Notes from Jan

A Cautionary Tale

July 5, 2022

Guess what? I don’t always feel beloved. While what I wrote a week ago was true, it’s also true that sometimes I’m befuddled, beleaguered, beholden, bedraggled and running behind, for starters.

Today’s July 4th. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. (Is that copyrighted?) The beach is crowded. Folks haul picnics in beach wagons. Earlier today, I cut up fruit for our deck-picnic. Which nudges me to caution you to read the fine print. Let me explain. I was hungry for watermelon, but not a whole one. So I opted for a slice. While I bemoaned the posted price of $1.29, I chose one and placed it in the child’s seat of the cart. That slice of summer needed protection from cans of black beans, sour cream, rootbeer, a head of iceberg lettuce(vintage green) and onions. Five items still on my list.

Still, it nagged. When I was ten, we moved to Georgia. Back then, we got five melons for a buck off the back of a truck or free watermelons out of the Gann’s garden patch. So, I felt stunned when I unwrapped the slice (1/4 melon) and discovered it cost $5.71. The price was $1.29 a pound. No wonder they hid it on the bottom!

Speaking of prices. We talk alot about the cost of things these days, like gas and groceries. But today, I’m focused on the cost of truthtelling and democracy. For example, this morning I read in Philip Yancey’s GRACE NOTES, “Democracy requires of its citizens qualities that it cannot provide. Politicians can conjure an exalted vision of a prosperous, healthy, and free society, but no government can supply the qualities of honesty, compassion, and personal responsibility that must underlie it.” (Jurgen Habermass, German philosopher)

Like some of you, I watched the most recent January 6th hearings. A young woman, Cassidy Hutchinson, swore to tell the truth, then shocked many with it. While Liz Cheney and I don’t agree on everything, I admire her tenacious truth-telling, despite strong opposition, and her determination to expose threats to Democracy coming through actions, lies and denial of what really took place on January 6th and other times. Truth costs. And so will recent Supreme Court rulings.

Philip’s reflection today reminds people of faith, “we are charged to uphold a different kind of vision. That this is God’s planet, not ours, and as we scar it beyond repair, God weeps. That a person’s worth is determined not by appearance, or income, or ethnic background, or even citizenship status, but rather is Bestowed as a sacred, inviolable gift of God.”

Well, I never sent this yesterday. Life interrupted. After the family left, I watched the Boston Pops July 4th special. American flags waved. Folks sang and swayed. All colors and ages of people came to the party. And hope showed up.

We are more than what divides us. But more begins with MORal. Which takes me back to the beginning of this blog. “Democracy requires of its citizens qualities it cannot provide: honesty, compassion and personal responsibility.”

Today’s a new day. We have another chance to take a look inside us. What’s missing? Where to find what’s lost? And so, I ask myself some questions. What difference does my faith make? Where have I really placed my trust? What are the hidden costs to the poor and vulnerable, including this planet, from recent Supreme Court rulings? Why care? And as Thoreau reminds me daily from my refrigerator door, The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

Maybe the flag we need to wave is a white one. Put away our weapons of choice: guns, words, lies, fear, religiosity, suspicion and hate. And come to the table. A picnic table. No fireworks allowed. Just a table laden with familiar food and faces but not limited to the comfort of just our kind, whatever that is. Hearts and minds open to welcoming strangers. Some might even resemble family, friends and colleagues we distanced ourselves from because their views or lifestyle clashed with ours. It never hurts to remember, God’s got a thing for outcasts and strangers. So it behooves you and me to enlarge our circle marked: Welcome. Who knows? Jesus might just show up.

A cautionary tale.

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  • Reply Daphne Key July 5, 2022 at 5:00 pm

    Thank you. This is spot-on. And some of us said, “Amen.”

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 5, 2022 at 7:03 pm

      Thank you, Daphne, for taking the time to read and respond. I’m sure not all who read will say “Amen” to what I’ve written. But I still invite them to come to the picnic. Not every question has an answer so sometimes just sitting side by side can speak healing without words. And maybe share a slice of watermelon. Small price to pay to build a bridge.

  • Reply Linda and Bill Herrmann July 6, 2022 at 6:03 am

    Thank you!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 7, 2022 at 12:35 pm

      Thank YOU, for reading the post and daring to respond.. We’re in this together.

  • Reply Maggie Rowe July 6, 2022 at 7:56 am

    Jan, I am constantly running BEhind. My goal for this week is to get through 200 emails. I am literally hiding out from the little ones living with us now to do so since their grandpa is on duty for the morning. I also admire Hutchinson and Cheney’s truth-telling. And yours. Keep on speaking out, dear Jan!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 7, 2022 at 12:37 pm

      I’m shocked you had time to read this, Maggie of the mountains. Cheering you and your expaned family from my Perch.

  • Reply Wendy July 13, 2022 at 11:52 am

    So good dear Jan!!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 13, 2022 at 12:01 pm

      Seems we need these reminders, especially after watching yesterday’s January 6th hearings. We are in deep trouble character-wise, if we opt to win at all costs. The cost is too much for a democracy or a person to bear.

      to win at all

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