Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Rohak’s Question.



abstract painting: Questions by Linda Woods 

Rohak a young Hindu man that stayed in my home for a period of time has kept in touch with me through the years. He’s a unique man of deep compassion and thought. Recently, a Law professor shared a story with his class about his sick child and how he felt abandoned by God. This left Rohak with a lot of questions, questions that have been asked by so many other throughout time. 

Why is God killing kids for playing with toy guns, or why would he abandon this lawyer?  It doesnt click. 

His question represents his wrestling to understand what has been called evil, what comes in the form of hatred and tragedy. I responded to Rohak’s question with these words:

As for deep rooted questions as you ask, my first response is this: the Christian Church, particular Christians in America, have concocted a shallow shell of a God and of faith. Theology for the most part has been constructed of black and white sophomoric bumper sticker thought.  

This kind of faith can sustain little. This kind of faith barely sustains a person when life is good much less when it falls apart!  This kind of faith does not allow for questions or doubt or anger.


So I can't and won't defend this kind of faith nor do I won't any part of it anymore.

Elie Weisel helps me better understand the hideous aspects of life and humanity and still hold on to a belief in God. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from a Christian standpoint; his writing digs deeper than the trite shallowness that is most often promoted as Christianity.Trite theology provides nothing of value!

Faith for me asks the very questions you have posed. I have no answer to offer, because to offer an answer would ignore the deep, deep pain that comes when tragedy destroys life.Faith for me is lifting up such questions.

Jesus mostly responded to questions with a question. 

The depth of who you are Rohak comes with the compassion you exhibit when hearing stories such as the one your professor shared. That compassion that causes you to wrestle and wonder, that my friend is what I experience, what I know in my life as faith.

A Junior High girl at church told me she asks a lot of questions and she has come to define God as the never-ending Question. I like that. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

My Response was the Best Response He Said

                                                         my dad and my grandson 

It's Gonna BE OKAY. 
That is the title of a journal, 
a book with blank pages waiting to be filled. 

My daughter gave me the journal two Christmas' ago. 
I've only written two pages. 
The first page I wrote over a year ago.
This page ends with the words of my father, 
the last words he spoke to me using full sentences.

I had called him because he had been admitted to the hospital. 
When he got on the phone with me he had something prepared to say, 
which means he didn't answer the question I asked him. 

"Dad, how are you doing?"
To which he said: 
"I read the front page article you were in."

Then he asked me a question: 
"Why didn't you mention me? You mentioned your mother."

I knew he was poking at me.
I knew he was proud of the article. 
I knew he was pleased with the news. 

The article was about the Supreme Court decision to 
affirm same-gender marriage. 

I told him that mom was the first person to call me, that 
was all I intended to tell the reporter. 

He responded,
(and this was the last sentence he would speak to me)
"I should have been in that story too, because my repsonse
to the Supreme Court decision was the best response."

And indeed it was,
because I am writing about him today
and remembering his words today. 

It's over a year since his death. 
The second page of the journal is now filled.
This page tells of my daughters marriage that took 
place one year to the day since his death. 

That man's love reaches through the months
and I suppose will reach through the years. 

I believe it is now time for me to fill up the third
page to that journal. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Light is a Choice


Where is the light at the end of the tunnel...
the long, long tunnel 
of 
    dark
           ness 
created by what has become an 
addiction...
a long-term cultural addiction to 
a system of racism
caused by fear 
nurtured by hatred
escalated by a numbing denial
that some live with privilege
and others 
choose 
to live without.

Who wakes up in the morning to 
choose to live without?

The idea that anyone "chooses" 
the very thing 
that does not allow fullness in life
is a lie.

It is a lie 
that a woman would choose 
not to be treated as an equal
that any woman consciously chooses 
to work as hard as a man and get paid less.

Oh, it's a choice that women are treated 
less than equal
but it is not a woman's choice.

It is a lie
that a person would choose
to be homosexual and be denied 
the same dignity
every woman and man 
in this world deserves.

Oh, it's a choice that homosexuals 
are not treated as equal
but it is not a homosexual's choice. 

It is a lie
that African Americans would 
choose to live in a system of racism...
would choose to live 
with suspicion
in subtle ways 
and in blatant ways. 

Oh, it's a choice 
but it is not the choice of 
any African American woman or man...
not one. 

The light at the end of the tunnel 
requires the speaking of truth
that choices 
are indeed being made.

What will it take for those
choosing to create and sustain
systematic 
inequality? 

This question is not a threat.

This question is about another choice
the choice by many 
to begin living in a way 
that allows light
to shine on darkness. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

And To Your Generations



The promise from the beginning included those who were to come.
The "were to come"
just became another huge reality in my family.

The "were to come" came with my grandson six years ago.
Damian James made this world a more joyful, loving place to live.

The "were to come" is coming again...
this time my Daughter will bear the gift
and her gift already has my heart swelling to
burstable proportions.

The newest "were to come"
will be
Nova Blake.

The fear and challenge that comes with living is constant:
Another mass killing follows one we are barely rapping our minds and hearts around...
while forms of injustice for many continue.

Sure
I worry
about the present and the future
but when I look into the eyes of
the "were to come"
that have come
and are about to come in my family...

I burst with love.

"As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come."  Genesis 17:9


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Grief and Grace


A moment of grief
followed by a circle of grace.

Grief and grace 
co-mingle. 

Often hand in hand grief and grace 
move through life.

The power of grief is that it stops us
it opens us
it has power to cleanse us with tears... 
tears that come in all sizes and varieties. 

The senseless hate that led to death in Orlando
created a cavern of grief....
space so deep and wide 
it left so many of us breathless
as if floating in zero gravity...
but slowly our feet landed back on the ground
and we gathered 
united with others in our community
to pray
to speak
to sing
to cry
to embrace
to make abundantly clear that our feet 
are firmly planted 
and are here to stay. 

A young one in our midst wrote words
telling her own story 

Her mother read the words
as she stood before us with such courage 
and yes
grace....
the very grace 
that when we encounter it we see a way forward
filled with hope. 

That young one in our midst
surrounded by a circle of woman
offering her as much grace as she carry...
it was
and is 
beautiful to see. 

Such grief and grace will
surely lead us 
into the days and months 
and years to come. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014




i think of a dear friend
i feel with my son
and as i do 
i remember hearing,

"all churches are like this"

yes, 
all churches have stories 
of heartache, conflict
and more

no,
not all churches 
are alike

some work to push past 
heartaches, conflict 
and more

some don't

and when a church 
doesn't
eventually one gets hurt
or more


Monday, April 21, 2014


easter tomb burst open
       new life
            is 
               b
                 i
                  r
                    t
                     h
                       e
                         d 

all that was sealed up in s i l e n c e 
no longer has 
                      power

there is memory 
of the pain 
and fear
and shame
and though 
the darkness may hover
and mingle 
and threaten

it no longer has 
power to have the 
last 
word

the promise infused 
empty tomb 
of  GOD'S boundless love
creates a new reality

______________

the empty tomb 
did not birth a new religion

the empty tomb 
brought forth 
the 
   d
     e
       p
         t
           h  of GOD'S love

those who see empty easter tomb 
as doctrine alone
are intent on 
staying in the tomb...
      are determined to 
           limit GOD

and this is the very story 
is it not?

those who tried to limit 
GOD in the first easter story
failed miserably

no amount of shame
or pain 
could stop GOD'S 
desire 
to birth 

l
  o
    v
       e 

for 
the whole world
for everyone

love 
defines easter

love that could not 
be sealed away 
behind 
stone