Intro to Watsonopolis

There was one who once said crazy things like, give your possessions to the poor, let your light shine, go to the ends of the earth, love God, love your neighbor, serve, pray, die and live. Those words, the words of Jesus, have gripped and shaped our lives.

Because of Jesus’ life, challenge and love we are propelled into an amazing life journey; a journey that most often finds us pitching our tent among the poor and those on the margins of our world, serving, living, teaching, learning and loving there.

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Thursday
Apr282011

Post-Easter Reflections

Easter was later this year than in years more recent.  Yet for me, it seemed to come right on time.  Had it come earlier, it would have been too early.  Had it come later, it would have come to late. 

The days leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are dramatic.  They are filled with a roller coaster wave of emotion.  Intrigue, horror, disbelief, tragedy, celebration, sorrow and tears fill the week.  Lots of tears. 

My days leading up to this Easter were rollercoaster as well.  Absolutely not to the degree or depth of Jesus’ Easter week, but a taste.  Or better said, bitter reminders of why Good Friday was good and why the Resurrection was necessary. 

Ginger

Ginger is my aunt.  She and my Uncle Charles have been together for years now.  By any measure of love a couple has for one another, theirs was deep and honest and true and warm. 

Earlier this month, Ginger was out helping a friend who’d broken down on a rural road in Love County, Oklahoma.  She stepped out of her truck and another truck came by, hit her, killed her and sped away.  In the wake of her death, she left 2 adult children and a grieving spouse – my Uncle Charles. 

Marye

I met Marye at the Med the week before last.  For 12 years now, Marye has been working in the Med’s Adult Special Services unit.  That’s code for the HIV/AIDS unit.  Marye shared with me her amazing story of how she’s provided care to thousands of Memphians living HIV/AIDS.  She shared how she’s lost family members to the disease.  She told me of how her mother-in-law scolded her and then ostracized her when she began working with AIDS patients. 

The she introduced me to one of her patients; a woman just older than myself with two daughters.  All three of them living with HIV. 

Olga

Olga is a hero of mine.  She works hard to raise money for St. Jude and his fellow saints of ‘lost causes’.  She gave me a tour Tuesday before last.  I was blown away at the work going on in that place.  Like a citadel of hope anchored in downtown Memphis, day after day they treat the youngest among us whose bodies have turned on themselves.  Though I’m sure there are times where their work feels like one long defeat, they labor and labor looking for the right mix of medicine, care, prayer, good luck and love – hoping against hope that a child’s life doesn’t end before it has the chance to begin.  I left St. Jude proud of St. Jude and of Olga.  I left glad that there is a St. Jude and sad that we live in a world where even our bodies can be at odds with us. 

Vollentine Elementary School

One Wednesday a month I head up to Vollentine Elementary School to join the Principal, Counselor, and a small handful of teachers and parents for the monthly Site-Based Council meeting.  Vollentine is a wonderful school, but it has had its share of challenges in recent years.  Nearly 100% of the school is on free or reduced lunches, which means nearly every student is at or below the federal poverty line.  Their grades are poor.  They are an academically struggling school by most measures.  Poor neighborhood plus a poor school most times means a bad outcome for its students. 

At this meeting, the Principal – a dynamic young educator bent on turning the school around - shared that the school met its Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals for the year.  This is the first time in years Vollentine has met these goals marking a turning point for the school.

Jos, Nigeria

The place that Lisa, Nathan and I once called home was in the news again last week.  Following the country’s election, violence broke out.  Muslims killing Christians, tribes fighting other tribes and everyone jockeying for power.  Some of the violence took place just north of our city, Jos.  So far as we know, none of our friends have been victims, but we continue to pray. 

Dr. Prince

Dr. Prince was one of the first people we met on our very first trip to Nigeria.  He lived in the flat above us in the apartment complex we lived in in Jos.  He’s remained a dear, dear friend for years now.  He was in the US presenting at an AIDS conference in Denver and prior to returning home, he stayed with us.  We were encouraged by his visit and we talked about a wide sweep of topics – Muslim / Christian relations, HIV/AIDS work, approaches to ministry, immigration reform – but mostly we talked of God’s love and the work of God in the restoration of all things.  And we talked about how difficult it can be to live in the ‘in between’ of here and now. 

These people and places made up my Easter preparation.  These things and their juxtaposition to the highest holy day reminded me of the weight of Good Friday.  Jesus took on the weight of the world.  He took on the million ways humanity has made a mess of the world.  He took on tragic accidents and tragic diseases.  He took on broken systems and broken neighborhoods.  He took on violence and what can feel like dreams deferred.  And in return he offers life.  Life beyond bodies, lives and families destroyed by trucks, or AIDS or cancer.  Life beyond the violence of neighborhoods.  And somehow, that life is extended to us now, not just in some sweet by and by.  But rather God is active in the renewal of all things even now.  Jesus was resurrected.  Death was defeated in all of its forms.  And that defeat is being worked out in the million cracks and crevices where death finds home.  And in its place life is taking root.  Even though, like a germinating seed, it’s not always seen.  Nevertheless, its still there, waiting to burst forth like a spring flower from the soil, or like a savior from a tomb. 

 

Reader Comments (1)

The wide range of people you mention really do prepare for Resurrection Day and remind about what makes Good Friday good. I think a theme w/ several of the ppl in your post is the act of sacrificial giving- whether it's love or care to HIV positive ppl. This is an interesting way to personalize Easter beyond self.

May 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteranneliesz

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