Friday, November 9, 2018


"Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."                                                                              Theodore Roosevelt

Yesterday I spent some time out at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum with a friend.  We walked through some of the gardens - no, they are no longer blooming and yes, it was
darn cold.  But we talked as we walked and then went inside to warm up over a cup of hot chocolate infused coffee. Our talking and walking has given me much to think about.  

Our discussion was wide ranging - families, travel, God, and politics (tough to avoid these days). Suffusing this conversation was the concept of productivity - its value and, more important, its definition.

The US culture is a "doing" culture. While other cultures around the world (many African cultures, for example) emphasize 'being' the US culture values 'doing' much more highly.  It permeates our thinking and our language. The Roosevelt quote above reflects what most of use have been taught.  When we are asked to describe ourselves we often start with a statement of what we do - I'm a teacher, I'm a doctor, I'm a writer.  We think of ourselves in terms of what we do representing who we are. When we meet someone new we ask "So, what do you do?"  On Monday at work our conversations often start with asking "What did you do this past weekend?" and our end of the week conversations switch to "What are you going to do this coming weekend?"  We have our calendars full of appointments and obligations and we schedule those things far in advance. (Several years ago I received a "save the date" card for a wedding over a year before the actual wedding was to take place.)  We schedule virtually everything in our lives and we have extended that to scheduling our childrens' lives as well.  

I got my first job when I was 12 years old.  After that, I was never without a job. During college I always worked in addition to taking classes and during a few of those years I worked 3 jobs at a time.  Hard work was something I learned at home from both of my parents.  The message of productivity was clear - you didn't expect someone else to support you (parent or spouse) - you worked to support yourself. And, whatever work you did, you worked hard and did the best job you possibly could.  And, as my fellow teachers can attest to, work and productivity weren't limited to an 8 hour day.  Evenings and weekends grading papers and preparing for classes is simply an understood part of the job.  And in our current age of email and constant contact many people find it difficult to turn off work at all - working on projects and answering emails far beyond regular working hours.  

Since retiring I have run up against this cultural expectation in some interesting ways. I've been told by some "I'm never going to retire - I'd be so bored" and have been asked by others if I am bored.  I've also received the question "So, what do you DO all day?"  asked in a tone of complete bewilderment.  Those questions are absolutely connected to our cultural definition of 'productivity'.  

So I am doing some things that fit into that definition of productivity.  I'm doing some editing work, I'm doing some volunteer work.  But I'm doing other things that I'm sure wouldn't fall into that definition.  I'm taking piano lessons again, I'm writing, I'm going to the gym, I'm studying French, I'm crocheting scarves for a domestic violence shelter, I'm walking my dog.  While I'm doing all of those things, I'm thinking.  I'm thinking a lot.  

Much of that thinking does not result in a tangible 'product' - something I can show when I'm asked that 'what are you doing with your life' question.  It doesn't appear 'productive' in the sense that we are culturally trained to expect.  But I think it is.  I think it's productive in some ways that are different than the type of productivity I used to engage in - not a better or more important productivity - just a different one.   

So my couple of hours yesterday, walking and talking, was productive.  It nurtured a friendship.  It gave both of us the opportunity to learn from the others' perspective.  It gave us time to think out loud together - and doing that causes us to examine and question our beliefs and our values.  Plato defined thinking as "the talking of the soul with itself." Given our current political and cultural climate, taking time to really think through why we believe what we believe seems important - a very productive use of time.  Spending some time in self-reflection helps us to see some of the weaknesses in our thinking and gives us the opportunity to challenge ourselves to grow - to make our particular little corner of the world a bit kinder and more compassionate - a bit better.  

Friday, September 28, 2018


"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." .... Abraham Lincoln

I spent as much time yesterday as I could stomach watching the Judiciary Committee hearings regarding Supreme Court Justice nominee Brent Kavanaugh.  I felt sick throughout and still feel sick, literally sick, today.  I, of course, am old enough to remember the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings from 1991.  It sickens and saddens me that the only progress the Senate appears to have made over the past 27 years is to hire someone (a woman, no less) to do their dirty work for them.

I've spent the past 35 years of my career teaching Interpersonal Communication.  For the last 20 of those years I have also taught about Domestic Violence believing that to talk about Interpersonal Relationships without talking about intimate violence was simply not possible.  The evidence is clear and frightening - the most dangerous thing a woman will ever do is get into some sort of a relationship - friend, lover, spouse - with a man. 

And, the research is also clear that most intimate violence goes unreported.  Why?  Well, according the the research (and the number of students who have confided their own experiences to me over the years) - because women are afraid.   Because they are afraid of retribution.  Because they are afraid of having their reputation trashed.  Because they are afraid of being looked at differently by those they know and love.  Because they are afraid of damage to their careers and to their families. Because they are afraid of not being believed. Because they want to forget their trauma, not re-live it in front of a live audience so others can bear witness to their humiliation.  Because of what you've just witnessed. 

The contrast is vivid - hundreds of men have come forward to report sexual violence at the hands of Catholic priests from 30 years ago when they were children.  No one questions their memory.  No one suggests that it's just a case of mistaken identity.  No one suggests that it's a giant left-wing conspiracy perpetrated on behalf of the Clintons (Seriously?  Seriously?) and that it's a giant smear campaign.  No.  These men are believed.  These MEN are believed.

Don't try to tell me that it's because it's just her - there are no other accusations.  There are currently 3 accusations.  But it wouldn't make a difference if there were 16 accusations - as the population has made clear in its refusal to hold President Trump accountable for not only the accusations against him but also for his own admission to this behavior on tape: "You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them.  It's like a magnet.  Just kiss.  I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything."

What I also find disturbing about the spectacle of this event is the discrepancy between the expectations we have about women's behavior vs. men's behavior.  Brett Kavanaugh can rage and shout and scream and it's evidence of the truth of his position.  If Dr. Ford had raged and shouted and screamed you can bet that it would have been evidence of the falseness of her position.  The double standard here is contemptible.

Part of that is the result of the past 250 years in our country's history where men were the standard and everything women do is judged by that standard. I am convinced that what we are seeing is the absolute conviction many men have that power should be theirs. And that anything that needs to be done to keep that power is fair game. 

Supreme Court Justice nominations have probably always been politicized.  I understand that and am willing to acknowledge "that's the game" and it goes both ways.  I certainly agree that the Democrats should have moved on this weeks ago - not waited until now.  I won't argue that and I'm sure that was a political (and contemptible) decision.  But the timing of when to move on this issue does not impact the facts of the case.  She took a polygraph test.  He didn't.  But 'she must be mistaken' and we can simply believe what he claims becuase he claims it. Because, as we all know, men never lie.  Perhaps even more disturbing is the reality that clearly, for many, the point isn't even that they don't believe the accusations.  It's that they don't care. 

Over the past dozen or so years I have become more and more convinced that the Republican party - AS WE SEE IT TODAY -- needs to go.  It is no longer about governing.  It is no longer about the public good.  It is no longer about a moral or ethical stance.  It is about POWER.  Mitch McConnell refused for months to bring Merrick Garland's (a known moderate) nomination to the committee for a vote.  Why? Because of power.   

I understand that the abortion issue is, for many people, a moral and ethical one and the driving force behind their position on any Supreme Court candidate would be if that person MIGHT be counted on to overturn Roe v. Wade.  I don't argue that.  And I am not a 'fan' of abortion and I have never met a single person who is.  But for many men this issue isn't about morality - it's about power. It's about the power that women have to control their own bodies.  It's about the power that women have to make their own decisions.  It's about the rights that women are demanding to have their bodies and their choices respected.  I believe with conviction that IF MEN COULD GET PREGNANT abortion would be a sacrament.  There would be no question at all about whether or not men could end a pregnancy if they didn't want it to continue. That would become the standard.

Those of you who know me know that I am not some rabid, man-hating, see-offense-behind-every- comment person.  I don't believe that ALL men are as I've described.  I know many, many decent men so I know for a fact they aren't. Additionally, I have discussed with many friends the current time we are in and expressed the importance of due process when anyone is accused of something like this.  I've tried, throughout the time I've written this blog, to limit my political comments.  But this time I simply can't keep quiet.  If we refuse to believe this woman, and instead choose to believe this man, we are complicit in perpetrating this type of behavior.  And it's wrong.

Thursday, June 28, 2018


"Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding."  - Albert Einstein

As I mentioned in a previous post, a couple of years ago I started attending an Episcopal church. The Episcopal service is liturgical and follows a fairly regimented order.  There are words from the priest and responses from the congregation.  There are readings from the Old Testament and the New Testament and also a reading from one of the gospels and from the psalms.  There is music and there is communion.

There is also the 'passing of the peace.'  This was not something that I grew up with. But, having attended Catholic mass with my best friend for 35 years it was certainly not unfamiliar.  The words that are said are simple: "The peace of the Lord," "Peace be with you," "Peace to you, " or, simply, "Peace." They are accompanied by a handshake or, during cold and flu season, a nod or a wave or an elbow bump.  The Catholic masses that I have attended practice a "points of the compass" passing of the peace.  The person in front of you, the person behind you, the person to the right, the person to the left.  30 seconds to a minute. Done.

During my first service at St. Lukes I was expecting this same process.  And I was wrong.  No points
of the compass at this place.  People were out of their pews and up and down the aisles, passing the peace with anyone they could get their hands on.  It was, momentarily, a little intimidating, but I met more than a dozen people during that first visit specifically during this part of the service.  They asked my name, told me theirs, welcomed me to their church and introduced me to the next person.  It took me a few weeks to get the hang of it, but now I am across the aisle and greeting and welcoming newcomers as well. The 'passing of the peace' is generally a 5 minute process.

One of the outcomes of this practice is that it puts you into contact with people whom you might not otherwise meet.  After the service ends, many people will go across the hall to the library and stay for the coffee time and that allows you to chat and get to know people a little better in a more social setting. But there are many people who don't stay - they are out the door at the end of the service.  The passing of the peace allows you to connect with those people as well - to look them in the eye and recognize them as a person, with a name, and not just as the 'woman in the pink sweater' or the 'guy with the bald spot.'

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the passing of the peace.  I've been thinking of it in terms of our current cultural 'moment.'  A few days ago Donald Trump said in a tweet that "Democrats are the problem.  They don't care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they  may be, to pour into and infest our country..."

Now, I can disagree with the premise of this tweet on any number of fronts.  I'm a Democrat and I care about crime and I don't want illegal immigrants pouring into our country.  I believe in common sense immigration policies and I think we can all see from recent events in Europe that a huge influx of people into any country without a certain amount of planning can create significant social issues in terms of housing, resources and jobs. It can create a scenario where immigrants are trading one set of problems for the same set of problems in a new place.

But the real problem I have with this tweet is his language.  "Infest."  As though they are termites, cockroaches, or vermin of some sort and, as such, must be eliminated.  These immigrants, legal or not, are human beings.  They are people - people just like the people who already live here.  Some are good. Some are probably bad.  They are people - humans created in the image of God.

How is it that we can look at other humans as an 'infestation?'  How can we de-humanize others in such a way?  We can do it when we separate ourselves - when we surround ourselves with people who look just like us and talk just like us and think just like us.  We create an echo chamber in which to live which allows us to see anyone who isn't just like us as -- an infestation.  But when we speak about them as though they are less than human, we allow ourselves to commit atrocities in the ways we treat them.  We keep them in cages. We separate them from their children.

In the years leading up to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda the government referred to the Tutsis as 'cockraoches'.  This is how Rwandan local radio incited the Hutus to violence:
"You have to kill the Tutsis, they're cockroaches."
"All those who are listening, rise so we can fight for our Rwanda.  Fight with the weeapons you have at your disposal: those who have arrows, with arrows, those who have spears, with spears. We must all fight."
"We must all fight the Tutsis.  We must finish with them, exterminate them, sweep them from the whole country.  There must be no refuge for them."
"They must be exterminated.  There is no other way."
"We will squash the infestation."
This strategy by the Rwandan government was quite successful.  The UN estimates that around 800,000 were killed in a 100 day period.

Singer and songwriter Jimi Hendrix once said, "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace."  The first step down the path of hatred and all that follows from it is the de-humanizing of the 'other'.  The passing of the peace is a practice that reminds us that though we may be strangers we are still connected to one another.  Though we may be different we are all still human.  Peace be with you.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page."  - Augustine of Hippo

I think I've mentioned in a previous post that I grew up poor.  We didn't have much money and there was very rarely any 'extra' to be had.  When I was a teen I remember having 1 present at Christmas while other friends recounted the numbers of gifts received from their parents alone.  I'm not saying this for sympathy - believe me we didn't starve or go homeless - but for context.

One of the consequences of our family income level was travel - or, specifically, the lack of it.  "Vacation" consisted of two weeks every Fall when we would drive across southern South Dakota on I-90 to Sioux Falls and turn south.  We spent those two weeks in a small town, Lennox, where one of my dad's brothers lived and my dad went pheasant hunting with brothers, brothers-in-law, nephews, cousins, and whoever else had a shotgun and a free afternoon.

I was 16 before I ever traveled outside of South Dakota. The thought of going abroad to study for a year in high school was never even on my radar.  I didn't even know if there was such a program at my high school.  It didn't occur to me in college either.  I was 36 before I finally made it out of the country and I've been making up for lost time since then visiting country #32 last summer.

I'll be honest and say that if I have a regret in life that would be it - that I didn't start traveling much sooner.  The adventure of traveling has been one of the greatest gifts I've experienced.  Exploring a new place, experiencing a new culture, meeting new people, is one of the most intense learning experiences you can have and has been one of the great joys of my life.

Yesterday, we said good-bye to my niece at the airport.  She's spending a year in Auckland, New Zealand
as an au pair.  She had to whittle down her clothing and other necessities into 2 suitcases and a carryon.     She has 'met' the family via Skype.  She has talked to the family's former au pair.  But she doesn't really know anybody at her destination. She had to muster the courage to do something that most of us won't ever do - live in a new culture on her own.  She's moving away from her family and friends and all she knows to live in an entirely new environment.

Even though New Zealand is considered a western culture and the majority of people living there (90%) do speak English, it is still 'foreign' for an American. Any culture that you weren't raised in is a 'foreign' culture and visiting or beginning to live in a foreign culture is exhausting.  All the things we take for granted in our home culture are now in question and you must be continually on the alert to avoid giving offense or, in the case of driving on the left, getting yourself or someone else killed.

So, I tip my hat to my amazing niece.  She is doing what I didn't - she's starting her traveling career young.  She's going to have at least a dozen years more than I for exploring the world, meeting new people, and racking up those experiences that shape you in ways that non-travelers will never know.  She's shaping her sense of self, growing her self-confidence, and creating her life. I admire her spirit, her courage, her incredible sense of adventure. Bon voyage! Or, in Maori, Bon rerenga!

Thursday, April 26, 2018


Those who know me, even a little, know that I love a good mystery.  I learned to read young and quickly moved from Dr. Seuss to Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie.  As I got older my reading interests branched out quite a bit and grew to include biography, history, philosophy, literary fiction and also a variety of non-fiction.  But a rainy or snowy day - give me a cup of something hot, a comfy sofa with a blankie, and a mystery.

I'm certainly not a literary critic and I have no credentials which make me qualified to classify fiction writing as good or bad.  But I know what I like so I can describe what makes fiction "good" for me.  First, and foremost, it's characters.  A good plot is necessary, yes.  In a mystery, writing that keeps me guessing is good.  But the biggest thing for me is the characters.  I look for characters that I can connect with.  They don't have to be like me, but there has to be some quality about them that I can relate to whether that be their thinking process, their attitudes or values, their background, their struggles, the things they think or wonder about. 

My favorite current mystery writer is an author named Jane Haddam.  She has written a couple of different series but the one that I have loved over the years stars a character named Gregor Demarkian.  I read my first Gregor Demarkian book "Not a Creature was Stirring" shortly after it was published.  It was Christmas break in 1990 and it seemed like a good choice for the snow and sofa business that is Minnesota in December.  It was the title that caught me, of course, but it was the characters that kept me coming back book after book.  For the next 28 books. That's right - 29 books in the series. 

The recurring characters in the series have come to feel a little like friends.  They live in a world that is far from my midwestern upbringing - East coast, close-knit ethnic (Armenian) neighborhood.  They  have careers (FBI, best-selling fantasy novelist, Armenian Orthodox priest) that are far away from my career in teaching human communication at the college level.  Many of the characters have money or rub elbows with those who do.  They really are nothing like me or my experience but the main characters think about and wonder about many of the things that I think and wonder about, particularly in regards to human nature. 

A few years ago I stumbled across a blog written by the author of these books.  I read it because of the name of the blog - Hildegarde.  I had just finished reading a book about Hildegarde of Bingen who was a Benedictine abbess in Germany in the 12th century and I was looking for a bit more information.  Somehow this blog came up in a google search?? I really can't remember.  But I loved this blog and have been a pretty faithful reader over the years.  The author teaches at a college and occasionally rants about student writing which I could appreciate.  Many of the topics of her posts seemed to wander their way into her books - although I suppose it is the other way around as the books, most of them, had already been written by the time the blog started.  She writes the blog as though she's sitting across the table talking with you.  She writes her books that way too which is probably one of the reasons I like them so much.  When I read one it feels like a friend telling you the story of these people she knows - and then you get to know them too - at least vicariously. 

The blog had been on a bit of a hiatus but started up again this year.  This week a blog post showed up entitled "The beginning of the end."  The "Oh no!" came out of my mouth because I immediately jumped to the conclusion that she was announcing there would be only one more book in my beloved series and that it was about to be published. I felt disappointment and sadness and was starting to mentally write my objections so I could post a comment on the blog.  Instead, Jane shared that she's been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer and that the prognosis is not good.

You know that moment when you realize you've been utterly and completely self-involved?  I had that moment this week.  My immediate thought when I read the blog title was about how something would impact me - in this case I felt that I would be losing a group of friends and had a "how can you do this to us?" (imagine that comment in a wail) response.  Then when I got to the part where she told us what was really happening, well.

So how do you respond to something like this?  This woman is not my friend or family member.  I don't know her and probably woudn't recognize her if I bumped into her on the street. (Don't you always assume that author photographs on jacket covers are really someone else - a model who "looks like" what a mystery writer should look like?)  She doesn't know I exist.  I wouldn't have any idea of what to say to someone who has just received news like this.  I don't believe any of those platitudes that people throw around in circumstances like this - 'God has a plan' 'everything happens for a reason' 'God needed another angel' - blah, blah, and bullshit.  Having watched both my mother and my brothers walk through terminal cancer I don't believe that's God's plan for anyone and I don't believe that there's any reason for it either. 

So why am I writing this?  Because I want to say, outloud, that people have an impact on us - even if they don't know it or know us.  And this woman has had an impact on me.  I will miss my friends on Cavanaugh Street.  I will miss the perspective she's shared through her blog.  I will miss her contribution to the world of ideas.  I will miss her.

Monday, April 23, 2018


These past few months I've fallen into somewhat of a routine - at least as it relates to mornings.  I wake up early, make coffee, and read awhile. I have my second cup of coffee while watching the first 20 minutes of the CBS Morning news.  At that point I get my walking shoes on and Josie and I head out for our first walk of the day.  When we return, she gets her hair brushed and gets a morning  biscuit as a reward.  I then grab my bag and head to the gym.

The gym is a fascinating place in so many ways.  It is where the entire focus is on bodies and making them better.  I start out on the recumbent bike first working on extension and then on flexion.  The bikes are in a giant room filled with cardio equipment and weight training machines.  Every age group and ethnic group is represented. Certainly every body type is represented - young, old, fat, thin, toned, lumpy.  Some people are intense - focused on their workout and pumping out a gallon of sweat.  Others come with a book to prop up in front of them while they walk or bike at a more leisurely pace.  All, though, are there to improve their bodies - make them stronger, healthier, more flexible.

After half an hour on the bike I head to the pool where I swim 15 to 20 laps (I'm working my way back up to my previous 40) and then I sit in the hot tub. I love sitting in a hot tub outdoors in the middle of winter.  I don't like the hot tub at the gym - it's indoors and, therefore, too hot to stay in very long without getting a little nauseated and light-headed.  But I stay in for the jets. 

The jets in this hot tub are powerful.  I sit and allow them to pummel the i t band on my left leg.  I had a total knee replacement in November of 2017 (thus the bike work on extension and flexion.)  While my recovery has been spectacularly easy and incredibly successful I still have a little muscle stiffness and soreness that I am working through.  The jets are miraculous! Pummeling may be painful but the results are definitely worth it.

The pool area at my gym has giant windows that are directly next to the entrance and front desk. It also has a giant bank of windows that look out on the parking lot.  Directly in front of those windows is a row of handicap parking spaces.  From my vantage point in the hot tub I can observe everyone who comes in and goes out and everyone that uses these spaces.  It is...confusing.  These spaces are always filled - ALWAYS.  I have yet to see one open for more than a few minutes at a time.  And so far, in my observation, not a single person parking in those slots has been in any way 'handicapped.' 

Most of the people I've seen park in these spots are younger than I.  All of them are completely mobile and show no evidence of physical incapacity.  There was the 20-something woman who hopped out of an enormous SUV.  She stopped at the curb, leaned over and tied her shoe, and then jogged over to the entrance.  Literally - jogged.  There was a very large man, very buff, who was clearly into body-building.  He sauntered out of the gym with a massive duffel bag slung over his shoulder and climbed into a pickup truck sitting in one of the spots.  Just this morning as I was leaving I watched an elderly couple - in their 70s at least - slowly making their way across the parking lot to their car while at the same time a young man hurried down the sidewalk to climb into a car in a handicap spot.

I don't get it.  Isn't the point of going to the gym to get exercise?  Why park next to the building in a spot reserved for those with real mobility issues as opposed to parking another 20 feet away in the lot?  Wouldn't it enhance your workout if you could include the steps you'd make to and from your car by parking a little farther away? 

Now I realize that it's possible to have a physical disability that isn't readily seen.  But the implication for these spots truly is about mobility. It's why there's a picture of a wheelchair on the sign.  Mobility issues are observable.  After my knee surgery I had a temporary handicap parking permit.  Actually, I still have it - it doesn't expire until the end of June.  You are given one after a knee surgery because they don't want you falling on the ice.  Also, some people aren't as lucky as I was and their recovery takes a little longer and the walking can be quite painful.

I used my parking permit exactly 3 times - all within the first 2 weeks post-surgery and all because of icy parking lots which did necessitate a bit of hobbling. Otherwise I chose to avoid those spots and leave them open for someone who truly needed them.  Not that I wasn't tempted - those times when you're in a hurry and there are 2 or 3 open slots it's easy to think "what's the harm" and pull right in.  But having had a mobility issue, having had to walk great distances in pain and with a crutch, I see my newly regained mobility as incredible good fortune.  I've been hobbling and limping for years - now that I can walk again without pain I want to do as much of it as I can - even in parking lots.

Saturday, April 7, 2018


When I was a child I attended a Wesleyan church.  I attended this church because my older sister wanted to go to Sunday school. My mother, a very practical woman, decided that the best way to handle this was to walk us to the church that was one block away from our house. It happened to be a Wesleyan church.

For those of you unfamiliar with Protestant churches, the Wesleyans became a church when
they broke away from the Methodist church.  They decided that the Methodists were WAY too liberal so they separated to start their own, more conservative church - an 'evangelical' church in today's parlance.  When I was growing up the Wesleyans didn't smoke, didn't drink, didn't play cards, didn't go to movies...didn't do a LOT of things that we did do in my house. We played cards, saw a movie here or there, my dad smoked for a while when I was young and had a drink every evening when he got home from work while watching the news. An occasional swear word could be heard. I didn't grow up in - what many church people referred to as - a 'church home'. 

Once I got out on my own and became an 'adult' I went through various phases of church attendance - attending for a while, abstaining for a while when I couldn't find a place that felt like a good fit - but generally I ended up at churches that were somewhat similar to the church of my childhood.  We go with what we know.  😉  So once I landed in Minneapolis I ended up at another church that could reasonably be described as 'evangelical.'

I chose this church for all sorts of reasons.  I had friends that attended and invited me. I thought the music was good. I thought the teaching was good. And, the church was BIG.  I could be invisible if I chose and, for a while, I did choose. There were some things I didn't like and wasn't particularly comfortable with but I stayed. Why?  Inertia. It was easy.  It was fairly comfortable. Why change?

But as time passed the discomfort I felt regarding some of the church's positions and attitudes regarding certain social issues and certain people groups became more and more difficult to ignore.  So I went into one of my periods of abstaining. 

The problem with that, though, is that I like going to church.  I like gathering in the same place with others to acknowledge corporately that there is something greater than myself.   I know that many people don't understand that 'urge'.  And, given the way that Christianity has been practiced by some groups I understand their hesitancy.  We've seen right and left how some people will behave in the worst possible ways and yet wave the flag of their 'Christianity' and their 'family values' as a defense.  But I like going to church in spite of that.  So the search was on to find a church that more closely aligned with my understanding of the answers to the infamous question - WWJD? 

I started with my trusty friend - Google.  I knew that the Catholic church was not right for me and I also knew that the evangeical churches were not the right fit either.  But I knew that I needed to try something different.  So my Google search was:  "open and affirming Episcopal churches near me."  The first one that popped up was St. Luke's in South Minneapolis. I went that Sunday and have been going back ever since.

It's a different expereience than the one that I grew up with and I wasn't sure I was going to like it.  There's liturgy - real liturgy.  (My best friend says that Episcopalians are JV Catholics. 😏 I see where she gets that.) Threre's a priest and a deacon - they wear robes.  There's a choir - they wear robes.  There are acolytes - they wear robes.  There's a piano. There's an organ. There's not a guitar or a drum set or a 'worship team' in sight.  We use a hymnal - no giant screen with words to praise choruses hanging from the ceiling. It's celebratory. It's reverent. It's moving. And it's open. Every week prior to starting communion we hear the priest say "ALL are welcome to receive at this table."  ALL.

This is a church that is filled with ordinary people. Young and old. Gay and straight. Immigrants. Refugees. All colors, all economic backgrounds, all varieties of family.  Nothing is perfect. No one is perfect.  But ALL are welcome.  For me, that is the answer to the question - WWJD? He would say ALL are welcome.  Amen.