Change of plans

I retired a couple of years ago. It wasn’t what I had intended…I had planned on working for as long as I could. But then I discovered that the way my job was identified, I had to retire at the prescribed age.

Okay…so while it wasn’t what I planned, I shifted my thinking gears and started figuring out what I was going to do and be for this portion of my life. I had lots of plans about how I was going to spend my time. I invested in quite a significant number of materials, and I plotted out where I was going to work.

Right…

Then a new family member joined us…and she needed daycare. Since I was available (now!), I took on the role of primary babysitter. Not the only one (her other grandparents help as they can)…but the primary one.

My materials are still on the shelf…I still do not have a specific workspace set up…and I do not have much (if any) time to work on my new projects.

But that’s okay.

Instead, I’m getting to develop a wonderful close relationship with an adorable human being…and loving to watch her figure out what this world is all about. I’m seeing the world through new eyes.

Instead of being paid by checks or cash, I get paid in hugs and kisses…and dandelions. Instead of worrying about inventory, I get to explore grasses…flowers… Instead of sitting in a chair, I get plenty of exercise chasing her around…pulling her off of whatever she’s decided looks interesting to climb…and playing tag, catch, “I’ve got you!”

It’s not what I thought I was going to be doing at this point in my life…but this change in plans has definitely been worth it!

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A place for all…

What does it mean when we say (as followers of Jesus) that there is a place for all at the table? I’ve been thinking about that the last couple of weeks–musings inspired by events both within and outside my own faith tradition.

It’s a relatively easy comment to make, but much harder to live out. Here’s one example of what I mean…

I attend a congregation whose focus is on reaching out to the hard-living, to those who have been (or are) struggling with addictions of various types, whose families are dysfunctional, who have never been “churched”… That’s not the background I grew up in–or what I’ve experienced most of my adult life. So this has been a new experience for me.

Recently my husband and I have been working specifically with someone who has had a really hard life…who has made some poor choices that have resulted in a significant familiarity with the police and the courts. This individual, however, has been accepted in our congregation and is really working on making significant life changes, and we’ve been part of the support group. That involved going to court this last week and standing as support as the individual received a one-year suspended sentence.

But there are other challenges that we face as a corporate body.

My faith has members in many countries worldwide, which means that there are many languages spoken. How do we make resources available to all of them? Right now we are attempting to do that by providing resources in three of the major languages of the world–English, French, and Spanish. It’s not a perfect solution…but in at least some of those countries, there are individuals who can translate from those languages into the local languages.

Yet there are still challenges for those who speak any of the three major languages…and we have not yet figured out how to meet those challenges.

I’m talking about those who have difficulty hearing. Some have been deaf since birth…some have lost their hearing due to illness or accidents…and many are losing their hearing due to advancing age.

It seems as though the assumption is that if a person can speak English, French, or Spanish, that providing resources in those languages meets their needs. That’s true, if they are printed resources. But since we live in an age when videos and/or live streams are an important source of information, we need to seriously consider how well these meet the needs of those who cannnot hear.

Without captioning, they don’t…and they leave large numbers of individuals feeling like second-class citizens and as though they do not have a place in the community.

Interestingly enough, an article on this website makes these comments:

In fact, if your organization is covered by ADA requirements, Section 508 regulations, accessibility requirements handled by the U.S. Office of Civil Rights, or similar legislation in many other countries, then the requirement to provide captions at a quality level that is on par with the quality of your video content could be seen as a legal obligation. Here’s why: ADA Title III requires that people with disabilities “may not be denied full and equal enjoyment” of the good and services provided to others who use those services. Most subsequent legislation and court decisions have supported this tenet of “full and equal enjoyment.” This means that if you provide high quality educational content but mediocre quality closed captioning, you’re not treating all of your customers equally, opening your organization up to potential lawsuits.

There are always going to be gaps in what we are able to do…but my father used to say “Your actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear a word you are saying.”

It’s never going to be easy, whether we’re talking about our experience as individuals or as a corporate body, but if we’re going to say that there is a place for all at the table, then we need to do our best to truly make it so.

Too many deaths

In the newspaper the last few days there have been too many stories about deaths…preventable deaths.

The big one, of course, has been the mass shooting at the Oregon community college, killing students who were there to learn…to make the world a better place. But that has not been the only one.

An 11-year-old got mad because an 8-year-old neighbor wouldn’t show him her puppy–so he got his father’s gun from an unlocked closet and killed her.

An 11-year-old on an outing with his 12-year-old brother and some adults picked up one of three loaded guns on a picnic table and accidentally killed his brother.

A 5-year-old boy who was left in the house briefly with his 2-year-old sister and his birthday present–a gun designed as “a child’s first gun”–was playing with it when he accidentally killed her. What I find most appalling in this situation is the response from the family that “It’s something you can’t prepare for” and that “It’s God’s will”. No…no…no!

How many more deaths will it take before we decide that it’s time to do something about it? I am not talking about banning all guns. But I am talking about common-sense gun control. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, most Americans support common-sense solutions–but apparently not our politicians.

Why can’t we have universal background checks?

Why can’t we have gun violence protective orders–laws that empower families and law enforcement to petition a judge to remove guns from individuals who pose a risk to themselves or others? We provide protective orders in other situations…

Why can’t we limit the bulk purchase of guns? or regulate ammunition sales? The stockpiling of weapons and ammunition is often a factor in mass shootings?

Why can’t we require gun locks on all weapons? I know it wouldn’t stop all accidental shootings…but it would surely help avoid tragedies like a 5-year-old having to live the rest of his life knowing that he was responsible for his little sister’s death.

At some point, we have to decide that enough is enough. But when? How many more shootings?