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Happy Children’s Day!

April 23, 2014

April 23 is National Children’s Day – in Turkey, the only country in the world to dedicate a national holiday to children. The event was named in 1920 to commemorate the first gathering of the Grand National Assembly (the Turkish Parliament). The day honors Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. Ataturk dedicated the Republic to children so each year children take part in political events: sitting in Parliament and symbolically leading the country.

Families observe the holiday with visits from children  who come to Turkey from around the world. The visits are sponsored by the state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) who brings children, aged eight to 14,  to stay with families and participate in ceremonies and celebrations during their  week-long stay.

With all our longing for world peace, perhaps Children’s Day is one happy step toward understanding and appreciating each other’s cultures. We are less likely to dismiss others when we know their faces and claim them as friends.

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Until death do us part

April 21, 2014 6 a.m.

Kenneth and Helen Felumlee eloped as young lovers and continued their mutual love for 70 years. Together, they raised the kids, cooked the meals, worked to pay bills; they held hands through all the anniversaries, holidays, children’s rites of passage - and at breakfast each morning. When Helen died, Kenneth let go, too, 15 hours after she took her last breath.

While it will never appear on a death certificate, some people do die of broken hearts.

(S-R photo: Kenneth and Helen Felumlee, seated, of Nashport, Ohio, pose for a photo with their eight children in December 2012. They were married for 70 years.)

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Easter – it’s all about the egg

April 20, 2014 7:39 a.m. - Updated: 7:45 a.m.

Happy Easter, the springtime tradition that blends pagan and Christian symbols arrives.

While women may wear fascinators atop their heads and happy toddlers suck on chocolate bunnies, most people recognize the egg as Easter’s central symbol.

As we should.

The egg recalls the rock at the tomb, sealing in Jesus, sealing in death. Orthodox Christians color their eggs red – to symbolize the blood of Good Friday. With the cracking of the egg, we recall the tomb opening, Jesus rising from death to new, transformed life, a life we share. We move out of the desert of hopelessness and despair into the light of resurrection.

The rock rolls away. Joy remains, Happy Easter.

(S-R archive photo)

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Hungry at Easter

April 19, 2014 6:53 a.m. - Updated: 7 a.m.

While grocery store shelves fill up with chocolate bunnies and foil-wrapped chocolate eggs, some people are hungry for breakfast. In Spokane County  15.4 percent of residents are deemed “food insecure.” Families who rely on food banks and other resources may not always need extra help, but at some time, they lack resources to access adequate food.

Perhaps this weekend we could lessen the chocolate treats in our Easter baskets and spend money to donate food to a hungry neighbor – a gesture more closely linked with the resurrection of Jesus than a Peeps marshmallow bunny.  

(S-R archive photo)

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Lab-grown body parts

April 18, 2014 8:33 a.m. - Updated: 8:35 a.m.

The world of science fiction continues to overlap with reality, offering previously unfathomable options. Science can now grow needed body parts – from the recipient’s own cells – and implant those generated body parts into the person.

A study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina generated fully functional vaginas for young women who suffered from Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, a genetic condition, where the vagina and uterus are partially or fully unformed. The condition affects 1 in every 5,000 females. Eight years after the implant, the women reported physiological and psychological success.

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Holy Thursday – Pope Francis style

April 17, 2014 8:56 a.m. - Updated: 9 a.m.

He leads with humility and grace. Today, Pope Francis chooses to wash the feet of aged and frail people who live at the Don Gnocchi Centre in Rome. Washing of the feet is an integral part of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, celebrated today, Holy Thursday.  The gesture commemorates Jesus’ act of washing the feet of his disciples.

While most believers celebrate this holy day not in Rome, but in their local churches,  we carry Pope Francis’ message in our hearts: love those who need it most, serve them with humility, and when you do, you become the hands, the heart, the face of Christ. 

(S-R archive photo: Pope Francis washes the foot of an inmate at the juvenile detention center of Casal del Marmo, Rome, Thursday, March 28, 2013.)

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Holy week continues

April 14, 2014 11:48 p.m. - Updated: 11:52 p.m.

Holy Week…Passion and Grace: we enter Palm Sunday with triumph and joy, a journey into Jerusalem; our own lives seek the journey to return home, to enjoy friends and wonder about our future.  Jesus was deceived by false claims of devotion. We travel our lives with similar steps.

Holy Thursday invites us to share food, drink wine, speak holy words, share our thoughts amid laughter, memories and gentle friendship. Ritual and celebration define us. But soon darkness, betrayal, and anguish overcome us and life offers no real control – even when you are Jesus.

Good Friday crashes down with tragedy and skewed loyalties among friends; a frenzy of courage and grief and loss and confusion and hopelessness; a spiritual wandering; emptiness and death. Primal-scream loneliness. Darkness extinguishes one’s spirit. Where is that God who promises so much?

We seek quiet stirrings and reflection and desperately demand meaning out of endings. How can one live with deep anguish? How can one survive the death of all that is good, close, holy, loving? Chaos reigns.

And then…when hope no longer lingers in one’s bones…that stone which has sealed us into death, suddenly quakes loose in ways we could never imagine, understand or even ask for.  The thunderous movement liberates creation and the stone moves farther and farther away, smashing darkness. Light reaches into our own hiding places and warms what has been broken, offering healing and hope.

While our brains cannot explain, measure or understand, we are healed as we eagerly race from that sealed tomb into God’s grace of light and love; we arrive crashing into our God who will not abandon, our God who dances with joy at our own goodness.

The passion of Christ is the passion we claim for our own lives.

When we listen, we know the cosmic message: we are made in God’s image and deserve to be liberated from all that shackles us. In thunderous revelations or in quiet wandering, we arrive in the Light, we are made whole.

We deserve to dance in the Light of God’s Grace. Joyous Easter, promised resurrection ~ life.   

(S-R archive photo: Sunrise from the slopes of Mount Spokane)

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A week for Passion

April 13, 2014 9:59 p.m. - Updated: 10:15 p.m.

Holy Week arrives. Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, palm branches strewn; disciples, strangers, love him and cheer, but finally turn away. Loyalty morphs into fear: the crowd condemns the man of justice, a counter-cultural man with a message of love.

Who would I have been in the crowd? If I had rushed to the noise, to the screaming, what words would have fallen or spewed from my mouth? I ponder the thought.

We walk before Mass, the lot of us - parishioners diverse and noisy, some silent; a community of hope. My son meandering away walks with the crowd. I hold back, accompanying my friend whose legs move more slowly than they once did.  We walk the neighborhood, around the building that feeds the hungry of our community each day – no matter their faith or lack of it. We feed them.  

This morning we carry palms: smooth blades, blessed and fresh. Walking, the People of God – we are imperfect, stragglers, helpers.

The sun casts shadows on our return to Church, down a small hill. Bagpipes lead us and the wailing notes echo off the bricks. As the choir sings, we crowd back into the building, eager souls who listen to the Word, awaiting this week of Passion, humanity’s defining pilgrimage.

Let us begin.

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Phyllis Frelich ~ actress

April 13, 2014 7:47 a.m. - Updated: 7:50 a.m.

You may not know her name, but you have seen the results of her pioneering work. Phyllis Frelich was the first deaf actress to make her way onto the stage and walk away with a Tony Award. She inspired the play “Children of a Lesser God” which later became a move. Actress Marilee Matlin, also deaf, played the lead role in the film –and won an Academy Award.

Frelich, 70, passed away in Temple City, Calif., her husband, Robert Steinberg, said. Frelich suffered from a rare degenerative neurological disease called progressive supranuclear palsy.

Frelich and Steinberg were married for 46 years. “I would have been happy with 46 more,” Steinberg said.

 

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Fort Hood soldiers

April 12, 2014 10:01 a.m. - Updated: 10:03 a.m.

The violence continues in our country. We honor people who serve, who protect and leave us too soon. May their families’ hearts heal, may our nation continue to seek effective care and treatment for those who suffer from mental illness.

We remember soldiers who defended their comrades, their military community.

(S-R photo)

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