Hi friends, there’s no video for this week, but I promise to get back in broadcasting mode next week.
Last week I saw a post on Facebook that I thought was worthy of sharing. Originally posted by Tee Kim on November 22, 2020, an image of a Starbucks sign speaks volumes about the fragility that many of us are feeling but aren’t always willing to consider in those we encounter.
I wasn’t alone in appreciating the message of Tee’s post. Since its original publication, the post has been shared over 119,000 times and liked/loved/cared for over 6,500 times. The thing that strikes me the most about this message of kindness is just how many people believe we need to be aware of the situations of others. The tough part is we are supposed to be aware of one another’s fragility while maintaining social distancing, wearing our masks, getting holiday deals, and holding in our own emotional rodeos.
When it comes to being far from perfect, I’ve got imperfection in the spades. I often beat myself up for having so many flaws and petty insecurities. It’s tough being human. (Do you ever get down on yourself for being less than perfect?)
In his homily this past Sunday, Fr. Tony addressed the challenge that is posed to us by All Saints Day. With tremendous understanding and the right amount of humor, Fr. Tony reminded us that the canonized saints were human too. They struggled with jealousy, anger, fear, and weakness (among other things). In his narrative, Fr. Tony dared us to be like the saints. His All Saints Day challenge is to live with love, compassion, and faith at the center of our thoughts and actions in spite of our struggles.
Nobody is born a saint, but we all have the power to be saintly in our words and works. In the bulletin “Message from Fr. Tony,” he thoughtfully stated, “The simple but reassuring fact is that nobody was born a saint. It’s something we have to strive to become… All Saints Day calls us to something beautiful. It reminds us of our great potential – the promise that lies within each of us. The promise of holiness.”
I will be honest. We have turned off our TV this week. (Mostly because I feel like the first five days of violence in America’s streets were enough to give my kids the understanding that things are not okay.) Secondly, it has allowed hubby and I to turn down the noise of the media and have serious and sincere discussions with our children about what’s going on and the ugly history behind it. The truth is we can’t turn off the ugliness in our world. There is no universal remote for peace, kindness, or equality. We can, however, turn up the discussion on what must change and tune into what will make our world a better place.
Currently, I am reading Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. I began reading this before George Floyd’s tragic death, but the book’s contents have rang painfully true for me in these times. Previously I’d read about the history behind the apartheid in South Africa and the impacts of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, but never did I give the circumstances of those who lived it much consideration. In my mind, it was as if a switch must have been flipped in South Africa, one day the apartheid ruled and the next day things were hunky dory. The problem with my thinking on that situation is as wrong and hurtful as those who are allowing generalizations and stereotypes to rule their reactions and beliefs about the protests and riots today. I am grateful Trevor Noah’s book provided me with the opportunity to grow in my understanding.
Noah does a terrific job of addressing his life experiences and the viewpoints of the South African apartheid in a candid and witty manner. I with that everyone would follow his lead and use this perspective to see the race situation for what it is and eliminate the handy rationalizations that allow the division of people’s to perpetuate.
“Peace is the tranquility of order” – St. Augustine
Sometimes we encounter definitions of everyday things in extraordinary ways. In the priest’s homily this past Sunday, the explanation of St. Augustine’s definition for tranquility created one of those powerful moments for me.
According to St. Augustine, “Peace is the tranquility of order.”
In his explanation the priest addressed that most of us believe tranquility occurs when everything stops, but that is exactly the opposite of what St. Augustine teaches. The priest’s example calm cooperation was that of the human body. The mind, lungs, heart, organs, and skin they are all working together even in our most restful moments. Even those moments we consider tranquil. Tranquility happens when everything is doing what it is supposed to be doing in that very moment resulting in peace.
Wow! What a powerful definition!
These were the exact words that I needed to hear Sunday morning as my prayer list seemed a little longer than usual.
Two days earlier my father-in-law Andy had open heart surgery and was struggling in his recovery. That explanation of how peace and cooperation can bring tranquility was the perfect inspiration driving my prayer for my father-in-law and myself. I prayed that God would bring tranquility to Andy’s heart and body so that he may heal quickly and peacefully.
For myself, I asked God to help me embrace each element of the chaos in my life as a piece of puzzle in my daily search for peace.
It’s only when we fail to stand our ground that we cave.
Only when we fail to be true to ourselves, we cave.
When we fail to be honest, we cave.
We fail to believe; we cave.
Fail only when we cave.
The times when I have felt least successful are those when I felt I caved to insecurity or scrutiny of others. It was in allowing the foundation of what I knew was right to crumble. I let my emotions cascade in an avalanche of uncertainty around me. I caved.
One instance from junior high, where I personally caved, still haunts me.
In 6th grade, recess changed the social dynamic for everyone at my school. The 6th grade girls were assigned the parking lot between church and our grade school along with the 7th and 8th grade girls for recess. There were no soccer goals, basketball hoops, or kickball fields in this lot. As someone who always loved sports and being active, this move was not an exciting one for me. The other girls seemed perfectly happy to sit on the steps next to church and clump in tightly knit circles gossiping away our precious free time. Recess was not much fun as far as I was concerned, but I made the most of it floating from group to group, checking to see what the topic of conversation might be, or if there was a chance of athletic ambition from anyone.
One day I ran to talk to one of the 8th graders, who played basketball on the school team with me. She was talking to two others girls and I was excited to see if they wanted to talk basketball.
As soon as I entered their circle, one girl took me by the arm and turned me around. “You are like a wart. We want to burn you out of here,” she said and pushed me in the opposite direction of their conversation. Continue reading “Cave”→
Frequently we hear warnings about karma, but rarely to we heed those foreshadowings. Well, this week karma came right around the corner and whacked me.
Our dishwasher sits under the peninsula of our kitchen counter. When the dishwasher door is open, I always tell the kids to quit running through the kitchen; somebody is gonna get hurt.
Wednesday evening was a particularly persnickety evening in the Peters’ household. No one seemed to have their positive pants on. The kids could not and would not stop fighting. I begged, screamed, and threatened torture, if the laundry did not get folded and put away. Constant was the need to say, “Stop fighting! Stop hitting! Stay out of other people’s space!”(It was a rough night.)
All that crabbiness came to an abrupt halt as I stomped my way back into the kitchen (for like the hundredth time) to try and get the dishes done. That darn Karma was waiting to waylay my shin. And, boy, oh boy, did she get me. I ran smack dab into the dishwasher door.
As the blood immediately gushed from my leg, so did a four letter word from my mouth. I grabbed a towel and shouted for a band-aid. Eager to get away from folding laundry, my oldest son ran to the hall closet and brought two band-aids, just in case. Continue reading “Karma’s Corner”→
About a month ago my children discovered the movie The Greatest Showman. It is a musical based on the life story of P.T. Barnum (played by Hugh Jackman). In the film Barnum invites individuals who are considered “freaks” to become part of his show. Some of Barnum’s “freaks” include the bearded lady, the world’s tallest man, the world’s fattest man, wolf boy, and acrobats. As far as musical movies go, it was an alright show.
Of course the cruelty shown to the “freaks” in the film led to questions from my kids, and they wanted to know, “What’s a freak?”
I explained to them that the term “freak” comes from “freak of nature” meaning that sometimes things occur in our world that make humans or animals freaks of nature. In their infinite innocence they understood that being different makes someone or something special but also makes the abnormality a target for cruelty and ostracism.
With true indignation all of my kids ranted about the the mean things done in the film by citizens who were afraid of or hated the “freaks” in Barnum’s show. I just reminded them that, in real life, they should be kind and accepting of others who are different. Continue reading “What’s a “Freak”?”→
“You need a ‘safe’ word for when someone is doing things or saying something that hurts your heart,” – Kim Borgmeyer
As all parents do, some friends of mine and I were discussing school and the upcoming school year. Some were concerned about the amount of “just kidding” that the kids were doing and how uncertain we were that most would consider their jibes or insults as “jokes.” In addition there were some comments made about when teachers “joke” and the words do not come across as “funny” to the students.
My friend Kim suggested that each classroom have a “safe” word. A word that any student could use to the teacher or other students to signify that what was being said or done was hurtful to them. It could be anything from “rotten apples” to “pink giraffe,” but whatever the word was it would always show that the other’s behavior was not okay.
I thought, “Man, that’s brilliant.” Using a “safe” word is a terrific way to signify the impact of the moment and keep everyone aware of the power of their words and actions.
Of course everyone would need to understand that the “safe” word should only be used in real instances of bullying or disrespect. It should not be a word or phrase to be used lightly or in joking situations and everyone would have to abide by the understanding that it really was a “safe” way to say, “Hey, that’s not okay.”
This reminded me of a time when I gave a nickname to a student. All of my yearbook students had nicknames. It was our tradition. The nickname given to this particular young man was awarded completely out of comradery and friendly ribbing but, as things sometimes do, the nickname evolved to become something that was negative in my student’s life. It was not until after the spring awards banquet that I learned he thought the nickname meant I didn’t think he was smart.
In tough situations we often find ourselves unable to come up with the right words to say. That inability makes handling the circumstances even tougher. Here’s the good news: sometimes nothing needs to be said.
Just showing up and offering to listen or hug those hurting in the situation can be the most perfect proclamation. A simple squeeze of the hand or a covered dish for supper can sound like the kindest statements. Handing someone a tissue or taking over childcare duties is a true testament to your support and understanding for the suffering they are enduring. Sometimes we just don’t have the words, but we do always have the ability to make things happen and ease pain of the circumstances.
When my grandfather died, I was unable to attend the funeral because I had just endured a major surgery. My aunt came and sat with me the day of his funeral and said nothing. She simply hugged me, made lunch, did the dishes, and took care of the laundry. She knew I didn’t could speak of my grief yet and understood that sometimes it isn’t the words that make us feel better.
Sometimes we just don’t have the words.
Last night I attended the visitation of a man I had never met. I attended because two of his daughters (Mary Kay and Tina) are friends of mine. As I approached the front of the line, I wondered (as most do):what can I say that will help?Continue reading “Sometimes We Just Don’t Have the Words”→