hope

Hurricane Hitler: Giving Our Best When the World Is At Its Worst

Hurricane Hitler: Giving Our Best When the World Is At Its Worst

The impact of Charlottesville felt like a hurricane. It sucked the breath and the hope right out of us, like the ocean waters in the Bahamas were sucked away from the shore by Irma. The chaos and violence were felt most intensely at ground zero in Virginia, but the winds of racism and fear blew to every corner of our country. Our dreams of progress were felled like giant trees, uprooted in the swirling gusts of disillusionment.

I wonder, then, if our response to storms of human origin could be informed by the way we respond to more natural disasters. Though some people may joke about firing a couple rounds into the wind to release some tension, few people actually and sincerely shake their fists at the sky when a hurricane passes through. Cursing Irma may let off some steam temporarily, but none of us hope to actually accomplish anything restorative by doing so. Yet, when these names belong to people and not to storms, cursing becomes the norm. When evil has a face we feel justified in throwing whatever stones or barbs we can at the perpetrators. I’m not suggesting that we should be silent when evil deeds and motives are present, but there is certainly a point where pointing fingers becomes a useless endeavor and we must look to other means to make things right. 

Cancer and _____: Two Words That Just Don't Go Together

Cancer and _____: Two Words That Just Don't Go Together

A little over two weeks ago my friend Amy shared a rare post on Facebook asking for prayers from her friends. “Today we heard two words that no parent ever wants to hear in the same sentence: your child’s name followed by the word, ‘cancer.'” Since that moment, Amy and her husband, Brad, have been through an absolute whirlwind of doctors visits and emotions. All their grand plans are now measured in moments, their home made up in hospital beds. 

As cancer goes, Hunter's diagnosis is about as optimistic as they come. Accute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is very treatable when caught early and has a remarkable cure rate among children. But you and I know that there is no such thing as "good cancer." Those are two words that just don't go together.

Yet despite the obvious oxymoron, when I walked into Hunter’s hospital room last week, it did not feel like a bad place to be. In fact, it felt like a very, very good place to be. The tubes and monitors and an endless stream of interruptions from hospital staff and doctors were juxtaposed against the calm smiles and honest laughter that filled the air and settled onto the shoulders of all present. If you stood still enough and watched long enough, you could even find the most unexpected of emotions: joy. 

You Don't Have To Sit Alone

You Don't Have To Sit Alone

Some friends of mine recently experienced a horrific tragedy. On their way to the beach for a much needed family vacation, their car was t-boned at an intersection when another vehicle ran through a red light. Three-fourths of the family walked away from the crash relatively unscathed. Their eldest son, Ryan, was killed on impact.

I cannot fathom the anguish a parent goes through in losing a child, and I pray that I never have to. For my friends, though, this pain is all too real. A tragedy like this is so senseless, so violent, so abrupt that our minds just can't ever comprehend it. It has been almost two years since the accident (as of this writing), and at time I can still see that confusion and agony on their faces. Their son was here, and then he was gone. Just like that. 

This morning I visited Ryan's gravesite for the first time in a while. I'm not quite sure why I ended up walking over to his grave. It was a beautiful May morning: the sun was bright, the Boy Scouts were out placing flags on the graves of fallen soldiers, and the air felt like summertime on my skin. I think recognizing the beauty and peace of the day, something inside me was stirred to the places in this world that are broken, where the sun does not seem to be shining. I thought of my friends who lost so much, and who will probably never be able to enjoy a day like this in quite the same way. I was so thankful for it all - for everything - that I felt compelled to associate and, somehow, draw closer to the people and places where thankfulness did not abound quite so easily. However those thoughts processed in my subconscious, I just knew that I wanted to go to the place of someone else's grief and, through simple prayer and presence, lift them up.

I Saw Death Speed By

I Saw Death Speed By

I saw death speed by, doing 80 in a 65.

He passed me heading north on I-71, just south of Columbus, Ohio. I was on my way to New York from Kentucky to help my parents close one chapter and begin another when he approached. Glancing in my rearview mirror, as good drivers do from time to time, I noticed him gaining on me from some distance away. The shape of his vehicle immediately stood out from the others sharing the road. Black as a panther, his nose had the shape of a typical Caddy but carried a whole lot junk in his trunk. From the windshield back, his body shape rose like an elegant turtle shell the color of midnight, high and commanding, yet awkwardly bulky, over the rooftops of the other cars. Passing the other drivers steadily in the left lane, he would soon be upon me.