I Will Lay Me Down

river strong current for blog, I will carry you. I will sustain you. I will rescue you.

” … I am he,
I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you
and I will carry you;
I will sustain you
and I will rescue you.”
Isaiah 46:4

For years I have been drawn to Johnny Cash’s cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”. Maybe it is his rich, deep voice. Maybe it is the sincerity in which he sings. I don’t hear Cash, I hear God speaking the lyrics to me. Listen. Hear his heart. Hear his promise. Believe it – He will do it.

 

“Bridge Over Troubled Water”

When you’re weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all
I’m on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I’ll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on, silvergirl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
If you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind


Bridge Over Troubled Water was written by Simon & Garfunkel

Cover by Johnny Cash and Fiona Apple.

In His Hands

Featured Image -- 10192

Cindi Gale

On a sunny afternoon in August, I watched some talented ceramic artists demonstrate their craft.

One potter told me he often gets requests to make multiple identical items for customers, such as ten bowls or eight plates. Because pottery is his livelihood he happily obliges, but he admittedly finds that kind of work tedious. It’s merely forcing clay into compliance.

His preference is to approach the clay with an entirely different mindset. He described it as “allowing the clay to determine its final shape.” Those hours of work for him are enjoyable and fulfilling, during which a standard ball of clay transforms into a unique work of art.

“Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.” Jeremiah 18:6

Many of us have preconceived ideas…

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An Unknown Road

DSCN1893, cropped for unknown road blog.jpg, final

“Life is difficult for those who have the daring to first set out on an unknown road. The avant-garde always has a bad time of it.” – Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, 1889

Those who trust enough to travel unknown roads sacrifice much. The road never-before-traveled is often isolating, desolate, and ensconced in darkness. Commitment to the road requires every ounce of available courage, perseverance, grit, restraint, fortitude, and faithfulness.

dark forest for blog

On the seemingly endless, trial-filled journey, depletion is inevitable. There comes a day when you find yourself flat on your face in the dirt, aware of the ruins of your life because of the road.

One more step is impossible. It’s then that you look up and see … light? aid? rest? No, a mountain where the path had been level.

And always, always there comes from nowhere a reason to peel yourself off the hard, cold ground and begrudgingly, resentfully, tearfully resolve to climb that damned mountain.

And so it goes on the unknown road until, finally, one day a flash of light reaches through the dense canopy. A few more steps puts the valley of darkness behind, and there before you … a destination not possible had you chosen the easy road.
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Sun. Hope. A river of life. An endless sky. A spacious horizon. Unobstructed footing.
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It is peacetime. Harvest time. Stake your claim on this, your promised land. Your capacity to cherish it is uncanny. Because of the terrible journey behind, you are well-equipped to manage your abundance. With gratitude. Patience. Tenderness. Generosity. Forthrightness. And wisdom.
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All because you dared to first set out on an unknown road.

DSCN1892, open horizon for blog

 

Come Alive Dry Bones

Cindi Gale

Ezekiel 37 

The Valley of Dry Bones

37 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin…

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Speak Life

Med helicopter

I haven’t had much time to write recently. I may not have time for awhile. Most of the hours of my last two weeks have been spent in a teaching hospital, absorbing a barrage of information, flowing with the tides of emotion and complex medical crises I have had no control over.

Someone I love with all my heart is fighting for his life.

I remain ever-ready, often sleepless, doing all that has to be done.

It has not been all unwanted work. We are fortunate that time has been extended by the heroic efforts of an army of medical practitioners and support services. It has allowed me to hold the hand of this person I love. Feeling the warmth of his skin. Watching the beat of his heart. Valuing him. Treasuring him. Helping him with whatever he needs or wants.

ICU IV pumpsBecause we were told numerous times already his odds of survival are slim, almost none.

And yet …

There is faith. As long as his heart beats, I will not let go of faith.

It may be that this belief is the difference between life and death, and the weight of that belief lies on my shoulders. That is a heavy burden to bear. But what if his life passes far too soon, and I were to learn later it didn’t have to happen, that it was because everyone remained passive while death pulled him into its irreversible power … What then? How could I live with that knowledge after it were too late?

So, despite fear of failure, I choose to take on the burden of making life happen. I don’t know that it will be successful, I don’t care if others think it is delusional …

I speak (silently) life into this person I love dearly. I treat him day-to-day as if he will live, not die. Because I believe it.

I believe it because I have chosen to believe it.

The day I finally managed this mindset, the following post passed my Facebook news feed, written by Dr. Eugene May:

4 August 2016
There was a day when the prophet Ezekiel was taken into the midst of a very desolate place, a valley of DRY BONES. The Lord asked, “Son of man, can these bones LIVE?” He could only answer, “O Lord God, You know” (Ezekiel 37:3). To Ezekiel, the situation that he faced was IMPOSSIBLE for man. Yet he did acknowledge that only God knew the answer.

There are times in our experiences when we wonder while looking into the face of the IMPOSSIBLE if God is able do anything about our circumstances. I think this is normal for folks like us. When challenged with the IMPOSSIBLE, we find it easy to throw up our hands and say, “CAN GOD DO IT?”

The Lord spoke to Ezekiel and gave him this instruction, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O DRY BONES, hear the word of the LORD!’” (Ezekiel 37:34). God saw the potential in the bones and what could be done through one person who would dare to speak life into the situation. We know the end of the story. The DRY BONES were resurrected and became a great army.

Child of God, you are in a unique position. God has chosen you to speak to the DRY BONES around you and say, “LIVE!” Oh, not literal DRY BONES, but God is asking you to speak into the situations in your life that seem to be IMPOSSIBLE. You have the power of the Holy Spirit in you and you can say, “LIVE.”

“Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19).

 

Lessons From Running

Cindi Gale

running, final for blog, cropped09302014_0001

Life can be grueling.

 When you’re depleted, even slight inclines feel steep.

Since people around you aren’t quitting, you don’t either.

Perseverance isn’t supposed to be pretty.

Or easy.

If you dig down deep you discover –

You have more in you than you think.


Hebrews 12: 1 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

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Wrangling With Racism

I published the following article exactly three years ago, on July 18, 2013. Tragically, it is more relevant today than ever.


It was a curmudgeonly time during the George Zimmerman trial. Heated. Cantankerous. Unfriendly at best. We heard one too many divisive comments on news interviews, social media, when out-and-about in our communities. Some outright racism. I suppose each side wanted to build their ranks, or defend their position, but it only made us acknowledge what a bunch of hard-headed, hard-hearted people there are on this planet.

While most of us strive for daily peace, some truly enjoy fighting. I’m talking about those who position themselves at the extremes of issues. They blend there with like-minded people in sweet security, or anonymity, and shoot off bombs of vitriol toward the polar opposition. The rest of us in the middle, between the poles of extremism, get the caustic fallout.

It’s no fun to realize that about humanity. On top of that, I feel guilty. Because I was born white. I belong to the group that gets a pass, even when I’m in someone else’s neighborhood.

I’ve received looks, sure, when I was the only blonde in a village in Guatemala. But no vigilantism. No forced removal for being the wrong color in the wrong neighborhood. I’ve gotten looks while sitting with my son in a local burrito joint in his youthful, working-class, Hispanic neighborhood in San Francisco. When I asked him why (it’s not often that I’m the one who stands out), he explained that I was out of my demographic. I was a surprise. But I didn’t get told to leave.

When he moved to the South Side of Chicago, he and his roommates were the only whites on the block. There were two more whites a couple blocks over, he told me. When he met them one day on a sidewalk, he wanted to acknowledge them but refrained because he didn’t want to be racist that way. Aw, it’s tricky noticing skin color but wishing you didn’t.

The day I visited, mine was noticed by three little neighbor girls. They stood staring as they were introduced. They had pretty names and careful rows of braids fastened by pink and purple barrettes. When I asked if it hurt, they stared harder. “Because I remember it hurting when my mom braided my hair,” I followed.

The oldest found her voice, “It did when I was little. But my head got used to it.” They perched on the fire escape and pressed their noses against the kitchen window, watching us sit there at the table. We were fish in a fishbowl. I heard the littlest describing my features to the older two.

Grandma upstairs hollered at them, “Girls, leave ’em alone! Get on up here now!”

They were just curious. I was out of my demographic again.

A guy who lived upstairs at that Chicago brownstone was under house arrest, a fact he shared with my son on move-in day. It mattered not to me. He was nice. He said “hi” and smiled as we brushed shoulders passing in the doorway. I know I stuck out like a silly cowlick, a blonde-haired white woman in a neighborhood I didn’t belong to. He didn’t ask me what I was doing there. He … well, he was polite.

As I left at dusk, the sidewalks were filled with people of all ages, including young-adult black males I’ve been told to fear. I’m not naive, I know about crime rates, bad guys, and all, but it’s illogical to size up individuals by collective crime data. It’s insensible to decide a person’s intentions based on their skin color, income or educational level, or their geographic location at a point in time. My son and his housemates were embraced by their community. People were neighborly. As a visitor, I was treated well there.

I don’t like that I get unmerited favor on this planet and others don’t. I have it easy. I’m Caucasian, straight, and comfortably middle class. I was born to a Midwestern farmer and his wife, for crying out loud. Others are up against prejudice, rejection, and hate just for being who they are. Their hearts dared to beat after they were born in the skin God gave them. They are hated by some because of it. I don’t know what it’s like to be despised for things like that.

Thankfully, in all this guilt and discouraging reflections, I got some relief when along came an old friend. I’ll call him Bert, because … well, because that name makes me laugh, it doesn’t fit him at all. Bert’s and my interaction didn’t start out as a relief, our points of views collided first.

During the Zimmerman trial, Bert shared a post about racism on Facebook. It suggested that whites are the victims, and included a picture of Trayvon Martin. Now you should know that since the day seventeen-year-old Martin was killed, I considered him a tragic victim of racial profiling (I still do, despite Zimmerman’s acquittal), so my protective reactions jumped up and wanted their say.

Which made me comment on Bert’s post, “As a Caucasian, it’s my responsibility to listen to people who experience being a minority firsthand, and to read reliable, unbiased information on the topic. Sociological stats make me side with young black males, who endure racial profiling (sometimes fatal) that we whites will never experience.” Something like that.

Bert and I engaged in a private back and forth after. I suppose it could have become ugly, as some people like to make you pay for disagreeing with them. But that’s not Bert. My friend is the classiest of men. We discussed race civilly, intelligently, calmly, and respectfully.

It turns out he’s been a white victim of racial profiling of sorts, the kind that ignores past service and evicts a businessman because the numbers need to be there. “Gotta have a certain number of minorities on the books” kind of thing, “so you’re out, thanks for nothing.”

I came to understand the statement he was making with his post. The picture and words that someone else created, and Bert shared, did an inadequate job of representing him. Bert had wiser words about it. I got to read them. He sees inequity and wishes skin color were irrelevant. He was just saying, “Sometimes it’s the white person who is the victim of racism.”

Bert took some risk addressing a potentially volatile topic on Facebook. I can relate to that as I publish this blog post. He was nothing less than wonderful as we dialogued our differing viewpoints. He was a timely reminder that respect is possible amid conflict. Bert did me a great favor by being himself. As did the nice man under house arrest in Chicago’s South Side who shared that narrow doorway with me.

Sure there are people at the extreme poles, and they’re scary. But the majority of folks are in the broad middle, where differences are reckoned with and mostly accepted, and where manners and respect are bestowed regardless.


Video and music credit goes to: 

“Don’t Shoot” – Heaven x Lil Chris shot by @PassportTrace, Published on Sep 5, 2014