Musings from the Midwest

Month: February 2021

Apples to Apples

My four year old eats an apple every morning for breakfast and sometimes another one for snack. It’s a bit much. I mean, I’m not saying this to brag, I would feed him pretty much anything to keep his ravenous hunger at bay. Luckily, an apple is not messy (if sliced) and other than an empty bowl left out, doesn’t leave a stream of sugary milk anywhere.

On occasion, there is a bad spot, a wormhole, a, I-don’t-know-what in the apple and try as I might I cut out the spot, slice it up and send it on its way to be eaten.  However, my kid knows something experientially, what I had to learn the hard way (finding bowls of uneaten apples and a new fresh apple bitten into).  One spot pretty much ruins the whole apple.  The smell, the taste, almost completely tainted by one small spot. It feels a bit ridiculous. A bit of melodrama coming from an apple.  Although, I might recall this is a fruit that has remained center stage in its association with evil (Garden of Eden & Snow White).  And at other times has tried to knock knowledge and sense into our lives and explain order out of chaos (thanks Newton #gravity).

It’s February, the month of candy hearts and Valentines and romantic gestures.  But it’s also Black History Month, a time to celebrate the great achievements of so many amazing leaders and revolutionaries in our culture who have been historically silenced and mistreated.  It’s a time for learning & humility, rather than misunderstanding and division.  Which is why, when this past summer, police brutality was described as merely a case of a few ‘bad apples,’ they clearly were misusing the intent of the saying.  It is not that one bad apple can be thrown out, it’s that one bad apple spoils the whole barrel.   Of course, we won’t throw police under the bus. This is the truth of sin anywhere- with anyone- and any system.  It’s not this neutral force waiting patiently to be rooted out.  No, it’s seeping beyond its bounds. Spreading. Growing.  Gaining strength and taking down innocents.  Which is why we can not approve of merely not being racist, the call is to be anti-racist.  And to do that, we must acknowledge we may have no idea what that entails.

So, we must learn. I must learn.  How do I participate in a society that continues to benefit certain people at the expense of others?  What actions can I take to change that?  What do I not know, that I need to know?  How can I humble myself and take the posture of a servant, rather than being the leader who calls the shots?

A favorite joke in our house is that “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”  A phrase we likely saw as some sort of cliché house gift, a pillow or wall hanging.  It always makes us laugh, because the exact opposite is the case.  Love means you say you’re sorry. Not only that, it means you are not merely sorrowful, you ask for forgiveness (admitting to real guilt) and produce repentance (changed behavior).

Just “sorry” sometimes is just being lazy.  It’s not the truth. As women we are programmed to say this even when things are not our fault, sorry. Sorry sorry. Was I shopping here first and you cut me in line, sorry… I’m talking about something more than that. In fact, I’m asking for something opposite of that. We will not pretend we are to blame, we will not apologize for something we are afraid we might have done, or could be done, or what someone else thought we might have done… No we will take an honest to God look at ourselves, we will be brave, stare at our souls and do the real work of getting rid of the apples in our lives that are causing the whole barrel to go bad.  Not because we are ashamed, or BAD, but because it’s what must happen so that there is space for the GOOD.  We’ll show up. We’ll listen.  We’ll serve.  We’ll forgive, we’ll ask to be forgiven.  Because that’s what Love really does.

He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands

He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands

 “For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”  Colossians 1: 16-17

Singing in the dark is an act of courage. It is declaring into the great unknown- My spirit has faith even if my brain has doubts. Scientists are really just starting to study and try and understand something that people know experientially: Music makes you feel good. Not only that, but it calms nerves, lifts spirits, provides courage, comfort, can improve memory and provides strength for a new day.  Mothers & fathers for millennia have sung over their children before bed to calm their fears of separation and give them courage to enter the great unknown of darkness into their journey of sleep and the subconscious.

Simple words paired with a simple tune can tap into our emotions and our spirits and, dare I say, enter the unseen realm. I found this to be true when, as a child riding a carnival ride with a friend, she was terrified and unable to get off until the ride was over. I remember singing “Jesus loves me” to her. I imagine in my normal tween mind, this would have been embarrassing to think of the carnival workers listening below- but somehow the song broke through her tears and calmed her fears.

Music has kept us sane this season of a pandemic. Music, song, & dancing. Dancing is an act of moving our bodies- creatively shaping the forces that surround us, rather than just succumbing to what is thrown our way. It feels like a fight of resistance. A declaration of joy amidst pain and sorrow.

When politics make me cringe, when lies seem to permeate, and darkness creeps closer to our doors, I must dance in defiance.  When nations turn asunder, hatred worn as badges of honor, and neighbors turned against neighbors, I must sing songs of love. When I hear of those who are hurt,  or babies who no longer have mommies, parents who no longer have children to hold, illness & death overtaking those I love, I sing my song of defiance over them. Sometimes I sing out loud, sometimes with movement or dance, and sometimes quietly in my heart.  One of my favorites is a well known African American spiritual, a song sung by enslaved people in defiance to evil while clinging to their faith in Jesus:

He’s got the whole world, in his hands. He’s got the whole world in his hands. He’s got the whole wide world in his hands. He’s got the whole world in his hands.

… the little bitty babies…

   …the mommies & the daddies…

      … the brothers & the sisters…

        … you & me baby…

         He’s got the whole world in His hands.

When we enter the great unknown before us, Lord, grant us courage to sing as a declaration of faith that you are there & you are singing with us and over us.

Lenten Blog Series 2021 (also found published at

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