Where I am from

Got the idea for this from Brian Madison, who got it in turn from George Ella Lyon –

Taste and See

I am from popcorn popped in Wesson oil and smothered in salt on a Sunday night,
From Wonderful World of Disney and the Mini Page.

I am from a series of homes not my own with furniture not my own,
Made home only by the people within and the pictures on the wall,
and by just caught fish dredged in cornmeal and deep-fried
on so many summer nights that the kitchen curtains
took on a perpetually greasy smell.

I am from the white clover and the yellow dandelion and the red raspberry:
a thicket full of thorns and flowers and profuse green leaves, with fruit enough
for the rabbits and the birds and three small children to eat their fill of,
and still enough left over to fill jar after jar of seed studded jam.

I’m from the Easter family softball game and a dogged insistence on fair play:
From Winburn and Mason and Charlie and Ed.

I’m from rooting for the underdog
And tense rivalries.

From “Let your little brother win” and
“You could have killed your little sister!”

I’m from the parsonage and the pew and the taste of grape juice
Made holy by my father’s reassurance, “poured out for you and for many…”

I’m from just outside the Beltway and the banks of the James,
From venison and oyster stew, and squash boiled with onions and then mashed;

From the spicy sweet smell of my Father’s head, that lingered on his pillow,
The showtunes Mom sang as she stirred bargain ground beef in Ragu.

From the countless carousels of slides, pulled out and shown
With a hum and a click-clack, but only after wrestling the screen from its mustard-yellow metal tube.

I am from a bottomless cup of coffee at a pharmacy lunchcounter,
I am limeades and calamari and fried chicken livers;
I am the smell of dead pine needles in the hot summer sun,
Sitting on a wood deck by the Rappahanock and cracking crabs.
I am from learning to lose graciously in the pool halls of Austin, Texas,
and from learning that love doesn’t have to destroy me, almost too late.
I am from Brian and Hannah and a baby whose name I do not know yet, but whom I will love just as fiercely.
I am from the halls of Duke Divinity, from the distant sound of hymns being sung and the warmth of a hand in mine as we pray together.  I am from discovering that I am not the firstborn, but that Christ is, and he has forever redefined for me who is my blood-kin.

Liberte, egalite, sororite

There are some things about law enforcement in the United States that I continue to pray might change: the extent to which our officers are armed, the continued racial bias in traffic stops, the overuse of violent force in drug busts… But in their response to the allegations against (now former) IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the New York Police Department has shown us what police are for, and given me hope that the principles our nation claims to be built on are still alive in some quarters. There is no person whose power and connections places him above the law. A rich man does not have a right to treat a woman – any woman – however he pleases. Some well-connected men in France may now be whining about “American puritanical attitudes towards sex,” but that is an attempt to dodge the question: whether in fact there is still a de facto aristocracy in France, who can abuse the “peasantry” with impunity. A previously sheltered class of French men have reason to be nervous: it appears that there is a new revolution afoot in France, one that is once again energized by events across the Atlantic.

With many thanks to BBC World News (available in the mornings on my local public radio station, WUNC), for drawing my attention to these recent developments in France.

Tough Questions

Riding home from evening Vacation Bible School with my four year old:

– Mom?  How did God make everything if you can’t see her?

[Her? That’s interesting!] – Well, umm, I don’t know how God made everything, but…

– We can’t see God, Mom, but God is there!

– Yes, God is everywhere, and made everything, and God knows that it is hard for us to understand God, since we can’t see God, so that is why God came as a person.  Jesus was a real person, an ordinary person like us, but he was God, too.  And so we can learn about who God is from Jesus.

– Okay, Mom.  I have another hard question.

– [Deep breath] Okay?

– Is it okay to use the windshield wipers, even when we are on the highway?