Sunday, July 26, 2009

What's Up Doc?

I'll answer that question for you- my friend RoseAnne Coleman, er, Dr. RoseAnne Coleman, writer, speaker, & teacher is up and blogging, here. It would do you well to read her posts, and her book, The Stories I Keep. She has much to offer you, the reader. I know you'll appreciate her wit and wisdom, wrought by the caldron of God's mercies, new to her each day.



I think of the word advice as intrusive, for some reason; or, maybe it is the doing of it that seems so, not the word itself. Yet, its sound, advice has a sharp edge to it, like a sword's blade. Sometimes, advice is most disruptive when it is not sought. I must say I'm practiced at giving it prematurely, but that is the subject of another essay, for another time.

Last night, friend RoseAnne Coleman, asked fellow diners and celebrants if we might ponder and share what advice we'd impart up to this point of our lives lived. I thought for a moment, and offered this:

You can run, but you cannot hide.

Someone far wiser than I said it before me. For much of my life, off and on, I lived by the maxim that if one stays busy, attendant to the task at hand, or given to the destruction inherent in a life spent running without rest, one might succeed in hiding. Our good God has proved me wrong by his gentle mercy over and over. One of the best renderings of the idea is captured in
David's Psalm 139: 7-12:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning,
and dwell in the utter most parts of the sea,
even there, your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day
for darkness is as light with you.

The definition of advice (
includes the word visage: the face of a person; countenance.

The sobering fact is plain: there is no place to hide from God. Because of his great love, in Christ's intercession, His face is toward you-always.

May I seek his advice, though it slay me, he is always and only good.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Peace and Dignity

Over a year ago, Jerome Sidney Barrett was indicted for the murder of Marcia Trimble. Just last Saturday, a jury of his peers convicted him of the crime of second degree murder in two counts. He'll likely spend the rest of his life in prison. Oh there'll be appeals, there'll probably be petitions for post-conviction relief. The lawyers will wrangle about the issues and posture to the judges, as with every case. I listened to most of the trial, and relived a great portion of the winter of my 12th year. Much came undone. Anguish surfaced. Fear stirred. After the verdict was rendered, Marcia's mother spoke to the media. Standing in the wake of three decades of swirling horror and grief, she literally sighed relief. Much of the time, a sigh of relief is bland poetry. For Virginia Trimble Ritter, last Saturday, it was reality. A well-meaning reporter asked her if, now, at the conclusion of the trial, she might have closure. Her response was gracious. She said something like this:

I think I'll have to see what Mr. Webster says about closure, I don't think I know what that word means. But I can say this. Today, I'm on the other side of pain.

Waiting thirty-four years for a killer to be found and brought to justice will leave a woman wanting. It'll slice you up and spit you out. Mrs. Trimble-Ritter has lived to tell. She has endured the dark nights, the fierce days, and attacks of hopelessness. At the end of this leg of the journey, Marcia's death still looms, and I'm sure it does in a new way for Mrs. Trimble-Ritter.

One of the details I appreciate about indictments in Tennessee, is the verbiage that follows each allegation. At the conclusion of every count of every indictment, prior to the District Attorney General's signature is the phrase that prompted my writing today:

in violation of T.C.A. 39-13-.....and against the peace and dignity of the State of Tennessee.

At every trial the indictment is read into the record, and those words jangle in the mind of a jury; against the peace and dignity. In the Barrett trial, I was fortunate to hear colleague Katrin Miller read the indictment. I focused on those words through-out the trial and at the end felt a curious peace, not so much afforded by the State, or to the State, but rather that peace that passes understanding, the contentment that comes from a long journey's endurance.

May Virginia Trimble-Ritter have attained some peace & dignity. She has shared hers well. Even in the revisiting of great sadness, I pray she be sustained. One day, all of what was lost will be restored to her, to Marcia, to us.

Sola Deo Gloria.