Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Fun - Minister of Silly Hats

What should one do if one is young, and famous, and royal, and one wants to stand out in a crowd of other young (and not so young) famous royals? Why, wear a silly hat of course!
Princess Beatrice is becoming rather well known because of her repertoire of silly hats, like this one she wore to a previous wedding:

Of course in a world where Lady Gaga exists there is no such thing as a hat that is too silly for public viewing.

And will all the fuss being made over Princess Beatrice and Lady Gaga, and what constitutes bad taste, ridiculousness, and the ultimate in "look at me" bids for attention, no one seems to get overly worked up about these guys:

Perhaps because these blokes have "earned" the right to wear their silly hats, while Princess Bea and Lady G. are stealing the public's attention without having had to kneel before God and a bunch of other blokes wearing silly hats to receive their honor. 
Just goes to show that "ridiculousness" is relative. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday Words of Wisdom - Henri Nouwen

"Your body needs to be held and to hold, to be touched and to touch. None of these needs is to be despised, denied, or repressed. But you have to keep searching for your body's deeper need, the need for genuine love. Every time you are able to go beyond the body's superficial desires for love, you are bringing your body home and moving toward integration and unity."
- Henri Nouwan

In our Biblical Ecology class today we had guest speaker, Rabbi Arthur Green. He described spirituality and sexuality as being very closely tied together - they originate in the same area of the brain and flow from the same sense of libido - both are centers for feelings of attraction and love, for God and for others. Perhaps this is why some religious folks are so suspicious and intolerant of sexuality in any form, and why so many rules have been created to restrict sexual expression - whether it's a need to be chaste (outside of marriage), celibate, monogamous, or to fit into an outdated understanding of a heterosexual norm. With both sexuality and spirituality flowing from the same center, it's easy to confuse the two, or to  have one get in the way of the other. We must ask ourselves: Is it sex that we desire? Or love? Love of another? Or love of God? Which need, which sense of emptiness, are we trying to fill?

These are not easy answers to discern. But it's a shame that we feel we have to deny one side of our humanness in order to fully experience the other. If we allowed ourselves to fully experience both sides, perhaps we'd have a much easier time differentiating between the two.  Just a thought.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 44

Today I am grateful that Lent is finally over.
With the arrival of Holy (Maundy) Thursday the Triduum has begun, marking the three days of somber anticipation leading up to Easter Sunday.
It's been a long and lonely 40 + days spent wandering in the wilderness.
I'm ready for some Hallelujahs.
It's time to rejoin the trail and head for home.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 43

Today I am grateful for the open and productive dialog that has grown out of the situation I described in Monday's gratitude journal (our class field trip to the mosque), and I am grateful for the ways in which this continuing conversation has dovetailed with a discussion on interfaith dialog that took place in my Biblical Ecology class today. 
I'm learning that even those who plan to make religious devotion, practice, and leadership their life's profession hesitate when it comes to asking the necessary questions that lead to understanding. Sometimes we're so anxious to "make nice" and celebrate the commonalities in our differing faith traditions that we neglect to discuss what it is that makes us unique. We're often so afraid of offending others with our questions that we choose to leave them unasked, and make assumptions instead. 

And you know what happens when we make assumptions...
We'll let Felix Unger take this one on:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 42

Today I am grateful for a two and half hour dinner time conversation in the cafeteria with my classmates. Picture eight women at a table procrastinating about heading back to our rooms to write final papers. We laughed our heads off talking about stoles, toasters, burning bushes, birthday candles and tassels.  You had to be there. ;)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 41

Today I am grateful for what provokes me unexpectedly.

Today our class went on a field trip to a mosque here in Boston. This wasn't my first visit to a mosque so the experience wasn't entirely new to me. What was new was the requirement that all female visitors wear the traditional head covering in the prayer space.
I understand that it is proper for one to respect the customs of other faith traditions even if one does not understand those traditions or agree with them.
I also fully support the right of Muslim women to wear head coverings, veils, or burkas in public (yes, even in France) if this is what they choose to do to express their religious beliefs.
But I discovered that I was very uncomfortable today, standing shoulder to shoulder with my male classmates who are normally my equals, and being asked to drape a scarf over my head because I am female.

If this were a Jewish temple where both men and women are asked to cover their heads as a sign of reverence for God, I would have had no problem with honoring this tradition of a faith that is not my own.
But the men in our group today were not required to adapt their appearance to enter this sacred space. The question of why was of course raised to our gracious tour guide - a Muslim woman.
She had a lovely response about women "choosing" to identify themselves as Muslim in public through their dress, and keeping their "beauty" hidden from men who are not related to them and thus forcing the men to relate to them intellectually rather than sexually. It sounded very empowering. But it didn't explain why women are required to wear a head covering in worship.

She mentioned briefly that both men and women are told to avert their gaze and show "modesty" in worship but still, why the double standard in attire? The need for "modesty" was also raised as an explanation as to why women are required to line up behind the men in the prayer space. Because "we don't want to be distracted by worries about who is behind us and who is seeing what." But apparently the men don't share this worry or distraction.

What our host never said is what many of us were most likely thinking - "Yeah right, the women are behind the men so the MEN won't be distracted by the sight of the prostrating females in front of them.
Because the truth is, the special requirements for women - head coverings and position - are all about shielding women from the lustful eyes of the male. Because men are not responsible for their own thoughts - it's the woman's fault for provoking them.
One woman with our group - not a member of our class - even went so far as to point out that the requirement for female head coverings is in the Bible as well - and if women followed this teaching they wouldn't have to worry about being "attacked" in public because their immodest dress was provoking to men. Our Muslim host nodded in agreement.
This is wrong on so many levels.
This is the repugnant "she was asking for it" argument that one would think had died off with the rotary telephone and punch card computers.
Some of the women in our group exchanged surprised glances at this comment. But no one said anything.
We were guests in this sacred space, and it was not the time or the place to challenge our host's theology.

But it made me sick to my stomach.
I left the Catholic church because women are not treated as equals - we are not "worthy" of ordination because we lack a Y chromosome. Or to put it more bluntly, because we don't have a penis we can't stand in for Christ. 
Apparently having this particular sex organ is what gives one the ability to imitate Jesus. One can't be a competent preacher, pastor, or sacrament presider without it.
This sounds ridiculous because it is ridiculous.

There is NO part of my theology that has me standing as "lesser than" in God's eyes because I am female.  And as much as our Muslim host tried to spin it to make it sound like a "choice" that women make to promote modesty, the result is that we as women are asked to cover ourselves in the presence of God, to hide our beauty from the Creator in who's image we are made.

Even if you try to flip this argument on it's head, and say that it is MEN who are the weaker sex because they cannot tame their lust, and thus the female head covering requirement is meant to show the superiority of women, this requirement still holds up men and women as being unequal in the eyes of God. This belief is an insult to men.

And it doesn't explain why there are no female Imams.
The reason we were given today for the lack of female leadership in Islam is that it would be immodest to have a female Imam because she would have to prostrate in front of the men. Again, the need to control the thoughts of men is used to dictate the role of women.

I wore the head covering today out of respect for our host and the beliefs of her tradition.
But I felt disingenuous for doing it.
I felt like I was forced to make a choice of conscience, and of faith, that my male classmates were not asked to make.
I am not lesser in the eyes of God.
My male classmates are not superior because they have different genitalia.
And my male classmates are not inferior because they can't control their lustful thoughts.

This is the fallout from interfaith work.
The dirty icky feeling that one has when one is confronted with a belief that infringes upon one's own belief, in a very real and visceral way.

I have some inner work to do here.
And my final paper for our class will most likely be on this topic. I may uncover research that either softens my view, or hardens my view. The jury is still out on this.

But I am grateful for having experienced this provocation.
I am hoping, HOPING, that a greater understanding will come of it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 40

Today I am grateful for not getting any school work done on a day that I set aside to do just that.
Instead I went to church, I went for a walk, and I spent hours instant messaging on facebook....and in doing so I connected with three wonderful friends, had three meaningful conversations, and hopefully helped at least one of those friends get through a very difficult day.

I didn't get any work done today. But it was so very worth it. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 39

Today I am grateful for a quiet Saturday spent working on bulletins and brainstorming final paper ideas. My background accompaniment for these tasks was a chick flick extravaganza:

  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Sleepless in Seattle 
  • You've Got Mail

What these three movies have in common, besides Meg Ryan ...purrrrrrr..... (but who is not aging well, I might add) they're all based on essentially the same story. Girl and guy meet and have no idea that they're meant to be together, so they spend the whole movie dancing around each other - as friends, as strangers who keep missing each other, or as online chat acquaintances. Thrown into the mix are the current mates of both characters, each of whom are of course totally wrong for our guy and our girl. But they can't see it. They're convinced that they're supposed to be practical, responsible, and 'love the one they're with' and not be looking for happiness elsewhere. Of course, in the end there's a twist that brings our guy and girl together and low and behold the blinders come off and they finally have that "aha" moment and fall in love. 

I'm a sucker for these kind of stories. Perhaps it's the idea that "fate" or destiny plays a hand in where we end up, and who we end up with, and as much as we try, we can't escape it. Perhaps its the romantic endings where characters who were once so unhappy at last find happiness. Perhaps its just that I like Meg Ryan - or rather the character that she plays in each of these movies. The slightly naive, straight-laced yet vulnerable, hopeless romantic, who has this dream of meeting a "soulmate" - someone who connects with her on an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual level. 
I think it's the point of connection that I long to see. 
That spark that ignites when two souls come together. 

I like these movies because I have an affinity for romance. The Saturdays spent walking in the park, or meandering through flea markets and museums, the Sunday mornings spent lying in bed (these people never go to church), the dinners in cozy restaurants, the flowers, the hand holding, the first kisses.

I've watched each of these movies dozens of times. 
My wife Stephanie is baffled as to what my attraction is to these chick-flicks. Then again she reads romance novels so we're even - we each have our own guilty pleasure. ;)

And now, some happy endings:

You've Got Mail:


Friday, April 15, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 38

Today I am grateful for finally completing and emailing the final draft of my Ordination Paper to my Committee on Church and Ministry! Woo hoo!

But I use the term "final draft" loosely. It's final in the sense that I feel it's ready to be seen and reviewed by the powers that be. When I go before the Committee in early May to "defend" my paper they may have suggestions for changes/revisions that will need to be made before I present it in its final form at my Ecclesiastical Council next fall.
But for now I've jumped through another major hoop. I still have many more to jump through (graduation, CPE, receiving permission to circulate my Profile, the Ecclesiastical Council, finding a call, and THEN ordination) - but jump I must so jump I will!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 37

Today I am grateful that the forsythia bloomed!!
Bursts of yellow everywhere! Hallelujah!
(yeah, I know we bury the Hallelujah during Lent, but this deserves one) :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 36

Today I am grateful for my friend Holly.
She's a first year student here at school and she's adopted me as her "Seminary Sherpa" - because she she seems to think that my third year status makes me all wise and all knowing. (Ha!)
Several times this year I've opened my dorm room door to find a greeting card that she left for me, just to thank me, to let me know that she's thinking about me, or to encourage me when I'm feeling down. On occasion she even leaves cookies. :)
Holly is big on giving voice to her appreciation and gratitude. And believe me, when I'm having a not-so-good day, or something else is weighing on my mind, hearing a positive affirmation from Holly - or from my wife Stephanie, or any one of the many friends I have back home and here at school - it has the amazing ability to lift me out of my despair. 
Never underestimate the power of a kind word.
Everyone should have a Holly in their life.

Today I opened my door to find yet another encouraging card.
Inside the card was this cartoon.
Thanks, Holly! :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 35

Today I am grateful that I finally got my taxes done.
And despite having made very little money last year - with no taxes withheld - I'm actually getting a refund.
And I'm especially grateful that the refund will just about cover my car insurance bill. 
I love it when things work out like that. :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 34

Today I am grateful for a busy day of classes and people and learning and laughing and fun.
I'm going to miss this place.
I really am. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 33

Today I am grateful that I have written the last TO-DO LIST of my seminary career.
It is as follows: 
  • Write AA reflection paper
  • Write Addictions class mid-term paper
  • Complete final draft of Ordination Paper - Send to Committee on Ministry
  • Do Taxes (before April 15)
  • Write Biblical Ecology paper
  • Complete Ministerial Profile (lots of writing!)
  • Write final paper for Addictions class
  • Prepare final presentation for Addictions class
  • Write paper on Islam for World Religions class
  • Write final 25 page research paper for World Religions class
  • Prepare worship service/write sermon for May 8th
  • Write Commencement speech
Most of this needs to get done in the next 3 weeks. 
Piece of cake. 
No, really.....give me a piece of cake. Preferably chocolate.
I need something to distract myself from this list. Stat.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 32

Today I am grateful that this cough/chest congestion/sinus thing that I've managed to come down with in the past three days has not been accompanied by a sore throat. It's a miracle. 
I don't think I've EVER had a cold where the germs didn't start out and camp out for the duration in my throat. Last spring I had a sore throat for THREE weeks. 
Perhaps my throat has finally wised up and put up a 'No Vacancy' sign, so the germs went down the road and settled in my chest instead. Wait....why am I grateful again?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 31

Today I am grateful for being invited into the lives of others, and I am grateful for the trust that is exhibited in the granting and receiving of these invitations.

This morning I got to sit with a good friend as she waited for her wife to complete some medical tests, the potential outcome of which was frightening for both of them to consider. All I did was sit with her, talk about goings on in our respective careers, talk honestly about some difficult situations that both of us are facing, and laugh about silly stuff. But somehow that seemed to be enough.

Last night I sat in on an AA meeting (as an observer for a class assignment) and was amazed at the warmth and openness that was shown in response to my presence.  The participants revealed sobriety lengths that ranged from 39 years to 2 weeks. Yet all spoke openly and honestly about their struggles and seemed eager to have an "outsider" hear their stories. The women in particular seemed intent on holding my gaze as they spoke. As if to say, "we have a problem, but otherwise we're just like everybody else, there is no shame in being here." And that is so true. There is no shame in being there. 
In fact, before the meeting I sat down next to one woman and introduced myself, telling her that I was a seminarian and that I would be working with people struggling with addictions during my chaplaincy internship this summer. She laughed nervously and said, "Oh, so you're not one of the sickies, like us!" My response was, "I don't know about that, we all have our own sicknesses to deal with."

And we all do. 
Some of us are just better at hiding our sicknesses than others.
Some of us are less honest, or less secure, about talking about our sicknesses in public. 
Some of us hope if we ignore our sickness long enough, it will just go away.
Some of us don't realize that the first step taken in healing a sickness is acknowledging that it is there.

In the past 24 hours, I've had the privilege of being invited into the company of some very healthy people. And I found their presence, and their words, to be very healing indeed.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 30

Oh my.... this is a big one.
Today I am grateful for the phone call I received this morning from the Dean of Faculty at seminary. The faculty has chosen me to be the student Commencement speaker at graduation on May 21st. 
I am flabbergasted. 
And humbled.
And very, very thankful. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 29

Today, and everyday, I am grateful for this song by David Haas titled "Prayer for Peace"
I love this song. We've sung it in chapel at school several times.
Every time I hear it I envision it being sung at my ordination ceremony.
I just might have to make that happen.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 28

 Today, right at this moment, I am grateful to be out of my car.
I'm back in CT after yet another 3 hour drive from school, this time to get the second half of my PPD test and a physical for my chaplaincy internship.
I've been making the trip back and forth from Boston to CT nearly every week since starting this semester. While it's good to be spending more time at home I'm feeling out of sorts being away from school and the community that I've come to love so much.
I suppose I should get used to this feeling.
In 45 days I will pack up my car and make the drive home for the last time.
But for now, let's just pretend that's not going to happen, ok?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 26

Today I am grateful for the challenge issued by the Rev. Nancy Taylor during worship at Old South Church in Boston this morning.
Today was "Mothering Sunday" at Old South and worship was all about Mary.

Rev. Taylor bemoaned the fact in our Christmas pageants Mary is often portrayed as a demure and mute figure who does nothing but listen to the message from the Angel Gabriel and kneel beside the manger after Jesus' birth. This does not do justice, Rev. Taylor says, to the strong, courageous young woman who agreed to be the Mother of God despite the undeniable consequences she would face as she revealed her condition to her family, her husband-to-be, and the society in which she lived.
This portrayal does not honor the bravery and unconditional love shown by a woman who would one day be forced to stand by and watch as her son was tortured and killed - the lone disciple remaining while the others ran and hid out of fear.

Instead, the Rev. Taylor suggested, when Christmas pageant time rolls around again we should cast in the role of Mary the brashest, most out-spoken teenage girl in our congregation, and have her tromp about the stage singing and shouting the defiant and counter-cultural words of the Magnificat:

(Luke 1:46-55)

‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
   and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
   Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
   he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
   and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
   in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
   to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’ 

Like her son, Mary was a rabble rouser who knew it was God's intention to bring down the powerful, and lift up the powerless. The challenge that Rev. Taylor issued to all of us who call ourselves followers of Christ, Protestant and Catholic alike, is that we should as a Lenten practice memorize the words of the Magnificat. To commit these words to our memory and ingrain them in our being in the same we have the Lord's Prayer and Psalm 23.
We should do this to remind ourselves that Mary was not just the Mother of God or the vessel through which Christ incarnated, but she herself was a prophetic voice in the wilderness, an agent of change who stood against those who fought to maintain the status quo.
Like mother, like son.
And I wonder, would we have a Sermon on the Mount if we did not first have the Magnifcat?

As a former Catholic, I'm all for lifting up Mary as a woman worthy of our adoration, celebration....and memorization.
I accept the challenge.

Do you?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 25

Today I am grateful for a peaceful day spent catching up on my reading.
Today's selection:

Blackout Girl by Jennifer Storm - a memoir written by a woman who has battled alcoholism and drug addiction since the tender age of 12  - Reading this one for my Pastoral Care with Addictions class.

Part-Time Pastor, Full-Time Church by Robert LaRochelle - a useful how-to manual for those considering part-time pastorships or bi-vocational ministry - A gift from a friend and very much appreciated!

Buddha by Karen Armstrong - historical biography of the man who became the Buddha - Reading this one for my Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam class.

I Shall Not Want by Julia Spencer-Fleming - the sixth book in mystery novel series that tracks the adventures of a Clare Fergusson, an Episcopal priest who solves crimes with the Chief of Police, Russ Van Alstyne, her very-secret, and very-married love interest. Ooooooh! - This one is just for fun. :)

Today I am definitely channeling Burgess Meredeth from that infamous Twilight Zone episode:

"So many books, so little time!"

Friday, April 1, 2011

Gratitude Journal - Day 24

I am still grateful for the view outside my dorm room windows.
But I would be even more grateful if the snow would stop reappearing! 
It's April for Jesus-sakes!  WTF?? (which stands for Where's The Flowers???)

And note, this photo was taken in the afternoon after a day of plowing/melting. 
It looked like January this morning. Snow. Go away. 

April Fool

I have a solitaire card game app on my iPhone. It has about 50 different versions of solitaire, but I keep playing the same one over and over.
It's called "Scorpion" and it doesn't take long to play but it's really difficult to win. According to my game stats I've played 813 times and won 34 times. That means I've lost 779 times. That's a 4.2% winning percentage.
That's not very good. In fact it's pitiful, if I do say so myself.
Yet I keep coming back to try again.

What is it they say about the definition of insanity? Something about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

But in this case, sometimes I do get a different result. I won 34 times.
It's those 34 wins that keep me coming back for more.
Because it feels really good on the rare occasion that I do win. I love the challenge of it. I love the sense of hope that I feel every time I start a new game. "Maybe this time I will win." I tell myself.

I used to play the same mind game with myself when I was bike racing.
I started racing when I was 16-years-old and kept at it for another 16 years, until a bad crash in a race prompted me to finally hang up my wheels and give it up for good at the age of 32.
My biggest claim to fame during my racing years was winning three silver medals in the Gay Games in 1994. But other than a few top 20's here and there my racing career was for the most part pretty unspectacular.

Despite all the effort I put into training, the same scene repeated itself every weekend. I'd drag myself out of bed at some god-awful hour (usually 4 am) and drive to some distant race, typically in NYC or out on Long Island somewhere. By 6 am I was lined up at the start, usually with 5 other women and about 30-50 men. The gun would go off and organized chaos would ensue. Racing in a pack of riders is all about fighting for and maintaining one's position. Riders are constantly streaming up along the edges of the pack moving to the front, and in doing so they push the riders in the center to the back. And once you're at the back all it takes is a little surge in speed in the pack, or the road tipping uphill and before you know it you've lost contact. One bike length become two then three then four and then you're left watching helplessly as the field crests the hill and is gone for good. A pack of rider always travels at a much faster speed than a single rider, and once you're dropped there's little chance of catching back on.

On flat roads I could hang with the men until the cows came home, but throw a hill in there and I would shoot out the back like a cannonball. The guys had a weight to strength ratio that I could not match, and the women who kept up with the men on the hills were typically natural climbers - they stood about 5 foot nothing and weighed 100 lbs soaking wet. In comparison, I was a natural sprinter. At 5'7" and 140 lbs I was a lean, mean, power machine on the flats, but my thunder thighs were not made for going up hills at a high rate of speed.

So my race days typically had me hanging in the field for 3 or 4 laps (about 15 miles) but before long I'd find myself drifting further and further towards the back...and then we'd hit the hill one more time and I'd come unhitched.
I'd spend the rest of the race riding alone trying not to get lapped by the field and pulled from the race.

This happened nearly every weekend.
Yet I kept hauling myself out of bed and lining up at the start line, because as difficult as it was, and as much as the odds were stacked against me, I never lost hope. "Maybe this time I will win." I'd tell myself.

I told myself this on a weekly basis and on a yearly basis.
In October the racing season would end, and on November 1st I'd begin training for "next year." I drew up training schedules, kept meticulous training diaries, and fully believed that "next year" would be different.

Every year, on the first Saturday in April, I'd find myself back on that start line. The sun wouldn't even be up yet and we were lucky if the temperature was above freezing, but I reveled in the difficulty of the task. I was hardcore. And hardcore people have what it takes to win.

And on at least three occasions, I did win. I felt the weight of the medals around my neck, basked in the glory of the applause, and taped my race numbers up on my bedroom wall as a reminder of my success.
That was enough to keep me going - to keep the hope alive.

Tomorrow is the first Saturday in April.
I will not be on the start line with all the crazy fools that continue to do what I once did. I've left that world behind.
Instead, I rise early on Sunday's and join the fools who stream into our houses of worship. On occasion, I'm lucky enough to be the one who steps into the pulpit, but even then I'm no different from everyone else gathered there.
We come because we have hope.
We come because no matter how many times life knocks us down we still make the effort to get back up again.
We come because no matter how many times we lose, we still think we have what it takes to win.
Because sometimes we do win.
We experience joy, peace, fulfillment, satisfaction, contentment, and connection.
And somehow it makes up for all those times we experience sadness, restlessness, emptiness, dissatisfaction, discontentment, and disconnection.

We are a resilient bunch, aren't we?
I'm convinced that God built a HOPE gene into our DNA.
Otherwise we would have given up the fight long ago.
Without hope we would all just curl up in our beds, hit the snooze alarm, and not even bother getting up and getting out on that start line.
I've been there as well.
More times then I care to admit.
But thankfully, eventually, hope won out and I found the strength to get up and continue on.

Here's to April fools.
The crazy folks who actually believe that life is worth living, despite the pain, pitfalls, and disappointments.
Here's to hope.
Thank you, God. That was a good one.

Glory Days 
Cresting a hill on Staten Island