what next???

Trump and his administration are kidnapping and incarcerating children of refugees seeking asylum in America. I’m sorry. Are my words politically incorrect?

What else would you call forcefully taking a child from a parent, taking them to an unknown location, and giving no assurance that they will be reunified in the future?

What else would you call corralling children into pens, removing their freedom and denying them contact with the outside world?

In 2014, Boko Haram abducted 276 school-girls in Nigeria. The world was shocked but not surprised. After all, Boko Haram is a violent, terrorist group. Still, we were appalled. We imagined it happening to our own daughters. We imagined the horror of living with the image of our child being brutally snatched.  The horror of not knowing where they were. Not knowing what was happening to them. Not knowing if we would ever see them again.

Today, in America, over 2,000 children have been abducted from their asylum-seeking parents, and transferred to “holding facilities” around the country. We are now finding out that no process was in place to register the children and parents in order to facilitate an easy reunification. How does a baby or toddler tell you their parent’s name or even where they came from? Even if they are reunited, what long-term mental and physical damage and trauma will be suffered by these children and their parents?

From where I sit, approximately 200 km north of the 49th parallel, the daily news from the USA is unfolding like a dystopian novel or movie. Only, it’s not fiction. This is not the stuff for big screens and bowls of popcorn. This is not the stuff for book club discussions over a glass of wine.

This is REAL.

This is HAPPENING.

NOW.

IN AMERICA.

Trump claimed he would make America Great Again. He has either failed miserably, or his version of greatness is unspeakably cruel, inhumane and evil. What will he do next? And, there WILL be a next! There will be another horror, another crisis that will need to be addressed. Resisted. Fought.

There will be another horror, another crisis challenging us not to take our attention away from these 2,000 children, or the victims of Parkland, Florida, or the other mass shootings, or Flint, Puerto Rico, Russian investigations, love-fests with dictators…

Yes, there will be a next.

And another.

And another…

Until Trump is removed from office.

gratitude

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Strong, spring winds blew us into church. Most Sunday mornings I morph into a petulant teenager. I DON’T WANT TO GO TO CHURCH! This day, I plodded up the steps feeling extra grumpy.

Hubby and I were greeted with a big grin, and outstretched hand, “Good morning! I’m your hair-dresser and greeter. Let me check your hair. Yup! You’re good to go!” 

My mood instantly changed. This woman’s good-natured attitude and beaming smile were contagious. I don’t remember much about the rest of the mass, but I do remember how I felt after such a warm greeting. 

We are often reminded to be mindful of the little things in life that bring peace, joy and happiness. Stop and smell the roses. Slow down, you move too fast. Groovy!

It’s easy these days to embrace pessimism. The news feeds our anger and fear, convincing us that the world is going to hell in a hand-basket. Daily life is filled with its own worries, sorrow and grief. Our minds race with worse case scenarios, shattering our calm and ruining our sleep. 

We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us because we do not give thanks for daily gifts…How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Gratitude. A simple and easy antidote to pessimism. 

Three months ago, hubby and I began a wee project. A gratitude journal. Here’s how it works for us. 

The journal sits on our dresser. Every night, before we go to bed, we each write one or more things that we’re grateful for that day. Feeling grumpy doesn’t give you a pass. It’s all the more reason to dig deep and find that positive nugget hidden beneath the gloom.

I suck at keeping resolutions. Making this resolution together has been a good thing, as we nudge each other to pick up the pen and get writing. Usually it’s but a few words. Sometimes it’s longer. Other times it’s a lazy “ditto”! The pages are quickly filling. 

We’re thankful for visits with kiddies and grand-kiddies, recording the latest hilarity in word or deed. 

We’re thankful for sun and warmth and green…finally, after a long winter. 

We’re thankful for leisurely meals on the deck.

We’re thankful for the pelicans flying over the marsh. 

We’re thankful for tasks accomplished. 

We’re thankful for connecting with friends.

We’re thankful…

And, this is a good thing. 

Anthony Bourdain’s lessons in hospitality

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I love to cook. I love to eat and drink. A relaxed, leisurely meal with good food, good wine and good friends, for me, is truly a touch of heaven. Around a table, plain or fancy, community is born. Lives are shared. Bonds are made. 

The death of Anthony Bourdain shocked and saddened me, as it shocked and saddened so many others. I have been a long time fan of both his books and his shows. 

I read his books with envy. Anthony wrote like I wish I could write. Witty. Smart. Honest. Raw. But, what I loved the most about the man, was his utter joy at sitting down to break bread with anyone and everyone. The mighty and the humble. He loved people, and it showed. He was as comfortable dining in Michelin restaurants as in the back alleys of Vietnam. 

AB 1

Anthony Bourdain was the antithesis to the current isolationism and xenophobia that is spreading around the world. He contrasted the image of the “ugly westerner” travelling in baseball cap, cargo shorts and Crocs, grumbling and complaining that “this isn’t how we do it at home”. 

“Why can’t everyone speak English?”

“This isn’t how pizza is supposed to taste.”

“Eww, this street food looks dirty. Wonder if there’s a McDonald’s nearby?”

hospitality

There are two sides to hospitality. Giving and receiving. 

Giving hospitality is often, by far, the easier of the two. When we invite others to our home, we are in control. We choose who is coming. We choose what to serve. We choose how we will spend our time. 

Receiving hospitality, from family and friends when we know what to expect and how to behave, is also easy. But…

How many of us would feel comfortable being welcomed into a completely foreign environment, not knowing the people, language, customs, culture or food?

You don’t have to travel miles to imagine such a situation. It could be a family down the street, or across town. For many of us, no matter how warm and welcoming the hosts, we still experience an  “uncomfortable hospitality”. We are out of our comfort zone. We fear newness, difference, and the unknown.

We are used to being in control, and having others form themselves into our image. Not the other way around. 

What Anthony Bourdain did on the micro level, had a much deeper meaning on the macro level. Sharing a bowl of soup with a street vendor in Thailand instantly builds bridges among cultures. Welcoming being welcomed by the “other”, and relishing that welcome, opens doors to dialogue and friendship.

Perhaps we depend too much on elite diplomats to forge peace in our world. Perhaps the answer lies in that most Christian of symbols. The most human of activities.

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A table. 

Sitting down with our sisters and brothers.

Breaking bread and raising a glass.

Sharing our stories, our joys and our fears.

Communion, in its deepest most human sense. 

The world has lost a great promotor of global table fellowship.  May he rest in peace. 

To be treated well in places where you don’t expect to be treated well, to find things in common with people you thought previously you had very, very little in common with, that can’t be a bad thing.

Anthony Bourdain