It’s been a while…Here’s why.

Hi friends.

It has been a long while since I posted here.

I hadn’t anticipated taking such a long sabbatical, but after a busy work season this past spring, I needed a break. More than that, I needed some quiet.

The truth is, it’s getting awfully loud around here. And when I say, “around here,” I mean the worldwide web.

It makes me weary.

It’s like a traffic jam in hot weather…horns are honking and drivers are jockeying for position.

I’m weary of the competition and one upsmanship.
I’m weary of the bullying.
I’m tired of the barrage of promotions.
I’m sick of the rat-race that has overtaken the information super-highway.
(It requires too much merging. And anyone who knows me knows that highway merging makes me very, very nervous.)

Make no mistake…I love the internet! The convenience alone makes life so much better…I tried to explain to my kids how I used to do research. You remember…Reference books. Journals. Microfiche. (They stared blankly, as though I was recounting life in another millennium. Which, of course, it was.)

Because of Facebook, I’m in touch with “old friends” more often; those friendships aren’t punctuated only by Christmas cards and reunions. We’re all a little more connected. I love seeing vacation photos and celebrating birthdays, new jobs, graduations, touchdowns and lead roles.

I worry, though, that by being so connected, we’re getting a little disconnected. Our memories and experiences are boxed into pithy hashtags while our touch screens have gotten us decidedly out of touch with each other. Life has become a caricature of itself as we clamor for attention and laughs and time on the virtual soapbox.

My wise grandfather, for whom my son is named, greatly appreciated architecture, science and technology. If he were here, Papa Bill would likely marvel at the speed and efficiency of the internet, and he’d love the richness of the information. But he’d also urge moderation. And, most certainly, he’d invoke one of his favorite quotes from Shakespeare: “To thine own self be true.” A gentleman, my grandfather always maintained his integrity and stood firm in his beliefs, without humiliating or belittling others…without having to have the last word.

Those are good standards for merging into the worldwide web.mitziecar

I’m searching, I think, not for an internet super-highway, but rather, a virtual Route 66. Slower. Kinder. Friendlier.
Quieter.

And I want my vehicle here (my blog!) to be like my minivan…In real life, I drive a dented, 10 year-old minivan, with fraying upholstery, and a CD player that works…sometimes. But it’s comfortable and reliable, and it holds lots of people. It gets us safely from A to B.

I still have research to do, stories to tell and articles to write. As I do, I want to respect the other “drivers,” even though some might pass me by or even bump into me from time to time. I know I’ll make some mistakes, too. I might cut someone off or slow somebody down. If I do, I’ll try to apologize…or at least wave politely.  No one’s perfect…least of all, me. I’ll be prepared, though, and I will choose my route carefully and be sure my mind and heart are headed in the right direction.

It’s pretty unrealistic to think that the whole internet can suddenly become a safer, smoother, more genteel place. But I can certainly make THIS part of the internet better. I hope you’ll come with me…Hop in. Buckle your safety belt. Roll down the windows.

And don’t worry…if the CD player isn’t working…

We’ll sing.

 

 

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Can They Come In After They Come Out?

locked-door

I picked up the water pitcher and began refilling glasses in our candlelit dining room. Our guests were laughing and enjoying each other’s company as they sipped coffee and savored the last bites of dessert. As I rounded the table, the conversation shifted toward spiritual things, and we chatted about changes in the local church.

“Well, one thing I CAN’T understand,” said Grant (not his real name). “There’s that one church on the west side of town. They’re just welcoming gay people to come on in and sit with them in the pews! Why would a church welcome THEM?”

I froze. My husband’s dark eyes met  mine, wordlessly providing reassurance and understanding. As I slowly reached for Grant’s water glass, Tom gently, deftly turned the conversation toward a broader discussion.

After our guests departed, Tom and I cleared the remains of the meal and began washing dishes. He put his tray down and wrapped his arms around me. “Thanks for a great dinner party,” he began.  “I’m just so proud of you…I thought you were going to pour that whole pitcher of water right on Grant’s lap…”

I’m not proud of it, but the thought HAD crossed my mind.

The issue that Grant raised is, for me, an issue with a face. A dear friend had written to me not long before that dinner party to tell me that he is gay. What was once fodder for a dinner party debate had turned the corner into something personal and urgent.

In my friend’s letter, he stated that he would understand if I never wanted to speak to him again. This statement crushed me. In our ensuing phone conversation, he said that the reason for this was to protect himself: “Once you tell this kind of news,” he said, “you  have to prepare yourself to lose a lot of friends.” I couldn’t imagine the fear or heartache he felt, and I reassured him that has been, and  always will be, a best friend.

And he is. This is the guy who stuck up for me when high school boyfriends turned out to be jerks. He was the one who reassured me that life would go on when I didn’t get a part in the musical. We went on college visits, endured AP exams, prayed together and laughed ourselves silly. He celebrated with us when Tom and I got married, and drove seven long hours to be with us at the hospital when our daughter almost died.

My friend’s revelation forced me to examine my own attitudes and language.  As I read articles and listened to the rhetoric on Christian radio, it didn’t take long for me to realize that we, as the Church, have made some mistakes in handling this issue. And believe me…in my journey to figure it out, my words have been, at times, tacky and very hurtful as well.  I need only to look in the mirror to confirm that Christians need to do better when it comes to welcoming non-traditional families. My friend’s concern about losing relationships after coming out is a very real fear; it breaks my heart to know that this fear and hurt is also experienced when dealing with the Church…it seems that for too many people, “coming out” means they can’t come in with “the rest of us.”

I’m one of the “rest of us:”  those of us who are broken and hurting and imperfect and stumbling in darkness…and desperately in need of the Light. The truth is, when it comes to the Church, there’s no “us” and “them…”

 There’s Jesus, and there’s the rest of us.

This Sunday, it’s our family’s turn to be greeters. We’ll stand at the front door of the church and open the doors for members and visitors. It’s not in our job description to choose for whom we’ll open the doors. We’ll open them to everyone…not just families with two parents, or to people who have never been divorced. Not just physically fit people or those who have never gossiped or lied. And not just people who are straight.

And we’ll say “Welcome…we’re glad you’re here….
Come in.”

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Photo credits: discountcollegethings.com

What I Learned at the Surgery Center

Last week, I had a little surgical procedure. No biggie. Just a routine test based on my family’s history of cancer.

And, based on my family’s history of anxiety, I was a little bit nervous.
(Okay, I was in a tizzy…)

So, I decided to make myself feel better by doing what any hypochondriac responsible, proactive patient would do: I turned to the Worldwide Web. I found not only helpful articles, but also videos of the procedure, helping me to know exactly what to expect. In addition, the medical practice has a website, so I could see pictures of the surgery center, equipment and even pictures of all the doctors, nurses and office managers. All of the necessary paperwork was available on the site, too, making preparations easy.

Once at the surgery center, the technology sparkled…state-of-the-art medical equipment, computers and even a luxurious and, I learned, quite expensive, blanket warming cabinet. Technology made everything so much more comfortable, and certainly calmed my anxious mind.

stanfordchildrens.org

stanfordchildrens.org

But it didn’t replace the care and kindness of real, live people.
Not one little bit. Not even close.

Online videos helped, but they couldn’t replace a discussion with my sister (the nurse!). Web-based articles were informative, but paled next to my husband’s steadfast, calm presence. Downloadable forms were convenient, but nothing compared to the nurse’s reassuring words as I woke up, or my friend, Rebecca’s outrageous sense of humor, or the doctor’s rather jolly bedside manner.

In today’s online, web-based, texty, tweety world, we can communicate silently and work independently. We can connect with people all over the world and access information that only a few short years ago, would have only been available at a university library. On microfiche. Technology is a very, very good thing.

But I was reminded, last Tuesday, that I shouldn’t  be so wooed by the speed, convenience and intricacy of technology that I forget that I was created for real-live, warm, honest community.

That blanket, all cozy-warm, fresh from that high-tech cabinet, wouldn’t have meant anything at all without the nurse’s capable hands tucking it around me, squeezing my shoulder as she calmly reassured me: “Everything is just fine.”

britsattheirbest.com

britsattheirbest.com