Empathy

Father Time, Spurgeon, and Life or, Another Way to View Life and the Future

Monday on one of our local sports talk radio stations, The Sports Animal, a guest remarked, “Father Time is undefeated.” Pundits often talk about the future of older athletes once a given season ends. Payton Manning served as the illustration for the talk show guest. How an athlete leaves his or her sport depends. Read More

Blessed Are the Crazy – Mental Health Awareness Week

Barry, not his real name, often stopped by to chat about life.His. The experience is not uncommon for pastors. Over time I learned that Barry, a great conversation partner, battled bi-polar disorder. So long as Barry took his prescribed medicine, and did not mix it with alcohol, he functioned quite well.  Read More

Tragedy Without Sirens

Déjà vu. One more time we listened as at least one meteorologist said, “This is setting up like the May 3rd tornado.” In our area, May 3rd is like 9/11 is like April 19 is now like May 20.

Our senses heighten when the crisis includes more than one person. When it involves nearly 60,000 we form lines outside of the Channel 9 television station, we laud million dollar donations by corporations, and we spot celebrities at drop off points. I am glad we do.

Monday a slender black man walked Highway 37 before the sky darkened as we took photos of the lowering in Newcastle from miles away. He toted a duffle bag, a backpack, and a trash sack. His story is one of a personal tornado, a story that does not come with sirens and safe rooms.

Vietnam, Central Asia, and the Middle East formed the storm clouds that produced the devastating winds of his life. Now at an age when we say, “Head West, we would expect to encounter a much younger man. Where does he go? Where does he stay? Who will care for him? What will come of him?

We need donation drop off points. We need shovels, gloves, water, and trash sacks. We need chain saws, flat beds, skid steer loaders, and dump trucks.

We also need eyes attuned to the lesser storms. We need to notice the inconsequential Melvin’s that walk our highways. We need to think of those who pass us by without fanfare and media spectacle. We need to hone our big times skills long before the massive tragedy strikes.

The thing is, no one may know. Who will see me walk the streets of Moore? Who will witness me unload my truck full of supplies? Who will applaud my sacrifices? Who will hear that my church traveled out of town to help?

Melvin will.

*This post first appeared in the Tuttle Times, May 23, 2013.

Image Credit

A Text Message, A Tweet, and a Prayer

Several families we know lost their homes in Moore. Others received damage and will need to plan repairs. We await word to go in and help.

A number of friends from out of state contacted us to see if we were affected by the tornado. We were not in the path of the storm. But, for those of us who faced the aftermath of the May 3 tornado, we remember. The path of the tornado takes in more than the physical. We all are glad to hear from friends. We also know that some will quickly offer a religious, theological thought that may or may not be helpful. And, we find helpful prayers in what, for some of us, may be unexpected places.

A Text Message

My friend Tripp texted me. His young son Elgin gave him instructions.

elgin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tweet

I do not have time, and struggle with the energy, to respond to John Piper’s Tweets after the May 20, 2013 tornado. He quotes Job. He removes the Tweet. He tries again. He then offers a prayer via Tweet. It is hard to gauge his motive. But, he has a history of going Pat Robertson on causality for such events. He does not know. Neither do we. I tire of it when what is called from us is empathy and love. These will be louder than our theologizing whether from Tuttle or Minneapolis.

A Prayer

I re-post it here. This is the sort of prayer we need rather than ambiguous tweets.

Posted on May 20, 2013

By Abby Jacobson, Emanuel Synagogue, Oklahoma City, OK

Lord our God, we stood before You just a week ago to receive the Ten Statements of Your Torah. We stood, as though with our ancestors, and listened to the Torah reader chant descriptions of the smoking mountain, the thunderous rumbling, and the long-awaited voice of God.

This afternoon, the people of central Oklahoma did not stand to hear the voice of God. We sat, we paced, and we huddled. We listened to the voice of the meteorologists and watched as dark clouds swirled together over a cone of destruction. The rain fell upward, not down, and the thunderous roar of the swirling winds carried, and we saw the awesome power of God. This was not Shavuot—the Feast of Weeks that marked our days of freedom. This was minutes that seemed like years and trapped us into watching the same images of destruction.

Merciful God, a great and powerful windstorm has passed, and it has torn apart the buildings and shattered the rocks before You. You told Elijah, the prophet, that You were not in the windstorm. Please, then, be in the still, small voices of the children crying out to be found. Be in the voices of the rescuers calling out for survivors. Be in the cries of those who are lost and of those who have lost.

May it be Your will that those who are missing be found alive and be cared for well, and may the people of central Oklahoma find strength in You and in one another as we rebuild what we can.

Children Call Into Question Production or, A Favorite Writer Demonstrates Empathy

I have not felt very productive for nearly two weeks. The ups and downs that accompany kidney stone pain hardly passes. Today I welcomed a small procedure that eliminated one troubling stone. Another procedure comes next week to take care of another. Maybe then I will be back to some sense of normal and with it have a better gauge of productivity.

Often arguments about the quality of a person’s life turns on the issue of productivity in society. Think issues related to euthanasia. Those of us approaching the downhill side of life’s mountain often wonder at what point will we become the next cultural throwaway. Many long to have control over when that happens rather than leave it to another to decide.

For years I have enjoyed, and been challenged, by Kristen’s writing. We met many years ago. Our paths do not cross often in real time but on the interwebs I am able to read from an honest keyboard. It is all in the story. Her’s is not mine to share. Read More