Monday, September 28, 2009

From the heart of strangers

I've heard of prayer quilts before, but never actually held one in my hand until today. For some reason, the sight of it set me weeping.
A week or so ago, I got an email asking whether a stalking-horse bidder had been found for an oil refinery that's for sale. I didn't know the answer, but said I'd watch for it.
I asked about her interest and she told me that her husband hopes it sells so he can go back to work. We chatted like neighbors over a fence, comfortable and personal both. I told her I sympathize; that my husband will soon be unable to work because he's on a transplant list and is starting to struggle.
She told me she's part of a prayer quilt ministry and asked if they could pray for him.
Absolutely. And thanks. We accept all prayers and good wishes. And we believe in their power, as well.
The card that came with it shows what they prayed as each knot was tied — the gist, not the words.
They prayed for Beaux to get a transplant. They prayed help with the cost of the antirejection meds he'll need. They prayed that shifting insurance will not put his placement on the transplant list in jeopardy. And that he will have comfort and peace and feel God's presence.
And as I held that beautiful, loving gift from strangers in my hand, tears streaming down my face, I reached out and grabbed every blessing I could get.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Do it for them...

Every year somebody suggests ethics reforms for our elected officials and every year our state or national legislators find some reason to vote "No."
This year, my tolerance took a serious nosedive. I think it has something to do with the realization that when the Old Boys Club sins -- whether it's faulty financial practices within the banking industry or said ethical lapses by lawmakers — somebody's going to step up and bail them out.
And somehow, the rest of us will pick up the tab.
I think it's time, folks. And I think we start by demanding that lawmakers live by every single law they inflict on the public. Every one. That means no free pass when they speed, not carve-out that lets them have better health coverage than the rest of us, no exemption of any type.
We are all in this together -- just one big, happy family.
Which brings me to the next thing: Stop ripping my country apart with your partisan politics. Start viewing America as a country and not two teams in a competitive sport.
I think lawmakers need to explain every item they take as a gift and I don't care what the value is. I'm not telling anyone not to take gifts. Just tell me what you took. No limit, no exception. And if you're embarrassed to own up to it, do not take it.
And for lawmakers who have served decades and decades: Thanks. I mean that sincerely. Now go away. You have perpetuated a system where you make yourself too important and powerful. And the citizenry has bought the theory that without your seniority they won't get good representation. I believe it's possible that because of your seniority — and your entrenched-ness, if there's such a word — we won't get good representation. We need to start seeing other people.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My name is Lois and I have a story...

The child's name is Annie and she is 10 years old. She's tiny, with a smile that seems somehow bigger than her face, shiny dark brown skin and the weight of the world's orphans on her shoulders.
600 million children in trouble worldwide, she says. Enough that if they held hands they could circle the earth 18 times.
I don't know if her math is accurate. But I know that there are many children in war torn or poverty-ravaged countries in real trouble. America has its share of children in trouble, too, whether because of poverty or parental absence or just inertia on someone's part.
Annie was part of the Matsiko Children's Choir, which gave a concert at Northwest Middle School in an assembly, on Friday. Jeni came home enraptured and asked if we could go to the free show that night. Sure. Why not?
So I loaded up Jen and Al and two strays (dear friends of theirs).
Matsiko means hope back in Uganda, where the children come from, Jen told me. These kids are trying to give hope to struggling children worldwide.
What they gave us Friday was joy and love and exhaustion. It was such a high-energy performance that I burned calories watching it. And you just had to clap and laugh and go with it. The love came at the end, when some of the littlest kids hugged a visibly moved audience.
There was no pitch, although it was clear they hope to find sponsorships and donations for related children's programs. It was low-key that way.
And somewhere in the middle of the orchestrated, choreographed program, I had a Eureka moment. I need all of them I can get.
The kids were passing the mike down the row as the choir sang Jim Croce's "I've Got a Name." And one by one, they introduced themselves. "My name is Anita. I've got a name."
The Eureka part is the realization that it's tempting and far too easy to lump people together. The children's choir. The Democtrats or Republicans.My girls. Journalists do this. Teachers are like that...
I'm not like any other journalist. None of us are. I've got a name.
The "girls", Jen and Al, couldn't be more different. Why would I expect everyone else to fit in a little mold?
A name. And a story. Unique indeed