A hundred million years ago, I never would have imagined having this conversation. On so many levels…having this conversation, would never have even been a blip on my radar screen. There and gone. Never recognized. Just there and suddenly gone. And yet, there it was…there we were … having it.
By “a hundred million years,” I’m remembering my sophomore year at Illinois State sitting at the White Horse Inn on Friday nights writing out “life questions” on those white paper napkins. What if one of the questions that had been passed to me had asked, “What will you and your oldest child talk about when s/he is 16?” It’s impossible to explain to you just how alien that question would have been to me back in the day on those Friday nights a million years ago at ISU.
And yet, John Brogan (age 16) and I had the most remarkable conversation yesterday driving home from breakfast at Evans.
It turns out that Friday was the “Day of Silence” at Decatur High School (and in many places). Wikipedia says that “The Day of Silence is the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network's (GLSEN) annual day of action to spread awareness about the effects of the bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and their supporters.”
Our conversation was mostly Brogan’s talking and my (continually amazed) listening. “I think they’re going about it all wrong,” he was saying. “We don’t need to be silent. It would be much more effective if, instead of being silent, for each class we spent 10 minutes talking to each other about it.” He looked at me with this big smile on his face, nodding his head and said, “Now that would change things. We all need to be talking.”
I wasn’t out in high school. I wasn’t out in college. I wasn’t out until I fell in love with Linda and the graceful, loving community at Candler made a place for us to be included – just for who we were. Two folks in love.
We just need to talk to each other about it.
The world is a much different place than it was back in 1977. For better, for worse things just aren’t the same. In our holding on and letting go as a culture, we have lost -- and gained -- a great deal along the way. We have wasted so many resources. We seem to have taken up ways to violently hurt one another, especially children. We now have words that mean/hold so much: “the internet,” “global warming,” “twitter,” “diversity,”“9/11,” “terrorists.”
Our sons are growing up in a time when information constantly comes at them. They literally have the world at their fingertips. The potential for good has never been greater. Likewise the potential for destruction and wounding have never been so available to us. Each day seems to hold a tenuous piece of the puzzle, a vital and life-giving piece. Each day holds the chance for us to be silent; each day holds the opportunity for us to talk to and with one another.
How wise our sons are. How kind. How open their minds and hearts are – in so many ways mine never was. I’m not turning over the reigns just yet. I’m not bowing out and going over to sit in the audience just yet.
There’s so much yet to do. For all of us, for each of us.
But for right now, I’m celebrating the hope that our children offer. Brogan says he's never heard of Act Up, but Linda and I both know that he’s standing on the shoulders of so many who have gone before. This living-out hope is in him. And because of our conversation, it is living a little bit stronger in me, as well.
I was walking into Evans for breakfast one morning this past week (what a surprise, I know…). And because of the hour, it was just as the sun was coming up. Over the years, there have been some amazing sunrises. And that morning promised to be another one.
Me (and my poor old tremors) pulled out my camera and started focusing. I found the colors through the lens, held my breath and snapped a couple pictures.
What was so funny to me when I looked at the pictures I’d taken just a few seconds before…was how cluttered things looked…how crowded things looked…how city-fied my sunrise moment had become.
“The wires are in the way. Look, everything’s distracted. There’s too many poles and cars and buildings to even see the sunrise at all,” I was thinking to myself.
And then the “ah ha.”
Actually, if the truth were told, so many moments are like this one: “If you could see past the wires to the sunrise, you would have seen the beauty I saw…” OR “If you had known her when she was younger…” “OR “if I had my old job back, you’d know what I could do…”
My "ah ha" moment invited me to pay attention...
My “ah ha” moment invited me to be intentional about participating. My “ah-ha” invited me to be present in the moments that are always taking place around me. So often things can get swept up together and the beauty in the midst of the moment gets missed. The beauty is there. Right there in the center, right there in the heart of the picture. But there is so much busy-ness around it and too often, we allow that moment of beauty to get lost.
Sunrises and sunsets come to us; a single bird singing out a solo chorus of “Alleluia” comes to us; a hand on the shoulder at just the right time comes to us and it’s up to us to celebrate. It’s up to us to breathe deeply and give thanks for this precious journey we are taking. It’s up to us to not miss the beauty in the midst of the busy-ness. It’s up to us to see past and through the wires to what is bringing us life and joy.
Blessings and joy to you on this Easter Sunday morning. Every year these three final days of Holy Week bring comfort and strength. Each year I am reminded of their power and presence for me throughout the year. I am reminded of their presence in many of my days.
Good Friday was a perfect day here in Atlanta. The sky was blue and the air warm. And it was a day for so many of living out Good Friday’s loss and letting go. As a hospice chaplain, I know well the living out of Good Friday days. As I walked the hallways of our unit it was palpable for me. As I walked past rooms hearing soft gospel music and quiet words of release - as I walked the halls watching families and friends keeping vigil and shades drawn – as I walked the halls I yearned for something to sing or hum. I wished for some melody to accompany my heart. Good Friday songs so often for me come from a deep ache and get caught in my throat.
Holy Saturday has become more important and more meaningful every year. It is the next day. It is the dawning of the day after. After the death of a loved one or a dream has died. It is the day when you really thought the world had purpose and place and you fear you were wrong. It is the day of deep, deep silence.
And by lovingkindness Sunday comes. By grace and mercy Sunday comes. Easter Sunday. Another day, the next day. And the one that has made all the difference.
Easter Sunday has dawned this day in Atlanta.
I wonder what would have happened without the faith of those few who got up on Sunday morning and went to the tomb. They had lived through the long, aching, silent day before and still, still, still they got up and stepped out into faith.
We are told that they rose in the darkness to anoint Jesus. We are told that they walked quietly together to the tomb. And then the most amazing thing followed. We are told that when they arrived they were greeted by an angel who said to them, “He is not here. He is risen. Alleluia.”
Three days that continue to hold my faith and hold my heart. Three days that walk with me and hold my life. Good Friday’s truth of death and loss. Holy Saturday’s silence and waiting. And Easter Sunday’s Alleluia.
Friday and Saturday feel so empty, hours into days without a melody. But now, Sunday morning ~ well so many hymns are being sung to the glory of the one who lived, died and rose again. Death where is thy victory?
He is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.