The Killer in the Mirror

There’s no shortage of well- expressed sympathy, frustration, evaluation, and anger over the recent shooting massacre at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.

Much more will be written and debated about guns and possible preventative steps to curtail such slaughter.  Some of these ideas, in particular about the need to devote more comprehensive attention to mental health in America, certainly are valid.  I also wonder, since the vast majority of the killers are men–and in particular younger men, does this demographic segment merit concentrated attention?

The problem, of course, is that murder is ingrained in the human race.  In the Bible, just eight verses after Adam and Eve exited the Garden of Eden, one of two fine sons killed his brother—the first murder (Genesis 4:8). Cain’s assault weapon was not identified, but for sure it wasn’t a gun.

When a horrific outrage like Sandy Hook occurs, most of us feel helpless.  What can any of us possibly do to face down the evil in the world?  Some of humanity’s ills, like racism, world hunger, trafficking, and random violence, seem so monumental and complicated that we throw up our hands and retreat to our email and another cup of coffee.

There is one thing all us can do, however, that will make a difference:  We can stop killing people ourselves.

Say what?

Here’s a famous quote:   “’You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, “Do not murder.” I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder.  Carelessly call a brother “idiot!” and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell “stupid!” at a sister and you are on the brink of hell fire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.’”

Martin Luther King or Mother Teresa didn’t say that.  Jesus said that.  (Matthew 5:21-22, The Message)

Oh. No!  I see a killer in my mirror. I’ve been angry like that many times.  And I would have welcomed the chance to shoot any one of these mass murderers…

Among many of Jesus’ tasks on earth was to present a seminar on the kingdom of God, which consists in large part of small, seemingly random attitudes, actions, events.  The primary setting of the kingdom is the human heart, where decisions are made about what to do or not to do.  In other words, it’s the “small,” often unseen things that have major consequences in the “real world.”

At last your faithful “bleater” arrives at today’s point:  All of us have a choice about how we will treat the people we live, work, and interact with.  In my heart and yours are those competing dispositions to be either the Cain who murders or the Cain who brings life.

Our world is full of people hungry for love, desperate for even a crumb of attention and encouragement.  When you don’t feel loved or noticed, you hurt.  And hurt leads to anger.  And fear.   The devil’s playpen is a mind and heart polluted with such anguish.

When we see the empty eyes, the sagging cheeks, the drooping shoulders—in those we know and in strangers—there’s a choice given us:  we can choose to murder with our indifference or give life with the smallest smile or briefest recognition.  These are the tiny, mighty seeds of love and peace that advance God’s good plans on earth.

All the murders won’t be stopped by such kind, kingdom deeds.  But they are something we can do.


Lily’s New “Do”

What’s a girl to do when the guy doesn’t notice her new hair”do”?

Lily got a haircut and wanted Sam to notice it and say something affirming.  The problem with Sam is that he never notices adjustments in Lily’s appearance until it’s too late.  And he particularly is not creative in describing hair.  Now, ask Sam to describe a hot dog, and that’s when the prose flows like a swollen river.

Anyway, Lily pranced into Sam’s world view all coifed and combed.  Her first walk-by involved moving back and forth in front of him, tossing her head in that “check this out, big boy” way.

Sam’s unfortunate first comment:  “Are you having a problem with your neck?”

Plan B:  Lily sat down next to him and asked, coyly, “Sam, what do you find most attractive in a female—her personality or her hair?”  To make sure he got it, she shook her curls—twice.

Stumped and losing composure, Sam replied, “What really means the most to me is the scent of her, agh, urine.”

What?” Lily sniffed.  “That’s disgusting!”

“There’s nothing quite like a fresh, warm puddle in falling snow under cedars, the vapors rising to the sky…,” Sam rhapsodized.

“Oh, shut up, Cat-breath!  What about a lady’s hair?  Does that mean nothing to you?”

Totally flustered, Sam could only mutter, “Whoosh.”

“Sam!  It’s my hair I’m talking about!  Do you notice anything?”

This question, which has confounded the greatest men and philosophers of the ages, pushed Sam over the edge.  From his jumbled thoughts came the words, “Your haircut makes your head look small and your body kind of big.  But it’s, arr, cute!”

Sighing, Lily walked from the room.  In a private place, she vented her tangled feelings by making several large tooth marks in Sam’s TV remote.  After regaining her “center,” she returned and sat next to him.

You want to take a nap?” Sam asked, his drool spattering the floor.

“Whatever,” she said stretching out nearby—far enough away to maintain dignity, but close enough to feel the warm draft from Sam’s snores.

Leftover Love

Hunger is a serious problem…in America.  Could leftovers be the answer?

Jesus said that we will always have the “poor with us,” which is disconcerting but a reality.  He also said that we should feed the hungry.

As a well-fed American who loves his country but knows of our resources, I am offended by the fact that about 1 in 6 children in the U.S. will go to bed tonight in a “food insecure” home.  In other words—“hungry.”   How can this be?

Like most people I have political leanings but this transcends politics.  I don’t really care who needs to do what or gets the credit:  can we as a nation figure out how to feed our children?

I know there are many organizations working on this problem.  Any of us can find a local food bank or care agency and help.  But I have something more personal to suggest:  eat our leftovers.

You may be thinking—“Okay, so if I eat my leftover pizza—including the crust, how is that going to feed all these hungry kids?” I’m not sure–I have no answer.  However, if millions of us (actually, even the half dozen reading this bleat) started cutting down on the food we throw out, is it possible somehow that more food would be available for distribution?  I don’t know how, but smart people willing to do the work of God could figure it out.

So, join me as I stick this rather disgusting bowl of last weekend’s wiener-bean-potato casserole in the microwave.  If somehow one less kid goes hungry tonight, I’m loving my leftover.

Next:  Lily’s New “Do”

Flapping Cheeks

Sky diving indoors?

I did fly, but my cheeks flapped.  No, not those!  I mean on my face.

This bucket-list item goes in the “What will they think of next?” bin.

I have no desire to jump out of an airplane.  Not going to bungee jump and wet my pants.  Won’t dive into the sea off those high cliffs in Acapulco.  Heights don’t bother me per se; I do mind falling off of them, though.

But I did skydive indoors.

My son and daughter-in-law gave their respective dads this opportunity as a Father’s Day gift.  We finally made it to the big indoor sky on Thanksgiving weekend.   If you have any farm roots, this facility resembles a corn silo with an enormous fan at the base–a vertical wind tunnel.  On about the third floor of the silo, there’s a steel platform with holes in it that the air rushes through at 120 miles an hour.  With an instructor holding on, the sky diver leans out over the blasting wind, assumes the proper prone body position, and attempts to float on air.  If you do it right and someone uses the right camera angle, the photo-op looks like you are sky diving—three feet above the ground!  No parachute required.

This is when the problem with flapping cheeks rears on your ugly head.  (Maybe there was some flapping on that rear, too?  I digress.)  When a 120 mph wind hits your face, anything that isn’t Botox-tight wiggles.  And if you put your hands on your cheeks, trying to stop the vibration, the adjustment of your body shape may cause you to shoot to the top of the wind tunnel—followed by a precipitous three-story drop into the arms of a terrified instructor who is yelling, “Holy c–p, look out!”  This now is real sky diving, free falling without a chute!  And, come to think of it, the owners of the big indoor sky did make us sign some waivers.

Actually, no one seems in too much danger in the silo.  And you wear a helmet, goggles, knee and elbow pads, and a cool sky diving suit that makes you look like a zany mechanic.

But if I dive again, I’m duct taping my cheeks.  All of them.

Next:  Left Over Love