This week I re-posted an interview that Philip Yancey did that garnered national attention, in which he said, “I am staggered that so many conservative or evangelical Christians would see a man who is a bully, who made his money by casinos, who has had several wives and several affairs, that they would somehow paint him as a hero, as someone that we could stand behind…”
Inevitably, my post earned me a lot of comments — some supportive, and lots pushing back against it.
The most common reason that people said they would continue to support Donald Trump, in spite of the warnings issued by Christian leaders like Philip Yancey and Max Lucado, was because ostensibly, Trump is anti-abortion.
Conservative Christians continue to insist that they will vote for Trump in spite of his affairs and multiple marriages, in spite of his disparaging comments about immigrants, in spite of him calling women pigs and dogs, in spite of him saying that women breastfeeding — or going to the bathroom — is “disgusting,” in spite of him calling Megyn Kelly a “bimbo”, and in spite of him giving an interview in which he said, “I’m very pro-choice.”
And yet, in spite of all of this, people persist in supporting Trump because they believe that Trump’s Republican platform is more likely to save unborn lives.
Those comments bothered me. No, let me put it in present tense. They bother me.
I was as surprised as anyone that I woke up to the world going nuts about Skittles this morning. Yes, Skittles, the rainbow-colored,chewy, delicious candy.
In case you missed it, Donald Trump Jr. sent out a tweet yesterday comparing refugees to poisoned Skittles.
Yesterday my Facebook page blew up with hundreds of tributes and remembrances for the 15th anniversary of 9/11.
This morning, I woke up at 4 a.m. and, as I write this, I’m sitting in the terminal at San Francisco International Airport, waiting to board a flight to Indiana, where I’m speaking tomorrow. Before I went through security, I had to empty my glass bottle (which was filled with rose tea — not exactly explosive), show my ID, take off my jacket and put my backpack and roller board suitcase on a conveyor belt to be screened. And then I had to walk through a body scanner. An acute reminder of how airports have changed screening processes in the post-9/11, post-contact-lens-solution-bombing-attempt world.
I woke up this morning with the same question on my heart that I had 15 years ago.
What’s a follower of Jesus to do the morning after 9/11?
I moved to San Francisco recently, and yesterday was the first Sunday I was in town for church. I went to the closest church to me, which was an Episcopal church called St. Gregory’s.
My first impression was that instead of looking like a spire, the steeple looked more like a lighthouse — a symbol fitting for a neighborhood afflicted by homelessness, hunger and high eviction rates.
“As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.” – Albert Schweitzer
Last week I wrote about how a server giving me a free bowl of oatmeal, and a fellow passenger lifting my suitcase for me, inspired me to look around for ways in which I can practice random acts of kindness….and I challenged you all to do the same, to use Labor Day weekend as an opportunity to practice small, random labors of love.
As promised, I wanted to use today to hear your stories! Please use the comment section to share what kindnesses you were able to practice, and how it impacted you and the person to whom you were kind.
(Also, I hope we don’t stop here! Let’s continue to live our lives with eyes wide open, always looking for opportunities to be kind, to bring hope and healing to those we encounter in this beautiful, broken world.)
Yesterday I wrote about how a free bowl of oatmeal and a suitcase that was lifted for me made my day, and made me realize how powerful small acts of kindness can be.
This weekend, as we celebrate Labor Day, I was thinking it would be especially meaningful for each of us to commit to performing small labors of love for family, friends and strangers.
Buy coffee for the person in line behind you. Mow a neighbor’s lawn. Invite a widow or widower over to your barbecue. Take flowers or a meal to someone who’s ill. Or….???
If you follow me on social media, you know that I fly a lot. One of the things I’ve learned about airports is that you often see people on their best and worst behavior– and yesterday was no exception.
I was flying from Dayton, OH, to Scranton, PA, with a layover in Detroit. A passenger who was supposed to sit across the aisle from me found his seat occupied by a woman who didn’t speak English.
The seat next to me was open, but instead of being flexible with the seating arrangement, or summoning a flight attendant, the man became upset and began shaking his finger in the elderly woman’s face. Raising his voice at her in a language she didn’t understand only served to terrify her and make her recoil in her seat. It did nothing to rectify the situation.
Ohio Northern University applied for — and received — a grant to bring me to campus for three weeks during the fall semester. I’m guest-lecturing about international aid, health communications and public health. I’m helping to guide a cohort through the process of writing their stories. And I’m working with the chaplain — who is emphasizing Vocation as the theme of this school year.
On Sunday evening, I met with a dozen students in a small, carpeted room behind the chapel. It’s a sacred space, and everyone takes off their shoes before they enter. We each grabbed a cushion and sat in a circle on the floor.
The chaplain had asked me if I thought I could use writing/creative prompts to help students discern what direction they were heading, and what their vocation might be.
“I think so,” I said, during our lunch meeting last week.
Over the next few days, I thought about the questions that have helped me figure out where I’m going, what I’m doing, and what my life is about. I thought about the questions that have helped me make choices when I was at a crossroads in my career.
I also did some reading about vocation, and learned that the word comes from the Latin word vox, which means voice. Most writers say that vocation is the call, or voice, of the Divine, giving you a unique assignment to fulfill with your life. But I think that discerning vocation involves listening not only to the Divine, but also to your own life, your inner spirit.
As I sat on the floor with the students, I gave them blank paper and pens, and asked them to write — or draw — the answer to the following questions. In less than an hour, we had worked our way through the questions, and most of the students expressed a sense of clarity, purpose and passion.
For those of you who are feeling confused or lost, wondering what your unique contribution can be to our beautiful, broken world, I would invite you to carve out an hour of your day, settle into stillness and silence, take some deep breaths, then write or draw your answers to these questions.
Listen to your life….and see what your spirit is saying!
I’m guest-lecturing at Ohio Northern University this week. This afternoon, I’m speaking at an event for students who are undecided about their majors. The faculty asked if I’d talk about the ways in which my academic and career plans went right….and wrong…..and how I ended up on my current path.
When I asked them how long I have to speak, they said around 30 minutes, and I started to laugh. Because my story of things that have gone right and wrong is long and complex and beautiful and heartbreaking, and how do you say all of that in half an hour?
Some things have gone better, and some have gone worse, than I imagined. There have been some moments that I would pay to live over and over again, and others that I wouldn’t relive if someone offered to pay me a million dollars. There have been some really high up’s, and some really low down’s.
My journalism professor often told me, “Sarah, you’re burying the lede!” when I put vital details at the end of an article instead of at the beginning. So here we go. Here’s the lede: After two years of living on the road (which included traveling to 25 states and 11 countries, speaking at dozens of events and making a lot of great memories), I am settling down in San Francisco.
I’m going to be working a few shifts a month in an urgent care clinic in downtown SF so I can keep up my medical skills, earn some extra income and add some structure to my life. And I’ll be traveling one or two weeks a month for speaking engagements. Which means I’ll be a part-time SF resident — like a flight crew that’s “based in” a home city but continues to criss-cross the globe.
I’m excited about the move. I really like SF so far, and I’m looking forward to finding a new community and a new rhythm. I’m excited to experience life’s small pleasures that I have not had for two years: a library card, a gym membership, a place to name when people ask me where I’m “from.”
“Although the world is full of suffering,
it is also full of the overcoming of it.”
– Helen Keller
I love the Olympics. The convergence of so many countries and cultures. The tremendous physical feats. The electrifying competition. The intense emotions of triumph and defeat. The sportsmanship. The surprises.
But what I love most about the Olympics are the stories of athletes who have faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles — and overcome them.
Children who were abandoned or orphaned, who acknowledged that, while they couldn’t re-write the beginning of their story, they could write a better ending. Athletes who lived in poverty, made countless sacrifices, practiced for years behind closed doors and believed in themselves long before anyone else did. People who experienced the depths of defeat and despair but kept pushing through physical and emotional pain to emerge even stronger than before.
Watching these athletes raise their arms in triumph, step up to the podium to receive their medals, and cry tears of joy as their national anthem is played and their nation’s flag is raised, is incredibly inspiring. I’ve gotten teary-eyed more than once as I watched an athlete’s life-long dream come true.