Thursday, November 22, 2012


My Prayer For You - from Sabbath Moment, written by Terry Hershey

Blessings of thanksgiving to you and yours from me and mine. 
When you're lonely I pray for you to feel love.
When you're down I pray for you to feel joy.
When you're troubled I pray for you to feel peace.
When things are complicated I pray for you to see simple beauty in all things.
When things are chaotic I pray for you to find inner silence.
When things look empty I pray for you to know hope.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pssst...The Whisper Campaign

Ten days ago, my kids and I went to President Obama's last campaign rally ever in Des Moines, Iowa. "You caught history," is one way a friend described it. 

A couple of days later, I received a phone call from our town's newspaper editor. Because of my job, that is not an uncommon occurrence. Peggy's number is posted directly above my work phone. 

"So... I've heard that you were in Des Moines on Monday for the President's rally?"

"Yes, my kids and I went. It was pretty amazing."

"I have a great photo of the President addressing the crowd and I'm going to mention some of us who were there. May I include your name and your kids?"

Well...uhm...I DID post it on Facebook pretty loudly and wrote about it here, so...

"Of course."

The paper comes out on Thursday night and sure enough, there was a very great photo taken by one of Grinnell's foremost photographers, Henry Wilhelm. One can easily say that Henry is one of the more important people in photography, period. Google him and you will find out why.

Our names were mentioned in the cutline with other Grinnellians who had also attended.

And then it happened. I went to the women's room at work and a co-worker says to me, "So, you are an Obama supporter?.... Me too. I just don't ever talk about it at work unless I KNOW that the other person is a democrat, too."

We had a lengthy discussion, mostly she talked and I listened, about being careful to keep one's political views to themselves at work. I spent four years studying political science and psychology at university and was kinda eating this up. It now feels like we have this little secret society going.

Then, on Monday, a senior officer at work stops me in the kitchen. "So, you are an Obama supporter?" 

I'd always known that she was most certainly NOT an Obama supporter and thought to choose my words carefully.

"I saw in the paper that you went to the rally in Des Moines."

Uhm...think, think... and before I could say a word, she said, "I am a huge supporter of the President."

No. Way. 

Well, THAT lightened up the mood.... It was also a quiet, whispered kind of conversation that was very similar to the one just days before. And it struck me that we each felt like we were sharing some kind of secret about ourselves that others may look on with disapproval if we actually said it out loud. I thought to myself, this IS Grinnell, right? I'm not back home where the race used to be decided by the GOP primary and the county democrats could meet comfortably in someone's living room... Things have changed there, but it is still a republican stronghold. And I get it.  I worked for three republican elected officials from a US Member of the House, to a US Senator, and a republican mayoral candidate in Omaha. I get it.

Interesting, too, that we were cautious in our comments immediately following one of the most loud, polarizing, and longest elections that I can remember. 

Isn't it interesting the things that cause us to pause?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Let's Stay Together...

There are those moments in life when if we are lucky, we recognize that it is time to quiet the brain, open the heart, and just be. Take in the moment and actually be present.

Being fully present doesn't come easily to me. My brain is always working, always on the next thing or the last thing ... but rarely in the here and now.

Being fully present requires a little vulnerability to actually experience and feel what is going on. At times it can be overwhelming. It can happen just as easily in everyday moments as well as obviously life-changing moments.

Last night, my kids and I went to Des Moines, Iowa with about 20,000 other Iowans, crammed into a five-block area of Locust Avenue, just west of the Iowa Capitol. It looked even more impressive than usual with extra floodlights making it shine. And the obvious high moments - Bruce Springsteen on his own. The First Lady with her usual grace and sincere gratitude. The President of the United States exceeding expectations and showing emotion for the end of the campaign and for Iowa. And I was there, sharing it all with my kids.It will be one of "those" memories.

My dad tells me the story of getting me up and out of bed days before my fifth birthday to watch the television coverage of the July 1969 moon landing. I did that with my kids last night.

Along with all of the obvious huge moments, I will forever remember what happened before The Boss, the FLOTUS, and the POTUS... During "the wait" was "the taped music."  We'd tapped our toes to stay warm, bouncing to the beat of the music... and then, Al Greene..."Let's Stay Together."  Even if we didn't know the words, we quietly hummed along. The crowd swayed to the music and for me, it was a sense that regardless of what the final turnout is today, or tomorrow, or the day after that... we are all Americans... when times are good or bad, happy or sad.

An extraordinary moment in an evening full of extraordinary moments.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Last week, a friend shared that the overnight rains had brought the Santos from heaven and she dreamed of loved ones who had passed on. I had never heard of such a thing and was immediately fascinated.

Maybe it is because we've had rain lately and maybe it is the time of year, but memories of a dear friend have been with me these last few days. He will forever be 35. And someday when I'm far older than I am today, the fact that he is 35 when I am 80 will bring a bittersweet smile to my face.

What is it about the spirits that hover close at different times in our lives? Maybe it is when their birthday rolls around or the anniversary of their death. I don't always remember dates but I remember favorite writers, movies...songs... I find that friends I've met since their passing have similar traits and mannerisms, too. I can have a moment where a particular line of conversation can be eerily familiar.

I enjoy spending a little time with the memories and the more I sit with them, the more memories come back. A little melancholy, a lot of smiles. At times, that veil between this world and the next is even more thin than usual. As time goes on, I don't feel the physical presence as much as I used to, but certainly an emotional connection.

This week, I was honored to share memories with other friends whose lives have been changed by the loss of loved ones too young to leave this world. I am in awe of those who find a way to keep living after such tragedy.

My memories are bittersweet, and I am grateful. For those whose memories are still too tender, too painful for words, I can hold you in the light.

For all the saints, who from their labors rest...