Slow and steady wins the race

No one would have ever associated the word “meticulous” with me. “Measure twice, cut once”? Ha, not me. Before the days of computers, I was a bank teller once and my claim to (in)fame was that  my drawer never seemed to balance at the end of the day. Can I ever find a tool I need for a little DIY? So what, just go get another one. Well, you get the picture.

The Tortoise And The Hare
That’s me with the carrot

But then something happened, the fault of the stairs.

From the summer of 2015 until this past August, we lived in apartment buildings with elevators. There were of course curbs, steps to a church entrance, and quite a few places where finding the accessible path was mysterious but mainly, I had no stairs to worry about.

We now live in a parsonage that has four levels and a significant set of front and back porch stairs. Oh and, as you might guess, no elevator or ramp. So, along with what might be called ‘normal aging’ unsteadiness, this house changed my approach. I now think carefully approaching the stairs, I make sure I have free hand to put on the railing, and take each step all by itself.

You see, I don’t want to fall. I’ve “been there, done that” as they say. Once a few years ago, I stepped down from the low stone wall in our driveway in New Hampshire and crashed. It always comes as an unbelievable surprise so, being unprepared, my forehead hit the asphalt. Fortunately, I was still conscious and could get to the kitchen for ice. On another occasion, in the Twin Cities, riding a rental bike I attempted to dismount and fell instead. A bit embarrassing but no too serious. Then there was the time, in our apartment parking space, when I tripped on some broken concrete and landed on my knee. The worse part of that one was the hole in my new jeans. (Luckily, my spouse is an expert seamstress so she patched them, at least)

After a certain age, falls become much more of an issue. It is logical but very annoying, if you want to know. The Notorious RBG fell recently and broke ribs. Leonard Cohen’s death was a result a fall. In our family, the person we call ‘Gma’ just fell and broke her collarbone. Not just annoying, but a dangerous thing to do.

Being careful goes against my grain but then again, so does killing myself. Now days, call me, meticulous.

Kavanaugh Accuser Christine Blasey Ford Continues Receiving Threats, Lawyers Say : NPR

Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers say she isn’t interested in publicity or a book deal. She is struggling to get her life back on track following her testimony in the Senate.
— Read on

Where is today’s mass shooting?

AR 15

12 Victims Killed In Shooting At Country Music Bar In Thousand Oaks, California

This headline popped up on my WBUR daily email the day after the 2018 midterms, in which several anti-NRA candidates were elected. Tomorrow the chances are we will greet news of a another shooter killing several people in one encounter. Will this surprise us? Of course not, we are becoming inured to these events. How is this even possible?

The United States has a heavily armed citizenry, unlike any other country in the world. Gun manufacturers keep cranking out their products and the National Rifle Association lobbies incessantly for their right to do so. Children are given firearms training; states have open carry laws; so-called militias, with more weapons than our military, move about the country at will; and the gun-obsessed people walk around shopping centers with their semi-automatic rifles strapped to their backs. Gun nuts say about school shootingsSandy Hook was fake. The Vegas shooting was carried out by multiple shooters. Columbine was a result of bullying.” What kind of insanity is this?

What would it be like if, in fact, the federal government banned guns? SWAT teams would be a rarity. In fact, individual law enforcement officers would need to be authorized each time to sign out a handgun in certain cases. There would be no need for “active shooter” drills in schools. Farmers, ranchers, and other hunters would have only registered and accounted-for specific rifles. I could go on but you get the picture.

I am always drawn to police stories from the United Kingdom, I don’t know why. Maybe it has something to do with the whole question of guns. I recently watched a TV series which, fictional though it was, portrayed a fascinating example of how that would be. Bang “is the story of a brother, a sister and a gun. Loner Sam’s life is transformed when he comes into possession of a gun and starts to break the law.” This whole story was based on the premise that there were no guns in the whole community. Obviously there is at least one which ends up being used in a killing and accidentally falls into the hands of a gentle but confused young man. As I watched, I kept thinking how it would be in a country where the mere existence of one in public was the biggest issue about guns.

You say, “It’ll never happen here” and you are right, of course, but why is it so impossible to do anything? Having true background checks, keeping domestic abusers from having guns, and maybe even banning just assault rifles, would be a start. Keep supporting and electing anti-NRA candidates also could make a huge difference.

As for you and I, let me make one simple suggestion: don’t own a gun!

The Refugee

Michelle L. Torigian

IMG_0426I am the granddaughter of a refugee.

Without the courage and resilience of my grandfather, I wouldn’t be here in this country.  I wouldn’t have privilege.  I may not have food or housing or the respect I deserve as a woman.

Or I may not be alive.  I may never have been born.

Somewhere back in each of our histories, I can imagine that we have the one person who was a refugee, an alien in a new land during a time of exile.  In the diaspora, they were strangers and lived on the grace and hospitality of others.

Exodus 22 says that we “shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

My grandfather was an alien, a refugee.

My grandfather told me the ugly stories of genocide, of wandering around the Caucasus region for years as an Armenian during and after…

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Art and Life in Step: The Handmaid and the Refugee Parent

Michelle L. Torigian

This post contains spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale, season 2, episode 10.


I can’t imagine a more apropos episode of The Handmaid’s Tale for today.

Earlier today, I saw the following Instagram from Elizabeth Moss:


I had a feeling I knew where this episode was going…

After some very brutal scenes earlier in the episode that needs a trigger warning, the last 1/3 of the show presents us with a familiar storyline. June/Offred is granted the opportunity to visit her daughter Hannah and spend a few rare moments with her child. As we see earlier in the series, the child was kidnapped from her parents and June was forced into sexual and surrogate slavery.

The conversation is heartbreaking. As their visit continues, the child asks her (former) mother why she didn’t try hard enough to look for her. She hides behind the Martha as she is so unfamiliar with the…

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What do you know about the global economy?

Morning Brew

Up until a year so ago I didn’t know diddly about the economy. I was curious when my pathetic IRA bounced up and down and I have read several articles trying my best to understand cryptocurrency. (I still can’t quite get it but I do know the usage the blockchain, a more secure and anonymous technology, is beginning to spread.)

I don’t assert that I am now an expert by any means but reading the Morning Brew each weekday has widened my perspective significantly. It is laid out in short blurbs with links so that I can dig deeper if an item hits me. It is written with humor and is presented in short, very informative paragraphs.

At the end they include a little trivia (fun) or a puzzle question (not so much). The writers and editors know just exactly how to explain what is going on while not taking any strictly opinionated stands. One of my favorite thing is the very first sentence or two. Yesterday’s was:

When was the last time you got this excited? An artificial earthquake was detected in Mexico City following Chucky Lozano’s winning goal against Germany…”possibly due to mass jumping.”

I recommend this newsletter and if you decide to try it, please use my personal link:
The Crew gives out rewards for referrals. I am hoping for a mug.


P.S. After your first week or so of receiving the newsletter, start watching Billions on Showtime. Morning Brew will have made you feel like a big time, well informed investor.

My father was a working man


I am proud that my father was Grand Lodge Representative of the IAofM. He became a member of the union in the 1940’s when he worked as a machinist at Consolidated Vultee, building the PBY Catalina, one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II.  After the war he was hired by the Union as a negotiator and faced several harrowing situations, spending much of his time traveling.

I guess he had had enough* by the time I was in the 4th or 5th grade because we moved to our final home way out in the boondocks (at that time) and he got a job delivering meat products for Herman Sausage Company. I began working with him summers, as he liked to say, learning what not to do and, more importantly, becoming a hot dog gourmand(!)

He died early, at age 56, after I had left Jacksonville and received my MDiv for the Methodist ministry from Garrett Theological Seminary. He had a heart attack a couple years previously and, trying to keep the connection, I wrote regular letters. I hope they were meaningful during his last days.

As all we who have lost fathers do, I wish there had been many more days we could have corresponded or talked in person. The fact of life is that there never are. The trick is, if they were warm and kind, to let our fathers live on in us. If they were mean and harmful maybe it is like my working on the meat truck, let our fathers teach us what not to do.

There is no magic to Father’s Day but we can take pasue and remember. We can give thanks for their lives.







*Recently I did a bit of googling about the IAofM and discovered that it, like other large unions, has a history of corruption, which may even exist today. A positive a slant on my father’s quitting his job might be that he was not willing to work in those conditions.  Or that we did not want to get arrested



The narrowing path

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

The above words written by Emma Lazarus is an inscription on the Statue of Liberty standing with raised torch in middle of the New York harbor. I read this, hear again the gnashing of teeth about immigration, and wonder: What is becoming of us?

The United States Attorney insists that people migrating to our country is a terrible crisis that can only be addressed by closing the borders. Making the path to entry more and more narrow or completely blocked seems to be this Administration’s goal.

AG Jeff Sessions announced that the asylum program is broken. No longer will being a victim of domestic abuse qualify as a reason for granting asylum. He is apparently just as oblivious to the reality of such women as he is on most other things that affect people in need.

In an incredibly poignant interview, Michael Barbaro of the NYT podcast “The Daily” talks with just such a woman. Her domestic abuse was terrible, added to that were the mores and legal practices of her home country which offered no relief made her more than qualified for asylum.

Please listen to her testimony and ask yourself are we now an inhumane, isolated “nation-state” as Sessions calls us? Or do we insist with raised voices and excellent voter turnout in November that we are America and we welcome all.

…miles to go before I sleep,…


At the church where my spouse is the sabbatical minister, they are “on a journey”. In fact, as I write this a contingent of the congregation is walking from Judson Memorial to Calvary, its founding church, to join their morning worship.

Meanwhile, their regular pastor and family are travelling for this three-month period, at the end of which many of the congregation will converge on the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. (A place, incidentally, that should on everyone’s trip literary.)

The congregation has designated this venture Judson’s Year of Pilgrimage. It is an attempt to “move” which, “in our planning and learning about pilgrimage, two elements have surfaced that differentiate a pilgrimage from other kinds of travel: intention and difficulty.”

For me, the key word is “intentional” for, after all, all of life is a journey. What the term pilgrimage implies is that sometimes we move in different direction which, when one stops to think about it, can be very smart. An anonymous proverb puts it this way “No matter how far down the wrong road you have gone, turn back.”

When this temporary stint is over, we will do exactly that. Don’t put too much of a point on the word “wrong” but obviously we are now off on a completely different road, one with a hopeful horizon but clearly filled, as all journeys are, with unexpected turns.

As we go, the preacher of whom I speak and I ask for what is the title of Anne Lamott’s meaningful book, Traveling Mercies.  Simply hope for us what has brought us this far, God’s grace.