Different Can Be Safe!

Today, Squirrel came to visit.
And yesterday.
And the day before.
And, in all probability, tomorrow.
At first, I barely noticed.
Mostly because Squirrel is same.
When Hawk came, he was different. Novel.
Today, Squirrel came to visit.
He brought no missing puzzle piece.
No sudden insight.
Just a reminder.
With, perhaps, an old truth for this time.
And, oddly, with a call to action.
Help heal the world.
Today, Squirrel came to visit.
Chattering and sorting the bounty of the winter garden.
This to keep.
That to toss away.
Choosing same over different,
As we learned at the beginning of time.
Squirrel. And you. And I.
Today, Squirrel came to visit.
Living both the beginning and the healing of fear.
Of racism and other stubborn plagues of our world.
Same is safe. Different is not.
Deep in our DNA.
Our history.
Our stories.
Today, Squirrel came to visit.
And so I went,
The Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother,
Having a blast, waving at babies.
Becoming more familiar.
More safe.
Smiles, too, of course.
Today, Squirrel came to visit.
In case you missed him,
Won’t you join me, waving at babies?
A little more fun.
A little less serious.
Through new eyes, different can be same!
Different can be safe!

Read more at Grandmothers Are In Charge Of Hope, pg. 73-74.





Despite Our Fear And Anger

They say everybody needs a hobby. If you’ve been hanging around for a bit, you may have realized that I have sort of an odd one. I watch West Wing.

Some of my friends have suggested that it may be more of an addiction than a hobby. They might be right.

For years now, I’ve watched West Wing. A couple of episodes most nights. More when Guy’s Grocery Games is the only thing on Food Network for 12 hours in a row. Lest you miss the magnitude of what I’m saying, this has been going on for years.

I’m not sure how many. Enough to have worn out seven seasons worth of DVD’s. My kids got me Netflix so I could keep watching. I, who was definitely NOT the president of the AV club in high school, actually learned how to make it work, just so I could watch some more.

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A Prophet for Then and Now

I cut my preaching teeth in rural Tennessee, the historical home of the KKK. A summer internship after my first year in seminary. It was not an easy time. A young and enthusiastic boss, finding his own voice. Told not, for the first intern, to come back with a student of the female persuasion.

Then there was the whole thing about standing up in front of people who did not know me and doing my best to interpret the word of God. Not the word that seemed easy for that day. The word designated in a fancy calendar called the lectionary, which is a three year plan for reading through the entire bible. A lesson from the Hebrew scriptures. One from wisdom literature, usually the Psalms. A gospel lesson. And one from a New Testament letter.

Read three or four, if you were new-fangled back then, and brave. Focus on one or two in a sermon. Forget Karl Barth, and leave the news entirely out of it, if you’re hoping to survive. Or, pray hard and allow the Word to speak. A big job for a very new professional Christian.

And the vital presence of people of actual faith, opening their arms and their ears to a single mom and a really cute kid, trying to find their place amongst the people of God in an old southern Presbyterian church.

An old southern Presbyterian church in the late 1980’s that was somehow surviving a young pastor. The most liberal preacher they had ever known. Surviving an inter-racial family in the congregation. Surviving conversations they had never had before.

I learned a lot that summer. I am learning, still.

One of the biggest things I learned is that people of faith often confuse beliefs–theology, if you will–with things that feel safe because we’ve always done them that way. Hymns. Neighbors. Marriage. Politics. Neurologically, familiar equals safe.

It doesn’t always work in the Kingdom, here on Earth.

Are you opposed to racism? Get to know some people who don’t look just like you do.

Are you opposed to sexism? Look beyond gender to see new skills and enthusiasm.

Are you opposed to injustice? Feed the poor. House the homeless. Shelter the oppressed. Defend the children. Protect the civil rights of all.

There’s the word that’s hard.


Because “all,” in America, means all.

I remember when Dr. King was killed. We lived in Chicago. Riots rocked the city. Children were afraid. And nobody in my world had answers.

And yet, America was changed.

It is time to hold that change dear. To honor the sacrifice of those who fought for a different future. To act as people who have been changed. To live as those who believe. Perhaps time, now, more than ever before.

The most important message in this moment comes from Dr. King:

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’

The answer is, now, as it was then, and long before then, the way to change the world.

It’s our turn.

More Teaching To Do

It was a ritual, of sorts. Shower before bed. Clean t-shirt. Jeans over the footboard. Sneakers pointing toward the door.

A phone, ringing in the dark. Sometimes,  a general surgeon. “The Saturday night knife and gun club is back in business.” More often, the nursing supervisor. A section for failure to progress. Or fetal distress. Moms 12 or 13 years old. Really.

Not one of them ready to be there.

Farther back.

First year in college. Mid ’70’s. A gym teacher. Extra credit for women students who had a GYN exam and brought a signature from the doc. (I suspect she had a story of her own.)

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Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity®
Color of Woman Teacher & Coach