Bridging the Gap


Sorry means you feel the pulse of other people’s pain as well as your own, and saying it means you take a share of it. And so it binds us together, makes us trodden and sodden as one another. Sorry is a lot of things. It’s a hole refilled. A debt repaid. Sorry is the wake of misdeed. It’s the crippling ripple of consequence. Sorry is sadness, just as knowing is sadness. Sorry is sometimes self-pity. But Sorry, really, is not about you. It’s theirs to take or leave.

Sorry means you leave yourself open, to embrace or to ridicule or to revenge. Sorry is a question that begs forgiveness, because the metronome of a good heart won’t settle until things are set right and true. Sorry doesn’t take things back, but it pushes things forward. It bridges the gap. Sorry is a sacrament. It’s an offering. A gift.” 

Craig Silvey, Jasper Jones

Sunday I spent a few hours sitting between these two beautiful people. Something about them makes me think of my mom’s family which means I was in a very magical place Sunday afternoon.

Pinky and I did not always have a good relationship.

Our conflict began many years ago over a dog poop incident. Yes. You read that correctly. Dog poop.

He had cautioned me very nicely not let my dogs relieve themselves in his yard. Well, when a dog decides to make that stop it’s not always easy to pull them away. I explained to him I was very careful with my dogs and I’d pick up after them. Okay. He was not happy with that answer but he accepted it.

The next weekend I was out walking the dogs and was so happy when both dogs walked by Pinky and Mary Lou’s yard.  What I did not know was Pinky had stepped in a “gift” left by a dog whose owner looked a lot like me. She did not pick up. He had tracked that little present into his RV and all over the freshly cleaned carpeting before he’d realized it.

As I walked by I heard a very firm voice ask me to stop. It was Pinky and he was angry. I was so confused. We hadn’t even stopped in his yard. I had no idea what he was talking about but there was no doubt he was very angry with me. I tried to defend my self but he was not listening to my excuses. He had seen me and that was all the proof he needed.

I walked quickly home and told Michael I would be keeping my distance from Pinky. For many years Pinky and I went out of our way to avoid each other. His wonderful wife, Mary Lou, went out of her way to visit with us and loved me just like nothing had happened.

About four years ago I heard a knock on our RV door. I wasn’t expecting anyone so I peeked through the window. I was shocked to see Mr. Pinky. I went into panic mode trying to think if I’d done something wrong? Michael wasn’t there so I couldn’t send him to the door. Pinky had already seen me so I had to answer the door.

I slowly opened the door and he began to speak to me in a strong but kind voice. He told me he did not want to come in but he had something important to say to me. He cleared his throat and straightened his back and looked me directly in the eye. That eye contact never broke as he asked me to forgive him for getting so mad at me all those years ago. He told me he had problems with a bad temper all his life and it wasn’t always easy for him to control it. He knew he had made a bad judgement about me because he had been watching me. He knew I was not the kind of person who would leave a mess behind. He paused to rest his voice before asking me to forgive  him.

No one before or since has made such a sincere apology to me. We both had tears in our eyes as I thanked him for the beautiful apology and told him I forgave him. We shared a very clumsy hug, each sniffling a time or two, and he headed down the stairs and home.

We have been the best of friends since that day. There isn’t a day that I don’t think of these two beautiful people and thank God they are in my life.

Sunday Pinky sat beside me and asked me questions no one else has since I retired. He touched my arm and asked me if I missed my work? He’s one of very few people who have asked that question. It touched my soul. We talked more about retirement. He told me he’d retired once but went back for twelve more years because he didn’t believe retirement was good for people. He said people need to be busy and both he and Mary Lou are both busy. He asked me about my home state of Iowa and what the summers were like there. How did he know I’d been feeling a little homesick? How comforting for me for him to take the time to listen to me talk about home. All our conversations were done with steady eye contact. As I think back on our talks I realized just how uncommon that is today.

It was an exceptional day and I will carry it in my heart forever. As I sat with the two of them I had such a strong feeling my family members had come to spend the day with me as well. Thank you, Pinky and Mary Lou, for being a part of and for adding so much to my life. I love you.

“What people see you do may not be remembered; what they hear you say may be forgotten; but how they feel your intervention in their times of need will forever be remembered.” 

Israelmore Ayivor, Leaders’ Watchwords

I am…

B…simply being.


Memories of a Cowboy Pastor

Life is the sum of all our choices.  ~Unknown~

My adventure in the used bookstore last Saturday resulted in finding a second book which seemed to be waiting for me to appear.

That book, The Salt Block, Heartwarming Stories from a Cowboy-Pastor, is pictured above.

As I read the title, I was reminded of a cowboy church service I attended in a rodeo arena in Buena Vista, Colorado.

It was a hot Sunday morning during the Chaffee County Fair. Our family was meeting at the rodeo grounds to attend the cowboy church service together.

It’d been a difficult year. We’d all faced personal challenges. Some of these trials put a lot of strain on our relationships with each other. In light of that fact, I was encouraged when everyone showed up.

Walking together we joined the scattering of people already in the small corral. I’d never been to a cowboy church service. I had no idea what to expect. We did not have to wait for long.

Right on schedule, a tall, slender man dressed in jeans, a long-sleeved plaid shirt, and shined black boots strode to the front of the crowd. He removed his hat and opened his well-worn Bible. Yes, this was the man we’d all been waiting to hear.

The moment he began to speak, the crowd grew quiet. He did not have a microphone. His deep voice was steady and clear, carrying easily across the arena as little dust devils stirred up in the mid morning winds. He spoke slowly, taking time to connect with each of us, nodding slightly as he made eye contact.

As he spoke the clusters of people moved inward, drawing the circle closer together, giving each of us a chance to acknowledge one another. Even though we were all strangers I felt at ease with this gathering of souls. It was peaceful and eerily quiet as we  listened, focusing as the word of God was shared along with our preacher’s personal stories and life lessons. How fun it was to laugh with him as he gave examples of the mistakes and misjudgments he’d made along the way. The power of a good story was very evident that day.

I have no idea how long we stood together that sunny morning.  Time stood still as our eclectic group of people grew closer and closer while our cowboy man of God reminded us that Jesus had died for our sins and we were all forgiven. By his sacrifice we were all saved. We could leave with peace in our hearts.

At that moment, all the problems I’d been carrying were lifted off my shoulders. As I looked around at my family, I could see their burdens fall to the wayside as well.

Powerful does not begin to describe this simple service held in a corral on a Sunday morning many years ago. Tears flowed as we held hands while praying The Lord’s Prayer. After that amen, long, strong, and sincere hugs were shared as we smiled, wishing each other safe travels.

Seeing this little book on Saturday reminded me God is with me and shows up in some of the most unlikely places.

I was blessed then as I am now.

“I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry.’ If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self. I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves. Now mind you. When a larger society sees them as unattractive, as threats, as too black or too white or too poor or too fat or too thin or too sexual or too asexual, that’s rough. But you can overcome that. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don’t have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach.” 

Maya Angelou

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace be with you~


Try a Little Kindness

R.J. Palacio, Wonder

It has taken me many years to come to this place where I can admit to my own limitations. I am learning to ask and grow. I now have a place where I can let my guard down and confess I really do not know everything.

I’d begun to tire of the charade. I was tired of pretending.

I began to see others, people I respected and trusted, speak up when they did not know or understand something. They stepped forward and asked questions in order to learn.

As I quietly observed their honest examples, I started asking my own questions.

It took a long time to have enough trust in myself to risk that–simply asking questions.

With each risk taken and each question asked, my belief in myself–my real self–began to grow. With each successful step forward, I grew.

With this growth, I found myself on a new path.  I came to a point–a crossroads–where I knew I needed to forgive myself in order to continue my forward progress. I needed to believe that I had done the best I could in my past with the knowledge I had at that time.

That was a big assignment. It is difficult for me to forgive and forget. When it came to forgiving myself, I struggled. I still so.

I began to see that until I forgave myself for my past mistakes, I would not be able to move on.

I’m working on staying aware, having an open mind, and moving forward. It took me decades to get to where I am. I need to stay patient, take those baby steps, and continue moving on.

“The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ — all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself — that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness — that I myself am the enemy who must be loved — what then? As a rule, the Christian’s attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering; we say to the brother within us “Raca,” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves.”
― C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflection

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.




A Buddhist Prayer of Forgiveness

If I have harmed anyone in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly through my own confusion, I ask for their forgiveness. If anyone has harmed me in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly, through their own confusions, I forgive them. And if there is a situation I am not yet ready to forgive, I forgive myself for that. For all the ways I harm myself, negate, doubt, belittle myself, judge or be unkind to myself, through my own confusions, I forgive myself.

As I shared yesterday, throughout my life, God has offered me many opportunities to successfully learn my life lessons. Patience is and always has been at the top of that list followed closely by forgiveness. There are several things I’ve carried around with me over the years that continue to challenge my ability to forgive. Working through all that old stuff is one of the reasons I started sharing my stories. I am learning that unpacking some of these things from that crusty old bag is not only difficult but pretty scary. I’ve been asking myself since I began this journey if I was really ready to unpack this bag, shake it all up and out, look it all over, and share.

Several of these stories happened in the Fall and around Halloween. I think next week will be the perfect time to start the unpacking.

“Listen. Slide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember.”
― Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

I am…

B…simply being…

I wish you all love and peace.

The Gentle Touch of God

I have never doubted the existence of God nor have ever questioned His sense of humor.

Let me share one of my stories that support my belief.

The summer before my senior year in high school, my friend, Laura, asked if I could take over a week of in home babysitting so she could go on vacation. I was beyond thrilled. The family lived in Iowa City but would come get me when they brought Laura home. The catch? Convincing my parents.  The only way this would ever happen was to pray for a miracle. That was no exaggeration.

I prayed and, to my surprise, God granted the miracle.

Norma, the mom, picked me up and I was on my way to Iowa City for a week. The best part was there were two days at the end of the week when Laura and I would be at the same time.

The first night we were together we decided to go out and explore the neighborhood. As we walked, we discovered a Goodwill box that was crammed full of clothes. It was too tempting to pass up. We crawled inside and started trying on clothes–it was like having our very own fully stocked dressing room. We found everything we needed. We could not wait to show Norma at breakfast the next day.

She was not pleased. In fact, she told us in no uncertain terms that we were thieves. Not only were we thieves, but we had stolen from GOODWILL. She was so angry with us. She was so deeply disappointed in us. We needed to take it all back immediately. She told us we should be ashamed of ourselves.

We were ashamed. Very ashamed.

Sobbing, we gathered up all our treasures and headed back to the donation box. On our way back we walked past the Catholic Church. I was still very upset so I asked Laura if she minded stopping.

We walked up the few steps and through the front doors. The air was cool and the wide open floor plan of the church was dark and comforting. As our eyes adjusted to the dim light, we found our way to the altar. Sitting close together, we talked to each other and to God. The tears started again as we told Him we had not meant to do anything wrong. For whatever reason, we did not see what we had done was stealing. In all honesty, we explained, we felt the two of us needed those clothes as much as anyone else did. We were sorry and asked for forgiveness. But most of all, we cried, could he please help Norma find a way to forgive us, too?

Time passed. We talked. We prayed. Slowly we noticed that the air in the church felt warmer, the silence less pressing. Smiling, tears drying, we shared an emotional hug. Turning to leave, a ray of sunshine topped the trees and illuminated the large stained glass window over the entryway of the church. As that beam of light angled towards us, a gust of wind caught the heavy front doors, slamming them open.

Holy Cow.

We each jumped off the altar, down the aisle, and out the door! We did not stop running until we were about a block from the church.

At the time, we did not know what had happened. Had God visited us in the church in Iowa City?

My heart says yes and my heart is so blessed by the memory.

I am…

B…simply being…



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