the homeless man sat on the bench eating cheesy popcorn and wryly discussing police policy. he said, we have been forsaken, forsaken. he talked about the rich & the government & all i could think of was the spa menu–lemon sugar body rubs, something that sounded suspiciously like a pricey shower. it did seem strange the deep divided created by money. i understand some of the reasons we can be forsaken…

Belarus, of course

So the article was about tracking consumer or human trends and deriving meaningful information from the statistics.  People with customized car colors tend to take better care of their cars because they see the cars as a placeholder for themselves and thus “love” their cars more.  The color they referred to in the article was orange, for all you UT grads trying to resell your funky colored Elements.

The article made a lot of sense but the part at the end that snagged my attention (beyond even graduations in San Jose) was something about Israelis voting for Belarusia/ns in international competitions.  Thousands of Belarusian Jews immigrated to Israel and retain an allegiance to their former country.

Intriguing.  So I started to read about the connection.  First, my immediate prejudice was confirmed–the history of the way Jews were treated in Belarus is wildly painful.  Sentences that have a clerical efficiency catch your eye.  Sentences about people being rounded up and shot by the millions.  The rictus of evil that could make mass destruction a human system.  I can’t even bear to make it a proper sentence.

So first out with it.  How extraordinary is it that people who came from a country where their families were decimated by murder still are so loyal to that country that they vote for it in international competitions?  I would be voting for Spain, Belgium.  Monaco.  Relations between Israel and Belarus are not that great because Lukashenka keeps making antisemitic remarks.  Extraordinary.  (No learning curve for Mr. Lukashenka?  probably the opposite.  I am afraid if he keeps making the statements he must be playing to some crowd, somewhere…)

But enough about politics, hate and loyalty.  The best part about Belarus is the list of Jewish people who come from there.  Understand that if this is the list of some of the famous Belarusian Jews, there are probably a bunch of other non-famous Belarusian Jewish people who are equally wonderful.  These are my favorites:  Marc Chagall, Menachem Begin, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, Chaim Weizmann, Shimon Peres, Irving Berlin, Naum Akhiezer, Bella Chagall, Issai Schur, Yitzak Shamir, Lev Vygotsky, and the founder of Zale’s, Morris B. Zale.

Diamonds.  Treasure.  The symbolism is lovely, and the list is much, much longer than my abbreviate version which veered toward people I knew or people I knew because of home school.  My favorite three favorites in a list that should not have favorites are Chagall, Ben-Yehuda, and Vygotsky.  I will explain only Vygotsky.  In educational theory Vygotsky is a super star because he has a theory that is called Vygotsky plus one.  The theory states that we learn best at the  level one above our own.  So if we  pray, play tennis, or dialogue with people who are a little better than we are, they teach us, they raise our level.

Thanks for raising my level.

the impossibility of crows

i spent a great deal of my formative years reading.  sometimes in the summer i would read for thirteen hours straight.  at the time that seemed normal to me, now it seems a little sad.  but the books did their work, perhaps too well.  it seems to me that i could not have survived without the finches or narnia, Yoknapatawpha or middle earth but heroes in books, characters in general, are different than “real life.”  what happens if aragorn just wants to stay home and build up the kingdom’s infrastructure or if atticus decides he just doesn’t feel like getting the cold shoulder at the country club?  how bout if the world does most severely adhere to faulkner after all?  the loutish brother dominates the family, abuse goes unchecked, and even i don’t have the heart to talk about miss emily.

i am inclined to negative hyperbole but i have to be honest.  there are enough kind and brave and funny and generous people out there who remind me that God loves me and is writing beautiful stories in my life and theirs.  if you have been a part of those beautiful stories, thank you.  you give me hope.

Malachi 3:16



We were waiting for sushi in a crowded, way-too-cool-for- me restaurant somewhere south of the Mason Dixon line.  J was watching basketball and I notice a distinguished gentlemen eating alone close to the very cool rectangular lounge chairs.  I figured i should talk to him for a few minutes?  maybe i wouldnt look too dangerous with the sleeping baby in my arms?

hard to cross lines so i devised a fleece–if baylor scored i would go talk

baylor scores

i have a nice talk with the gentleman, who is European and very interesting

j looks at me like i am crazy

on the way out j smiles wryly

you know baylor was winning, right?

oops!  i thought i was supporting the underdog

always support Xavier, right?  rules the house..


my mother is so brave about talking to strangers

something she taught me how to do well…


a picture of you

I once saw a picture of myself probably taken by my mother.  My father was pushing my little brother in a stroller and I was standing next to him in a fascinating blue fur coat.  I can tell you with no irony whatsoever I would wear that coat today if it were in my size.  I knew that when the picture was taken God was still a remote abstraction to me, it would still be several years before I knew I could draw close to Him, that He is Real.

I asked Him why it took so long?  He said, you believed in me then, you were safe then, it is just better to know that I love you, to feel it.

And for the first time I could see the little girl in the coat, in the gate, in the picture, in the camera’s lense and her mother’s gaze, the way God had that day–deeply loved.

Every picture He takes of us with His infinity eye is a picture of love.  If you don’t know anything else, know that.  If you don’t see anything else in the picture, see the God who loves you.


a friend of mine who is a librarian told me a story about her grandson telling his parents he needed to go to the library because he needed the sequel to old yeller.  a beautiful choice.

My whole self

The dusk light is beautiful, fading.  The children are buring each other in the sand and a little girl is sprinkling the faces and hair of those being buried by dipping a bud-lite can in the surf.

At the end she runs  into the water and when she came out of the water she said, I got my whole self wet!

That is how I feel about baptism, about Jesus, about God’s boundless love.

I want to rush into it and get my whole self wet!

Ariadne and the Frog

The other day I told a lovely young person a story that Nebeel had educated me about.  I can’t say I remember all the details, after all, some people accuse me of a poor memory–a fuzzy memory.

But Nebeel said that there is a frog somewhere who has no defenses. Completely helpless.  But this frog has a companion who protects it.  The companion has all the weaponry and the companion is a tarantua.

The big, creepy looking spider keeps the little frog safe.

I want to be like that.

I want to know if the spider is as weary as I am…