Saturday, September 05, 2015

Speaking Lessons

Norman Rockwell Humanity found at Pinterest

When I was in sixth grade, I had the honor of being chosen for a lead part in our Spring musical called, "Kid's for America". As you can imagine, there was quite a patriotic bend to the production. Beyond the excess of red, white and blue and various medleys  of national anthems there was a line (that somehow ended up in my speaking part) that made a huge impression on me.

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, by the content of their character." MLK JR.

Before memorizing this quote, I had very little exposure as to how a person's appearance would impact how other people would treat said person. I recall  my shock when this concept of racism became a clearer reality. Having the chance to speak MLK's words was a great honor for me. I passionately recited MLK's dream at each and every performance with the hope that in the audience re-hearing them would have a change of heart and racism would fall by the wayside with each word that uttered from my lips...

Image found at:

"I have a dream (Yes, Mr. King your dream has now become mine) that my four little children ( Dr. King has four children? How are they getting along without him?) will one day (TODAY!) live in a nation (Why isn't this already so?) where they will not be judged by the color of their skin (Judgement of appearance is ridiculous - what if someone judged me for my straight long hair and round face?), but by the content of their character. (I hope my character would stand up to such judgement.) 

With all the strength and conviction my sixth grade mind and body could muster, I wanted the judgement of people to stop. Even at that young age, I knew that I was not perfect. I'd done and said things I shouldn't  - and other people did too. So how, could we as imperfect people, judge another person on what they looked like.

While I was aware then that Dr. King had died as a result of his work to end racism in our country, I did not have a full grasp of how racism had impacted our country. Most of my world view at this point had been quite protected, but even so, I knew in my limited capacity that racism needed to stop. It does need to stop.

It would be wonderful to say that Dr. King's dream had become a full living breathing reality in our nation, but we still have some serious work to do. Skin color and physical characteristics do NOT determine the depth or quality of character of a person. The character of a person defines the quality and depth of their character.

My sixth-grade-singing-thespian self caught the performance bug on that tiny cafetorium stage in rural Pennsylvania, but more importantly I learned that I had a voice to speak out for those who did not have the audience I had been afforded. It was my responsibility, if I have any "character" at all - I need to speak out for the benefit of others.

I, thanks to Dr. King, have a dream planted in my heart. 
I have a voice.
I do have a stage - a platform - and a responsibility to speak on and for the benefit of others.
It's time the spotlight shone on ALL people with equality.

Let's make Dr. King's dream a reality.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Friendship lessons

Friendships that last for over twenty years are rare.
My friend Heather and I met while working at a shopping mall when we were just entering our twenties. I worked at the music store and she worked at the book store.
One day we sat down and shared a cup of coffee and that was the start of sharing more life transitions than I can count...
marriages, children, career changes, returns to higher education, moving from our home state to others, and so much more. We stayed in touch through occasional visits, phone conversations and with the help of Facebook and social media.
We somehow, over the last twenty years, have retained the kind of friendship that simple picks up where we left off...

The last milestone for one of our kids.
The new job.
The loss of job.
The need of one of our kids.

Today after more years than I can recall, we did not have to visit via the internet or phone.
Today we had the chance to meet face to face and an amazing thing occurred...
We picked up right where we left off.
We talked about our families.
We shared our hopes for the future.
We, after over twenty years, enjoyed our gift of friendship over yet another cup of coffee...
and have come back to the place we started.

Thanks for being a sincere friend, for sharing your life with me and for that first cup of coffee over twenty years ago.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Life lessons: Always pray and make a list

It was one of those mornings.
The alarm did NOT go off.
The number of hours of sleep did not come close to approaching the recommended need.
The left front burner on the electric stove cooks way hotter than it should...
so the tomato splattered all over my shirt, the turkey sausage burnt and the smoke alarm went off.

I've been setting some time every morning to read Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy and after the fiasco it already had been getting ready for work, I thought I should ditch reading and head to the office.

But this time of pause and prayer is important.
So I stopped.
I read.
The words washed over me and helped to slow down my pace.
Now, it really was time to go.

I got to work - only 9 minutes later than I'd hoped.

It was one of those days where I did not know what to do first, so I talked with my secretary for a bit to get oriented to the needs of the day - and made my list of things to do.

While it might not be a life lesson that is flashy or new, remembering to take 9 minutes to pray and 6 minutes to make a list made a huge difference to me.
That quarter of an hour was way better than one more cup of coffee.

I got back to center.
I checked those things off my list.
I found some simple abundance in the midst of the chaos of today.

I hope you do too.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Swimming lessons

The family was all set to go for a swim.

The bags filled with towels, sneakers and extra clothes for when they would be dry struggled to stay contained. The number of children in the gaggle was undecipherable as they all were in a state of constant movement. One kid was hanging on the pool door entrance, another was hiding under the check-in counter, and two or three more tots whirred like tiny planets in a wobbly rotation around their mother - who like the sun - was a the center of their aquatic adventure.

The water was calling their name.
They we so prepared that they'd worn their swimsuits in route to the pool.
All they had to do to reach the oasis of the swimming pool was to drop their bags, toss off their t-shirts and flip flops and then...


This family reminds me of what enthusiasm looks like.
Even though there are a million other things this family could have done this afternoon, they had decided and were committed to their goal. This mom with over four children in tow (from age 1 to probably 8) had made a plan, filled the bags and achieved her goal. She and her children we going to go swimming and nothing was going to stop her.

These children and their Mom might have only been going on a Family Swim, but they were re-taught me a swimming lesson for all of life's challenges.

Our bags may not be tidily packed and all members of our group may not be totally organised, but we CAN get up, go out and go swimming.

Some of us wade.
Others dog paddle.
Then a few lounge in the Jacuzzi.
And some, yes some of us count off...

1, 2, 3...
and leap with all of our hearts into the deep end in an effort to make a big splash.
So splash, lounge, paddle and wade - just find a way to get into the water.
It's not the size of the splash that really matters in the end.
What really matters is that we just drop our bags, toss off our t-shirts and shoes and get in the pool.

Swimming lessons are not just about learning to dive, or float, or do the butterfly stroke.
Swimming lessons are about getting into the water and finding our place to start.
Open to pool door.
Let's go swimming.
I've got my suit on already...
how about you?

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Writing "Lessons" with NaBloPoMo September

It's been a good long time since I've participated with the blogging community NaBloPoMo. But there is something to be said for regularly practice of creative processes - so here goes an effort to blog daily for the month of September. In years past, this practice allowed me the space to develop the discipline of writing daily. One year I had over 310 blog posts as a result of taking part in this practice.

Consistency in creative efforts is something I always struggle to maintain, so here once again I begin with my "writing lessons".

They might not all be grand - but then again this is all about practice and the "Lessons" I can learn in the month of September by participating in NaBloPoMo once again.

If you are interesting in writing around the topic of "Lessons" this month, go to BlogHer for more information and sign up!

Monday, August 31, 2015

When you look into the mirror, what do you see?

This image found at ETSY and is created by:
Blackraptor Art

There are two eyes, a mouth and a nose.
Is there more than that, do you suppose?

Does this face only fill a frame, or give some clues to it's heart?
Does a face make only a refection or more than what images mark?

This is a face that shown joy and been the path for tears of regret.                                                 
This face is holding on to hope for the things its not seen - yet.

Are there freckles on forehead from days in the sun?
Are there crows feet and laugh lines from smiling for fun?
Are there dimples, or blemish, and tiny white scars.

This is a face has seen life and death and the spaces between.                                                           This face has held hopes and seen the crashing of dreams.

This face has been kissed and it's been turned away.
This face has seen much more than what is showing today.

When I look into the mirror, what do I see?                                                                                       
I see a face that lives life to the brim,
no matter what tomorrow
may or may not be.  

T.L. Eastman copyright 2015

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Church for sale?

Several months ago, I noticed that a small church in a sleepy Western NY town was up for sale. A few weeks ago I noticed that the "For Sale" sign was gone and what had been a tender little white chapel had been flipped.

It had not been made into a residential space or even yet another hair salon (even though one never can underestimate the need for a good salon in a rural community). The quaint little parish building had been refreshed, with new landscaping and the whole bit. The once weary but well loved building was dusted off and spiffed up, and now it was something altogether new.

The church, was now, an antique shop.


Hold on.


This statement concerning the flipped building did more than pop in my brain.

The statement poured out of my mouth and filled my ears.


I know this may initially appear to be a simple observation of a real estate transaction. But to me the sale and re-purposed worship space smacked of discomfort.

I imagined that sanctuary, where sermons had been preached - anthems and hymns sung - people married, buried and baptized. How many communion tables had been set and served? How many lives started, were supported and secured in that space.

How can this space that had once been a place of community and faith become a place where old things are sold at a high price?

Antique shops in this particular neck of the woods are usually overpriced and geared for out-of-towners to spend discretionary cash - to collect what they find to be charming, pretty and quaint. This space that was local an common - and sacred - was not to become a place where discarded items find purpose; but at a price.

I'm not against the re-purposing of previously sacred spaces. I'm aware that worship and church life is not on the mainframe of most people's lives. I know that sometimes churches need to be sold and re-purposed as antiques shops.

However, the metaphor of a old church building being sold to be an antique shop to sell old things is not lost on me.

I wonder if we look closely if the old things that people purchase is symptomatic of our need for something that is beyond us- something ancient -something sacred.

It makes me wonder if the antique shop might want to reserve some space - for sanctuary.

Because no matter if you are going antiquing or if you are going to church - what you are searching for us exactly this... SANCTUARY.

At what price have we sacrificed sanctuary?
Where do you find sanctuary?

Image found at: freelancepastor