Janay Rice Strikes First: Does It Justify Ray Rice Punching Her Out?

So Whoopi Goldberg is getting heat for saying, if you hit someone, then you have to be prepared to get hit back.  She concluded with that’s why she personal does not hit because she does not want to be hit.  And so there has been a little heat under Whoopi’s behind.  It’s not the first time Whoopi has said something unconventional.  What I do so appreciate about her though is her ability to have an independent thought.  She raises a point and a reality I had not, heretofore, considered.  The person who strikes first has a responsibility for their actions.  After you hit , you have to be prepared for consequences.

So I looked at the video again.  I watched to see this hit that came from Janay.  Honestly I saw her touch him but a hit I did not see.  My own partner argues it was a hit and so does Whoopi and various other people.  They experienced it as Janay violently reaching out to her partner.  And so if Janay threw the first strike, which we can hardly call a punch, does that change the game?  If Janay was the first one to make it physical, does this new information change how we think about the incident?  Does it change my belief that Ray was totally out of line?  It may not change my opinion, but it changes the layout of the field.

I remember a friend telling me she hit her husband.  I said what happened.  She said he hit me back.  And then what next?  We found other ways to communicate she replied.  I know her husband was not abusive.  He did not hit her in other instances, but he made it clear, if you decide to cross that boundary, I have something for you.  Now fortunately they are both slender in build.  And fortunately this one time encounter forged a different path.  But I always remember thinking that she did hit first.

I’m still a proponent of 0 tolerance as it relates to violence.  Ray was wrong.  But if Janay put her hands on Ray in the midst of the argument, she was wrong too.  And if she did physically strike out first, then it puts in perspective her apology.  And if she did strike first she’s not only a victim.  And if she did strike Ray first then my 0 tolerance policy applies to her.  This new information slows me up.  It makes me ponder maybe there are more sides that the larger audience does not know.  But at the end of the day Ray is a football player that partnered up with Black Barbie, and if he had punched me like he hit Janay I would have went out for the count too.  And something about him hitting her still doesn’t sit well with me.


Are Women a Woman’s Worse Enemy?: Janay Rice & Domestic Violence

It’s my third day writing on the knock out of Janay Rice.  While this happen some months ago, only this week was the video released by TMZ.  In the video you see Ray Rice punching Janay Palmer Rice.  The elevator door opens and he drags out an unconscious Janay.  The world had a strong reaction and it wasn’t long before his professional team let him go.  It’s one thing to hit someone but his punch is unacceptable violence.  It pushes the buttons of women.  It pushes the buttons of domestic violence survivors.  It pushes the buttons of daddies of girls.  It pushes the buttons of those who are against violence.  It pushes the buttons of those who are peace agents.  It just doesn’t sit well with most sane human beings.  Shame on Ray Rice.  That was Monday.

On Tuesday Janay comes out defending her husband.  She says she woke up mourning the death of her best friend.  By the end of her instagram she has turned a significant number of people against her.  I sees the tweets and Facebook statuses ripping into her raw flesh.  If she wants to stay with someone pouncing on her, then she’s stupid.  If she is defending a coward then let her be.  You can’t help someone that doesn’t want to be helped.  If that’s how she feels, then she deserves whatever he gets.  The once sympathy cup has dried up.  But that’s the way the crowd is, here today upset tomorrow.  The tables can turn that quickly.  And thus far her loudest critics are women.  An afterthought is maybe men don’t care.

I have fought hard and long this notion that women are a women’s worse enemy.  I have fought this belief that when a woman is trying to do better her opponent is usually another bitter jealous woman.  I have fought the notion that we are petty, emotional, and quick to talk about one another in certain circumstances.  I have tried to fight this sense that we are powerless and so that rather than box with men and abusive powers we will fight a sister.  But listening to women quickly dismiss Janay because she defends her husband is a challenge to such stereotypes.  Being mad one day and dismissive because she stayed the next day is bothersome to the spirit and camaraderie of sisterhood.   There’s something to be said for being present in difficult times.

Janay does not determine my actions just as Rihanna did not determine my voice.  I do not know Janay’s journey. I do not know what she’s been through or even what she’s going through.  I do not know how many times she’s been hit by someone bigger and much stronger.  I do not know if she has been exposed to abuse and what kind of relationships she was exposed to by her parents.  I know less and so I think that’s  a very healthy thing to admit to myself.  So I want to keep my hands and accusations off Janay.  I want to listen to her but what Janay has to say doesn’t effect my convictions around violence.  I want to listen but also be aware that abuse can color the eyes and cloud the mind. Again I do not know Janay’s life story.  I feel no need to judge her.  I think Janay could use a few sisters in her corner that are there no matter what she says.  She could use our support, our voices, our minds, our backs, and our prayers.  Perhaps women are constrained in how to be there for each other but I’m clear that today Janay and others need all of us.


5 Reasons Why Janay Palmer Stays: The Ray Rice Saga Continues

So Janay Palmer… my mistake, Janay Rice woke up this morning feeling bad (see link below) because of how the world has responded to her husband punching her out.  She stated on Instagram she feels like she’s mourning the death of her closest friend.  She lets us know they have tried to put this behind them.  They want to move on with their lives.  Well we just saw the video and we can’t move quite as fast.  I’m not sure if she’s moving on either but she has had a few months, a knock, court hearings, and a marriage the day after court, and who knows what else to move on.  It’s not everyday we see a celebrity punch someone unconscious and drag them out of the elevator.  So forgive us Janay if we cannot move on and be quite so forgiving.

Some have asked why would Janay stay implying she’s stupid for putting up with Ray in the first place.  As someone who has been certified in domestic violence, #1 reason women stay is fear of their life.  Statistics support that actually a woman is in more danger to flee the perpetrator.  I recall just this summer, not with pride, hearing a distant cousin in argument with his girlfriend who had left him shoot her dead.  By dead I mean he didn’t drag her out of an elevator but a week later there was a funeral.  Her two kids heard the shots.  He’s in jail but she’s dead and she was one of the ones who didn’t stay.  So one reason women do not leave is because it’s dangerous.

Another reason women stay is because religious leaders have told them to stay.  I’ve heard this one a few times.  My own cousin said when her mom was being beaten by my uncle, the church insisted she stay.  She went to the church for help.  Instead of helping her they gave her the pentecostal way –  pray and be faithful.  And she stayed and stayed.  And he beat her and beat her.  He treated her so badly both sides of the family, ours included, came to the conclusion he was absolutely no good for her.  Perhaps the only solace for me is that 70+, yes just a couple of years ago, she left him.  She didn’t consult with the pastor this time.

Another reason women stay is because of investment.  When  you’ve invested in someone/something, it’s hard to just go.  Some women believe him when he says he will change, he will get help, or he will never do it again.  Besides they have kids together.  They have friends and family.  They have a life.  They have been in this thing for a minute.  And so women push aside our doubt and try to make the relationship work.  Besides real relationships take commitment and working through difficult times.

Another reason women stay is because of low self esteem.  They have been beaten down or maybe they were never up.  They do not think a lot of themselves.  They do not value their worth.  Sometimes, they may even blame themselves for the abuse.  If I can just be this person or that, maybe he won’t hit me.  They are not sure they can make it on their own.  Some are financially dependent and fear not being able to support one’s self.  They do not have much faith in their own ability to survive without the perpetrator.

Women stay because they are embarrassed.  Getting your but beat is humiliating.  Wearing bruises on your body because of what someone did to you is shaming.  It’s hard to not feel like you are partly responsible.  It’s hard not to punch on yourself more.  And you simply do not want others to see your face.  You don’t want others to know you took this.  You don’t want the judgment.  You don’t want the scorn.  You don’t want everyone looking at you.  It’s a pain many women would rather bare alone in isolation.

There are lots of reasons women stay is my point.  It gets frustrating to hear over and over people asking why would she stay with someone who knocks her out.  So for those of you that went there here are 5 reasons women stay.  Maybe one of them is the reason Janay not only stayed but chooses to defend the wrong actions of her now husband and say she is to blame as well.  Let’s continue to hold all people who perpetrate violence on others accountable and not get so distracted by why women stay.  A more noble question is why do perpetrators use violence as a form of power over others.  As we hold perpetrators accountable maybe, just maybe, Janay will get help.



Zero Tolerance: Ray Rice & Domestic Violence

Until today, I did not know Ray Rice.  I am so not into sports and I’m even less into celebrities of any type.  But as part of social media, I saw the video.  Dude punched Janay Palmer out.  Well he punched her once.  She moved towards him, some say lunged.  And he punched her again.  The next image we have is him dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator with one shoe on.  She is unconscious.  He has a little struggle getting her and her belongings out.  Some employee eventually enters the picture which looks pretty awkward.

There is a zero tolerance for violence in some schools.  In essence that means when you do any of the things on their list that qualify as violence you are automatically expelled.  You do not get a first chance.  You do not get a second chance.  You do not get a third chance.  There are no chances.  There is no discussion.  Based on zero tolerance you are immediately and forever expelled from the institution.  It is extreme in it’s stance but it also gets a point across.  It lets you know that this institution absolutely does not tolerate violence.

I am one human being that has zero tolerance for domestic violence.  It is why I listen to no music by Miles Davis or Chris Brown.  I could care less about your childhood.  I could care less about the absence of a parent.  I could care less about all your apologizes and excuses.  I could care less about your crying before cameras.  I could care less about your promise to gain back the community’s trust.  I could care less about the fact you married the woman you used for a punching bag the day after you were indicted (how convenient was that?).  I could care less about you being dropped by your team because the video went public as if they knew absolutely nothing about you being a perpetrator.  I could care less about the people who endorse you.  And I could care less about all those who want to point a finger at your wife and point out that she’s not pressing charges.  I could really care less.

I have a zero tolerance for domestic violence period.  And punching someone in an elevator once qualifies.  Punching them twice qualifies.  Punching them to the point where they are unconscious qualifies.  And dragging her unconscious body out qualifies.  And apologizing for you and her (btw wtf did she do but be in the way of your fist) qualifies.  And not owning up to what you did, without including her, qualifies.  You hit another human being, God’s creation.  You hit her with force.  You hit her because you were angry.  You used power in one of the most abusive forms I know.  And you can say absolutely nothing to explain those facts.  I now add you to that list of people who I withdraw supporting in any form.  And as far as I’m concerned I have zero tolerance.


UnGrateful Challenge: 3 Things I’m not Grateful for

I am a libra and part of that sign involves balancing the scales.  If you go too far left in a argument, I’m bound to be on the right side and vice versa.  Lately a lot of folks have been picked to do the ASL ice bucket challenge and now the gratitude challenge.  This is great.  It’s really positive.  I’m loving it but it feels like an imbalance.  And lets be honest, I’m having a rough day (another blog entry).  So to be fair to life and our range of experiences I wanted to open the door for others to share what they are ungrateful for… it may be hard but stick with it.

I am ungrateful for the road construction going on in Chicago that made my commute to school this morning over one hour.  I believe in traveling through the eye of the storm and did so for most of our school trek.  But towards the end I believed the local streets would serve us better.  This was a bad move on my part.  Every 8 blocks there was major construction turning two lanes into one lane with lots of stop signs and stop lights.  And the real plus was a road closed with detour signs.  I hadn’t really anticipated all of this construction and I think Chicago can do a much better job of spreading out, planning differently, how it wants to go about road constructions.

Second I am not grateful for rain on a work day.  It increases car commute.  I had several errands today and I did not appreciate having to get out in the rain, and then plop umbrella up and dash to store.  Same procedure coming out of store.  And when you are wearing sandals that little bit of water gets between your toes and shoes and your feet start sliding in your shoes and it’s just the most uncomfortable feeling.  Rain really is a nuisance when you are out and about.

And last I am ungrateful for mail.  It’s a real nuisance sifting through 95% of junk mail to retrieve bills.  How many times does Comcast have to send me literature for it to dawn on them that I’m not going to sign up with them ever again.  Every week I get two pieces of mail on the same day advertising the same thing which means they’ve managed to get me down in the database two times which is more than scary.  I know where you are.  I know how to find you.  I do not understand how someone who makes so little gets mail from so many places wanting it – get your hands off.  And I would talk about emails but that’s #4 and maybe I’ll save that for day #2 of being ungrateful.


We See What We Want to See: Reflections on Race

So my play mom was at a jazz concert.  Due to age she arrived early so that she could secure a comfortable seat.  She took a book to keep her occupied.  Shortly, a white woman and man came up.  The white woman asked could she sit next to her.  My play mom says okay.  The white woman puts a piece of paper in the seat and proceeds to put her husband in another section for handicap wheelchairs.  When she returns she says to my play mom can you watch my purse while I go to the bathroom.  My play mom is shocked because this white lady does not know her.  They have not talked nor have they ever seen each other before this day.  She is black and this woman is white.  She says sure.  When the lady returns my play mom goes to the bathroom.  She takes her purse.  She shared this story because it shocked her.

Lately, I have heard several stories opposite this one that imply another person, because of their racist thinking, acting cowardly.  Recently a colleague, black male, was waiting on the elevator.  When it opened a petite Asian woman jumped holding her purse in fear for several seconds.  This is his story and I believe it.  Another person shared if we’re honest, most of us are more scared of a black male than a white male when we encounter one alone.  We’ve been socialized in such a way.  I use to feel slightly alarmed when there were several young black males with sagging pants hanging on corners talking loud and using a lot of profanity.  I am guilty.  And it’s sad because people such as my colleague experience something that his hurtful and not reflective of a whole group of people.  This is a bad rap.

I share the story above because I think in a post racial era racism happens, but on the other hand, sometimes we see what we want to see.  Lately, at least with my educated friends, we’ve been on a frenzy reporting all the injustices happening to blacks in the world at the expense of a racist society.  The scale is tipped heavily towards injustice.  And in no way do I circumvent the horror of Michael Brown and other’s who were killed unarmed.  I hate murder.  I hate when a life is cut short.  And I hate that when we see a black male of a certain proportion allowing our minds go there.  We cut him less grace.  And we somehow as a country thinks it’s okay.  So let me, for the record, say a racial tragedy is happening in our country.

That said I think we have gone too far to the left and/or right.  We simply see everything through glasses that may need changing.  We see what we want to see.  So in the sea of wrong doing what really happened to my play mom.  If we wanted to push it, we could say they saw my play mom as a mammy matriarch ‘the help’ and therefore trusted her but I’d like not to go there.  I think maybe, and this too is a speculation,DSC_1068 they saw another human being.  This white woman had to go to the bathroom and she saw the good in the woman with the book waiting to see the same jazz concert.  It’s all a speculation right?  Whatever this woman saw in my play mom I wish more of us saw it in each other.  I wish and hope as one passionate about racial reconciliation, which include both love and justice, that we can see each other’s humanity more and more.  I think all sides have a lot to learn but this interaction between my play mom and this unknown white woman leave me hopeful.


Is Marriage Overrated?: Living Without

Is the whole marriage thing overrated?  I saw this couple who had lived together for 20 years.  They were cruising as it relates to their relationships.  One had proposed to the other because he knew how bad she wanted to get married.  In our meeting, this and more came out.  Actually, all the people he knew who had gotten married were divorced and the ones who had simply lived together were still strong.  So for him marriage was a precursor to a ruined relationship.  At least that’s what he said.  So the ‘to be married couple’ ended up not getting married.  They are still together today.  And they are perhaps making it work.  They have built a life together.

Marriage has not been a reality for me but now that I find myself on the path of a serious relationship it’s not as far off as the distant sunset.  All sorts of things come up when you talk about marriage versus just being a couple.  I’m amazed at how stuff can come from left field.  Is this the one?  Can I live with annoying habits?  And differences?  And values?  How do we move beyond stuff maturely?  What does all of this mean because I too have seen some folks go haywire after marriage.  For the rest of my life can I promise to only partner with this person building a mansion of richer lived experiences and none else?  Doubt is here.  Fear is here.  Every obstacle raises it’s head.  And so one ask is the whole marriage thing overrated?  What do you say?  It’s not like a whole lot of people were successful at this venture.  And lets not even mentioned the ‘unhappily gonna stay in it folks.’  When I look around, really look around, it’s a rare minority of individuals that make marriage look even faintly remotely desirable.  Marriage makes you think harder about total commitment.  #honestfeedback

There’s a lot that sways me away from marriage but there is one thing that keeps it in the periphery.  If what sways me away is, “can I live with this person?” then what makes me consider the act of marriage is, “can I live without this person?”  It creates a different dynamic reminding how much our heartbeats are connected to each other.  It reminds me of the life we’ve built.   It reminds me of the interdependency of our relationship.  It reminds me of how much we have grown together.  It reminds me of the room we made for each other to be with each other.  It reminds me of the invaluable aspect of companionship and that no matter how good or bad my day is it ends in your arms.  And I don’t want to lose that connection.  So maybe marriage is overrated and maybe not.  But if the opposite of marriage is no you, then I would marry you today.


Peeling Black Labels: Michael Brown & Ferguson

I just finished listening to a spiritual person, whose name shall remain nameless, for the second time. I heard her some months ago but I didn’t really hear her. Thanks to podcast, I got to listen to the same speech all over again. Her and her sister did a therapeutic meeting wherein they pulled back all the labels that had been placed on them as children. One was considered smart and the other one had been labeled deviant. What was astonishing to them was thatonce they pulled back not only the labels, but how they had lived out those labels, they felt like for the first time they saw each other. In this whole incident between Michael Brown and the officer, Derrick Wilson, there is a lot of labeling. Both sides bother me.

The one side of the argument read something like this, Michael Brown was walking in the middle of a street. Officer Darren Wilson pulled up and asked him and his friend to get out of the middle of the road.  He continued to walk in the middle of the street. Some sort of exchange ensured between the two and Michael Brown was shot numerous times and died. Let the black militants tell it Michael is yet another black male unarmed shot down like a dog in the street, left uncovered for several hours and there is no protection for blacks in this country. He was innocent because he had no gun. After the first shot he faced the officer, he put his hands up, and the officer still continued to shoot. He was on his way to college that Monday and was kind and gentle with his younger siblings. And the cop that killed him is a racist white male who can shoot a black man because white people can kill blacks in America and get away with it. The officer has not even been arrested. And he shot him several of times. What was the purpose? And the system protects him, waiting several days just to release his name. And then they release information on Michael Brown it’s about a robbery he participated in which many believe was release to incriminate him, which other believe has resulted in rioting. Our community of peaceful protesters, with a few looters, is being treated like criminals by this same police system that killed Michael Brown. They are killing black people across the country in the name of defense and many have gotten away with it. Over the last few years, there is an increase of black people being shot unarmed which implies they are harmless. We will not settle for it. I hope you can hear the labels, but if you belong to this faction, you probably do not.

The other group story goes something like this, Michael Brown, for God’s sake, was robbing a store just before the officer in self-defense shot him. Did you see his mom after Michael Brown was shot? She’s got herself a race card lawyer and now she’s looking like a model citizen. The fact is the police officer asked the two males to get out of the middle of the street. They should have listened, but they did not; Michael Brown got what he deserved. Police officers put themselves in danger daily and has anyone studied the number of police that lose their lives in the line of fire. This police officer had no record and had won an award for his outstanding service. And let’s not count the number of guys that die by the sword. In other words, 94% of black males who are killed incur a fatal gesture at the hands of someone of the same race (a.k.a. black on black crime). The police officer shot in defense. After all, they were in a battle and the guy was trying to get his gun. Let the justice system handle this case. These people are looting and breaking in the stores that service them and then they wonder why they don’t have anything in their community. Let them tear it up, but what does this have to do with Michael Brown being shot? They are out of order and have left the police to enforce order by any means necessary. We do not know what happened in that car.

It is clear either you are for Michael Brown or you are for the officer. There are no in-betweens. For those of us who are not fully in either camp, it feels like one has no voice or place to express how this incident,that is rippling through the nation, affects us. On both sides of the argument, the conversations are loaded. We have put so many labels, justifiably so or not, on each other. It is no wonder the town is in an uproar and the global world is watching, ready to point fingers at America, the home of democracy. I get why blacks and liberals are angry. I understand and cringe when the other side looks at Michael discriminatingly. We keep putting labels on top of labels on black malesthat lead to many black males be viewed asup to absolutely no good and defend the actions of white police officers innocent or not. We label white people who shoot as belonging to one camp. A few years ago in Hurricane Katrina, we saw race relations’ plummet. TV stations described blacks taking from stores as looters, but whites who were seen doing the same thing were described more compassionately as finding something to eat. Like the spiritual woman and her sister above we are living out these labels where others describe certain people in demonizing ways. I know there’s a lot to holding on to labels because we believe in them so much. They really are the enemy. But, I do think if we could peel some of these labels back, we might discover a different way of existing together. There are years and histories of labels. I have begun reading some Nigerian history and surprised that the north/south tension has some decades of storytelling that one should know to understand present tensions. Our labels make us feel right. They become our security blankets and bridge breakers. Most of us keep them for all of our lives. But, I think they shortchange us from the diversity that exists in America.

Two of my colleagues, who are married, adopted a child. They took a beautiful picture and put it on Facebook. They have two beautiful dogs, twin sons and a daughter. This is the epitome of a middle class black family. And they look good. And now right in center is their newest edition, a white little girl with blonde hair. My partner said ‘WTF?’ Of course, if a black family is going to adopt they should adopt a black child because there are plenty of black kids who could use a home. I really do not know how that bundle of joy came into their lives. I remember the day my own son arrived. He was more than I ever expected. I did not love the child he was not but, with time, I learned to love the child he was. If we could peel back just a few labels maybe, instead of a little blond girl with privilege, we could see a family with a big enough heart to receive another child into their home. This same couple was able to peel back enough layers to embrace same-gendered relationships. Meeting a same gendered loving person changed them. Perhaps what is happening in Ferguson is larger and more complex than I think. But, I wonder if more of us could begin to peel back enough layers that give us compassion for a hurting community and perhaps a hurting police officer.   You may not have faith in this path, but I have less faith in the road we’ve been on.


Robin Williams: Suicide is a Serious Matter

So a close friend says to me they think suicide is a selfish act for which they have no compassion in response to the news that Robin Williams committed suicide.  I decide this time I cannot respond realizing that many others feel this way.  How many people will have to commit suicide before we stop dismissing people who commit suicide as weak and absorbed in self?  How many people will find themselves on the edge and leap off before we stop concluding they did not have to do it?  How many people will terminate their life as an act of the only choice they have before we condemn folks to hell?  How many folks will have to use suicide as a last resort before we take serious the challenges of mental health, broken families, and a chaotic world?  How many folks will have to get up out of here before we realize the way we are living is not whole or good for humans?  How many people will inflict death before we take seriously the cries in the midnight for relief? How many people will exit life before we open ourselves to understanding the phenomenal of choosing death over a tortured life?

I grew up on Mork & Mindy and Robin Williams made the show.  I loved that show and I loved Robin Williams.  Even though he went on to do many other movies, he would always be Mork in my mind. I didn’t like shows like that, generally, but with Robin Williams in the role he endeared me to him.  I always saw Mork a.k.a. Robin Williams as corky but kind and that disposition is true of him in real life.  I echo others comments that there was something qualitatively different about Robin Williams.  He was a different human being and sometimes different people absorb more fully the pain and dis-ease in the world.  I enjoyed him in other roles; no matter what role he played, he transformed the role and took you along for the journey.  Robin Williams was a good guy in the whole entertainment industry.  He’s a  good guy that perhaps took a wrong road here or there but congratulations to 20 years of sobriety.  That’s an accomplishment.  Like I was saying perhaps it took a wrong turn somewhere.  Perhaps he struggled to get back on track.  Perhaps he never made it.  And perhaps in desperation he chose an end.

I had this awakening the other day.  I have always known that I’m stuck in my body and that I can never know how others experience me.  I can listen closely but I can never really share that experience.  And sometimes when others describe their experience of me it seems a bit foreign.  I do not recognize the person they are describing.  But likewise I can never know what it is like for someone else to experience themselves.  I do not know what the journey was like for Robin Williams.  Even if I could say I would never commit suicide, I do not know how he experienced his own life.  I do not know how he experienced his addiction, sobriety and relapse.  I do not know what he was going through and even if I did I do not know how he experienced it in his own body.  Like I can never know how others experience me I can never know how others experience themselves.  I do not know his obstacles.  And if Robin Williams did commit suicide, I do not know what he thought in those final moments leading up to his death.  I have not a clue.  And so the kindest thing I can do is honor his contributions in life and honor the challenges of mental health.  Suicide is a serious matter!


No Meaning

All too often I notice people try to impose meaning on situations that perhaps have no meaning.  It seems like we have this need to make meaning out of things that inconvenience or challenge us.  I find this especially true in a the faith community where I hang out a lot.  A person gets a speeding ticket and now suddenly it’s the devil attacking them.  A person gets fired and now it’s God trying to give them other opportunities.  A person dies unexpectedly and now it becomes a part of God’s providential will.  A person is suffering and we talk about karma.  I remember one former member saying if there were no heaven life would be one cruel joke.  Again we have to give meaning to that which feels cruel, challenging, unjust, etc.

So this weekend I was in a bit of hurry.  For the record, I try not to be in a hurry because hurrying sets off all kinds of alarms and makes me more susceptible to frustration.  So I was in a hurry, nonetheless, while shopping in a grocery store.  As usual, I tried to pick the line that, potentially, looked like the fastest.  This is a ritual which has not often worked in my favor.  Because I was in a hurry, it seems like I picked the line moving the slowest.  There were two old ladies who I am sure had one errand and this was it and would probably even stop for some ice cream on their ride back home.  I wondered if they were sisters because they were the same height, same complexion and had a very similar sized shaped wig on their heads.  The one that was a little more spry offered to go and get another item while the slower moving one paid for the items there.  This took some time.  And the spry sister, still elderly, made more than one trip.  In my politest tone I asked if they could just ring me up since I only had two items.  It is then that the more spry lady shows up the second time. I was practicing patience this whole time.  I was doing good.  My eyes did not roll in my head.  There was no steam coming from my nostrils.  My disposition was hopeful and helpful.  I silently counted and meandered to myself.  And eventually the ladies moved forward and I paid.

In the past, I would have said this is maybe God trying to improve my patience.  Or better yet, this is an opportunity presenting it’s self for me to improve my patience and I will continue to have such occasions until I master this challenge.  I know others probably would have agreed with me.  But on this day I had a different conclusion.  This incident did not have to have meaning.  It did not have to mean I was being perfected for some greater purpose.  It did not have to mean God was intervening to build me up.  It did not have to mean that I was christian because I behaved myself well enough.  It really didn’t have to mean any of the above.  The truth is it could be that I just got in a  line with two older women ahead of me who moved slowly and that’s it.  There is no meaning.  I felt good about this awareness.  Sometimes that’s just it, our breath, our seconds, our moment, our days have absolutely no meaning except that is the meaning that we impose on it.


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