Conversations these days are vital, personal, intense, brimming with emotion. How is Gaza today? How is India? How are people in places unknown? We ask friends, and friends ask us, “How are you?” We really want to know.
1. Life upside down–“Oh Gratitude!”– life right side up again.
One month ago today, pain rushed us to Urgent Care, and suddenly all conversations were about hospitalization, surgery and more surgery. Gratitude is overwhelming after two weeks in hospital for Leann. Gratitude for a great gift of healing and recovery. We talk gratitude, write gratitude, breathe gratitude, dream gratitude, are humbled by gratitude. In an hour, one’s world is reframed. And our story is a footnote to the thousands of stories where the world will not return as it did for us.
2. Gaza and Israel.
Our home base church, Peace Mennonite, is committed through the links created by MennoPIN, to be a sister congregation with a center in Gaza. So conversation on the explosive conflict between Israel and Gaza was intense and heartbreaking. One member read a statement being offered to leaders of MCUSA as a draft for a witness to the leaders of our own country, and we talked painfully to each other and to the God we share with those in bomb shelters and basements. As we speak, visions of rocket trails, exploding munitions, and imploding buildings shadow us, and the scenes of swaddled children and shrouded dead tear at our hearts. “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken them?”
3. Sourdough Starter for “our Daily Bread.”
Hundred year old starter from Duluth, fresh starter from California, secrets from family bakers, wisdom from ovens across the nation, all help create bread with the taste of history and the tang of natural wild yeasts. Being homebound in 2020 gave us incentive for feeding and fermenting flour and water with time and love. The picture and the bread pictured above are by our daughter Kate. We show our loaves on family zoom, and marvel at the robustness of the bubbly stuff in the jar. A scarecrow baker shouting “It’s alive” was erected at one of our homes in the Halloween contest, a celebration of simple baking with complex flavors.
4. Unapologetic by Francis Spufford.
We are reading and discussing this book subtitled “Why, despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense” in our evening worship at Peace Mennonite. This week the second chapter on sin, “The crack in everything,” stirred up a wealth of insights on the human propensity to mess things up. This is a refreshing, lively, passionate, provocative affirmation of faith. As one goes down old theological paths and at the next turn, surprise! New landscapes of our faith world open and excite.
5. Why Lies Live On.
We can’t erase the public stories praising “The War Against Northern Aggression” we heard when touring the Southeast a few years ago, unforgettable quotes pop up in conversations. Then reading James Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me added historical substance, Then followed Howard Zinn, A Peoples History of the United States that opens blind eyes to surprising truths, Now the June Atlantic offers Clint Smith’s “Why Confederate Lies Live On.” Important reading for anyone who ruminates over the many lies nourished and thus flourishing in a Nation torn by “the Big Lie” told as a test of loyalty. Truth now seems irrelevant and finally optional until one recalls a classic definition of the eternal realities: “Hell is the Truth, learned too late.”
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