Thoughts on Kirkwood

As a newspaper editor, I supervise a terrific staff of bright, talented reporters who cover City Council meetings all the time, and their safety was the first thing that came to thought when I heard about Thursday’s shooting in Kirkwood, Mo., in which a man walked into a council meeting and shot seven people, including a newspaper reporter.

As my imagination conjured up visions of some angry, misguided person standing up in a meeting somewhere and shooting one of my beloved staffers, I began searching my thought for a practical response to this possible threat.

What came to me was the memory of a healing I witnessed a few years ago.

I was attending a rather acrimonious City Council meeting in a small town where there was some talk of demolishing historic properties that had fallen into disrepair. Although all the people in the room seemed to have the same goal — to preserve the properties in a safe, attractive way — they also seemed too busy rehashing old disagreements to set aside their differences and work toward that goal.

Idiots, I thought. They’re going to throw away these gorgeous old buildings over a bunch of stupid infighting.

A split-second later, I corrected myself: There were no idiots in that room. There were only reflections of divine Mind, and it was my responsibility to refuse to see them as anything less.

Instantly, the whole tone of the meeting changed from one of acrimony to one of camaraderie, and that meeting became the catalyst for a communitywide grassroots effort to make the area more attractive to tourists.

Thinking of that healing — which began to reveal itself the moment I changed my thought about the people involved — I realized that the best thing any of us can do to prevent a tragedy like the Kirkwood shootings from happening again is to change the way we think about the people in our own communities. Rather than seeing them as enemies, fools, or lunatics, we need to acknowledge their true identities as God’s children — perfect reflections of divine Love — and refuse to see them as anything less.

It’s been my experience that a little bit of Love will dissolve a whole lot of anger … and it certainly can’t hurt.


Women’s lib

Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.
— Christ Jesus

In junior high, I tried out for the boys’ track team to protest the fact that we didn’t have a girls’ team. Although the coach made it clear that I couldn’t be a member of the team, I did manage to make some of the more chauvinistic boys eat crow (sprinkled liberally with my dust) that afternoon, which pretty much convinced me that I was the next best thing to Gloria Steinem.

Now … fast-forward 18 years:

If I’d been paying attention to the calendar, I never would have signed up for the marathon, because for many years, I’d suffered from pretty severe “female troubles,” and the race was scheduled for a day when the symptoms were likely to be at their most vicious.

As soon as I noticed the timing, I called a practitioner and told him I was tired of being sick, tired of being weak, and tired of being hampered by this stupid notion that because I was a woman, I had to put up with pain and illness every three or four weeks. The practitioner was very firm in his assurance that I didn’t have to fear this or any other claim that would attempt to stop me from expressing strength, grace, or joy — all of which come from God — but I was still pretty worried (and frustrated) by the time I headed over to OKC to pick up my race packet a couple of weeks later.

Alone in the car, offering up a whiny little prayer about how unfair it was that I had to suffer all the time, I suddenly remembered that the word “suffer” can have three meanings: enduring something unpleasant; allowing something (“suffer the little children to come unto me”); or tolerating something (“he does not suffer fools gladly”).

Well, duh, I thought. I wouldn’t suffer so much if I didn’t tolerate this imposition and allow it to be part of my life.

In junior high, I ran to defy the nonsensical suggestion that I could be limited by my gender. Eighteen years later, I ran once again to defy that suggestion … and, having briefly touched the hem of Christ’s garment, I crossed the finish line free of the false claim that woman is ever subject to material forces that would keep her from fully expressing her nature as a child of God.