saying something - doing something

How can you not be moved? I'll ask you again later.

You are safe at home in your bed. The rain is falling, but that is on the outside. You are comfortable. You are dry. You are warm. You are safe. As a matter of fact, you feel sorta giddy because you've finally reached that soft spot you've been inching toward for hours. It may not be on your task list, but you know that resting your head at the end of the day is a sweet reward for all you've dealt with since your last visit.

You rest well as the day's events play through your mind. You're satisfied you've accomplished so much, or you try and bury the undone things under happier thoughts at least until morning. The children are well, only steps away, resting just as safely - just as warm.

Suddenly, a very loud and angry crash is at your door. Being startled and a bit dazed, you wonder what causes such a terrible commotion? Now voices - angry, loud incoherent voices are screaming words you can't understand. They near your retreat. Your heart is pounding. Your mind is racing. Who are they? What do they want? Why are they here?

Your children scream.

Protecting yourself is an afterthought now. You have to stand for your children. You are their protector. No one is going to harm, to violate your children. You won't let it happen. Your love is stronger than your fear, but before you can reach them, they are gone, and you will be too very soon. Your peace is shattered. You are broken. You have no voice. The intruders are in control.

Still lots of questions. Still no answers. Moments ago you were warm. The once distant rain now chills the clothes you only intended to rest in. You shiver in the wet cold.

Only moments ago these streets were quiet. Being led through them now, you realize you are no longer safe, and as far as your attackers are concerned, not completely human. Who could treat another human like this? You can't avoid the screams of close and friendly neighbors pleading for their own lives and the lives of their children. You know their fear - their sense of helplessness. You want to grieve for them. But you sense that the worst is yet to be realized. The "cleansing" continues through the night.

How can you not be moved?

If you lived today in Darfur, Sudan this would not be a movie script sort of story. Closer to home, if you were black, and lived right here in the country we are so very proud of as recently as 140 years ago, the same scenario could be played out in your own neighborhood, on your own street. If you were Jewish, in Europe, it was just a generation ago.

"In a sense, we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
-Martin Luther King, Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC August 28, 1963

Read the entire speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. here.
Learn more about the effort to save Darfur here.


goodbye to a good, good year...

I don't ever remember as a youngster saying, "where has the time gone?" It seemed to creep along and move pretty slow to me then, especially those last couple of weeks before Christmas and those last, long few days of summer. Of course, summer break from school seemed to last a lot longer back then. I'm a bit older now, so I have the obligation now of saying it. Where has the time gone?

I think about time a lot. Try if you want, but there's no escape from the oft reminders. As long as there's a need for perpetual calendars, deadlines, watches, time clocks, birthdays and reminders from the TV weatherman to replace the batteries in our smoke alarms twice a year we'll be reminded that time comes, goes and generally leaves a trail. Follow the crumbs back and you'll remember hard earned promotions, happy celebrations and magnificent milestones. Of course, the difficult moments and devastating memories are there too. Life has such a texture.

The year 2006 was landmark for me and my family in several ways. I started a new decade of my own. Casie, my daughter, became an adult of eighteen years, and my son Christian turned into a teenage middle-schooler. We've made some fantastic family memories these past twelve months. I traveled coast-to-coast visiting California and New York and lots of interesting places in between. After seeing much of the country through a bus window, it was fun actually getting to touch things.

My first solo recording in over a decade was released back in May. We'd worked on it for nearly a year, and I was excited, nervous and anxious to see what kind of response we'd get. I couldn't have predicted it. I can't imagine that I would have said to anyone a year ago that I expected this recording to get the attention it has. For years I sang to my fellow choir members. We enjoyed safe, harmonious fellowship; engaged in a little friendly competition; amanned each other's songs; and were grateful for the success. I still am. But I've found a somewhat different audience this time around. Many of them didn't follow my previous career, so I get to start at the beginning when telling them my story - yuck and all.

This new record has brought newer, broader opportunities than I've known before. I've spoken with more mainstream writers and reporters in the past year than I ever did my entire previous music career. Looking into cameras that typically cover major news events and telling whoever is waiting for the weather and scores how grateful I am that grace still works is an awesome thing. Reading in major newspapers and trade publications how I've proven that prodigals remember and return, and then getting a note from a celebrity wanderer is just overwhelming to me.

Then there is the GRAMMY thing. I told a friend of mine that, that was certainly not on my list of things to do. But again, the honor has brought many more opportunities to tell chart minders and career watchers why I sing of mercy and grace.

I've given a lot of thought to these unexpected opportunities. I believe firmly that God has all of His people in strategic places, and if they are not there, they are on the way. If that's true, knowing that I'm quite likely not where I will always be, these next seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years ought to be really exciting. Pray with me that I do something smart and effective with them.