Justice, Injustice, and Grace

Do you see any signs saying this sidewalk is closed?

My son went running at the park in the evening. When he crossed the street his foot fell into a small, uncovered manhole. He tripped, tumbled, and rolled into a busy intersection. Thankfully, he didn’t break any bones and came away with only bruises and cuts on both his arms and legs.

What did he do?

He called the city to tell them about the accident and that the missing cover was a hazard to others. He received a call back this morning from Public Works.  Please choose from the following answers what you think the person from the city of Wheat Ridge said to my son:

A. We are so sorry. We’ll send a crew over to make sure that problem is taken care of. Thank you for letting us know.

B. We just finished redoing the sidewalk there and someone must have forgotten to put the cover back on.

C. That sidewalk is closed and clearly marked with signs. You should read better next time.

By now, you’ve probably guessed the answer is “C” or I wouldn’t be writing this post. My son came to them with grace…not demanding retribution…but with a pure heart to help others.  In return he was called a liar. Injustice.

It is yet another example of our broken messed up world.  Blame. Covering backs. Lying. I’m sick of it. What happened to grace? Sometimes it seems like the only two possibilities people see are justice or injustice. (And I’m not even sure people always know the difference.) How about another possibility? How about grace?

Grace is awesome.

Grace is giving and forgiving when you shouldn’t have to.

Grace is taking the time to tell the city the manhole cover is open while you stand there bleeding.

This world needs more grace. Why do we humans seem to hoard it or save it up for special occasions?

Enough already.

Let’s not live in fear. Let’s love each other. Help each other. Forgive.

Fearless

glove

The ball glove from my youth. Though old and worn and small, I’ve never replaced it. It has never let me down.

Shortstop—the position I played for seven years as a youth. There’s something every shortstop must be. Not a good aim. Not a good batter. Not technically flawless. These are all important, but the key to playing shortstop is just one thing. Being fearless.

I remember the day I became fearless on the field. I was in 6th grade. I had been playing softball for two years. I was a good fielder and was getting pretty confident. Then it happened. I was at practice and a hard hit grounder made contact with a rock on the infield and took an unexpected hop. The ball missed my carefully placed glove and smacked me square in the chin. Hard. No amount of skill or exceptional hand-eye coordination could have prevented it.

After some inspection, spitting of blood, and a little ice, I was back out on the field. The next ball hit was met with trepidation. I missed it. I couldn’t believe it. I was so mad at myself and I couldn’t believe I let one little rock—one bump in the road stop me. I had a decision to make.

As every good coach tells his or her fielders, you should charge the ball. That is, as soon as it is hit, you run toward it, resisting the tendency to back up and get a better read on it. You charge it.

So, I asked myself: Did I want to be a mediocre shortstop or a great one? Would I let fear drive me? The answer was no. I proceeded to take every ball hit to me with fearless abandon. Like I’d never done before, I charged EVERY ball and threw it to first base with wicked speed. I let the pain drive me. I decided I didn’t care anymore. If it hit me, it hit me. It would not be by my doing. That would just be fate—chance. It was one of the best practices of my life. I felt liberated from all the rocks.

As I sit here today, watching softball practice from my front porch, I am reminded again of this moment in my life. I am sitting on my porch because I’m feeling wounded from an event at work. A rock appeared in my life. No fault of my own. The ball smacked me hard in the chin. I’m feeling the pain and spitting out the blood. And now I have a decision to make.

My sixth grade self is tapping me on the shoulder and handing me my glove.

Back onto the field. Charge the ball. Fearless.

We’re Not Here To Look at Rainbows

faint-rainbow

A faint rainbow crying out for a passing glance.

This  rainbow caught my eye tonight as I took my dog out on a walk. It was 7:00 PM and the sky was just barely spitting rain. Across the street from my house poured the sounds of summer—the crack of the bat and voices chattering in the field. Girls softball practice. Really little girls. I was surprised any of them could fit a softball in their hand at all.

Now stopping during a walk isn’t something I usually do. But tonight, something tugged at me and I felt compelled to pause and glance at this faint and rare sight in the sky. And I wasn’t the only one. As I stood gawking upward, I heard the frustrated coach yelling at the girls, “COME ON! WE’RE NOT HERE TO LOOK AT RAINBOWS!”

It wasn’t a spectacular rainbow. In fact, it was pretty hard to see. I think that is what made it so special, so attractive. You really had to look hard. You had to stop and be still to appreciate it.

It got me thinking about all the faint, but spectacular, “rainbows” I might be walking quickly by every day. I’m pretty sure when my kids were little I missed quite a few. It is hard to see the little faint rainbows of life when you need to fix breakfast, make lunches, get to work, run the Cub Scout meeting, make cupcakes for the school party, deal with a frustrated teacher, coach the team, help with homework, cook dinner, exercise, do your own homework, rinse, and repeat.

“COME ON! WE’RE NOT HERE TO LOOK AT RAINBOWS!”

Sorry, coach, I beg to differ. We are here to look at them. Seek them out. And stare long and hard. They disappear way too soon.

softball-girls

Little girls with pink softball socks and golden hair kissed by the sun. That’s at least one more “rainbow” I saw today.

For Added Adventure… Jump!

sanddunesjump

My adventure brother and me taking my mom for a jump off the Sand Dunes sometime in the early 80s.

There is a word I cannot resist…and my brother said it yet again over a text a couple weeks ago. When giving me directions for a hiking trail, he gave me some “road not taken” instructions to counter his first status quo option. He offered up a choice to go down a trail most people are currently avoiding. He said, and I quote “…you can add ADVENTURE by jumping the creek where a washed out bridge was.”

Of course, I added the adventure.

And why wouldn’t I? I’ve been following my older brother since I was a kid. My brother is the coolest adventure brother ever. If it is tall and rocky, he has probably climbed, skied, or ran up it  (and, yes, I mean skied UP it).

matttrish

Me and my adventure brother in the mountains of Colorado (1980s).

As children we built things, designed things, and tried things. Or actually, what I should say is he built and designed things and I tried them. I still remember one particularly invigorating ride down Bayaud hill strapped to a golf bag trolley turned bicycle chariot (no helmet, of course, this was the 70s.)

As adults, not much has changed. We just adventure separately. He climbs the tallest thing near him at any given point in time or place and I jump off of or into the nearest thing to me at any given time or place. He calculates, measures, prepares, tracks and records his adventures. I just jump.

Luckily, despite my spontaneity, I occasionally have the presence of mind to ask him for advice. And luckily, despite all of his calculations (or possibly because of them), he still advises me to take the road less traveled by.  And it has made all the difference.

Here’s to you, Matt! Thank you! And long live the Mean Green Beans, the Ecology Club, and Eggpup!

greeceflip

Flipping off some cliff in Crete in the 90s. Weeeee!

matt climb

The man with the plan. A helmet (must be 2016)!

utahjump

Jumping into the Green River in Canyonlands. Watch out below!

skiup

Skiing up!

Scree-Master-T

When my brother gives me the option to add adventure…of course I listen. Washed out bridge? Bring it on!

What Was the Little Drummer Boy Doing in the Women’s Locker Room During Easter?

drummer

Who can resist this catchy tune?

“Come they told me
Pa rum pum pum pum

A new born king to see
Pa rum pum pum pum

Our finest gifts we bring
Pa rum pum pum pum

To lay before the king
Pa rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum”

These words echoed from the mouth of a little girl behind the shower door at my local recreation center. After the first stanza, her mom, who was assisting with shampoo, joined in on all the “rum pum pum pum’s.”   So sweet.

I had to sit down on the bench and stop putting on my shoes. I wasn’t going to miss a note of this concert. That is when it dawned on me….she was singing a Christmas song….during Holy Week! Not “Peter Cottontail hopping down the bunny trail…” or Jesus Chris is Risen Today….no, she was singing The Little Drummer Boy.  How strange.

Except it really isn’t that strange, is it? Kids like what they like. They sing when they are happy and they sing whatever is on their hearts. Seasons don’t matter. Location doesn’t matter. Only the joy of the moment matters.

I’m sure the angels in Heaven were smiling down on her, also enjoying the concert, and not criticizing her for singing the wrong song during the wrong holiday about a character that never existed on a day that wasn’t and never will be Christmas.

My heart lightened.

As I washed my hair this morning, I caught myself rum pum pumming — my new favorite Easter song.

Things Meant to Fix Us Are Things That Don’t Break

hearts

Hearts are there when you need them.

When you are feeling down and need to reset your mind and perspective, what do you do? Do you go out in nature, cook, garden, sew? What is it that frees your mind and helps you keep going? For me, it is riding my bike. Hiking, running, and other forms of exercise can do it as well, but getting on my bike and taking off with the wind in my hair just frees my soul.

But what happens when your “thing” hurts you instead of helps you? It’s devastating. I got on my bike this weekend, really needing some soul time. Up until I mounted my bike, the previous 48 hours had been emotionally draining and difficult. I knew getting on my bike would really help – just enjoying the spring weather and burning off the angst. Then it happened. Twelve miles into an easy ride, it felt like a knife was sticking into my knee. This was the same sensation I had just before I tore my quad and was benched for ten weeks last spring. I muscled through until I knew that I had to stop and ask for a ride home. I couldn’t risk that severe of an injury again. I couldn’t lose my fix.

As I walked my bike down the road, I remembered the glorious day off I had on my calendar for the next day–a ski trip with a dear friend. I’ve been waiting for this ski day for more than two years — and a rare Monday off work, as well. I felt another stab of pain, and though in denial, I knew at that moment I couldn’t go skiing. The tears began to fall. I spotted a lonely intersection on the frontage road up ahead and thought it looked like a good place to wait for my rescue. As I walked, I asked God some serious questions. Why? Why after such  hard days did my “fix” need be taken from me, too? Why?

When I got to the intersection I found two hearts made with rocks — a little heart surrounded by a big heart. I sat by the hearts and cried.

The little heart was me, feeling small, broken, and stuck on the side of the road. And the big heart? Gifts from God –big enough to surround my life–surround it with people who would scrape me and my bike off the pavement. People who would give up their afternoon to listen to me. People who are more than happy to change ski plans just to be with me. People who give me a hug and just know without asking.

Funny how the hearts are always there when you need them. Funny how the “things” we think “fix” us aren’t actually the things that fix us at all.

The Mark of the Feast

devil

Yikes. My lunch receipt! The mark of the beast.

It might not be marked on my forehead, but 666 is the number the cashier at Subway said I owed him — the price of my 6-inch meatball sub, a bag of chips, and a drink — the meal deal.

I looked at him and said “Really? Is this the common total people get? Do you realize I’m here for a church meeting? Is this a bad sign?”

He replied. “Out of $20?”

My thought process that followed:

What to do.  Ahh….buy a cookie! That will change the total. But, wait, I just paid. Too late. Cookies. Yum. They look delicious. But, I should really avoid sweets. Darn, now I’ve got cookies on my mind.  [Trish purchases three cookies.]

Guess the number was my undoing after all. At least I can say the devil made me do it.

Thrown for a Loop Hole

cake

I gave this amazing cake up this week. Rule #2: No sugar. That one hurt.

Loop holes. Why are they so easy to find when we are in a tight spot? Humans are amazing. How do we do it? Maybe it is an element of the survival level of Maslow’s hierarchy.

If you are keeping up, you know that in my last post Food is Fuel, Not Our Friend, I challenged myself to eat as if food were fuel and not my friend for seven days. I had a plan with my made-up rules. I failed. But not in the way I thought I would.

What I discovered is that I am great at justifying loop holes. So, for example, here were  some of my dilemmas:

 To Drink or Not to Drink

Question: Can I have milk?

Rule #1: Water. Lots of water and only water to drink.

Rule #5: Dairy. As long as it isn’t cheese and is nonfat or low fat, I can have it.

My ruling: Rule #5 would say “yes” and Rule #1 would say “no.” What did I do? I drank milk. I figured I would argue in court that these were confusing rules and my sugar-starved brain couldn’t distinguish between the two.

Potato Problems

Question: Can I have those yummy French fries with my chicken?

Rule #3: Fruits and Vegetables. Yes, but only the ones I like.

Rule #6: Grains. None.

My ruling: Yes, and you can have mashed potatoes and gravy and fried potatoes with your egg white omelet, too. Now deep in my heart I believe my intention was to cut down on the carbs. So when those potato options came my way, I quickly looked to my rules. Potatoes are not a grain. Check. Potatoes aren’t a vegetable. Awesome. Bring on the fries!

Despite my incredible ability to justify foods, I found these seven days to be completely doable. The first two days I craved sugar, but quickly forgot that friend. And, I did feel a lot better. I didn’t lose a single pound thanks to my milk and French fries, but I did feel better. Hooray! And I celebrated with a Coke and some chocolate covered almonds. Now my stomach hurts.

Looks like I’m going to have to make some amendments to my laws. I’m determined to continue. I hope there’s no more pork-barrel politics. Hey, I could pay myself off in popcorn! Popcorn is a vegetable, right?

 

 

 

Food Is Fuel, Not Our Friend

fish

Actually fish are food, not friends. It is food that isn’t our friend….I think.

Is food really just fuel and not our friend? Sometimes I think a pizza is my friend. Or a Dairy Queen Blizzard…that’s been my friend a time or two.  I’m having a hard time with this concept that food is not our friend and that I should change my mind set to one that food is merely something I put in my mouth to make sure I have enough energy to get everything done.  If that were the case, I’m pretty sure God wouldn’t have given us taste buds. Or maybe our taste buds are just an adaptation humans have developed to keep us from eating poison. Wait…if that’s true, then if it tastes good, it must be good! Oh no, I’m starting to rationalize chocolate again. Someone stop me.

Nevertheless, I am going to attempt to treat food as only fuel for the next seven days and see how that turns out. I looked up several 7-day challenges and they are all simply ridiculous. You would need a garden and a private chef to do what they are asking.  Who has that kind of time and money? Some of the plans actually want you to drink their fortified smoothies everyday. Not going to happen. So, I’m making up my own challenge.

My 7-Day Challenge

Water. Lots of water and only water to drink. (Lots is a technical measurement.)

Sugar. None. Very scary.

Fruits and Vegetables.. Yes. But, only ones I like.

Protein. Lean protein. Absolutely. Oh, and fish. They are food, not friends.

Dairy. This is a tough one. A lot of challenges say to eliminate it. But I’m not. This is my challenge so I’ll do it my way. No cheese, everything else is fair game as long as it is nonfat or low fat.

Grains. None. This one is going to hurt. I love grains. But I can do anything for 7 days, right?

Exercise and Stretching. Exercise is not a problem. I already try to make time for that everyday. Stretching…that’s the challenge.

Now, last thing. I need your support. I’ll check in after seven days and let you know if I need my friend back. I’ll miss you pizza and chocolate!

 

Pikes Peak Isn’t Going Anywhere

angry-birds

Why are birds so angry?

Birds hate me. I don’t know why. Maybe I stuffed too many of their friends back in my zoologist days.

I should really rephrase. Birds hate me while I’m running.

Are they worried that I’m going too fast and I might just take off and start flying, thus eliminating their main advantage over humans? Or do they just have it in for me personally?

I have now sustained two injuries from bird-related running incidents. The latest was 36 hours prior to a fantastic hike up 14,115 foot Pikes Peak. After mourning the loss of my summer fun from the recovery time needed due to a quad strain or from my August full of business travel, this last climb was going to be epic and put an exclamation mark on the season, as if to say…I’m back, Baby!

Long story short…running down the trail…bird flies out of bush…startles me…I trip on rock…fly forward…hit another rock…break a rib. Bye Pikes Peak.

After 24 hours of denial and many tears, I finally realized I just had to get busy healing. Everyone with whom I told this story gave me these words of comfort — the exact same words: “Pikes Peak isn’t going anywhere.” It must mean something when EVERYONE says the same thing. My heart’s response: I’m not going anywhere either.

I can rationalize and go to a place of broad perspective. Lots of people have horrible injuries and won’t ever recover. I am lucky I have the opportunity to climb mountains for fun at all…and so on. That is all true. But today, it still hurts and I can’t breathe. Today, Pikes Peak did go somewhere. It disappeared into the future.

I guess it is just one more reminder of the broken world we live in and the promise that awaits us all. Whether we can climb it or just stare up at it … rich or poor, man or woman, weak or strong…we are all still just reaching out to something higher. You are right, my friends. Pikes Peak isn’t going anywhere. Thank God for that!

Dear Pikes Peak: Wait for me. I'm coming!

Dear Pikes Peak: Wait for me. I’m coming!