Politics · Society

Oh, Alabama.

It still hurts every time. I will never get used to seeing qualified, experienced, hard-working candidates defeated by people who seem, at best, weak and unqualified, and at worst, outright corrupt. I don’t understand why the majority of people in Alabama are okay with the way things are.

I love my home state. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Generations of my ancestors farmed here, taught school here, ran businesses here and are buried in ancient, shaded cemeteries here. All of my precious childhood memories are of the dirt roads, creeks, cotton and hay fields and pine trees of Alabama.

My childhood homes are gone. The high school I attended burned, as did the church where I got married. A tornado decimated the pecan orchard where my grandmother used to earn all her Christmas money. The things that tie me to this hot, backward state are not existing places, but the combination of memory and belonging that makes me who I am. I have never completely fit in here, but this place is part of me, nonetheless.

I am trying to understand my neighbors. I know they love this state, too. But how can they not want better for it? How can they be content with our underfunded, unequal, under performing system of public education? How can they be okay with politicians who claim to support blatantly unconstitutional establishment of religion? How can they believe that poverty, ignorance, and inequality is what God wants for us?

At times like this, I am grateful for the energy and faith of those who don’t get discouraged. They are young and old men and women of all races, who simply keep going. They don’t allow themselves to feel that nothing they do matters. That is not an option; they know it matters. They continue to teach, minister, volunteer, march, help, write, and plan for next time. I am thankful for them, with their heads unbowed and hearts strong.

I want to be like them.

Inspiration · Life · Society

Giving Grace

A few months ago, I watched my niece moderating as her young sons played a game. They were doing the usual banter kids do in competition: calling each other out on the rules, watching to make sure the other didn’t gain some advantage in a way that was not “fair,” often with the admonition, “You can’t do that!” And finally, “Mom!”

She intervened gently, saying, “Why don’t you give him grace for that? Remember, he gave you grace before on that other turn?”

I could tell that this is something they had talked about before. Both boys understood “grace” as part of their family dynamic. Sometimes you give it and sometimes it is given to you. It keeps the peace and keeps the game going.

I have thought about this often in the context of our adult relationships. There is power in the ability to give grace. Most of the time, it costs nothing, sometimes, it costs a lot. Sometimes it is easy to give, done almost without a second thought. Other times,it is very hard, and we wonder if our grace is being taken advantage of. It takes effort, and trust, and something like love to give grace with no expectation that it will be returned, or with the certain knowledge that it will not.
Continue reading “Giving Grace”

My Local World · Politics

The direction of my dreams

One of my favorite quotes is: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined. ~ Henry David Thoreau

I have recently learned that it is a misquote. The entire quotation comes from Thoreau’s Walden, and is: “I learned this, at least, from my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours… In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.”

Damn, Thoreau.

That is MUCH more deep. And does not fit on a coffee mug. Continue reading “The direction of my dreams”