My friend Keith pointed out that August 1 is National Friendship Day. How timely! Over the recent years, many friendships (and family relationships) have been tried over deep divides in our country, many of them political.

It’s pretty insane, when you think about it. For decades, I never really cared that I have a lot of friends who are on the “other side of the aisle” from me politically. I still don’t. Politics has nothing to do with why I love them and consider them friends. There are more important things in life, and those are the things that we hold in common and that has led to our friendships.

Sadly, this isn’t always the case. My sis-in-law sent a link to a very thoughtful (and nonpolitical) article on the loss of friendships and family relationships caused by disagreement over CoVid. You can find it here: LOSING FRIENDS AND FAMILY DURING CORONAMANIA | by Mark Oshinskie | Jul, 2021 | Medium

I won’t tell you that I haven’t experienced some difficulties (and shunning) because of the Wuhan Flu. But what the hell are we doing here, letting something like this divide us?

I can hear some outraged comments: “It’s a matter of public health!” OK, fine, I don’t exactly agree, but that’s ok. I’ve written before about public mental health; suicide is a lot more deadly than the Wuhan Flu.

As people of faith, we must not give in to letting something worldly divide us. I have actually heard comments stating “well, I don’t feel sorry for so-and-so, s/he wouldn’t get vaccinated!”

Wow. Just…wow.

Sadly, I don’t think this mindset is going away anytime soon – but we can combat it by avoiding the trap of division.

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. ~ Mark 3:24 – 27

My friend Keith Horcasitas shares this invitation for August 1 at 7 AM in Baton Rouge:

National Friendship Day, August 1, 2021. With all the discord and polarity in the world, I have a modest proposal for fellow Redstick citizens – to tie in to the great “Let There be Peace on Earth” song which notes “…and let it begin with me!” A friendship Promenade for Peace, sponsored by Prayer Care, LLC – in line with social distancing and masking – will be held tomorrow, Sunday, August 1, 2021 – National Friendship Day, 7 AM, Baton Rouge City Park, starting by the City Park Labyrinth. Come out for a simple meet and greet as we, of all walks of faith and life, come together as friends to exercise and encourage one another to promote peace in our hearts. And please bring your 4 legged friends, who sometimes help us at meeting and greeting!

This is a 15 minute walk with unitive prayers and songs. If you can’t be there in person, be there in spirit, and let the Spirit remind you of what is truly important.



Jesus was “woke.” Or…was he?

According to that bastion of knowledge, Wikipedia, “woke is a term referring to awareness of issues that concern social justice and racial equality. Originating in the United States, it has also been used to refer to awareness about broader social inequality on issues such as gender and sexual orientation.” Wikipedia, accessed 7/6/21.

Well, Jesus was certainly concerned about unqualified justice and equality. As for prejudice, well, just ask the Samaritan woman. According to this definition, Jesus was a pretty woke guy.

So I wonder how he’d feel about so many corporations and highly visible individuals who fall over one another in order to display their wokeness (or would that be wokedness)? I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty tired about reading that “Company blah blah is proud to support fill-in-the-blank.” Well, goody for them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all against corporate (or other) donations, and they certainly deserve to have a thank-you sign or banner at the ball game or their name on a teeshirt or a big thank-you plaque. I also really appreciate that some companies have causes that are sincerely close to their heart, and they spread information about their causes through their business (such as the Dave Thomas Foundation and Wendy’s Hamburgers).

But I roll my eyes when wokeness is clearly an afterthought. I wonder about those company board meetings: “Quick! Who’s in the such-and-such category can we give some money to so we’ll look like we’re not the robber barons that take home millions in bonuses every year? How fast can we get it on the Twitter feed?”

Jesus spoke about this:

“When you give to needy people, do not announce it by having trumpets blown. Do not be like those who only pretend to be holy. They announce what they do in the synagogues and on the streets. They want to be honored by other people. What I’m about to tell you is true. They have received their complete reward. When you give to needy people, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Then your giving will be done secretly. Your Father will reward you, because he sees what you do secretly. “When you pray, do not be like those who only pretend to be holy. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners. They want to be seen by other people…

Matthew 6:1-5, NIRV

Do not be like those who only pretend to be holy.

Wise words from the original “woke” guy.

A Holiday of Faith

Yesterday we had a conversation in the choir loft about secular vs. religious holidays. While not a religious holiday, Memorial Day is a day of faith, and yes, a sacred one that should transcend all faith traditions.

We in the USA mark the last Monday of May as a day to honor and remember those who gave the gift and sacrifice of their lives in their service in the armed forces of the country. Sounds secular, right?

One of our most basic recognized rights in this country is the freedom to worship freely. While we take this for granted, we don’t often stop to think how rare this was in 1791 when it was included in the Bill of Rights.

Without the sacrifice of those we remember today, there’s a good chance we would not have been allowed to worship as we please.

As it is, church attendance has dropped to an all-time low, perhaps in part because of the avoidance of government to support religion in any way. When I was growing up, heaven forbid that any school would host a sports tournament that included play on Sunday morning. This is no longer the case.

Whatever you think of the reasoning for certain wars in our history, never forget that each individual who took an oath in the armed services agreed to pay whatever price was asked by our nation, including the cost of their lives. 

I don’t know who said this, but it’s worth repeating:

(This may be said of some of soldiers of certain other countries as well, but right now I’m talking about our own Memorial Day)

Today, please take time to remember and give thanks for the sacrifices of those who gave their lives so that we may worship as we please and live in freedom.

National Day of Prayer 2021

Lord, pour out Your love, life and liberty.

Today, the first Thursday of May, is the National Day of Prayer. We always need prayer; but we need it now more than ever. Please take some additional time today to pray for our nation, and to pray for one another.

This morning’s scripture from is from James 5:16:

Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Our country is divided and drenched in anger, hatred, and fear. Let us pray for our country, our world, and one another. Please join me in prayer today, and pray in your faith tradition as I pray in mine.

From the Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Visit the National Day of Prayer page here: National Day of Prayer Task Force

Download a copy of the Collect for the Nation from the BCP here: Collect_for_the_Nation.pdf (


This is the second Easter of CoVid. How strange it feels. Last year, we understood the need for being locked down. Besides, it was only to be for a few weeks. But a year later, we still aren’t doing the usual Easter things today; no vigil service in the early morning. Easter egg hunts for children – at least public ones – are few and far between. Everything is curtailed, muffled, depressed and suppressed.

In CoVid Year 2, we need Easter more than ever. But then, we always need Easter. Right now, the message of Easter – salvation and the eternal, fierce, unending love of God – is more necessary to our psyches and souls than I can ever remember.

We are a world in uproar; a nation divided by many foolish, superficial things. “How can the saving of human lives be foolish and superficial?!” you may ask? It’s not, and I’m not referring to masks and lockdowns etc. Besides, the saving of lives is never superficial. What IS superficial is where our focus lies. This is no political commentary; rather, I believe we would all be better off if we were to focus on something other than fear, division, who feels insulted and “offended”, what someone’s preferred pronouns are – and instead focus on the promise of Easter, which is open to all of humankind, regardless of race, ethnicity, income, gender, and so on.

For those who might cry “enough of prayer and talk, we need action!” I would ask what greater action could there possibly be than a loving God who gave humankind the greatest gift imaginable?

To simplify (greatly), can you imagine this loving God saying “how can I POSSIBLY make these people understand how much I love them?!? And how much I want them to know me, to join me in heaven to be with me forever? Ah! I know, I will send my own son to earth. Maybe HE can get it through their thick skulls. I will ask him to do whatever it takes to make them realize my love.”

Jesus did whatever it took. That, my friend, is action.

Yet we divert our attention away from the most amazing, freeing, incredible gift in the history of humanity and stand around quibbling about…oh, I don’t know, the correct amount of social distancing at the Easter egg hunt?

The gift of salvation through Jesus Christ is the miracle of Easter, and the core belief of Christianity. It doesn’t matter what Christian tradition you follow, and it doesn’t matter what you read and study as “Science.” It really doesn’t. None of us gets out of here alive in body, but through the love and sacrifice of Christ, we can all get out of here alive…forever. With a God that loves us beyond all understanding. Isn’t that a relief? Isn’t that something you’d rather focus on? We cannot seek the living among the dead, and never forget that the strife and division that we see daily in our country and in the world is death to the spirit.

The cross is empty. The tomb is empty. Alleluia! The Lord is risen!

Another Easter post you may enjoy is from 2017: The Gift of Skepticism.

The Saint Formerly Known as Maewyn

Ah, Patrick! Patron saint of Ireland, and perhaps of green beer as well. Today is yet another commemoration turned into countless opportunities for marketing (and green beer). Hey, don’t get me wrong, I love St. Patrick’s day. I have my shamrock leggings on even as I write this, and my 4-leaf clover earrings as well. You won’t catch me drinking green beer, though – Guinness is too dark to turn any color but…well, Guinness.

Amidst the parades and parties is the life of a man who was an amazing figure. The nuns told us he used a shamrock to teach the trinity (no evidence for that, though – but when did that stop the good sisters?) and that he drove the snakes out of Ireland (no evidence for that either. In fact, no evidence that snakes ever DID exist in Ireland. If they also lack mosquitos…I’m moving).

You can read in many places about the life of Maewyn Succat, who changed his name to Patricius when he became a priest. (Interesting tidbit of info I found; according to legend, that was Patrick’s birth name.) It’s fairly common knowledge that he was born in Britain around the end of the 4th century, was captured and enslaved in Ireland for some years, and then returned to that country as a priest.

Perhaps a good way to celebrate this rock-star-among-saints is to read some of his own words:

Another night – I do not know, God knows, whether it was within me or beside me– I heard authoritative words which I could hear but not understand, until at the end of the speech it became clear: “The one who gave his life for you, he it is who speaks in you”; and I awoke full of joy.

Another time, I saw in me one who was praying. It was as if I were inside my body, and I heard above me, that is, above my inner self. He prayed strongly, with sighs. I was amazed and astonished, and pondered who it was who prayed in me; but at the end of the prayer, it was clear that it was the Spirit. At this I awoke, and I remembered the apostle saying: “The Spirit helps the weaknesses of our prayer; for we do know what it is we should pray, but the very Spirit pleads for us with unspeakable sighs, which cannot be expressed in words.” And again: “The Lord is our advocate, and pleads for us.”

from the Confession of St. Patrick found at Confession | St. Patrick’s Confessio

When reading the words of Patrick, I am struck by his humility and his courage. Take some time today to read a bit before you head out to drink green beer.

As for me, I’m going to read more from Patrick – and then head out to have a Guinness and listen to bagpipes!

My Body, My…wait a minute.

Have you noticed the newest greeting making the rounds? No more “how are you” and “is everybody well?” Nope, it’s have you gotten your shot yet?

Vaccination updates fly between adults as though they were a group of moms discussing their toddlers’ vaccination schedules. Well, Brenda, did you get your shot yet?

No, not yet.

And then the reactions begin. Why not? How could you? Why are you even standing here talking to me? Eeeeewwww!! Get away! Cooties!!

Well, for one thing, according to the state of Louisiana, I’m not eligible to have The Shot. I’m under 65, and while many of my age group are eligible, I’m not. I don’t work in the health field or any of the designated professional groups. I don’t have any of the long list of pre-existing conditions that put me at risk. I’ve been exposed to CoVid “up close and personal” (my husband had it) and I had a few days of feeling “off,” but no more. I haven’t rushed to get The Shot yet because for one thing, why should I (someone who’s pretty healthy) get in line in front of someone who IS high risk and needs it more than I?

Photo by Maksim Goncharenok on

But none of this matters. Mention that you haven’t had The Shot and people move away from you and your possible invisible CoVid Cooties. No Shot, and you are immediately cast as (gasp!!) an Anti-Vaxxer. Heaven forbid!! Outcast!!

Maybe I’m crazy (I know I’m cynical), but I’m not in a rush. If we were dealing with something like Ebola or the Black Death, I’d probably be clawing my way to the front of the line. But I’m still reading the research (you know, The Science). But until I get The Shot, I’d like for people to back off a bit.

Maybe I could come up with a slogan. You know, something catchy like… My Body, My Choice. Hey! That has a nice ring to it!

Oh…wait a minute. That’s been taken. The abortion folks have a lock on it already.

Am I the only one to see the irony of this?

Well, Brenda (or Karen), that’s different! If you don’t get The Shot, you may be exposing hundreds of people to your deadly cooties! You could be an unwitting carrier of CoVid! Typhoid Mary! Unclean! Unclean!

Abortion, on the other hand, endangers no one. Safe, harmless, “therapeutic” abortion.

WTF?!?! Mmmm, no. But isn’t it My Body, My Choice? Or is that only in selected instances?

I hear the cries of YES! Yes, because your decision could murder others! (Abortion, on the other hand, doesn’t hurt anyone. Well, almost.)

I’m old enough to have a scar on my left arm from my smallpox vaccination. I remember getting it. I remember the scab that formed, and when it fell off. I was 5. Vaccinations have made an incredible positive difference in not just public health, but private – personal – health.

So shouldn’t The Shot be personal as well?

You won’t know if I get vaccinated against CoVid. Very few people will. Why? Because frankly, it’s none of your business. It’s not the latest greeting, and it shouldn’t be. Your personal health decisions are your business. Not mine, not anyone’s.

After all, isn’t it My Body, My Choice?

Decisions, decisions….

It was one of those relaxed, sociable evenings. Conversations varied around the table. Charlotte and I were sitting at our regular Mexican haunt, a couple of friends with a couple of margaritas. I don’t know exactly how it came up, but at one point I commented that I’d been in the wrong line when boobs were handed out. Char’s reply was “I’d trade my boobs for your shoulders!” and we laughed at ourselves.

That night, I had a strange dream.

Souls were lined up in heaven, waiting to be born. I was among kindred spirits, listening with half an ear as a rather large archangel made assignments as the line moved forward.

“OK, you’re ready to go! Move to the right, please, for the soon-to-be-born. Next!!”

The Kindred Spirits and I were listening as we moved towards the archangel. Who – oh, it’s Gabriel. Michael was no doubt fighting Satan at the moment. We watched as more souls were assigned certain attributes and were directed to the soon-to-be-born line and the wait-until-later line.

“Next!” The soul in front of me moved forward, and I could hear Gabriel’s voice.

“God gives you the gifts of intelligence, fortitude, strength, beauty and faith. You will serve the Almighty in many ways, in a woman’s body. Plus, you get blonde hair, blue eyes and boobs.”

I heard the soul ahead of me take a deep breath. “Umm, shoulders?” she asked.’

“Shoulders?” said Gabriel. “Look, you’ll also make many dear friends throughout your life, and have a loving family.  But it doesn’t say anything here about shoulders. NEXT!” A nearby cherubim directed the soul to the soon-to-be-born line.


I moved forward.

“God gives you the gifts of intelligence, a love of music, and a pretty voice. You will serve the Almighty in many ways, in a woman’s body. You get fine hair and blue eyes, but you’ll be a chubby adolescent. Just don’t start smoking and you’ll be fine.”

“Umm, boobs?” I asked, holding my not-yet-existent breath.

“Boobs?” said Gabriel. “Hmmm, boobs not listed here. But you’ll have a loving family and make some great friends. Tell you what, we’re out of boobs, but I can give you some great shoulders. When you start crocheting all the shawls you’re gonna make, you’ll have the shoulders to drape ‘em on. NEXT!” The cherubim pointed me toward the wait-until-later line. I went, wondering when and if in life I would encounter the soul who’d been in front of me. As I went, I heard Gabriel’s words to the soul who’d been behind me. She, too, would be a woman of intelligence and faith. Gabriel’s words began to fade away as I moved to the waiting area, but I heard “…and you will rescue many cats. NEXT!” I wondered, again, when I’d encounter these and other Kindred Spirits.

I awoke with the words of Gabriel fading into the mist of a dream. As I rolled over to be greeted with a slurpy good morning from the dog (who had snuggled between me and my still-slumbering spouse), I wondered if Gabriel had said anything to me about dogs, husband and children. Probably not, no sense in spoiling the surprises that life brings. But hey, it was a dream, wasn’t it?

Wasn’t it?

Fill-in-the-blank Justice

This morning, I read something about fill-in-the-blank Justice. You know, these terms we hear so often that qualify Justice; this kind or that kind of Justice. I get what they’re trying to say, but if you have to put a qualifier on Justice, it isn’t really Justice.

To do so rips the blindfold off of Justice. She no longer holds a set of balanced scales; she now has a finger on one side. She’s looking at the situation, and gauging who’s who and what’s what. Some might argue that this is to offset INjustices that have occurred, and I get that. But continuing to call it Justice when it has a qualifier isn’t right. Call it something else, but don’t call it Justice.

Justitia by Maarten van Heemskerk, 1556

In an interesting bit of synchronicity, today’s “Verse of the Day” in my Bible Gateway app (love that app) is Matthew 7:12:

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Yes, that does sum it up. Sadly, we humans don’t always do that, which is why we have human laws and courts, and statues and depictions of Justice as blind. The prophet Isaiah wrote “Learn to do right; seek justice, defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17) Injustice is as old as humanity. Yes, we should all seek Justice, and do whatever we can to help the cause of those who are truly oppressed.

We also might miss the first thing that Isaiah says: Learn to do right. Again, like what Jesus said later, do the right thing. It’s that simple.

I read the “____ Justice” treatise in a statement issued by a large corporation, stating that they were making donations to entities and groups that fight specific injustices. That’s nice to know, although they don’t state exactly who they are donating to, and how they have vetted the organization(s). How they are just at home? How do they treat their employees? Do they treat their employees with respect? Is “treat others as you would like to be treated” a real part of their corporate culture? Is it in their employee handbook? Is be kind and fair treatment something they really take to heart and act upon every day, at all levels?

I think mosst people in this country do try to do the right thing. Sure, we’re human, and sometimes we falter and fail. But overall, most of us regular folks are trying to live out Jesus’ words of treating others as they would want to be treated. Most of us aren’t scheming to oppress an underclass or undertake a nefarious takeover of a company or a country.

It’s been said that those who loudly accuse are often the guiltiest of that which they accuse others of doing. I could expound on that, but I’ll refrain because there are plenty of examples out there. Just think about it, and remember that the next time you hear someone screaming about fill-in-the-blank Justice.


The other night, after enjoying my egg drop soup from Hot Wok (a local excellent Chinese restaurant), I cracked open my fortune cookie. Would I read a gem of wisdom or a glimpse into the future? Neither. It said: “you will have a successful year.”

I dropped the fortune and laughed out loud. Really? REALLY? 2020? We’d seen the accountant for the business the day before, who summed up 2020 by saying “It’s a good year if one’s still in business.” Sadly, that is true as far too many businesses (large, such as Stage Department Stores, and small, such as our former favorite Mexican Restaurant, Los Mayas) have had to close permanently. Not even an economy that was rocking and rolling at the end of 2019 survived the CoVid shutdowns.

Christmas this year has taken on a somewhat surreal aura. Some countries have embraced their inner Grinch and have “cancelled” Christmas. I understand urging people to avoid large crowds. That’s a good idea even in a garden variety flu season for people with compromised immune systems. But how does one cancel Christmas?

Every year we grumble about the commercialization of Christmas. This year I shake my head as retail outlets feature sparkly holiday wear. Where are we gonna wear the glitz this year? Matching family pajamas are quite the rage this season, as are holiday themed masks. Never doubt the power of American ingenuity when it comes to marketing even in the midst of a crisis.

I know I’m not alone when I say that the Christmas spirit has been late in visiting me. I didn’t put up the usual tree this year, just a tabletop decoration, a tiny creche, and stockings. But…no Advent music. No choir practice for Christmas. No choir at Christmas – no vocal music at all in church. The human voice is the only musical instrument crafted by God – and it is silenced.

Yesterday, music partner Joshua and I played through some Christmas music – everything from O Come all Ye Faithful to Jingle Bell Rock. My family’s Christmas Eve celebration will be substantially smaller this year, limited only to those in our “isolation pod.” We’ll play music, and yes, sing Christmas Carols. Music is a way of prayer for me. While we always need prayer, we’ve needed it more than ever in 2020.

Too, the promise of Christmas is more timely than usual: The promise of redemption, of salvation, and the mystery of grace. Christmas should remind us that the unexpected can yield miracles. The world was waiting for a savior; and it was thought that this savior would be a mighty warrior king who would save the Jewish people from the tyranny of Rome.

Instead, they got a tiny baby who grew into a man who spoke in parables, healed the sick, worked miracles, and became enraged at the money changers in the temple. He didn’t take up arms against the Romans; instead, he became a sacrificial lamb. His disciples didn’t get it until the resurrection. We don’t get it either, but such is this human lifetime, seeing through a glass darkly.

Photo by Jessica Lewis on

So much has been written by great theologians about the miracles of the Incarnation and the Resurrection. This year, though, the words of the great philosopher Dr. Seuss are most appropriate:

“Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.
And what happened then? Well…in Whoville they say,
That the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day!”

Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Joshua and I played and sang through Christmas carols, I felt my mood lighten. It was starting to feel like Christmas. No country, no government, no one can cancel Christmas. They can try to cancel gatherings, events, etc. But Christmas? No. Christmas comes just the same, and we are blessed and redeemed because of it.