I am more concerned about the worship leader  who stands in front of the congregation every Sunday to lead worship but has yet to truly understand the heart of worship. I am concerned about the worship leader who stands in front of the congregation every Sunday but has not yet been convicted by grace. I am concerned about the worship leader who stands in the front of the congregation every Sunday and relies more on a beautiful voice, the always on-key riffs, than the Holy Spirit. I am more concerned about that worship leader who knows all the songs but is barely acquainted with the Master.

To worship God is to value Him highly  When we begin to declare that one’s worship is not for real because their appearance is not up to our self-constructed standard, then our value of worship is sorely misplaced.

Maybe it’s time we all got back to the heat of worship as delineated in John 4.

“They that worship Him must worship Him in stockings, closed toed shoes and draws (aka drawers).”

Oh, that’s not what it says?

“How bout dah?”

A CHANGE IS GONNA COME!

I watch them run into the cafeteria, all wide eyed and just a little wild.

For five weeks each summer they become that diverse group on a campus that is not nearly as diverse during the school year.

They do not understand the privilege afforded to them of learning on a campus that costs a pretty penny to attend during the school year, a campus largely comprised of the homogeneous and the privileged.

The teachers who work with this diverse summer group may not be used to working with such diversity, either.

My wish for both groups is that they would come to understand one another in such a way that the experience will remain with them long after the memory of the summer sessions fades.

The line of difference drawn hard in society’s sand will only be erased when the diverse dare to embrace inclusion and dare to sit down to talk through skewed perceptions and unwarranted stereotypes.

While it is too true that I often view the world through a lens forged in the fires of Jim Crow, I believe that change is possible  It will take time. It will require patience. It will have to be fueled by determination.

I choose to believe!

We can learn to see each other and see ourselves in each other and recognize that human beings are more alike than we are unalike. ~Maya Angelou

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WHATEVER HAPPENED TO…

Sometimes posts of people I knew back in the day pop up on my Facebook page

Sometimes I scroll through Facebook pages of people I knew back in the day

Recognize faces in captured photographic moments

People I no longer see, have not spoken to in ages

This is not intentional

It is just the nature of the beast

Out of sight, out of mind

It occurs to me that I have become one of those people

You know

Like those former celebrities who no longer occupy the limelight

And people wonder

“Whatever happened to?”

Yeah, I have become one of the misplaced

People who I saw on a regular basis

People with whom I laughed and cried

People with whom I dined and traveled

I no longer see or talk to

It is the nature of the beast

To be forgotten as memory fades

And connections dissolve

It’s just as well

Especially since I am no longer that Donna

They probably wouldn’t recognize me anyway

Which is just as well

Because if they had really known me back then

They would not have let me get away

So easily

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I’m Still Here!

 

 

 

MEMORIAL DAY MEMORY

I still remember how I felt that summer afternoon

It had been many years since I last stood in front of the courthouse square in that small Texas town

I was a teenager the last time I stood in that courthouse square

My sister and I spent almost every summer with my grandparents

We lived with them for three years

They did not live in this small town but it was where they went on Saturdays to market and to socialize on that courthouse square

I was back many many years later for a church reunion at the family church

We drove into town because it had been so long since I had seen the place

I parked in front of the War Memorial

A concrete memory of lives lost

Wars fought

I did not expect to recognize anyone’s name

I wasn’t looking for anyone’s name

I found his

He had been my elementary school friend, my summer friend, always laughing, always joking

Robert

His name now a statistic

Casualty

Viet Nam

DAMN

All these years later

I still remember how I felt

As I stood in stunned silence

My heart breaking for a loss family and friends had already mourned years before

Perhaps a dull throb in their hearts that day

A fresh and sharp pain in mine

I still remember how I felt

I still mourn

For him

And the others whose names and lives are lost in history’s battles

Known only to the remaining family and friends who still mark every anniversary of loss

We owe so much to so many

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MY HEART, HER HOME

I was going through some old pictures last week when I came across one I had not seen in some time.

Someone decided to bend the top portion, perhaps to put into a wallet, I don’t know.

I thought, “I will have to get it restored because of that crease that runs right through the  face of the person in the photo.”

It is a picture of my grandmother. She died in 1964. It is the only picture I have of her, full body.

I loved my grandmother. I still think of her often. My sister and I lived with my grandparents for three years.

It was the country and the living was neither easy (for them) or fancy.

I loved it, was not even mindful of what they did not have.

I just loved being there, being with them.

Well, more my grandmother more than my grandfather who was rather taciturn and rarely interacted at any length with us kids.

My grandmother was not beautiful. She was not pretty. I’m not sure you would even call her handsome.

I see that now. I did not see that then.

I only saw her, only heard her laughter, enjoyed the food she cooked, especially the steak and gravy with rice or those fat red sausages served for Sunday breakfast after Grandpa’s Saturday trip to the  market.

They lived in the country with very few modern conveniences.

No indoor plumbing, no electricity or gas, chickens on the yard, wood stoves, tin roof, well water.

I do not remember ever being bored.

This picture takes me home.

After all, home is where the heart is.

All these years later, my heart is still her home!

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MONDAY MUSINGS: Stuck In The Middle Again

I met Grace and Frankie last year.

Septuagenarians coping with a new normal.

Divorcees who never expected three score and ten to include a roommate and dislocation from all that once was.

I have watched their lives unfold.

I have laughed with them.

I have cried with them.

I have been angry with them, at them and for them.

I have grown to love them as friends and contemporaries.

I have never met them.

You see, “Grace and Frankie” is the name of a Netflix series I discovered last year.

Played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, the Anal Waspy Socialite and the Free Spirited Jewish Hippy Bohemian (who are radiant in these roles), they are an unlikely coupling as roommates but they find themselves having to run in place on the same track as they initially cast side-eye at one another.

Their husbands, soon to be ex-husbands, announce to them (around a restaurant table to waylay a scene, the husbands hope) that they are in love with each other, have engaged in an affair with one another for twenty years and now that they can, they want to get married…to each other.

Sayonara life as the ladies once knew and lived and loved.

Sayonara to a future filled with retirement and grandbabies and exotic trips around the world.

Sayonara yesterday, hello uncertainty.

I feel their pain, their sense of loss, their severed identity.

The ex-husbands move on with life as usual with the desired partner and no drastic unexpected changes (well, maybe one).

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Grace and Frankie have to figure out exactly what is “moving on.”

This is not an attempt to review the series, and I suppose some of the material should be problematic for me, but it isn’t.

Instead, I want to talk about the “lossness” with which the women struggle, loss that is palpable throughout each episode.

Who wants to be seventy years old having to figure out the rest of their life, however long that life might be?

How do you pursue purpose at a stage in life when you thought you had accomplished pretty much all you were going to accomplish by that stage of the game?

Grace and Frankie stumble and fall, regain their equilibrium to move awkwardly forward like a blind person in a unknown space.

They have to learn to walk again, 69 years later, and they have to learn how to negotiate their own way through the rest of their life without fear hobbling their stride!

Eventually, they become fearless and fierce in pursuit of their own voice.

Real life Graces and Frankies take note.

Sometimes the end really is the beginning

I see you, Grace and Frankie  I see you!

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