Are You Too Busy To Listen?

Are You Too Busy To Listen?

“Storehouses” – Extended.
Hoarding your
boxes and packing your bags.
Preparing like
luggage affixed with nametags.
What will it get you, Your storehouse of gold?
No matter how mighty, You’ll too grow old.
And down to the dust From which you once came.

Consumed 
all your darkness.
Love will remain.

Still you keep on and keep on, playing your game.
The more you control, you’ll victory claim.
And, all will know, “You’re living the dream.”
But, when it comes crashing down, what will it mean?

calm sky
Photo by Sindre Stru00f8m on Image Description: Sunlight breaking through clouds. Pexels.com

I’ve been thinking a lot about productivity lately. How we take and turn something intended to be positive and recast it in our own image. You can read a little about this in my previous blog post, “Where Will You Store Your Treasure?”

We are good at that, we humans. If we can control everything through our own efforts, we don’t have to rely on anyone or anything else. Sure, we might offer our words to G-d but to actually trust, especially in something we cannot see, that’s a different story.

That’s the myth of productivity. If I just work harder, I’ll get ahead. However, I’ve witnessed many people work hard only to end up on the short end of things. It’s easy to see if you’re looking. It happens all the time, actually.

Further, this notion of never ending work isn’t biblical either. I heard a message this week based on Luke 16:19-31. (Hat tip to Rev. Matt Kofahl of the St. James and Hope United Methodist Churches in Niagara Fall and Sanborn, NY respectively.)

The narrative tells the story of two recently deceased people; one rich, one poor. In a twist as shocking to the initial hearer of Jesus’ story as it is to us, it is the rich man who finds himself far away from G-d as the poor man is comforted.

Didn’t the rich man do everything right? By worldly standards, certainly, this is true. However, as the rich man cries out in agony he is told quite simply, “You received your good things already.”  (Verse 25)

On the other hand, look at the poor man, Lazarus. He couldn’t work. He couldn’t even get himself to the rich man’s gate. He was laid there! (Verse 20) It’s as if we have everything backwards in our human brokenness. Less is more.

I have to rely on G-d when I can’t rely on myself.

When you can do nothing, G-d still loves you because Love is not dependent on what you do. It’s dependent on G-d.

Back in the Luke 19 parable, the rich man begs for someone to warn his relatives only to be told as Jesus foreshadows his own resurrection, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” (Verse 31)

The same message holds true for us. The only question is, “Are You Too Busy To Listen?”

Wherever you find yourself this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions. 
Peace Love and Acceptance

Where Will You Store Your Treasure?

Where Will You Store Your Treasure?

“Storehouses”
Hoarding your
boxes and packing your bags.
Preparing like
luggage affixed with nametags.
What will it get you Your storehouse of gold?
No matter how mighty, You’ll too grow old.
And down to the dust From which you once came.

Consumed 
all your darkness.
Love will remain.

calm sky
Photo by Sindre Strøm on Image description: Sun breaking through clouds. – Pixels.com

Hey all!

I’ve been super sick for some time now. I hope to be back on a regular writing schedule soon. I appreciate your prayers and support. Please keep them coming.

In the meantime, I’ve been pondering the state of our world. The profit at any cost narrative and its accompanying notion that if you just work hard enough you’ll get ahead.

This, as I’m fond of saying, is bullshit.

Now, I’m not against working as you are able, but a person’s defined worth is not based on their productivity. Your worth is inherent. Read the Bible.

In fact, you don’t even need to read your preferred holy writing.
Use Google. It’s talked about a lot.

Sadly, I am still too sick to dig in with any depth for now, but this is a narrative put in place by those at top to keep you right where you are now.

You can work for them or you can die. From a disability point of view, this is what brings about the super-crip or die scenarios where one can either overcome their disability or it is a fate worse than death.

However, what if this is a lie? What if the reverse is true?

What is Love really is about expanding the circle until everyone is included?
(Matthew 22:36-40)

Maybe Jesus was right when he said you can’t serve G-d and money.
(Matthew 6:24)

Your hoards of gold might shield you for a time but this is temporary.

Until next time friends, live, be well, and don’t forget: Wherever you find yourself this day, especially if you are on the margins, Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Thanks, again for the prayers!

Peace Love and Acceptance

Why I Won’t Agree to Disagree But I Will Try to Listen

Why I Won’t Agree to Disagree But I Will Try to Listen

I hear a lot today about agreeing to disagree.

You know, “I see it this way. You see it that way. We’ll just agree to disagree.”

Sorry, I can’t do that. 

As my friend and great social-minded theologian, Samuel Mudge said recently,

“Agreeing to disagree doesn’t work for a whole lot of people because sometimes, two people are discussing something that is an abstract idea to one, and life-and-death to the other.”

Think about that for a second. I’ll use my most personal examples for clarity.

Not having access to plastic straws might kill me.

Doing away with healthcare protections might kill me.

Using mental health or other disabilities as your excuse because you don’t want to talk about guns or other issues might kill me.

That’s how it works.

The same is true when you endorse leaders who overtly or covertly use their power and systems as a means of oppression, exclusion, and hate.

They aren’t all created equal. People are dying! 

I will say this. We do need to listen to each other more.

I do believe most of us are not as far apart as it seems. Outside the top few, the people from the middle down are all being squeezed economically and otherwise.

Let’s work together to answer these more difficult questions. Maybe life isn’t supposed to be completely found in easy answers.

agree agreement ankreuzen arrangement
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We’ve lost our ability to sit across from each other; to hear each other, and to listen to our individual and collective pain. 

This isn’t a suggestion of mere tolerance. I’ll fight as long as I can against racism, ableism, and any other form of oppression, exclusion, and hate.

Inclusion is a table of equity and justice especially for people on the margins. 

That’s what Jesus’ ministry is all about. He restored people to equitable, just community.

This isn’t an over-simplified version of love the sinner, hate the sin. 

That’s just a slight modification of agreeing to disagree with a dash of power mixed in. That’s what got us here.

It’s just a reminder to listen because the cycle will never stop if we don’t do better. 

I hope you’ll join me.

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

 

 

 

Give Me Liberty, Immigrants, Cripples, and Jesus!

Give Me Liberty, Immigrants, Cripples, and Jesus!

What you believe about the Statue of Liberty, immigration, disability, and our current US administration tells me everything I need to know about how you feel about Jesus and how you feel about me.

There has been a recent change to the immigration policy in the United States. It states that whether a person is admissible to the United States or not will be based on his or her likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future, as set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The expressed goal is “to ensure that aliens seeking to enter and remain in the United States — either temporarily or permanently — are self-sufficient and rely on their own capabilities and the resources of family members, sponsors, and private organizations rather than on public resources.” 

Great, right?! Except how can you know? Beyond the obvious discrimination of people with disabilities like me, many of whom are fleeing violence, etc., it could be YOU at any time. Becoming disabled can and does happen at ANYONE. Further, if you live long enough you will almost certainly become disabled. Bodies don’t last forever without breaking down.

So, what does this mean? Unless you are super rich and elite, keep out? That’s sure what it seems like. What about Medicare? If you enter the country at a younger age and never need any public assistance, something you cannot know unless you are super rich, will you be eligible later in life? Does this exclude someone from coming to this country too? It’s a moving target.

Quite simply, we are moving toward eugenics. This should scare you into action! 

I know it won’t. I’ve been around nondisabled people long enough to know how little they think beyond their immediate concerns. You just don’t see yourself as me.

This is why we have a long history of locking away our disabled and elderly people. If you don’t see them, you don’t have to believe you will be them. You are wrong!

Speaking of long history, our current US administration recently stated that the words on the Statue of Liberty were for immigrants coming from Europe too.

I know, racism, shocking… Except, you should be shocked! You should be shocked into action against this administration and its policies. You have a voice. Use it!

worms eye view photography of statue of liberty
Photo by Jamie McInall on Pexels.com

Read more on both these things here or just look at the news or use a search engine. If you are uniformed or unshocked, you may be the problem.

Furthermore, any notion that you can support this administration while calling yourself Christian or pro-life is a farce.

(Admittedly, I’m afraid to make this connection not because it is untrue, but because some have used this as justification to say the Church should be charged with charity, healthcare, and supports instead of the government.)

Frankly, you are not just wrong, the Church is pretty bad at these things. Feel free to ask me about accessibility.

That’s just it. These people claim to be Christians yet the sit in direct opposition to Jesus.

In case you haven’t looked in a while, he takes the powerful in this world and turns them, and their systems, upside down. I mean, Jesus literally tells the rich guy to sell all his stuff and give it to the poor. (Matthew 19:21-22)

Look at the Beattitudes (Matthew 5:1-11)

For Christ’s Sake (Literally) The first Christians lived as a commune. (Acts 2:44-47)

Maybe that’s why the Church is dying.

As for the rest of it, what you believe about the Statue of Liberty, immigration, disability, and our current US administration tells me everything I need to know.

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

It also seeks justice and inclusion for the people on the margins; even those least like you. Jesus talks about that too.

I’ll let you look it up if you don’t believe me because, “Carry your own weight,” right?

Peace Love and Acceptance

Notes: 1. Uscis.gov, 2. USA Today – 8/13/2019, 3. Biblegateway.com

 

 

 

Racism Is Not a Disability

Racism Is Not a Disability

Today, I went to Canada for lunch because I didn’t want to worry about getting shot.

Sure, I live near the border but, America, we have a problem.

The problem: Racist White Extremists with Guns. 

Here’s what the problem is not: Mental Illness. 

I know. I can hear all the arguments now. “No ‘sane person’ would do this.” This thinking just allows us to dismiss our responsibility.

If the perpetrator doesn’t look like me, I don’t have to do anything, right? Except, these men, look exactly like me. They are white men.

That’s what’s scary. These men could be my brothers.

Ask yourself, “If these incidents were carried out by people of color, How long would it be before we took their guns away?” Yet, here we are, nothing.

Because, if I can convince myself someone like me wouldn’t do something like this, I absolve myself of responsibility. 

I’m not saying you don’t feel bad. I see all the offers of thoughts and prayers. I believe them sincere. I’m with you.

Just don’t be so quick to move on.

Look at the real problem of white male racism.

It’s not difficult to identify. These men have told you as much in their manifestos.

But, putting the blame on mental illness is easier. We throw words like “insane” and “crazy” around so much, they no longer mean anything.

That’s crazy or insane has too easily become our default language.

I do it too. I’m no saint. Let’s all try to do better.

I’ve too quickly offered, “I didn’t mean it that way,” as an excuse in the past. Only, that’s exactly how this happens.

Our word choices and terminology matter.

Instead of crazy or insane use unbelievable, extraordinary, or whatever it is you actually mean.

For example, “Our problem is Racism and White Extremists with Guns.”

White racism and guns are not disabilities.

68419621_1072547582950305_2270396102953926656_n
Picnic table with Old Smoke Burger Restaurant Hamburger in wrapper with soda, french fries and a lager beer bottle next to a cup filled with beer.

Think about it. When I wanted to feel safe, I went to Canada.

Save me a trip.

Save some lives.

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

To be clear it also works for justice.

Peace Love and Acceptance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Justice, Pain, Equity, and Sleep: A Cripple Convergence Story

Justice, Pain, Equity, and Sleep: A Cripple Convergence Story

“Justice”
Judge not.
But, what about justice?
Lord, will there be equity?
How long must we wait,
For heaven’s sake?
Watching others die,
Pain exchanged,
For personal gains.

Reveal your plans,
Here and now,
Let Love transformed,
Become the norm.
Just make it soon.
Can’t you see?
I’m dying too.

inside photography of church
Photo by Adrien Olichon on Pexels.com

Hey Y’all,

I planned to write something else today (and, have it up before now) but, I’m exhausted.

One of the most difficult aspects of chronic pain is that you never know what you’re going to get.

I know I’ve overworked my body recently, which isn’t saying much by nondisabled body standards frankly, but I’m feeling pretty bad. My entire body hurts.

If you are a praying sort, prayers are appreciated.

Positive thoughts are always welcome here. 

Another part of my struggle with chronic pain is what I call painsomnia.

Simply put, that’s insomnia caused by pain and, in case it isn’t clear by now, I don’t sleep much.

So, here I am.

Exhausted and typing for public consumption. There’s probably a law against this somewhere. If it’s in my bedroom, I’ll plead cripple ignorance.

Anyway, I digress…

I know many people have it worse. This is also a frustration of mine.

I think about these things at night while not sleeping.

We live in a world filled with injustice. 

Racism.

People exploiting others for their personal economic gain.

Outright hate.

There’s prejudice of all kinds for many people.

Maybe it’s always existed but it seems worse than in recent memory.

Meanwhile, overtly and covertly, those on top by virtue of privilege are still working to make more, pay less, and take more away from the rest of us. 

Look at healthcare.

The elite are in court right now working to take away the few remaining protections of the Affordable Care Act. (USA) Things like coverage for preexisting conditions.

Social Security and Medicare coming next.

(I feel like I’ve talked about this before, though, I’m too tired to look it up.) 

You don’t have to look too hard to find something happening that will hurt most of us in one way or another in exchange for profits. There are plenty of examples.

Some folks are just marginalized more than others.

That’s intentional. 

If they can keep the fighting focused on the fears of those who have little and those who have less, they win. Divide and conquer.

This strategy is working. They’re on top! 

The disparity between the top and the bottom is growing while the middle is shrinking.

Meanwhile, all I want to do is sleep. But, sleeping is what brought us here.

And, I get frustrated. I want justice now.

I know Love works toward justice.

I just wonder how many people will die waiting for change? 

I wonder, “Will it be me?”

That’s the thing about justice. Prayers are good. Action is better. 

One of the mantras I repeat most often is “God’s Love works most often through our own hands and hearts.”

God doesn’t need me but God can use me.

I’m reminded of Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

So, here I am.

I’m awake anyway.

How about you?

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

Simulation Incomplete

Simulation Incomplete
“Labels”
When you label me,
You negate me,
Your simulation incomplete.
So, clearly,
Please hear me,
As I tell you what I need. 
Inclusion
Acceptance 
To know I am enough. 
In this way, 
Living forward,
What it means to be
God’s love.

The following piece is cross posted in conjunction with my friend, Tim Vermande, who writes at Flying Kitty Monster. His reflections from a recent conversation are below along with this graphic from G. Lake Dylan.
use stairs

My friend, and co-conspirator who wrote the poem above, Chris of Crip Pastor remarked a few days ago while writing about a particular event that he is not trying to join in some “oppression Olympics,” what with so much of nation in an attack mode lately, but to share experience. It is true that even allies don’t often fully understand, but almost everyone can be in solidarity from common roots–as I once said about another group at seminary, we all have an interest in being judged for who we are, not by appearance.

As I read that, my thoughts turned to conversations about disability simulations. In a simulation, limbs are tied to splints, blindfolds worn, or similar measures. The intent is to give a feeling for what it’s like to live with a disability. The idea of giving a feeling is true enough–I once had a class of interior designers try to simply enter a room and reach the wall switch while in a wheelchair. It was an enlightening time.

But it wasn’t complete–it lasted an hour. An hour is not a lifetime (or the time of a life since an injury). After a quite troubled week of access problems, I list some real-life things that a disability simulation will probably never convey:

  • Making a hotel reservation well in advance, confirming it by phone, and arriving to find that the accessible room isn’t available after all.
  • Asking extensively several times at a theatre about wheelchair seating, only to find that you’ve been given inaccurate information, and have to sit by yourself in isolation.
  • Being told that a place is accessible, only to find a step or two when you arrive, and then being told, “well, it’s only a small step.”
  • The exhaustion of taking a 20-minute paratransit trip that picks you up an hour late, takes two hours while the driver crams in a last-minute addition (which takes you past your house twice) and ends up taking more than 2 hours, so you miss dinner and part of your meeting.
  • The time that evaporates as you call ahead, plan ahead, and hope (as noted, sometimes to no avail) for an event.
  • Entering a restaurant in winter, looking forward to eating with friends in a warm atmosphere, you see that there are a lot of open tables, but you are taken to a cramped booth (with fixed seats) next to the take-out door.
  • Being on the upper floor of a hotel when the fire alarm sounds and the elevators shut down.
  • Being on the upper floor of a hotel when the power goes out.
  • Giving your wheelchair to an attendant on an airplane, not knowing if you will ever see it again, if it will get shuffled to the wrong place, or if it will be damaged.
    in case of fire, use stairs -- person in a wheelchair on stairs
  • The look of surprise when someone realizes that, despite some problem here or there, you are an intelligent, functional human being worthy of respect.

  • And finally, the feeling of being alone when you are too exhausted to go out, or left out because of access or transportation problems, or someone hasn’t caught on to the previous item yet.

— Poem by Chris Wylie
— Post by Tim Vermande
— illustration by G. Lake Dylan