Saturday, January 29, 2011

Indomitable Me!

On my now defunct blog, Grace and Gravity, I once wrote this post about the power of compliments.   I recalled that post and that compliment this week when another good friend sent me the following email, as a follow up to our recent mission trip to El Salvador:
I’m back for only a few days and I already miss the people and the heat of El Salvador (as I walk around a heated house wrapped in a blanket) as well as the team.  In retrospect, it was a marvelous trip that is more appreciated every day by its very absence.  Thanks for your indomitable attitude and enthusiasm. Kudos for Ken too who was always available to help out with translations and a helping hand.
I was touched and looked up the word "indomitable," just to be sure.  And here is the definition:  "impossible to subdue or defeat."   I must admit that I do not always consider this to be true of myself in all situations, but there is something about this particular trip and this particular team and this particular country full of these amazing villagers that brings out those qualities in me.  And I am especially grateful and honored by the compliment.  I left in the part about Ken, as well, as we all need to hear that we are appreciated!

I will be writing about El Salvador in the near future, but for today, the compliment is greatly appreciated!  Thanks, Kike!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cracked Pots

This was sent to me recently by a friend.  I'm not aware of who wrote it or where it started, but it is a great lesson for all of us.  I often feel like a "cracked pot" myself!

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. 'I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.' The old woman smiled, 'Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side?' 'That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.' For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.'

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Set Free

I must admit to something. I have not developed a solid pro- or anti-death penalty view in my 62 years on this earth. I vacillate between "an eye for an eye" of the Old Testament and "doing unto others" from the New. I hate to see criminals "get away with murder," but I also dislike everything I've ever heard about the death penalty, how it is administered, and how the justice system often fails. 

Two recent things have me thinking. The first is a book I just read, The Confession, by John Grisham. In this page turner, a young black man is obviously wrongly accused of rape and sentenced to the death penalty. I will not be a spoiler and tell the entire story, but it is a book that has deeply impacted my thinking. It takes place in Texas and does not paint a very pretty picture of the Texas legal system of the past.

The second is the headline "DNA exonerates another Dallas man." Because of the use of DNA testing and the fact that Dallas did indeed save evidence samples, Cornelius Dupree Jr. is now a free man, having served 30 years for rape and robbery, convicted on scant evidence in 1979. The story goes on to say that there have been 21 DNA exonerations in Dallas County in which all but one were the result of faulty eyewitness identifications.  The number in the entire United States is much higher.

I, for one, do not want to play God.  The system is incredibly flawed.  I cannot imagine spending all of one's youth in prison for a crime I didn't commit.