“… the unsung heroes, the people who have decided I’m worth loving, even though I’m often so needy. They see the toll it takes to be so visible in so many places, and they secure my grounding. They hold me in their hearts. They prop me up when I can barely stand, goad me up when I just don’t want to stand, and stand back and smile when I am holding my own….”
I preached a sermon this past weekend about Joseph, the husband of Mary. I talked about unsung heroes. I am grateful for the heroes who keep me grounded. A lot of accolades have come my way over the past couple of years, and there is not a day that I do not give thanks for the dear souls who keep me on track.
We are social creatures. In spite of the American myth of the rugged individual, we were made for community. Even God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are in community. I’ve always had this image of them sitting on the shore of a mountain lake around a warm campfire, a full moon rising in the distance, and a couple of trout on the fire. (Hmm, I think I just described an imaginary Terry Redlin painting.)
The three are talking about life in the world of ordinary time, and the people…
On November 6th, while most of the country were focussing on who would control Congress in the next term, Massachusetts addressed an important anti-discrimination law.
A yes vote on Question 3 would preserve the current form of Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination law, which prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of gender identity, race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, disability, and ancestry. A no vote would strip gender identity protections from the law, undoing Massachusetts’ transgender rights law passed in 2016.
Here is how it turned out:
Question – 3 – Gender Identity Rights – Ballot Issue
100 % Precincts ReportingNov. 09, 2018 11:06 ET
We live in West Newton, so I am especially glad to see the strength of this city’s votes keeping our anti-discrimination law. Elections results are relative, of course, but I am going with 16.81% is better than 32.23%.
32 of 32 Precincts Reporting – 100%Updated: Nov. 09, 2018 11:06 ET
Not that it really made that much of a difference overall, but our congregation, 2nd Church Newton and its leaders made it clear that we hoped the vote would result in a big yes. I couldn’t imagine it failing but some were concerned. That almost two million Massachusetts voters support the rights of transgender persons is good feeling. I am totally convinced that those who voted ‘no’ will never see any of their fears realized. In fact, they are false cries of alarm about something that is non-existent, in the first place.
Social and cultural changes abound. Many of us struggle with those kind of shifts but when we simplify things, it becomes much easier. For example, do you know anyone who is transgender? If not, explore sites like Gladd or Human Rights Campaign. Plus, maybe the very easiest and effective thing would be to be “don’t worry about it”. Chances are, no one is bugging you about your sex or gender so why even think about someone else’s choices, unless that ask you to do so.
I hate sitting in traffic. Often I will try to avoid jams and go my own way which sometimes turns into a big mistake. Like the time Joe and I missed our flight at Logan. Why didn’t I just stay right where I was on the interstate?
But now I am a Lyft driver. In Boston. A kind of aversion therapy because there is hardly a place anywhere that is not filled with cars, the main business area of Boston being the worlds worst.
Well, not actually ‘the’ worse. Cities in India, for example. I was never driving, I was sitting in the back seat trying to remember some kind of prayer. Boston is, however, an evil champion of the those cities in the US that have adequate public transportation.
Adding insult to injury is the horn blowing. Drivers beep whether there is even any reason or not. I am hesitant to react, with finger signs or shouting. One never knows how many handguns they have on the seat beside them.
These days, I am staying in the near west areas such as Newton and Waltham hoping I won’t have to go the Government Center or Fenway. I can do it but then what if I have another request after dropping off? It is always somewhat of a miracle if I can connect with the potential passenger in there.
The big question is, why are there so many automobiles on the streets? It can’t be all that convenient when it takes 15 minutes to move through just one intersection. I guess the answer is that our obsession with being independent has, in the case of transportation, turned into masochism.
Boston has a plethora of public transportation, even water taxis. Wonder how it would go if half the people used them instead of private cars? Heaven.
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.
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.
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 shootings “Sandy 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!