Wednesday, January 3, 2018


I love words. Cross word puzzles. Code words. Books. Scripts. Poetry. Words inspire.

Words MATTER. This maxim has become more & more evident as I have gotten older and gotten married.  But never has it become more clear than in our current context. All Words matter. 

Most American school children were taught “Sticks and Stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  What a positive thought put into such a powerful lie.  Children, young people, and even adults today know that words can hurt, and leave lasting scars. The above pithy lie was put out with the good intention of trying to help people not take insults too personally. But in our day and age of social media and images and constant attention to the web world, we know how powerful words can be.

The current context in which I live, in the United States in 2018, I shockingly find that the current occupant of the White House is popular because of, and lives by, hate speech. The long list of those bullied or insulted by Trump and Trumpisms include: the disabled, Mexicans, women, the press, Muslims, President Obama, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, and John McCain, transgendered peoples,  Palestinians, the NFL and players who take a stand, MLB, Kim Jong-Un, the United Nations, most G8 political leaders, the FBI, James Comey, Republicans, the cast of Hamilton, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Penn Jillette,  Common Core, the IRS, various Major Department stores, and the White house itself. By end of his first year, Trump has hurled over 350 insults out on Twitter, one of his chief platforms.
The most surprising thing is, not that Trump built his presidency upon caustic rhetoric, attack, innuendo, blatant lies, name-calling and outright racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, Islamophobic bullying, but that many American constituents parrot this hurtful, not merely politically correct, verbiage.

Words in our current context have become true sticks and stones that wound, hurt, and blatantly, knowingly pull wool over people’s eyes. Not just because we were built on being a decent country with morals, or the dubious rationale we were a Christian nation, but just because it is the right thing to do, we must oppose such hate speech. We must not let it become our new normal.

Recently two very important illustrations showed me clearly how words can matter in a positive manner. They inspire. Words lift up.  Words bring clarity. Words define. Words change lives. How they change lives!

A friend’s recent Facebook post depicted how even simple words matter deeply. My friend, Judy, was at a medical appointment, and a nurse came in and asked the usual, “How are you?”
My friend responded typically, "Fine, how are you?" answered by an equally typical "Good. I can't complain."

My friend rejoined with an earnest, "Well, if you did want to complain, I'd listen."  Judy, a good listener and people lover, knows that when people share their burdens they get some perspective and relief by finding a way to laugh about the situation.

The nurse, taken aback by my friend’s frankness, felt, her day was blessed. "Most people say, 'If you complain nobody listens anyway,' but here you are telling me you'd listen. Thanks."
Judy assured her new friend that it was her pleasure, especially since they both shared “the condition.“
“What condition?”
“The human one! People are pretty much people wherever you go," my friend said smiling.

After sharing more small talk, my friend began to leave and the nurse caught up to her saying: "I want you to know that you have blessed my day and changed my outlook. I left the house in a bad mood but now I'm uplifted. All because you said you'd listen to me."  My friend got a little teary because she knew how she had been uplifted too.

It is that simple. Words matter. What we say and how we say it does matter. You never know who is listening. Or what they are hearing on a daily basis. Will you speak the powerful truth and love to them? Will you compose a word of meaning and care? Will your words convey light and life?

If we take another adage at face value, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, than images too can have a potent punch. 

My counselor provided the witness of words effecting us deeply on a molecular level. She shared the book, “Messages from Water”, the work of Japanese scientist Dr. Masaru Emoto who showed how water was affected by words. In one set of experiments he played classical music and folksongs and heavy metal music through speakers at containers of water. He took samples of the water and froze it to form crystals. Then he compared the crystalline structure of the various samples. With the different musical pieces, the different water samples produced different shapes. The classical and folk music produced geometric shaped crystals with intricate patterns. The metal music saw the basic shape of the crystal break into pieces.

In another experiment, he took it further.  Dr. Emoto and over 300 volunteers stood on the shore of a badly polluted lake in Japan and spoke words of love, peace, and gratitude to the water.  The water crystals changed from cloudy broken images before the words to geometric beautiful crystals after the words. This experiment has been repeated successfully at other lakes around the world.

Above are some of the images from the experiment
Finally, Dr. Emoto conducted an experiment that affirms what counselors, pastors, psychologists have shared – Words and thoughts matter and impact a person’s well-being.  Dr. Emoto taped positive and negative words facing inward in water bottles. He then looked at the water under a microscope and discovered water molecules appeared different based on positive or negative words or phrases. Such as thank you, love/appreciation and love thyself produced a variety of beautiful geometric forms. On the other hand, phrases such as “you make me sick” or “you fool” produced crystals that were disconnected or chaotic. 

Words matter. If they affect water and we are made up of 70% water how are we affected on a molecular/ cellular level by the words spoken to us and around us.  Or the words we think about, and say to, ourselves.

The theologian in me recalls that in Genesis, God breathed into us at point of human creation. INSPIRED - breathed into -us with Gods spirit, and called by name, with love. We are good created for good things and goodness. But what happens as negativity affects our whole being on that molecular level? Corrupting and changing our spirits-souls-lives? What and who do we become when we are steeped in toxicity? Or rarely are moved by a positive voice.

At Christmas, Christians celebrated the Word of life, Jesus, who “moves into our neighborhood” so love would be personified. Jesus seeks to lift people up. To bring truth into each situation. To heal. To challenge for wholeness. He also bespeaks the possible power to affect change by the possession of positivity. Jesus didn't have the internet where words spread quickly - ad nauseum. We do. And the words we lodge there do not go away easily.

Actions also matter, because they back up words spoken. While it is not so black and white, we have a problem. We let words and images run amuck in our world and do some major damage to hearts and minds, young and old, male and female, all backgrounds and cultures. The question is do we love ourselves and others enough to change?  To make a difference? To carefully consider what we set out into the universe? How will we chose to use our words. Words matter. All words matter.

I have been writing about words in this blog trying to consider their power and potential from inside and out. I invite you to challenge my ability to see both the cutting edge and the positive power of words by sending me words that interest you most , for me to play with and posit upon. Suggest them in the comments and you may see my thoughts on them sometime  this year.

Also, feel free to share a word in the comments about how my musings inspire, or when they don't, call me on that too.  Perhaps the words we share can build each other up, and create the world as we hope it will be.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

In the Real Presence!

Tom Jones look-alike
Not too long ago, I went on a family outing with my mom and step-dad to see a Tom Jones Tribute Show (If you said, "WHO?" Go ask your parents!). The artist sang like Tom Jones, but also like Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash and Elvis! ( Again, if you have no clue, please google these artists) He was an impersonator! He was pretty good!

Some impersonators are really good, some are not. I know. I once tried, along with my comedy group, to do some Elvis impersonations. We all were different aspects of Elvis’ life. Jailhouse Rock Elvis. Hawaiian Elvis. Military Elvis. Top Notch Elvis! And old fat Elvis.  I was 1969 Comeback Concert leather-clad Elvis. We were not so good.  But we tried. And we had fun!

We were not trying (Thank God!!) to sing like Elvis, just trying to talk, act a bit and move like him in the comedy routines we were doing. We did research to study Elvis’ life,  songs and films.  My favorite, the one I learned the most from, was a movie, not with Elvis, (contrary to the film's statement) called "Bubba Ho-tep" with Bruce Campbell as Elvis and Ossie Davis as John F. Kennedy. Yeah, you read that right!  This was about someone else impersonating, or thinking he actually was, Elvis or JFK.  Go rent it to see what I mean. Elvis has definitely LEFT the building!
from Bubba Hotep movie

We have all likely seen these types of acts on television, in the movies or on stage. They can be highly entertaining because of their utter success or complete failure to capture the essence of the famous person. In the entertainment world there is a subtle yet distinct difference between an impersonator and an impressionist.
A person, or performer, whose act consists of copying the voice or traits of others is usually considered an impressionist, especially if they have a collection of characters, voices and actions. Think about those actors on SNL or at many casino entertainers.  A person whose act is limited to a smaller range of  characters, often just looks like one person is known instead as an impersonator. In very broad contexts, "impersonator" may be substituted for "impressionist" where the distinction between the two is less important.

To me the difference is subtle, but involves the action. I see the impersonator as one who puts on the qualities and personality of another, while the impressionist is the suggestion of another or the slight imprint of what another person is like . The impersonator takes on the person or persona of someone else is a huge undertaking. I imagine it is like wearing an unbelievably heavy winter coat.

Seeing the Tom Jones impersonator made me think of ALL the times in my life that I have mimicked others, advertently or inadvertently. Like copying my best friend’s style. Or to my husband’s dismay, my imitation attempts of Lou Pinella when he was the Chicago Cub’s manager. Or appearing like Michelle Pfeiffer when I had a Barnes and Noble employee swear that he was sure that was who I was! Or my attempts at playing God.

My grandmother used to tell me that copying someone was “the sincerest form of flattery.”  It never felt that complimentary. When it happened to me it always felt as if I was being mocked.  It makes me uncomfortable to think that God might feel as if God were being mocked by creation. God’s dander got up when Eve and Adam chose to eat of the fruit of the tree giving the Godlike knowledge of good and evil. 

Many humans try to impersonator or play God by controlling people’s lives - their own and others’ lives. Some attempt playing God by controlling the situations around them. I have certainly tried all of the above. The Bible tells us that trying to BE God is a sinful endeavor. Original sin, even.  It is also simple. Human beings often behave as if they have the right to make important decisions that affect the situations and lives of other people. This can be anything from medical decisions to politicians who make budget decisions cutting off medical care for children to decisions made by dictators to exterminate whole ethnic groups. Yet only God can Be God.

Perhaps sadly, people’s ambitions have come down a notch or two. Instead of wanting to be godlike, much of the world seems to be most interested in imitating celebrity or those who appear in the media for their 15 minutes or more of fame. We try to dress like famous people, create their recipes, emulate their habits, perhaps in hopes that we may have what they have – fame, fortune or a certain freedom. We flock to those who speak the loudest or are the brashest.

As I have grown and known God’s word, I learned that we were created to be who we are, uniquely gifted and loved individuals, conceived, birthed and grown to reflect a part who created us. We are created in God’s image. We do not have to impersonate God or play God, we have be given gifts and empowered by God. The Holy Scriptures even call people to take on godly qualities.   

“Be imitators of God! As beloved children, live in love as Christ loved us and gave himself for us.” Ephesians 5:1

"Let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God has called you." 1 Cor 7:17 

“God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful.1 Cor. 12:7-11 The Message

 I wonder if part of the problem of the human condition is that we don’t often acknowledge the Godly qualities we were born to engender.  The Apostle Paul encourages people to love like God loves, forgive and have compassion for others as God does. We are called to use the gifts we have been given for the common good. We are called to imitate God's thoughtful and caring ways for ALL people. To welcome and accept others as God would. We are to speak with truth, honesty and power. We are to encourage and urge all people into being their best. We are to be imitators of God's kindness and compassion. We are to act with God-like light and love. We can endeavor to put on such godly actions without sin.

Followers and believers are called to show love so that others know they are followers and believers. To live out loud with the Spirit of God beaming from our hearts, minds and souls. Imagine what the world would be like if we were to reflect God, and see God in each other?! To allow for the Spirit to move through our similarities and differences to create a whole world, worldwide. To live in such a personal way that the fingerprints of God are seen and felt through every person’s action.

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God models out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” Colossians 3:12-14

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Squirrel, a Pickle, some Nuts and my Prayer

Growing up, I was terrorized by squirrels. They would chatter at me from the sidewalk, run in front of me, letting my friends pass, but not me.  I do not know what I did to upset the squirrel gods in this or another life, but it must have been awful. My mother who would escort me home can attest to how squirrels had it in for me.
Squirrels annoy me still! And they make me laugh. They relentlessly ransack my bird feeder. They do crazy dives, hang upside-down and chase their brethren in the pursuit of seeds and play. They sit, sunflower in hand-like paws, haughtily nibbling away as I rudely encourage them to leave. Then suddenly they are bounding after a buddy, or two, racing up a tree, diving branch to branch. Each season these little guys are the neighborhood jesters.
In their antics, I realize humans have forgotten an important aspect of living – the season of frolic and play! Sure we know how to be weekend warriors and soccer moms, mud-runners and ice plungers, but do we really relish the joy of being foolishly exuberant? Playful even?  And (shall I say it), go a little nuts?

Sure, this is Be a Fool week and National humor month, but how many people get involved, actually play? How many “grown-ups” are lovingly called, and accept being called, a fool? How many of us spontaneously belly laugh til we ache?? In my experience, adults grow cautious and closed as we grow up.  Life is just too darn serious! Few play the fool and have fun, just for fun. I think life would be a whole lot better, more peace-filled, healthier and, sure, more fun with a bit more squirreliness running around. Laughing releases endorphins; generates feel good emotions and health in the body. Humor creates space to breathe in life, and really live.

In Christian Gospel writings, Jesus declares, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3. It is a child who brings an open, believing, playful, trust to life where fun, love, wholeness, and forgiveness are possible from moment to moment. Built in is a very unique and marvelous take on life and living that I wish more adults could adopt – especially those in our halls of politics and political-correctness.  The world of reasonable adults brings a hard-bitten, well-reasoned dogma where fences and defenses are built, where hate is groomed, where ideas get cemented and change is an enemy.  Adults seem to give sway to the world according to money, power and fame rather than a world built according to the Word of humility, love and peace.  

Children are candid, not knowing the adult games of fudging the facts and being “politically correct”. Have you ever just played with someone under 7 years old? Their voices of veracity usually come out of devastatingly loving hearts. They call life as they see it and say what is on their heart. Yet we adult-types often scold the truth out of them and turn the love into hard and fast rules.  An example: a nice normal 6.5 year old child, in apparent gateway to extreme bullying and violence, told a classmate that he smelled of pickles. The pickled child complained and the dill-declaring youngster was rebuked. Where is a lesson in good humor? Or speaking the truth in love? Where is an opportunity to strengthen the character of both children? Not only are we discouraging genuineness, we are pandering to idea that human children are weak.  Exorcising such benign honesty, being playful and fooling around right out of children’s lives, creates weak, rigid and morally expectant adults.

Playing the fool has not always had such negative connotations. For centuries the Trickster, a vital archetype, used to be such an important part of most all cultures and their tales around the world. The trickster would disobey normal rules and conventional behavior of the day in order to bring a new truth and integrity to a community. The Fool was an actual profession in Medieval courts, an important member of the royal entourage to give the ruler a truthful assessment in a humorous or off-beat way or to give an alternate perspective to a royal’s own reservations about a plan.  
In native American culture, this character was called the Coyote. The Coyote was often a clown, the fool in a situation or sometimes he was seen alongside the Creator Chief with powers of transformation and resurrection. The Coyote’s purpose was to engage in changing the world (physical and spiritual) around him to create something sacred for the lives of his people.  All mythic tricksters and rebels help their people survive one invasion and calamity after another while maintaining their spirit and soul.
“The shamanic rascal is capable of juggling realities and transforming fantasy into something powerful. This Coyote spirit can help guide us in many ways: by mixing up all our rigid assumptions, by instilling in us the hope of an underdog, or simply by making us laugh when we most need it.”  (Jon Spayde – “Tricksters of the World Unite – How going crazy will help save America”  Utne Reader May/ June 2004)

And don’t we really need such humor now?! In The Way of the Wacko, Jon Spayde describes, crazy wisdom as “a rich strain of illogic, paradox, and play that erupts throughout history to interrupt, mess with, and renew ideas and faith of an era. It is intuitive, boundary-busting, ever-youthful, turbulent and even scandalous.” (Utne Reader, May/June 2002). We need a “crazy wisdom” to take over our spirits and souls individually and nationally.

Our world is broken and battered by death, violence, hate, illness, injustice, bigotry, and abuses of every kind. We do not know how to forgive. We take everything as a slight against us – “It is me against the world.” And I do not use “us” because there are more me-s than us-s. Bonds today are very surface. We would not hurt people with whom really related. Relationships require humor, levity,humility and forgiveness to really make them work.  Relationships – individual, communal, or organizational lack depth without an ability to find playfulness for
 life.  I picture the squirrel community hashing things out through tree climbing races not weaponry races, with which squirrel dares to collect and share the most nuts for hibernation season rather than horde them, or by who hangs the longest by her tail to grab the last tomato frustrating that tomato-hording human.

I think we are in dire and serious need of fun! Seriously, we all need chill pills and to get some hilarious, outrageous, crazy, wacky fun. In college my roommate and I were well-known for turning our exam stress into some tension busting lunacy such as flipping everything we could in our room upside down; or creating “Better Cheddar” soccer games or putting a sign on our door that read “The International House of Flapdoodles” to signify out loud our wackiness. We worked hard to be wacky and it benefited our community life and friendship as well as stimulated our learning and growing as students. It helped us reach and grow our imaginations without harming others.

I write this one week after Easter when, in the Christian tradition, life pulls one over on death! Death has lost and life and light has won. Yet so many fellow “Christians” act as if bad news and death still hold sway. Why do Christians take on the worldly stature of serious business in the church as though real life has not won the day?  Why argue and rail about things that ultimately do not matter like music or money or whose name goes on memorial benches when we can be relishing and sharing the good news – that God has had the last laugh on death, destruction, sorrow, hate, violence and the whole worldly caboodle of negativity. All the while we should be showing the crazy joy of life’s victory from the soles of our feet through our enlivened souls.

Don’t you want some laughter and healing in your part of the world? Take in a big breathe. The Spirit is alive in you. Whatever is going on around you just let out a loud guffaw.  Look that bad news in the face and for this moment issue an enormous flying chuckle, a chortle or make a funny face. Stick out your tongue. Wave and smile at a passerby. You will find it is contagious, and begins shattering the blackness in your life. Be filled with energy, joy, a little awe and a renewed appreciation of life.

I think we need a willingness to be playful amongst us again to bring perspective and change. We need more than one of these types to bring light and laughter to a broken, violent world.  Or better still we need to laugh more – at ourselves and the world around us. For God’s sake, do not take everything so damned serious.

I am making the squirrel my religious totem, to remind me to live a little, to go a little zany for LIFE. Life is not all about gathering nuts, it is about being a bit nutty to loosen tension, open hearts and make life worth living.

Give life a chance. 
Won’t you do something a little nutso today!?!

Friday, March 6, 2015

It's All About that Face...

Recently, our townhome complex was re-sided. It was a big controversy because a number of the neighbors did not like the design change from the original look of vertical siding to horizontal siding. One man went as far as saying, “Everyone has horizontal siding and it looks awful. I chose to live here because the vertical look was pleasingly different. Now you are telling me my property has to look crappy?!”

The evils of horizontal siding were hotly debated. I was stuck on the notion that my neighbor might go to the trouble of selling his home of 15 years worked to his taste and perfection, because he did not like the façade.  Would he really make a choice based on outside appearances rather than what was lived on the inside.  The word siding got me thinking……

 We all spend a lot of time on appearances. Many of us change our facades with regularity – different clothes (underwear hopefully at least) daily and certainly with the seasons, we redecorate homes or offices, we get our hair cut or let it grow long, even might change the color. The changing fronts can be helpful, especially if it promotes a feeling of confidence or well-being for an individual. Such veneers we put on can help us in life.

 “She was the quintessential twenty-first-century woman: She could build a high-rise in a Chanel suit and Jimmy Choos, give lessons in multitasking, and freeze the heart of the coldest competitor with a single unblinking gaze over the rim of her ebony-framed reading glasses. But that persona was like a bodysuit that she pulled on at eight in the morning and peeled out of at five in the afternoon.”  Donna Ball, A Year on Ladybug Farm

Sometimes such fronts imprison us. My mother used to warn me if I was not careful, my frown would freeze on my face. While permanent facial features do seem to be hallmarks of the Botox used by various celebrities, my grimace, thankfully, never locked up my face.  I have seen a negative attitude take over a person and become their way of life inside and out.  

 Most often, however, we hide our true selves and put on deceptive fronts to keep from facing our own vulnerabilities.  Rather than showing weakness or struggle, we allow pretense and disguise to become a way of life.  Our society has long preached things like “pull your own weight” and “rugged individualism.”  We have glorified wearing the camouflage “fake it, ‘til ya make it.” 

 No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.  Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

Being able to be our true selves can be a nerve wracking business. Masks we wear to hide who we really are, and what we are feeling or thinking, cannot be sustainable or healthy. Such veneers seem less helpful, even detrimental, to our wellbeing and relationships when the pretense disables real connections to self and others.  

“There are moments when one has to choose between living one's own life, fully, entirely, completely - or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands.” Oscar Wilde, Lady Windemere’s Fan

Do we have the guts to let go of who we think we should be to become who we really are? Sometimes the space between being vulnerable and portraying tough side is as wide as the Grand Canyon. We need courage to make the leap.  Practicing living without such a façade – a fake or deceptive front - can happen when we practice loving ourselves.  When we own who we are with all our strength and all our flaws and are okay with us, we love ourselves.  With vulnerability, you experience true connection—true love for yourself—and you begin to attract people to you who are inspired by your openness. To be vulnerable is to be deeply seen. It’s to love with your whole heart and to put yourself out there. To feel vulnerable is to be alive—to exist as your most authentic self.  Many are afraid of such vulnerability because there is the possibility of being hurt or let down.

While it’s not easy to be vulnerable, you’d be surprised how beautiful and fulfilling such a thing is.  Loving all of you can help you to connect with anyone. In my own life, I despised thinking of myself and my abilities as less than perfect. I hated being wrong. It was a struggle to think people might realize I couldn’t do something. I would blame others rather than accept responsibility for the things in my life that did not work. I feared that if people knew the real me, I would be laughed at, shown disapproval or left behind. I pushed myself hard in all things, and was my own biggest critic.

 A friend’s father helped me realize my folly. He gave me a toothbrush that read “I’m PERFECT” gently mocking my perfectionist armor. Reminding me that as a child of God, I did not have to be perfect, that my weaknesses were made strong, made perfect in Christ Jesus through my baptism. Being human, with all my imperfections, was empowering and enriching. Letting go of my expectations and “rules” of life allowed me to love and be loved and relate to others more deeply. Putting to death the idea that I could be perfect if I tried hard enough, allowed me to worry less about what others thought of how I acted or looked and focused on doing and being well within myself.  Focusing on appreciation of myself and others allowed disappointment to dissipate. Concentrating on what I wanted to create in life allowed a sense of present passion to thrive and my creativity to increase.

Striving for excellence is different than perfectionism. Perfectionists adopt along the path of life the dangerous belief system that they are what they achieve.  Striving for excellence asks “How can I improve?”  while perfectionism asks “What will they think?” Attempting to be perfect creates the notion that if we do things perfectly or make it look perfect, we can avoid pain, judgment or shame. Perfectionism is a billion pound mask that we think protects us, when all it does is keep us from being really seen or known.

Are facades everything to you? Or are you able to allow the flaws and wrinkles be badges of life and living? Consider putting on the new front of the real you… and live!


Thursday, February 19, 2015

What lives Always and Forever?

Immortality – What lives forever and always?

With Valentine’s Day just past, I have heard the words – ALWAYS and FOREVER – used quite a bit.  Also, the nihilistic notion of always & forever are being bandied about in pop-culture through the immortality of vampires, zombies, and characters that die and return endlessly.  Always & forever is an irregular long time that stretches on and on and on.

I thought of these words, and the notion of immortality, again yesterday in the context of my tradition’s Lent.  While vampires and zombies have endless life, it is a grim and seeming hopeless existence. Futile in life and death.  Valentine’s Day is about the hope of always and forever love. Lent is a journey to the certainty of an always and forever love.

Christianity’s period Lent is an annual 40 days of preparation and cleansing before the celebration of life eternal at Easter. Easter celebrates that death has lost its sting. Easter is about life forever with God. Most Christians recognize Lent as the opportunity to shed all that holds us back from real life, not forever life.

Some people hold that Christianity, perhaps religion of any kind, is a fool’s paradise, or as Karl Marx said, “The opiate of the masses.” Perhaps this idea of life eternal is too unbelievable or undesirable for some, while others want to hold on to life with all they have.

My notion of religion and Lent run as a partnership.  While I do believe that life eternal does exist with God, I do not strive to hold on to this life forever and a day. I know that all things change and transform and evolve. And most often move from good to better to best to penultimate. We need to be able to let go to move forward. And I am not a fool or on any opiate.

Lent is actually the time to return to God, to repent. In the book, Worship as Repentance, Walter Sundberg says that this period is to strip all “illusions away so we know who we are and how short we fall standing before God and holy things.”

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and reminds us not of our immortality but our mortality.  People are marked with ashes, the sign of our mortality. We hear the words, “You are dust and to dust you shall return.” Reminiscent of words often heard at funerals, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Lent is the journey to the cross, where Jesus the Christ dies so that all might have real life. He defeats death once and for all – for all!  Lent concludes at the feast of Easter, when this life in fullness rises.  

Lent is an opportunity to let go of all that is unreal.  It shows us again and again that we are finite creatures who need each other and God. Lent calls us to the hope and promise of Easter, where God’s love wins always and forever. The finite creatures that we are fall away to who we were meant to be – creatures not made to live forever, but to love always and forever. The real immortals in this world come in the relationships we build and the love we leave.  

What will your forever and always legacy look like?