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Grieving the horror of nine killed in Charleston by a terrorist.
Grieving for my sister-in-law, who just lost her father.
Needing to find, fight and eradicate racism.
Needing to fight for rational gun laws in the US.
Disgusted that GOP political candidates who are Catholic are disparaging the Pope’s message.
Still looking for a job, after too long.
Horrified by the staggering numbers of refugees around the world.
Heartened by the Pope’s message, which clearly ties social justice teaching to the need to change our ways that are destroying the planet.
Heartened that families of victims are living their faith by forgiving the terrorist.
Heartened to see support shared among a community formed via Twitter, when one is in need.

But still sad, disheartened.

Then, a surprise this morning from someone I only know via Twitter. She is giving us a gift, and it’s linked to a fictional character we both admire. I am reminded of the grit and hard-headed determination in that character, and how I sometimes use her to help me move forward when things are hard. Timely reminder. I have a little flame of optimism lit inside me again.

Thanks, Terry. And thanks, Diana, for creating Claire.

Our actions can have unknown impacts on others, so let’s be positive.
Even small gestures can have a big impact to the person you reach, even if you never know it.

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As some of you know, I am more about Jesus’ life than his death. And the whole resurrection thing? Well, I believe in that only in the sense that Jesus’ followers experienced something that made them begin to apply Jesus lessons, and that was inspiration that attracted others and grew, even beyond his crucifixion.
So, as I went through Lent and Holy Week, starting with Palm Sunday that goes from cheers to horror, and with the focus increasing on Jesus as sacrifice and Savior, I was increasingly uncomfortable. The debate over Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” fell during this season, with its focus on self-proclaimed Christians of various social beliefs arguing both for and against the law. I argued against it – called supporters “bigoted”, in fact – but it made me consider even more what I believe at this Easter season.
This Easter weekend, social media and church services blossomed with celebration that “Christ is Risen!” After I celebrated in church with my own alleluias, singing and stamping about Jesus “trampling death”, I realized I can clarify my position. Jesus is among us, with a caveat.

The Troparion - Jesus Lives

Christ is risen as long as we are doing our best to live out the love he showed and the lessons he shared. Love one another. Feed the hungry. Comfort the sick. Those lessons. WE are the body of Christ in the world when we are working to bring about justice for the poor, helpless, and downtrodden, when we are fighting bigotry, injustice and environmental waste and abuse. When we are stamping out homelessness, hunger and suffering. When we do these things, we are following in Jesus’ footsteps, working to bring about a social order based on love, not power. That’s when he’s truly risen.
I realize that my beliefs (and lack of) are contrary to the official doctrine of many Christian denominations, including my own Episcopal church. Luckily, my church community loves me anyway, and supports me in continuing to seek my own path to work for social justice.

This post is dedicated to my nephews, and their generation.

Michelle Obama delivered a speech last night that reminded me of why I am so passionate about the issues in this election, and of the values that I got from my parents and grandparents, and hope to pass on to the next generation.

We get there because of folks like my Dad…folks like Barack’s grandmother…men and women who said to themselves, “I may not have a chance to fulfill my dreams, but maybe my children will…maybe my grandchildren will.”

So many of us stand here tonight because of their sacrifice, and longing, and steadfast love…because time and again, they swallowed their fears and doubts and did what was hard.

So today, when the challenges we face start to seem overwhelming – or even impossible – let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation…it’s who we are as Americans…it’s how this country was built.

And if our parents and grandparents could toil and struggle for us…if they could raise beams of steel to the sky, send a man to the moon, and connect the world with the touch of a button…then surely we can keep on sacrificing and building for our own kids and grandkids.

Mom, who started working while in high school, and put herself through Indiana University while working full time and maintaining scholarship-worthy grades. Her sister, my Aunt Barb, who spent her career working in a bank, and – like President Obama’s grandmother – saw the men she trained be promoted above her. My mom and dad, who were public school teachers, and put in long hours, both in the classroom and outside, but were committed to helping their students learn, as well as raising me and my brother, and ensuring both of us got good college educations.

I care deeply about future generations, and want them to benefit from opportunities as I did. I don’t have children, but I have three nephews, two now in college. Their grandmother and I are helping to pay for their educations, so that they won’t have debt when they graduate, as I did. Mom and I are holding open the door of opportunity that we went through, not letting it slam shut.

I also care about the world we are leaving to the next generation, and their children. How we have damaged – likely irrevocably – the environment, will be left for future generations to deal with the devastation that climate change is bringing to the US and the world. I am passionate about doing my part to bend the arc of history towards the social, economic and environmental justice needed for a sustainable future, so that I can take satisfaction that I’ve done my best for my nephews’ generation, and seven generations beyond. Michelle Obama continued:

And if so many brave men and women could wear our country’s uniform and sacrifice their lives for our most fundamental rights…then surely we can do our part as citizens of this great democracy to exercise those rights…surely, we can get to the polls and make our voices heard on Election Day.
If farmers and blacksmiths could win independence from an empire…if immigrants could leave behind everything they knew for a better life on our shores…if women could be dragged to jail for seeking the vote…if a generation could defeat a depression, and define greatness for all time…if a young preacher could lift us to the mountaintop with his righteous dream…and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love…then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.
Because in the end, more than anything else, that is the story of this country – the story of unwavering hope grounded in unyielding struggle.
That is what has made my story, and Barack’s story, [and Elizabeth’s and Stephen’s, Eric’s, Gavin’s and Garrett’s stories] and so many other American stories possible.

Michelle Obama’s speech served for me as a reminder of what hard work and commitment look like, how they shape us, and why we need to rededicate ourselves to our commitment for justice and future generations. I am rededicated to my work. I hope you are, too.