I both love and struggle with the way God is not in the business of sugarcoating anything. For example, a religious person and a non-religious person are equally likely to be offended by something they read in the Bible.
In the late 1600s a book was published by the French theologian and mathematician Blaise Pascal titled “Penses” (meaning “Thoughts”). In it he wrote, “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace?
I remember the first time I saw the photos of Ruby Bridges walking into the formerly all-white Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana on November 14th, 1960. There she was - a six-year-old little girl with a flower in her hair - surrounded by screaming, hateful adults telling her she didn’t have the right to be in their places because of the color of her skin.
The floods started on a warm, dry day. It was late spring and no rain had fallen in a week, but upstream and out of sight, the unusually warm weather was rapidly melting the remaining snowpack in the mountains. The rivers swelled and began to slip over their banks, threatening the homes that surrounded them.
I’d traveled a long way, and Northern Japan was frigidly cold. I found myself inside a small gray room with thin walls, bundled up in my coat with the little ones I’d come to be with, trying to get them to do their homework and practice their English please.