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Friday, September 4, 2015

I Spent Yesterday at the Ocean

This last couple of days have been strange for me, and the rest of the week will probably be more of the same.  If you know me well, you may know that I am an introvert and require time alone, particularly to recharge and take care of my soul.  There have been times when I have done this well and other times when I have failed to do so, at all.  Most of life happens somewhere in-between.  In order for me to really "do" soul care days well, I need several of them (a week is great) a couple of times a year.  Having severely neglected this for many years, I have taken considerable time away from my regularly scheduled life over the past few months.  I have needed this time to work through some stuff, and although a few people have questioned this, I think most everybody actually understands the need for caring for ourselves.  It's just that most people never actually do it.  That's the back story, or at least as much of it as I am going to post here publicly, although more and more I am an open book, so if you have further questions you can feel free to go ahead and ask them.  I say all of this to bring you up to date on my present trip, which was intended, in part, for soul care.

In some ways, after working through so many issues in such a short amount of time, I feel more like I am on a vacation, by myself, than in the midst of soul care days.  I haven't decided quite what I think of this yet.  I have a love/hate relationship with the great outdoors, primarily because I love creation, but I am allergic to so much of it.  This causes me to carefully weigh the pros and cons before embarking on an outdoor adventure.  But I had never seen the Pacific Ocean, and I just couldn't be this close without grasping the experience.  I had hoped for some inspiration.  I had hoped that I would have some new insights to share about God... and creation... and God's partnership with humanity... and water... and baptism.  I know, I know.  Who thinks about this while taking a trip to the ocean?  Well, I do.  And the truth is, it was a beautiful, amazing day, and I do have some new insight that I hope to weave together in written form over some days and weeks for Thursday Theology and Sacramental Saturday.  But something else changed my perspective before I set out on my journey yesterday, and perhaps not ironically, it touched on some of the things I have recently been thinking about and discussing in regard to our care for the least of these. 

Earlier this week, a picture that I will probably never be able to get out of my head started to show up in my FB newsfeed.  As a mom... and a follower of Jesus... and just a human being... the image of a dead toddler lying facedown on the shore is painful.  I already have a pretty healthy fear of deep water.  Some people might call it unhealthy, but the truth is I don't know how to swim, none of my children know how to swim well (even after years of swimming lessons for some of them), and I have multiple friends who have lost children to drowning.  Water is hard for me.  But this little guy, Aylan... and his sweet little head... and his velcro tennis shoes...  I just can't deal with it.  Horrible, tragic accidents happen, but he is gone, because his parents were trying to protect him and no one with the power to actually do that did anything to help.

I'm so tired of hearing about immigrants (legal or not) and refugees and how they're all just a bunch of dirty, nasty people who want to suck resources away from the people who actually deserve them.  Oh, come on.  First of all, none of us deserves anything.  And second.  If you haven't taken a good look at Aylan, take a moment to do so and just consider how lovingly dressed he was on the last day of his life.  Gosh, his haircut puts me to shame if you look at my boys.  I don't think these were nasty, dirty, life sucking people.  They were just people.  Scared people.  People who wanted a better life for their kids.

And then the story escalates.  As it turns out, not only was Aylan lost, but so was his four year old brother, Galip, and their mother, Rehen.  A quick Google search will lead you to heart wrenching quotes from their father who watched his entire family die.  And how many privileged people woke up, this morning, thinking about how he deserved this, because he didn't have a legal path to get them to safety?  Oh wait.  Probably none, because anybody who is that heartless has long since moved on.  They didn't wake up thinking about these people, at all.  And yet I feel the need to share their story one more time, even though most everyone who wants to know it probably already does, because the real stories of real people matter.

So in the midst of my very nice, safe day at the beach, I took a moment to consider the crashing of waves and the way God separated the waters, and I thought about how good God is.  I thought about how beautiful creation is and yet how violent it can be.  And I thought about how we, as human beings, are not so good if we allow even creation to become the taker of life, because it's just too difficult to welcome people and process paperwork.


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