Tag Archives: Life

Where Division Begins and Ends

I watched the children at their play
Left to their own devices
Selfishness and pride ruled the day
They seemed to forget what nice is

I saw the ones who had no toys
Longingly eye the others
The rich, the privileged girls and boys
Ignored by their busy mothers

On each small innocent face
I saw a measure of pain
What they needed was a helping of grace
So abundant love might reign

The poor kids think they’re missing out
The rich kids equate love with things
What both need I have no doubt
Is the love of the King of kings

But who will teach them how to love
And receive love in return
You and I must show grace from above
To create peace for which we all yearn

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Assumptions of Bias

During the past week watching the news and reading Facebook posts about the violence and racial tensions in this country, I was struck by the assumptions made by some who protested the loudest. One such assumption—a  statement I read more than once—was that white people are afraid of the big black man, and that’s the problem.

I would argue that this assumption contributes to the problem of racial tension and is not true because it is an over generalization. All white people cannot be lumped into one set of beliefs or viewpoints any more than all black people can. Many white people, as well as many black people, would prefer to be part of the solution.

As I pondered all of this, I was reminded of something that happened to me just a month or so ago. We were having mandatory “Implicit Bias” training at work. It’s not the first time we’ve had this training, but this time something happened that made me think about how sometimes our assumptions about implicit bias can be part of the problem. We focus on and assume bias where diversity and camaraderie might flourish if we didn’t try so hard to see the negative.

The presenter was talking about the online Harvard Implicit Bias Project tests. I’ve taken several of these tests before so I raised my hand to offer my unique experience.

“I’ve taken the race Implicit Bias test three times,” I said, “and each time it has revealed I have a strong preference for African Americans. I have no explanation for why that is because I really only know a few African Americans.”

The presenter thanked me for chiming in and started talking about how we don’t always know where these biases come from. Then she said,” That was very brave of you to admit that.”

”Wait,” I replied, “I think you misunderstood me. Why would it be brave for me to say I had a bias in favor of, strongly in favor of, blacks?”

“Oh,” she said,” you said against.”

My boss, who was sitting at the same table as me, replied,” No she didn’t, she said in favor of.”

Later I talked to several people who were on the other side of the room and they all said they clearly heard me say what I actually said. But the presenter—who spends much her time talking, thinking, and studying about implicit bias—heard what she assumed any white woman would say, that she was biased against blacks.

I share this because I think it is so important not to assume we know what others think about difficult issues like this. We have to stop making broad general assumptions about whole groups of people whose only thing in common might be the color of their skin. Human beings—and each individual human being—is so much more complex than that.

The second presenter at this training had commented at the beginning that we didn’t need to talk about religion or spirituality, because that isn’t really very important for people in Oregon. I found this comment odd because it was another inaccurate assumption. For me, my faith is very important and it is the teachings of Jesus that inform much of my belief about others. It is my understanding that we are all created in God’s image, no matter what color our skin, that helps me in dealing with and accepting those who are different from me.

D.C. Talk does a great song called Colored People that I want to end with. I’m linking to YouTube because often embedded videos don’t work on this free blog. I encourage you to follow the link and give it a listen.

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Seeking Truth

Words matter. Our choice of words, whether speaking or writing, makes a difference.

And words have meaning. That’s what dictionaries are for—to tell us what words mean. When we try to use words to mean something other than what they really mean, it causes confusion.

Sometimes people do this on purpose. One such misuse of a word that I have encountered lately is the use of the word “true” to substitute for “believe.” A person will say “such and such is true for me” when what they really mean is “I believe such and such.”

According to the dictionary, the word “true” means “being in accordance with the actual state or conditions; conforming to reality or fact.” Truth is not relative and is not affected by what any one person believes. Truth is external, and belief is internal, in origin.

Many years ago, when I was suffering from major clinical depression, there were a number of things I believed about myself. I believed I would always be depressed based on how long I had been depressed already and my doctor telling me I would always have bouts of major depression for the rest of my life. I also believed I would never be able to hold down a full-time job. I believed no one liked me and that I was worthless. In the parlance of relativism, these things were true for me.

But they weren’t true. They aren’t true and they never were, no matter how deeply I believed them.

And trust me, I deeply believed these things about myself.

But here I am, 18 years later, and I haven’t had a bout of major depression since God showed me how to be free. I’ve had the same good-paying full-time job for almost 12 years, and I had a different full-time job that paved the way for this one for 5 1/2 years before that. On top of my full-time job, I’m actively involved in my church and Bible Study Fellowship, have self-published two poetry books, and take care of my family. And I have a lot of friends, people who like me (and some who even love me).

As I look back over the past 20 years, I see God’s hand in my life, lifting me up and leading me to see the truth. I believe that. But it’s not my belief that makes it true. In fact, I could be dead wrong, but I don’t believe I am.

Whether God is real and cares about His creation enough to do all I believe He has for us is either true or not. It can’t be true for me and not for you, or vice versa. Truth is. As humans, our greatest purpose is to seek the truth. To say that truth is relative—that what is objectively true for me is different from what is objectively true for you—negates that essential human drive to know truth, to know our Creator, to know where we come from, and to know our reason for being.

At any rate, that’s what I believe.

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A Betrayal of Roses

He sent six roses
As if roses made it okay

As if roses washed away
feeling betrayed

As if roses proved mom’s belief
he was one of the good ones

As if roses, his cute smile,
and his silky blonde hair
justified his actions

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It’s Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub today and I cheated again. I checked out Bjorn’s blog and found the required word is “rose.”

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Harenochiame – 晴後雨 はれのちあめ

An outdoor June wedding in the Pacific Northwest is always a crap shoot. You pick a date and hope the weather cooperates, or else don’t care whether it does or not. If a little rain (or an impending thunder storm) is going to ruin your special day, pick an indoor venue. But outdoors and June was the perfect option for a young woman named Kelsey June who loves nature. The weather forecast changed from thunderstorms to blue skies to intermittent rain showers every two hours or so. When the time for the beautiful riverside ceremony arrived (an hour late due to a train on the tracks that delayed the entire wedding party and guests) the sun was shining bright. As the festivities continued, there were periods of chill rain showers, some downpours, followed by blue skies again. I suppose the wedding day was a microcosm of the marriage itself, into which some rain and some sun will come in alternating bursts of life together.

Summer rain showers
Unpredictable as life
Nourish all that grows

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It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub and once again Toni is at the helm. We are writing about rain and are to title our poem one of the 50 Japanese words for rain. I chose harenochiame ( 晴後雨  はれのちあめ), which means clear then rain. As a traditionalist, Toni is asking for us to include a traditional haiku at the end of the haibun. I have complied, though the wedding my haibun is about was anything but traditional. I’ve included below a pictures of the newlywed couple.

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An Angel’s Life

I’ve had a blessed life
though I didn’t always
think it would be so

My first memory
is praying for the
frantic Christmas shoppers
at Costco, standing high on a shelf
It felt weird to look down
on the carts filled
with unnecessary things
while praying for their souls

At last I was taken home
by a nice family
placed in a garden corner
I was blessed with the honor
of praying over the nativity,
over the Holy Child
as the snow drifted down

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January came
and the nativity was taken away
Long, cold days followed
and I feared the dreary days ahead
The family would dart out the front door
to quickly get into their cars
and drive away, gone all day
I prayed for their safe return

I should have known
that each season passes to the next
Winter gave way to spring and
the family planted flowers,
the azalea bush bloomed,
and I was blessed once again
with the honor of praying
over what God had created
Never shall I despair again

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Lillian is tending the bar at dVerse Poets Pub today for Poetics and is thinking about statues. One of the options she offered is to write from the point of view of a statue, so I’ve written from the point of view of the angel statue in my front yard.

 

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Triggers, Triggers Everywhere

Tears spilled from my eyes
Gushed, really
quite uncontrollably
Anger the apparent trigger
He wouldn’t listen
Then I realize the real trigger
This series of events:
Writing of Dad’s death
Hearing of Aunt Dot’s passing
Trying to save a few bucks
on airline tickets

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De is running the bar at dVerse Poets Pub today and calling for us to write a 44-word Quadrille using the word “spill.” Come on over and join the fun!

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All Good Vacations Must End

It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub and Toni is calling for a haibun about everyday things with a true haiku at the end. I did my best. We’ll see what she thinks. This haibun is looking forward to later in the summer when I’ll get to enjoy the labors of this past vacation week.

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Vacations can’t last forever. This one has been wonderful, spent planting flowers, including 14 Lantana. But eventually the daily routine returns. Preparations for the work day, each important for different reasons. Start with coffee, my daily devotional, and treats and a game of fetch with the dog. Crazy cat gets in on the action, too. Then shower and teeth brushing makes one presentable to the world. Must select just the right outfit to be warm enough in an air-conditioned office but not too hot to sit outside in the summer sun for lunch. Most importantly, I must pause for prayer—a chat with God about the day ahead—preparation for whatever might come my way. Oh, and can’t forget to pack that lunch. What good leftovers are in the fridge? No leftovers, but mmmm, there’s hummus, crackers, fresh snap peas from the farmers’ market, crisp jicama slices, and of course a cold sparkling water. All packed to go, give the dog his leaving bone and the cat a few treats. Finally, it’s out the front door to the car with just a moment to enjoy the potted flowers on the front step.

Varied Lantana
Lovely summer dalliance
They’ve grown large since June

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Choices

Life is a series of choices

Some seem insignificant
but have life-changing impact

Others we agonize over
but are insignificant
in the grand scheme of things

Some choices
appear to be the only option
We can’t see the consequences to come
or alternatives before us

I’ve spent many long hours
pondering the” what ifs” of choices
that turned out bad.
If only I hadn’t…
then maybe everything would be better.

But ultimately
there is but one choice that truly matters
It is a choice we all face

Do I trust God or do I go it alone?

All is not rainbows and roses
if one chooses to trust
Hardship and regret don’t instantly
melt away

Life is still a series of choices
including the choice
to trust God with my mistakes

Including the choice
to share my story
my series of choices
with the world
in the hopes of encouraging another

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Ode to Lantana

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I adore lovely lantana
Growing in my garden bright
Yellow, pink, orange, and red
with accents of lobelia

The summer sun beats down hot
From a sky blue like Montana
But lantana stands strong and tall
sparkling like the galleria

If only I had my own cabana
steps from a cooling pool
with delicacies delivered like manna
By a waiter named Arnold or Ted

Don’t think me a naive pollyanna
I’m content on my deck instead

• This poem is a bref double.

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