My husband wrote a great post about Lent NOT being a season of sacrifice. At least, not the way you think…
As Ash Wednesday draws to a close I’m drawn to think about the season of Lent and what it means to me as a Christian. Growing up, Lent was about one thing: SACRIFICE. You promised to give up something you liked for forty days until Easter when, in celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, you were relieved of your obligatory suffering and resumed eating candy, watching TV, hitting your brother, or whatever it was you chose to do without. Knowing that Easter celebrated the redemption of mankind, it was easy for me as a child to draw the conclusion that Lent was a time to punish ourselves for all the sins we committed during the past year. Wrong!
Lent is not a time of punishment in hopes of redemption. It is a time of spiritual transformation. It is a time when we strive to come closer to God and more fully appreciate…
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Apparently I need to bone up on my paleontology because I had no idea why the Google Doodle of the Day would feature a woman digging in the sand, pointing her trowel at footprints. A quick peek in the Doodle Gallery told me that artist Besty Bauer really cared about this person who was tremendously important for some reason, but I was still mystified. What the heck were Laetoli footprints and why were we celebrating their discovery?
I asked my husband if he had ever heard of Mary Leakey and he asked if she was related to the famous anthropologist Louis Leakey. The answer is yes, by marriage. She was a young artist with a passion for anthropology, he was a professor at Cambridge who needed a book illustrated. They fled to Africa together and married once he obtained a divorce. The rest is literally our history as a human race…
Mary’s many fossil discoveries shed light on how we evolved as a species. The Laetoli footprints strongly resemble modern human footprints and helped to establish that the ancestors of early humans learned to walk upright before their brains evolved to the present size, a matter of great debate in scientific circles. What’s more interesting is that she made so many notable discoveries as her husband’s partner while they raised three sons — in fact, their family has now dedicated three generations to the science of paleoanthropology.
I look forward to reading Virginia Morrell‘s book, Ancestral Passions: The Leakey Family and the Quest for Humankind’s Beginnings, so I can learn more about this fascinating woman and her impact on our world.
When pursuing victory, one of the most counter-instinctual things to do is to retreat. It goes against our nature to step back when momentum seems to be carrying us forward. Yet there are many examples of this strategy working. During Sunday’s Super Bowl, with their team on the edge of victory, the Ravens special teams unit was told to prepare to take a safety and thus give the 49ers two unearned points. Given the competitive nature of professional athletes, that had to be a bitter pill to swallow. Punter Sam Koch has never been charged with a safety — it’s the sort of thing a good punter generally avoids — but he followed orders and danced in the end zone for eight precious seconds before the 49ers caught on and forced him out of bounds. The result was that the 49ers did not have time to score and the Ravens won the championship.
Sometimes retreating to win plays out in the realm of business, like when a conglomerate spins off various brands that no longer relate to its core mission. Or when the post office decides not to deliver bills (or anything other than packages) on Saturdays. Unlike most businesses, the U.S. Postal Service is subject to the capricious whims of Congress, which has created requirements that make it hard for that amazing national system of sorting and delivery to adjust to competition from the Internet, FedEx and UPS. Naturally there’s a lot of debate about whether the Postal Service has the authority to change its hours and whether or not this move will damage its network irreparably. It’s possible that canceling Saturday service is a ploy to force Congress to pass a reform package. But for now, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says that such a retreat is the responsible thing to do to preserve the future of the postal service.
In other words, a small retreat now serves a greater good later. Just ask George Washington, whose use of strategic retreats preserved the Continental Army for later victories. Similarly, women fighting for the right to vote retreated from yearly petitions to the U.S. Congress to small referendum victories, state by state.
I don’t know the exact number of States we shall have to have…. but I do know that there will come a day when that number will automatically and resistlessly act on the Congress of the United States to compel the submission of a federal suffrage amendment. And we shall recognize that day when it comes.
— Susan B. Anthony
For examples in popular culture, check out Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess of Grantham, who seems to know exactly which battles are worth fighting, which must be conceded and which must simply be ignored.
Several years ago, I wrote a poem called “Rings Around Rosa” which was published by poeticdiversity. It was inspired by the reading I did about Rosa Parks following her death and I offer it today in humble tribute to her:
Her casket the size of a child,
she lies in the Capitol rotunda
honored by a country that did not
welcome her quiet rebellion,
her reminder of what children
already know – that we are
all born free.
later, presidents and priests
sing her praises while children
retell her story on classroom stages
and millions weep gratefully in
their hearts for her life of courage.
She had no children of her own
but everyone needed her
for their mother,
from kings to country women:
She gave us faith
She gave us hope
She gave us love
and these three rings around Rosa
grew into pillars of freedom.
Sometimes it seems those pillars need to be shored up. Too many of our children live surrounded by poverty or violence. Too many of their parents struggle against discrimination and inequities of opportunity. Yet Rosa Parks inspired the people of Montgomery, Alabama to walk to work and school for 381 days. Her dedication and perseverance are sustenance for all of us.