Wake-Up Call

Phone alert states, "Emergency Alert - Tornado Warning in this area til 8:00 PM EDT. Take shelter now. Check local media. - NWS."

You don’t need a wake-up call 

When you can’t sleep at night.

Eyes wide open.

Nothing feels right.

My cell phone shrieked, “Tornado Warning. Take shelter now.”

We gathered the dog and headed to a storage area in our basement – just in case.

We don’t get many tornados around here, so this was unusual and a bit scary.

They say it’s safest to be away from windows, but then you have no line of sight to see what is or isn’t coming. You have to rely on others to tell you when it’s safe to come out.

The weather warning expired and we emerged from the basement.


Fast forward to 3 a.m.

The rain and wind are gone, but I’m awake and on edge.

My cell phone sits in silence on the nightstand…no alerts and warnings, and it’s way too soon for the alarm clock to sound.

But my mind is shrieking, “The world is out of whack. Take action now.”

For this warning, it does no good to hide in the basement.

We need to open every single window and shine light on all the facts.

We need to creep out of our safe zones and track what’s happening with our own eyes and ears.

This is not a drill.

And we don’t need a wake-up call when we can’t sleep at night.

Oh My God

A black square with tiny print, reading, "God help us."

Oh My God!

The President of the United States is a boorish bully who has bragged about getting away with sexual assault; a state just elected a politician who physically assaulted a reporter the night before the election; our nation is on the brink of kicking the legs out from under the elderly, ill, disabled, and poor; and white evangelical Christians celebrate that this all reflects their “dream” leadership team.

God!

Where are you??

Thy kingdom does not look ANYTHING like this alternate universe that’s come.

Please, God, deliver us from evil.

Amen.

Fellow Travelers

Sign says, "Occupied By a Through Passenger."

In the summer of 1989 – a few weeks after the Chinese government cracked down on protesters in Tiananmen Square and a few months before the East German government unexpectedly began cutting holes in the Berlin Wall – I boarded a flight for West Germany and met a man from Syria.

I don’t remember his name and I would not be able to pick him out of a crowd today, but I remember conversing with him during our eight-hour flight. He was a pleasant seatmate, chatting sociably but not so much as to monopolize my attention or time.

The plane landed and we went our separate ways. I headed off to start my new job as a reporter/producer at Radio Deutsche Welle and he headed off in his own direction.

As the war in Syria drags on, I find myself wondering about him and what became of his life since that shared flight and brief conversation.

Is he still alive?

If so, I think he would be in his 60s. What is his life like?

Does he have children? Grandchildren?

Is he among the refugees who fled the country, among those who remained and fear for their lives; or – perhaps – is he part of Assad’s government forces or one of the terrorist groups?

I really have no idea.

Rapid-fire news headlines and pontificating pundits can quickly numb us to an important truth.

The people of Syria – and those in many other war zones around the world – are people who work and eat and sleep and laugh and cry and sing and bleed.

Just like us.

Some of them are nice to other people; some of them are not.

Just like us.

They are born; live; and die.

Just like us.

We are, after all, aboard the same flight.

Five Minute Friday: Abandon

Yellow daffodils bow their heads against the cold of an early March snowfall.

(So, I’ve been participating in a “writers’ flash mob” of sorts called Five Minute Friday. In response to a one-word prompt, hundreds of writers sit down and write for five minutes flat. No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font or punctuation; unscripted and unedited. Here’s today’s edition…setting the timer….)

Five Minute Friday: Abandon

Go.

The afternoon sun magnified the effect of the blindingly white clouds surrounded by almost-too-blue-to-be-true patches of sky.

This early March day started with pelting snow and trees clothed in wintry white, but by afternoon the limbs displayed a costume change, showing off their white blossoms, which were there under the snow all along.

Winter sideswiped us this year, but this morning she reminded us it was not quite time, despite the blossoms and blooms all around us, for her to abandon us to spring.

Stop.

America

Grey sky reflects in a grey lake with a leafless tree along the shore.

Heartbroken

Unspoken

Words to share.

Do you care?

When I fear

You won’t hear,

Where to go?

I don’t know.

So alone.

I feel alone.

Through, Over, Around, Onward

A red light hangs over a trio of signs that all announce, "ROAD CLOSED."

Lost jobs.

Lost elections.

Racism.

Classism.

Homophobia.

Hatred.

Addiction.

Bullies.

Illness.

Debt.

Thoughts of suicide.

Somedays there are horrible things blocking our path.

We wake up and there they are.

Or maybe they’ve been there awhile and we just don’t see a way past them.

We can’t see past those things in our way.

But look up from the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other Everyday.

The path does continue.

There is a path and a journey beyond what seems to be in our way.

A rail trail path is blocked by a fallen tree, but you can see beyond the tree where the path continues.

We can move what is blocking the path, climb over it, or go around it.

But the path beckons.

It calls us forward.

As I write this, a New Year invites us to look beyond the present.

Look beyond current challenges, disappoints, or worries.

Life will go on beyond today’s blocked paths.

Move onward.

The journey continues.

A hiker and his dog go around a rock blocking the path and continue their journey.

 

Making Room

A living room rearranged to make room for a Christmas tree.

The tree waited patiently on the porch while we strategized how to make room.

We shoved the small TV-on-a-roller-cart out of its corner near one of our five overly-stuffed five-foot-tall wooden bookcases and over in front of a seldom-used-but-still-for-some-reason-there stereo.

We pivoted the couch over in front of the front window and slid it down the wall toward the corner vacated by the little TV.

We flipped the little dog leash and harness container from one side of the front door to the other.

Our stuff? Moved.

The tree? Welcomed in.

We made room.

This beautiful tree with plenty of branches, a nice traditional Christmas tree shape, and a refreshing natural pine scent instantly dominated the room.

It became the focus of the room, even before lights and ornaments; before tinsel and gifts.

Our stuff was still there…sure…but no longer the center of attention.

That got me to thinking…

We made room in our house for the Christmas tree, but have I made room in my heart for the Christ child?

Let’s face it. My heart is already fairly full with lots of stuff.

My stuff has staked its claim.

Christ waits patiently as I strategize about making room for him.

Perhaps I could pivot my pride over into the corner near my overflowing shelf of selfishness.

Perhaps I could reduce my collection of anger and resentment, sprawled across my heart and blocking the entrance.

What to do with the dusty knick-knacks of fear?

Which of these things can I (re)move to welcome Christ in?

How can I allow Christ to dominate my heart and be the focus of my soul?

My stuff will still be here…sure…but how can I make Christ the center of attention?

Perhaps I can ponder these questions while sitting on our shoved-down-the-wall couch in the glow of the calming lights of our beautiful tree…

“Joy to the World!

The Lord is come;

Let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare him room,

And heaven and nature sing.”

Christmas tree lights form patterns on the carpet.