We Need to learn

We Need to Learn

Detours in Life

Pentecost 28

 

Some difficult parenting moments?  The mother and grandmother thought for a moment and then spoke.  “My now grown daughter’s favorite animal is the bunny and I still remember trying to explain to her as a seven-year-old why the neighbors poisoned her two pet bunnies because we were biracial.  A few months later, coming home from church to find front door shattered because I put up a mezuzah on the inside casing of our front door, a gift from Jewish friends.   KKK neighbors ramming our old Dodge van and then sitting outside our house holding automatic assault rifles.”

 

The Rt. Ref Steven Charleston writes:  “We have seen those faces before, the ones at Charlottesville, the faces contorted by hate, the faces twisted into anger or frozen into ignorance. They were shouting. They were screaming for the pleasure of having someone to blame. We have seen those faces before at other times, on other streets, but the results are always the same. There is no compromise with this kind of hate. No appeasement or denial. Prejudice to this point is virulent and must be confronted head on. The faces at Charlottesville tell us why. They are images of what cruelty can become when it is left unchallenged, unnamed and under estimated.”

 

Color is not a right. Color is a hue, shading that adds interest, not detracts from one’s unalienable rights given by God and the law.   This was affirmed in the Declaration of Independence. Racism is the opposite of patriotism.  Whether it is called racism or terrorism, whether its cause is religious discrimination or racial discrimination, it accomplishes nothing and it based on even less. 

 

Someone once asked me if I believed in the Devil, a capitalized name.  I believe in evil.  The history of the world tells us it exists.  It can live in each of us if we allow it.  Life happens and we do not always like it.  We look for answers and sometimes, instead prefer to seek blame.

 

There is no basis for discrimination.  There is a great deal of evidence for the foundation of love and what it can accomplish.   Screaming hatred and spewing unfounded insults accomplishes nothing.  Positive action to improve the world does.  When will we ever learn this?

What Do You See?

What Do You See?

Detours in Life

Pentecost 16

 

We each are born and in that birthing, expectations are formed.  Sometimes it is because members of a family all tend to follow the same career path.  Sometimes it is because of specific gender roles within a culture.  Often, though, it is merely the stereotype that makes everyone comfortable.  The problem is that non e are based upon the individual or their talents.

 

Last year American Eagle Company released a commercial that seemed to celebrate men having a positive self-image.  The male models were not the typical male model.  Many would have shopped in the “husky” department and most seemed to go against the standard image types.  The advertisement seemed to emulate recent similar ads focusing on women… with one very big difference.  The American Eagle commercials were an April Fool’s Day joke.

 

Stereotyping is a dangerous although sometimes comical practice.  Comedians have relied on stereotypes for over a hundred years in telling a joke.  While they may seem funny to many, the subjects of the stereotypes are often deeply hurt.  Discrimination is not a laughing matter.  To ignore the vaule of each of our individualities is to deprive a person of their very being.

 

Women are one of the oldest targets for such stereotyping and low expectations.  Even though no one is ever born without a woman being intricately involved in the process, society has for centuries and eons failed to properly respect the potential of the average female of the species.

 

Barbara Askins was born in the late 1930’s and subject to the expectations of the times.  Women were supposed to get married, have children, and be content.  Professions deemed acceptable for women were generally nursing and teaching.  Born in the state of Tennessee, Barbara Askins complied with the stereotype for women of her time.  She grew up married, and had children.

 

Then Barbara did something a bit out of the ordinary.  Barbara created her own detour of life.  She went back to school, earning both a bachelor’s and a master’s of science from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.  Located in the mountainous beginnings of the Appalachian Mountains on the banks of the Tennessee River, Huntsville is home to the Marshall Space Flight Center.  It was at Marshall that the Saturn V Rocket that propelled the USA into outer space was developed as a part of NASA.  It is also at UAH that the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has advanced weather labs for studying severe weather. 

 

As a physical chemist, Barbara Askins was in a great location to work, a location that did not try to conform her into an age-old stereotype.  It was at Marshall Space Flight Center that Barbara did some groundbreaking work.  Her invention is one that has benefitted most of our lives although we probably do not know it.  Barbara Askins is the inventor of the autoradiograph, a process in which “images on developed photographic emulsions can be significantly intensified by making the image silver radioactive and exposing a second emulsion to this radiation.”  

 

If you have ever had an x-ray, and the doctor then told you something based upon that x-ray, then you should really thank Barbara Askins.  Ever since 1978 when she received her patent, the ability to read an x-ray has been greatly enhanced –  all because one woman decided to detour around the basic expectations for her living and create a new life for herself.

 

The value of any x-ray and the ability to see what is covered by skin is determined in a large part to the development of the x-ray film.  Over exposure is seldom the problem; underexposure is quite common.  With Barbara Askin’s technique, over ninety-six percent of x-rays that were previously considered to be under-exposed were now readable.  This prevented the need for additional x-rays and radiation exposure via the x-ray to patients.  Her process has also been used in the restoration of old photographs.

 

Maybe you are not someone who does scrapbooking or collects old pictures.  If you are reading this, however, odds are you are alive and either have or will need an x-ray at some point.  You may not have heard of Barbara Askins but you have benefitted from her work.  We all have.  Her technique was originally designed to restore photographs taken by satellites and astronauts.  We have a better understanding of our bodies, our world, and outer space because of her and her detour.

 

Bringing things into focus is a part of education and living.  Time often changes our perspective and that can be a very good thing.  When she was first tasked with trying to salvage a group of photographs and negatives, no one expected Barbara Askins to become an inventor.  We all are inventors.    We invent our lives each and every day.  We need to use our living to bring into focus a brighter and clearer tomorrow.  Together we can change the world.  We just need to forget stereotypes and focus on making a better landscape of our lives, sometimes following or creating a detour in our life.

Negotiate/Deliberate

Negotiate/Deliberate

Epiphany 53

 

“Engage brain before mouth in gear.”  Popular in the 60’s and 70’s, this piece of advice seems to have been forgotten in the fine art of conversation and public speaking.  And lest you think I am specifically referring to politicians, I am not.  I am referring to all of us.

 

Negotiation and compromise is a part of everyday life and if it is not a part of yours, then you are doing something wrong.  No one gets a free ride from the responsibility of negotiating.  We live on a planet with many others and whether it be nature or humanity, we have to learn to get along together.  That requires negotiation. 

 

The farmer who is successful does not simply tear up the ground and drop whatever seeds he/she wishes wherever and whenever.   Compromise is essential to insure the best yield of a crop.  Rotation of seeds planted, paying attention to the weather and available water supply, Crops which will grow in the given climate, availability of manpower/womanpower to harvest and process said crops – all of these things must be considered, compromises made, and negotiations scheduled.  Otherwise, we would not have food to eat.  Human beings would perish.

 

Words have power and the words we speak have consequences.  All too often it is the word we do not say that carries the most impact.  Parents play a vital role in the life of a child but it is the absentee parent that often plays the biggest role and whose presence or lack thereof carries the most weight.

 

Just as our actions are important, so are the words we utter.  AS we draw this series of Epiphany and words of action to a close, this being the next to last post about such verbs, I hope you take a moment to think before you speak.  Is what you are about to say really necessary?  Are you saying it effectively so as to be fully and completely understood?  Is it kind and most importantly, is it completely true?  If the answer to any of these is no, then please remember this adage:  Silence is golden.

Embrace and Tolerate

Embrace and Tolerate

Epiphany 23

 

Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?” He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”  He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”  “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”  Looking for a loophole, the scholar asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”

 

The above paragraph was in a post I received on Facebook from a young man of strength and character.  This paragraph has become the topic of the world news because of recent events occurring in the United States.  The man elected in part with the support of conservative religious groups seems to have forgotten this part of faith – all faiths.

 

In times where terrorism seems to occur several times a day in some part of the world and several times a year in others, fear is an understandable reaction.  Fear responses are our body’s defense system.  It serves as a reminder to act – not to hate.  We take cover during a storm because our body fears the consequences.  We use medicines productively to combat illness because our body is telling us something needs attention.  When used appropriately, fear can serve great purpose.

 

To hate one’s neighbor, though, is not productive and none of the world’s top religions encourage it although they all speak of it.  “Looking for a loophole, the scholar asked, “And just how would you define your ‘neighbor’?”  In other words, who do we embrace, loving them as ourselves?

 

We all have had neighbors with whom we were not friendly.  It is inevitable that at some point in time our neighbors will not share our interests or respect for boundaries, play loud music, push their leaves onto our yard, etc.  In some settlements, the neighbors have guns aimed at the houses.  How on earth are we supposed to embrace these people?  Surely they are not our true neighbors.  Or are they?

 

“Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side…”.   This quote is from the Quran, 4:36.  Islam speaks highly of the one who not only sees their neighbor and embraces them but also tolerates them and treats them with respect.

 

“The Scale of Wisdom” is a collection of sayings of the Prophet Mohammed and the Twelve Imams compiled by M. Muhammadi Rayshahri.  “It is to help him if he asks your help, to lend him if he asks to borrow from you, to satisfy his needs if he becomes poor, to console him if he is visited by an affliction, to congratulate him if is met with good fortune, to visit him if he becomes ill, to attend his funeral if he dies, not to make your house higher than his without his consent lest you deny him the breeze, to offer him fruit when you buy some or to take it to your home secretly if you do not do that, nor to send out your children with it so as not to upset his children, nor to bother him by the tempting smell of your food unless you send him some.”

 

What does the Torah say about loving one’s neighbor?  “Do not take revenge and do not bear a grudge. Love your neighbor as yourself. I am God.”   This passage from Leviticus 19:18 is important as is the Jewish definition of love.  Judaism defines love as “the emotional pleasure of identifying virtues in another person.”   It is not seen as an act of fate nor a physical pleasure but a deliberate embracing of another and a purposeful identification of their existence.

 

The third of the world’s largest religion is Christianity, the third of the Abrahamic faiths.  Scripture for this topic is found in many places in the Christian Bible but it appears first in the New Testament in the Gospel of Matthew, in the twenty-second chapter.  To the question at the end of our first paragraph, the man known as Jesus of Nazareth gave this answer earlier in this book.  Matthew 5:43 states: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. 

 

 Later in that same book, Matthew 22:36 we find this:  “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.   And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  We are to embrace all and tolerate them.  In Islam this is illustrated by not having your house higher than your neighbors so as to prevent him from the breeze.  In Judaism, it is to recognize that we are all different but those differences have value.  In Christianity it is to allow that your enemy is still your brother and sister as children of the Creator and should be treated as you would wish to be treated.

 

Who is the neighbor you are to embrace and tolerate?  The person who is standing beside you, the person standing halfway around the world, the person who looks nothing like you or whose speech is unfamiliar because they exist and are, therefore, your neighbor.  We should embrace and tolerate.  To do anything else is to live a lie and hasten the end.  This is not political or even religious.  It is simply good common sense.

 

 

 

 

Walk/March

Walk/March

Epiphany 18

 

This past weekend over two million women worldwide walked.  Called the Women’s March, many felt moved to participate because of conflicting ideals with a new administration.  Many marched because they feared the loss of freedoms and rights.  Others marched as a show of solidarity for women.  Some walked simply because they could.  They donned pink hats and walked, marched, or simple gathered to support women, wearing pink hats and carrying signs.

 

“In the end, our success in resolving conflict and affecting deep change is not made by focusing on the leading figure of our discontent, but rather on the much less visible number of women and men who form his or her base of support. While it may be tempting to focus our attention on the leader, waiting for and pouncing on his every misstep and falter, in the long run our most effective response will be in how well we do at the hard work of creating a new solidarity with those who see the situation so differently than we. A good reminder of this fact is in considering how we came to this crossroads in the first place; the responsibility is not the Russians alone, but our own: we got in this situation partly by overlooking the need to reassure some of our good neighbors that they were needed and valued. Taking human hearts for granted can be a costly mistake and not one to be made twice. So while we may be mesmerized by what goes on in Washington, D.C., it would do us well to be even more active in communities farther afield. Building bridges there could be the ethical and political infrastructure we need for winning the next series of crucial elections. The question is not how many in the inner circle are hearing us shout, since they will be largely deaf to our appeal, but instead how many of those who put them there are hearing us in quieter conversations all across America. Success will be measured not by how many of our own we can put in the streets, but even more importantly, by how many women and men in the rust belt will be willing to wear a pink hat the next time around.”  These words by retired Episcopal bishop Steven Charleston bring us to my point and our verbs for today.

 

What comes after we have walked?  What comes after we take a stand for a cause or ideal?  The answer is life, that forward progression of steps we make each day that, eventually, will comprise the journey of a lifetime.  You see, getting your dander up for a good cause is great but that can only last for a certain amount of time.  How do we live those ideals for which we marched?

 

Sometimes the conflict is not so much about the other guy but about our response and the manner in which we respond.  It is so much more fun and easy to get mad and stay mad but seriously, unless you do jumping jacks or some other exercise in your anger, getting mad really accomplishes very little.  Real, long-lasting action requires thought and – gulp – reconciliation. 

 

Reconciliation starts with understanding.  First we need to admit and understand that there are other points of view.  No matter how wrong or ill-conceived we may judge them to be, they do exist.  Generally speaking, many have as valid a right to be felt as do our own.  Those incorrect beliefs that are wrong, as in harmful or illegal, need to be understood and explained.  Appeasement does not always mean acceptance and that is something to remember. 

 

No one person is a god or even a demi-god.  We all are human beings and deserve equal respect and opportunity to survive and thrive.  Some of our steps need to be toward building bridges to carry us all into a productive and efficient future.  That is the best march of all.

 

Action

Action

Epiphany 4

 

Someone asked me to explain the theme of this series for Epiphany 2017 in one word.  My response is the title – Action.   We will revisit verbs, those words in a sentence that denote action, later this year but for now, just know that I am asking you to take part in positive action.  Another reader apparently understood the theme but asked “Why?”

 

Last week four young people were arrested and indicted for their attack on a developmentally disabled classmate of one of the four.  The nation and particularly residents in Chicago were outraged.  I wondered why.  When a person can mock another human being and make their disability part of the reason and justification for mocking, a person who did so in the most public venue possible, news coverage at a press conference for the candidacy for the highest elected office in the country, why, I wondered, are people outraged when young people follow such an example.

 

Actions have consequences, even for winners.  “We are aware of an incident tonight involving Joey Porter,” the statement from Pittsburgh Steelers’ director of communications, Burt Lauten read. “We are still gathering information as it pertains to the situation, and we will have no further comment until we get more details.” Joey Porter is a former professional football player and current outside linebackers coach for the Steelers.  He ended the evening last night celebrating the win over the Miami Dolphins in their AFC wildcard play-off by being handcuffed and taken to jail.

 

Also happening last night were the Golden Globe awards awarded by the Foreign Press Corps, honoring those in the film and television world for their acting and actions.  Receiving a lifetime achievement award was Meryl Streep.  She briefly identified several in her profession and their varied ethnicities and their roles playing outside of those ethnicities.  She remarked about how we are all different and yet all the same.  She also mentioned the above-referenced incident of discrimination by then candidate now president-elect Donald Trump and his performance on the occasion of his mocking a reporter with cerebral palsy.  “There was nothing good about it, but it did its job,” she said. “It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out my head because it wasn’t in a movie, it was in real life. That instinct to humiliate when it’s modeled by someone in a public platform, it filters down into everyone’s life because it gives permission for others to do the same. … Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence insights violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.”

 

There are only twenty-four hours in a day but we need to use each of them for good and not waste them, letting them get lost in our own egos and fear.  We cannot do everything and instantly cure the world of all its ill but we can all do something.  Each of those little somethings will, much like the snowflakes we discussed over the weekend, come together to make something beautiful.

 

You effect change on this planet with each breath you take.  You matter and your presence makes an imprint on the lives of others.  Why do I encourage you to take positive action?  Julia Butterfly Hill has the answer:  “The question is not ‘Can you make a difference?’  You already do make a difference.  It’s just a matter of what kind of difference you want to make, during your life on this planet.”

 

 

Galaxies of Grace

Galaxies of Grace

Advent 19 – 21

 

Technically it was known as “the crawl” and when it first appeared in 1977 it immediately captured not only the audiences that viewed it but the attention of the entire world.  Officially it was an innovative opening sequence to set the stage for the science fiction fantasy that was to follow.  In reality it was the ushering in of a new era of movie franchises, connecting to the consumer in a way that none had before.  Is it possible that grace, that word found in so many ancient languages that denotes favor, charm, or thanks from to another in an equal sense, can do the same thing?

 

Advent 19: Far, Far Away

Forty-eight hours ago “Rogue One” the 2016 release of yet another Star Wars film garnered over twenty-nine million dollars in sales.  That is slightly just over half of what the 2015 addition to the Star Wars saga earned.  “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was the biggest blockbuster in United States movie industry history.  “The Force Awakens” was released thirty-eight years after the first opening Star Wars crawl first proclaimed the beginning of the story, the story of the main characters involved in a fight for justice and the quintessential struggle between good and evil.

 

The seven films of the Star Wars family were more than just an evening’s entertainment.  They told the story of mankind albeit set in a future no one had ever imagines except its creator George Lucas.  “Rogue One” is just that – a rogue film in the franchise, designed more as a stand-alone film rather than part of the seven that came before it.  The characters of the seven were familiar with new ones were introduced in the three prequel films and the seventh sequel.  “Rogue One” has different characters and no opening crawl.

 

By now, if you are interested, you have either seen the film and/or read the reviews.  This one is in the Star Wars family but does not bear the family name in its title.  Much like a rebellious teenager, it distances itself in both title and opening and yet, the invitation to take a chance on being both challenged and thrilled is the core of the entire story.  It may not begin with “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” but no one viewing this film felt themselves to be any place else or walking into yet another chapter of any other family.  It has no opening crawl for which Star Wars films have become so popular and yet, the opening crawl is everywhere.

 

“Rogue One” is just that – a scoundrel in the family.  The story is simple and appeared at the beginning of the very first release in the Star Wars family.  While the characters and the treatment may seem different and new, the basic Star Wars struggle of good versus evil is very much present.  The old cliché “Everything new is old again” describes the plot, taken straight from the opening crawl of the very first Star Wars film:  “It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.”

 

The first Star Wars film immediately captured the attention of its audience with its opening crawl – text streaming at an angle across the galaxy.  It was an invitation to sit back and be transported to a different time and place.  That same invitation is issued to all of us when the opportunity to extend grace appears.  As I mentioned in the opening piece of this series, grace is something we all would like to share but without remembering our human connection to each other, we often fall short of that wish.  Regardless of your age, condition, belief system or lack thereof, grace is still salvation from the human condition that we all need, not only to survive but to thrive.  It is our connection to the family of all human beings.  We need to see, recognize, and extend grace not only to those we know and like but to all.  Grace should not exist only in a galaxy far, far away.

 

20:  The Grace of a Hero of the Stars

When he died earlier this month, John Glenn was remembered as the first man to orbit the earth and truly live, for a brief moment, amid the galaxies far, far away.  John Glenn was the realization of the dreams of so many who sought to break free of the gravity of the earth and explore the unknown.  Piloting a spaceship to the ends of our imaginations was simple, according to Glenn.  Getting his wife to use a telephone was much more of an impossible hurdle to overcome.

 

“A telephone was an invention of the devil” Glenn explained once when discussing his wife.  Annie Glenn was like over six million in this country who stuttered.  Unlike some who were institutionalized or others whose speech difficulties are misguidedly ignored, Glenn recognized his wife’s condition and treated it with grace.  As we conclude this week long viewpoint of grace from a subjective standpoint, I looked for heroes of grace, those people who worked with reality to break the bonds of public opinion.  John and Annie Glenn are one such story.

 

Bob Greene, a CNN contributor told their story earlier this month.  He described how Annie Glenn was a stutterer who had difficulty getting words out eighty-five percent of the time.  She never used a telephone because the person on the other end would not know if Annie was caught in a stutter, a blockage of air going over the vocal cords to make sound, or had simply been disconnected.  Annie Glenn herself has described what living in the twentieth century with a husband in the military and then the space program was like.  “Can you imagine living in the modern world and being afraid to use the telephone?  “Hello” used to be so hard for me to say.  I can remember some very painful experiences — especially the ridicule,” Annie recounts.

 

Few people extended to Annie Glenn the gift of grace, grace in believing what she had to say was worth the wait.  “Even as a boy he was wise enough to understand that people who could not see past her stutter were missing out on knowing a rare and wonderful girl,” Bob Greene wrote of John and Annie Glenn.

 

John Glenn has been heralded a hero ever since he broke the barrier of gravity and circled the earth.  However, his own hero is his wife.   “I saw Annie’s perseverance and strength through the years and it just made me admire her and love her even more,” John wrote of his wife. “I don’t know if I would have had the courage.”  Perhaps the most heroic thing John Glenn really accomplished was extending grace to the woman he chose as his wife. Maybe that is his legacy and an example we should all strive to live.

 

A Lesson in Grace

Born right before the turn of a century, he loved history.  He grew up with those who remembered when they were not considered real citizens, though they had tilled the soil and built buildings for the future.  His color defined him in so many ways but he was determined to help create the history of the new century.  He became a teacher and poured into his students his love of history and the government that gave him rights and status as a person.  While so many of his color saw the laws of the land as a challenge, he saw them as a gift and used his sense of humor to explain their complexities and advantages.

 

Professor Wilson, as his students knew him taught at the same school for decades.  He taught the children of his first students and then their grandchildren.  He loved living in the capitol city and walked the halls of the ancient state capitol now a museum.  He never shied away from the past of those of color but delighted in the advancements each person made in their own lives.  History for him was thrilling and not a subject about the past.  “Fess” saw history as a prequel and the future was an invitation to create new galaxies, always embellished with an ever-present sense of humor.

 

As he celebrated his sixty-fifth year of teaching, change came.  The federal courts were rewriting the boundaries of the school districts in an attempt to integrate existing systems and enhance the freedoms of all.  This time, however, the students were not the only ones changing schools; teachers were also reassigned.  In a city that thrived on family loyalty to schools, people were suddenly adrift in new environments and this time the teachers were also castaways.

 

Fess Wilson bravely met the challenge most balked at and he left his school of sixty-four and a half years to walk new halls with new students.  He had already been told this would be his last year.  Most people were retiring at the age of sixty-five, not celebrating a sixty-fifth year of teaching and the school administration was letting him retire or be fired.  He bravely walked into the last six months of his teaching career, leaving his distance galaxy of the well-known to forge a new path with new students.  He would become the first history and government teacher of color at this new school and as he walked the halls, all saw not just color but a brilliant smile.

 

Professor Wilson spent little time complaining but rather introduced himself to his new students and, as he encouraged them to open their textbooks, also warned them he had a “never-defeated sense of humor”.  You see, Fess Wilson’s number one hobby was pulling practical jokes on those around him.  He proudly boasted to his new classes that no one had ever gotten the best of him.

 

It was not surprising, then that one of his classes decided to rise to the challenge and put one over on their new teacher.  Nor was it surprising that a national news syndicate wanted to interview the octogenarian about his new position and his long career as a teacher who taught about freedom but had his own struggles with equality as a reality.  What was surprising was that the challenge was met on the very day of Fess’s nationally syndicated interview.

 

The students convinced another student to over-play her ethnic heritage.  They introduced her to Professor Wilson who was delighted to meet a member of his country’s first families.  She pretended to not speak English and another student served as her interpreter, the story being that his family knew hers and this was the reason for her visit from the northeastern environs of her heritage and the country’s first celebrations.

 

Fess was delighted in and in his interview proclaimed it to be the culminating highlight of his long illustrious career.  His welcome at his new school and the lack of bitterness about not completing his career at the school where he lived it was negligible compared to the chance his students had given him today.  Life was about moving forward and living history, he told the interviewer.  The past became his present today and it foreshadowed the future, a future he felt would be as bright and as exciting as the last eighty-five years had been.

 

Fess Wilson’s smile at the day’s events took up most of the picture that accompanied the front page spread printed across at least twenty-five national newspapers the next day.  It caught the attention of his new principal who wondered why he had not been told of such a visitor at his school.  The story also caught the attention of the students who had pulled the prank on their teacher.  Suddenly their harmless practical joke had gone national.  Obviously an apology was in order.

 

The two students mainly involved in the practical joke were at school bright and early the next school day and sought out Fess Will.  Coming out of a staff meeting, they also caught the eye of their principal who quickly put two and two together and came up with an angry answer.  He approached Professor Wilson and the two students who were finishing up their apology and confessing their guilt.  The principal informed them of the possibility of suspension and worse, expulsion.  Then grace stepped into the conversation.

 

As Professor Wilson explained to the reporter in a follow-up story, the students had risen to the challenge he had put before them and won.  He could not have been any happier to end his career having finally “been gotten” with a practical joke.  He told both the principal and the reporter that is was the best compliment he could have ever received and it touched his inner core deeply.  “These students cared enough about welcoming me to take my challenge and beat me”, he explained.  “What greater gift than to be accepted in such a way?  They made me feel not only welcome but at home.”

 

Fess Wilson was the epitome of grace that day to those two students.  He treated them as equals and friends by extending the hand of grace.  He accepted their efforts as a compliment, preferring to see only goodness in their faces.  What greater lesson can there be in the history of humanity than to live grace?

 

Whether it is in your own living room or in a distant galaxy far, far away, in the battle of good versus evil, a battle which unfortunately will always face each of us in our daily living, we are invited to respond with grace and when we do, the future becomes possible and bright, almost as bright as the smile on Fess Wilson’s face.  It takes courage, courage like that of Annie Glenn to walk in grace but when we do, the impossible becomes reality.