Lux Aeterna

Funny how music comes into our lives. My husband Lon was on the beach playing volleyball with a group of guys I would describe, lovingly, as a little ragged around the edges. One of them was listening to this song and Lon said, “What is that? I really like that music.” So he got him a copy. The next week Lon and I were driving to dinner and I said, “What is that? What is this music. Turn it up.” And he did. And we listened in silence. Then he gave me the CD.

Love, music, grace, and the “eternal light.” Some things simply transcend.

The Untouchables

The Untouchables

“The Untouchables” by Cuban Artist, Erik Ravelo

This series features photographs of children crucified for the sins of their oppressors; each for a different reason and a clear message, seeks to reaffirm the right of children to be protected and report abuse suffered by them. Ravelo uses the image of the crucified Christ—-one that is recognized around the world as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins—-as a wake-up call to the world, and perhaps, more pointedly, to Christians who may turn a blind eye, or offer little or no help to remedy these atrocities.

The first image refers to pedophilia in the Vatican. Second child sexual abuse in tourism in Thailand, and the third refers to the war in Syria. The fourth image refers to the trafficking of organs on the black market, where most of the victims are children from poor countries; fifth refers to weapons free in the U.S.. And finally, the sixth image refers to obesity, blaming the big fast food companies.

The series was banned originally from Facebook. Makes you wonder about the sorts of things we are willing— and unwilling— to look at.

Wisdom

“Eventually it comes to you: the thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely.” Lorraine Hansberry, Journal entry, May 1, 1962

Our irrational minds

“Why do you balk at the doctrine of the Trinity – God the three in One – yet meekly acquiesce when Einstein tells you E=mc2? What makes you suppose that the expression “God ordains” is narrow and bigoted, while your own expression, “Science demands” is taken as an objective statement of fact? You would be ashamed to know as little about internal combustion as you know about Christian beliefs. I admit, you can practice Christianity without knowing much theology, just as you can drive a car without knowing much about internal combustion. But when something breaks down in the car, you go humbly to the man who understands the works; whereas if something goes wrong with religion, you merely throw the works away and tell the theologian he is a liar.” – Dorothy Sayers

The blessing of one McNugget

After our group session, there was a workshop in the main building on the Holy Trinity so rich with connect-the-dots scripture references that all I can say is: you had to be there. My aunt and I then raced from there to the tent to prepare for dinner. After offering to help set up and serve the first day, this had become our assignment for the week (no cleaning toilets, yay!). The little van that drove the food trays from the main kitchen up to Tent F arrived in a cloud of dust. We unloaded the crates of bread and the large foil-covered tins of the meal. Peeling back one of the trays I saw we were having chicken McNuggets. “How many per person?” I asked.

“One.”

“One?” I repeated, wondering if it wouldn’t have been better to have none at all.

I was in charge of handing out the trays and bowls. I watched as my aunt and two others scooped out the carrots and peas and potatoes and then the solitary nugget. Most looked up incredulously, waited to be told, “Just one tonite.” There was a very round, garrulous man who was always first in line for seconds; I worried that he might be undone by the rations. “No, just one,” my aunt told him as his shoulders drooped and he reached for more bread.

He was the only obese person I saw during our entire week at Taize. In fact, it was startling to see how much trimmer and healthier most of the European and Asian visitors were; we have gotten so used to having so many obese citizens in America I don’t think we have fully understood how much our human landscape has changed. The week before I left for Taize, I saw a billboard announcing a 50-piece McNugget package for only $9.99. I thought about the struggling families who would make a dinner of it, then realized— no, this would likely become the new American afterschool snack.

When everyone had been served, Hesta and Anna— our permanent leaders— came around to serve us. Atop my scoop of carrots and peas and potatoes, Hesta gave me not one but two nuggets. An hour before I would have thought that was a delightful treat —a little bonus for our food service— but after 24 hours in Taize, I had come to feel uncomfortable with the idea of any special treatment. Why should I get an extra one, when everyone else had to make do. I thought of a moment in church that day when my aunt had sat down on a kneeler that had a scarf around the base. A woman arrived late and tapped her on shoulder: that one’s mine. It’s reserved. She had tried to find my aunt another one, but that wasn’t the point, at least not to me. There was a basic wrongness about holding a prime spot — or taking any action that placed one at an advantage over another— in this place of trust and reconciliation. If we are to began to bridge the gaps between us, we must be willing to meet on a level playing field.

I’d love to report that I’d put the nugget back, but I did not. What would have been the point? Everyone had been fed and there were still a few more for the few who needed seconds. Frankly, without the dipping sauces, they were almost inedible. Funny, how so many adults had felt deprived about something so wretched tasting. Sometimes I think we’ve just grown used to wanting more of everything, maybe most especially what we are told we can’t have.

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