Otherwise Occupied

What a strange time to be otherwise occupied. So many things are in play that would normally be getting my attention… the White Supremacy conversation in our country, plans for the beginning of a new church year, the completion of our major campus renovation, preparations for the launch of our new Bending the Arc Institute: A Learning Community for Social Engagement, which been in the planning stages for 4 years, and management of the $10,000 grant we recently received from the Contigo Fund for the purpose of creating a community-wide Cultural Competency program for community groups desiring to deepen these skills in a post-Pulse Orlando. Phew!

I still recognize all these things as important and tend to them through email and facebook as I can. However, I recognize that right now they are not the most important thing for me. Right now, the most important thing for me is being with Mom. Even though I am completely clear about my priorities, the shift in focus has a surreal feel to it. I’m finding the hospice journey strange enough, with a mix of good days and challenging days, which give me the sense of being on a slow moving roller coaster… with a unspecified end.

So I think about many things including how we set our priorities, and the many factors that influence them, and how others might set their priorities differently, in ways we might not understand, especially if we do not know all that is going on in their worlds. And I hope I will remember all this down the road, when I find myself challenged by the choices of another. And I hope I will remember my right and my responsibility to make the choices that are right for me.

 

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A Change of Pace

I had planned to vacation in New England at the beginning of August. My mom is still in my hometown. One of my brothers and his family is nearby. One of our daughters and her family is also not far away.  And let’s face it, New England is a lovely place to be in August, when your option is the heat and humidity of Central Florida.

However, 10 days became 30 when we learned that the chemo that we hoped would extend my mother’s life was causing more problems than it was solving. Since her pancreatic cancer was diagnosed at stage 4, we already knew that we were looking at extension, not cure. Now that time frame was shorter, although, as anyone who has been on this journey knows, we don’t know how short.

So I looked at my calendar, called on the fabulous resources of our congregation to fill in on some Sunday and others responsibilities, and cancelled my return ticket. I am so very grateful for the time and support, and frankly privilege, to be exactly where I need to be.

Now I am learning more fully the lingo of hospice. As a minister, I have, of course, been around many people availing themselves of these critical and compassionate services. However, as people keep reminding me, it’s different when it’s your own mother. Yes, it is.

I’m not sure I can explain yet exactly how it is different but being present is giving me lots of opportunity to reflect on my childhood, my relationships, and what it means to come from my small town in southern New Hampshire.  While the primary journey ahead is that of my mother, and my primary role is to support that in whatever way I can, I realize I must acknowledge that I, too, am on a journey, a journey that will change me, in ways I cannot yet know.

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CF100: 2017 07 23 – A Tuesday Tradition

Each week, the Orlando Sentinel asks two questions of 100 community leaders in Central Florida. Those with access to the online Sentinel can read all of this week’s 100-word responses when there are published online,  usually late Saturday. For those without access, my responses are below. Selected responses appear in the Sunday print edition.

What was the biggest story of the week?

Although it started as an event to take place for the first 100 day of the current administration, the Tuesday Rally in front of Senator Rubio’s downtown Orlando office has become an institution. Every week a diverse and dedication group of folks gathers to highlight issues brewing in Washington. Recent highlights have been healthcare and Russia. This is just one way that people are making sure that we do not accept our current situation as normal. It is one way, though certainly not the only way, we practice democracy and ensure that the voices of the people are heard.

What will be the biggest story in the coming week?

No offering this week.


The series focuses on state and local news.

Read the Sentinel’s introduction to the series

Read my first post on the series.

My posts related to this can be found using the categories in the right sidebar. Click either Central Florida or Current Events.

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CF100: 2017 05 07 – Lifting Up Progressive Values

Each week, the Orlando Sentinel asks two questions of 100 community leaders in Central Florida. Those with access to the online Sentinel can read all of this week’s 100-word responses when there are published online,  usually late Saturday. For those without access, my responses are below. Selected responses appear in the Sunday print edition.

What was the biggest story of the week?

No offering this week.

What will be the biggest story in the coming week?

It’s time to turn to the future and lift up what a progressive world view can offer our community and the world. The Resistance has been relentless and, this week’s major step backwards on healthcare notwithstanding, it is clear that much of current leadership’s dangerous rhetoric will not become policy. Progressive activists now pivot to engage those newly activated in Central Florida in advocacy for the best that we can become. We must articulate a compelling vision of a peaceful, just, and sustainable world for everyone, for only in that world will we find the unity we seek.


The series focuses on state and local news.

Read the Sentinel’s introduction to the series

Read my first post on the series.

My posts related to this can be found using the categories in the right sidebar. Click either Central Florida or Current Events.

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CF100: 2017 04 16 – Progressive Activism & Earth Day

Each week, the Orlando Sentinel asks two questions of 100 community leaders in Central Florida. Those with access to the online Sentinel can read all of this week’s 100-word responses when there are published online,  usually late Saturday. For those without access, my responses are below. Selected responses appear in the Sunday print edition. This week my Earth Day post appeared in print.

What was the biggest story of the week?

It is an interesting, and busy, time to be a progressive activist in Central Florida. Last weekend various community groups shared plans and inspiration at the Florida Resistance Training. Yesterday, (4/15), a Tax March called on Trump to release his taxes to increase transparency. If you missed these, there is more. On Earth Day, 4/22, there is a March for Science at Lake Eola at 10:00am. The People’s Climate March takes place the following Saturday, 4/29, in Pine Hills at 1:00pm. All marches parallel events in DC on the same days. Lots of ways to get connected and involved.

What will be the biggest story in the coming week?

Central Florida Earth Day will once again be celebrated at Lake Eola in a large and wonderful event with something for both committed environmentalists and those who are seeking a greater understanding of how to make a positive difference. There are exhibits and speakers and panel discussions. There are food vendors and earth friendly products. There is live music and art and activities for kids. It’s a wonderful outing focused on our health, as well as the health of our communities and planet. Bring the family or a friend. Come spend a beautiful and meaningful day in the park.


The series focuses on state and local news.

Read the Sentinel’s introduction to the series

Read my first post on the series.

My posts related to this can be found using the categories in the right sidebar. Click either Central Florida or Current Events.

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CF100: 2017 04 05 – Florida Coalition for Reproductive Health

Each week, the Orlando Sentinel asks two questions of 100 community leaders in Central Florida. Those with access to the online Sentinel can read all of this week’s 100-word responses when there are published online,  usually late Saturday. For those without access, my responses are below. Selected responses appear in the Sunday print edition.

What was the biggest story of the week?

With Florida legislature in session, many folks from Central Florida are headed to Tallahassee to chat with legislators and aides about issues of importance. I was there with a new group introducing itself to lawmakers. The Florida Coalition for Reproductive Health encouraged opposition to bills limiting or obscuring access to abortion including HB19/SB384, HB203/SB1140, HB841/SB1006, and HB969/SB1130. We also asked for their support of HB1339/SB1740 which protects patients and healthcare workers from violence and harassment outside healthcare facilities. Our interfaith group highlighted justice issues involved as well as the need to respect individual conscience and religious freedom in our pluralistic society.

What will be the biggest story in the coming week?

No offering this week.


The series focuses on state and local news.

Read the Sentinel’s introduction to the series

Read my first post on the series.

My posts related to this can be found using the categories in the right sidebar. Click either Central Florida or Current Events.

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CF100: 2017 03 05 – Anxiety & V.O.I.C.E.

Each week, the Orlando Sentinel asks two questions of 100 community leaders in Central Florida. Those with access to the online Sentinel can read all of this week’s 100-word responses when there are published online,  usually late Saturday. For those without access, my responses are below. Selected responses appear in the Sunday print edition.

What was the biggest story of the week?

I am struck by the level of anxiety I hear on a regular basis from friends and neighbors feeling threatened by the growing messages of intolerance in our country. An Indian mother worries that her son will be shot. Muslim women are warned not to go out alone in hijab. A Jewish school receives another bomb threat.  Children of immigrants cry during a civics writing assignment as they worry their parents will be deported. Meanwhile, a delayed and tepid response by the administration makes folks wonder whether their concerns are heard and if they will receive the protections they count on.

What will be the biggest story in the coming week?

Even though spring is upon us, the chill in the air will continue to grow as an administration that claims it wants to reduce government regulation and bureaucracy instead creates a terrifying new taskforce. V.O.I.C.E. stands for Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement. It will publish a list of crimes committed by immigrants as a way of continuing to stir up anti-immigrant sentiment. This is a red herring. As Americans, our values should have us equally or more concerned about how we treat the stranger among us. Sadly, the list of crimes committed against immigrants by citizens is appallingly long.


The series focuses on state and local news.

Read the Sentinel’s introduction to the series

Read my first post on the series.

My posts related to this can be found using the categories in the right sidebar. Click either Central Florida or Current Events.

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