Tag Archives: freedom

Wings

I watched it, from my kitchen window, fluttering against the screen, desperate to get out. The butterfly was trapped. It flew in through the large roof opening of our pool frame, a hole the hurricane left behind when a screen came loose in the wind.gulf-fritillary

The butterfly showed no interest in the array of flowers we’ve planted inside, it wanted out and bumped along the side panels until it needed to rest, finally clinging to the screen instead of flying against it.

I dried my hands, grabbed a Rubbermaid container and lid and went out on the deck. I figured if I could trap it inside the container I could set it free, but it flew off before I could catch it.

I grabbed the pool scoop, the thing that looks like a large butterfly net, and followed the creature, gently swiping at it as it darted and glided above my head.

Opening the screen doors on each end of the enclosure, I attempted to guide it to freedom, but it flew too high or darted away in another direction. Butterfly obviously didn’t understand my good intentions. It couldn’t believe I was concerned for its welfare, though several times it was only inches from the open door.

“You’re so close! Come on Butterfly. Work with me. I know this is scary for you but I’m trying to help you here. Why can’t you understand, I’m just trying to help you be free?”

Eventually the butterfly exhausted itself and rested again, on a side screen, within reach and I gingerly set the Rubbermaid container over it and slid the lid underneath. The frightened creature panicked and crashed violently against the walls of the plastic prison.

I carefully carried it outside, far away from the pool enclosure and lifted the lid. The butterfly burst from captivity and soared away above the trees in a joyous dance of freedom.

In every place where my mind, heart and soul are trapped, every obstacle I so violently and fearfully bump up against, every towering wall I encounter with no escape, God is on a continuous rescue mission to set me free. He is there waiting, as I kick against my prison walls, believing I must find my own way out.

He longs to show me how to soar. He patiently moves me closer to the open door, closer to liberty, while my heart flutters in fear and my soul lifts in pride.

My Merciful Father patiently waits until I retreat in exhaustion and there, submit to the gentle nudge of His heart to my own. “Come on Daughter. Work with me. I know this looks scary and you don’t understand, but I’m trying to help you. I’m just trying to set you free. Trust Me.”

With gentle restriction He apprehends me, changes me, and then sets me free to rise above the challenges of my own thoughts, heart and life.

Wings are not meant to fly against obstacles, but over them. Wings take us places we can’t normally go. Wings are meant for freedom.

Today, I submit to God’s capture. I will Trust Him, because soon, confinement will be over.

Freedom will come at last.

And I will soar.

Isaiah 40:31(NKJ) “but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings..”

Acts 26:14-15 (AMP) “ And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew dialect saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick [repeatedly] against the goads [offering pointless resistance].’ And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus..”

 Galatians 5:1 (ERV) “We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong in that freedom. Don’t go back into slavery again.”

John 8:36 (ESV) “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

 

The Blame Game – My Special Education, Lesson #12

Jon Me IHOP 11-2015It’s no one’s fault,” the doctor in my hospital room said, the morning after our son was born. “These things just happen sometimes.”

Our newborn baby had Down syndrome and as the doctor began to explain the possible long term outcomes for him and our family, my heart raced in panic. My mind filled with a cloud of fear.

“NO! This can’t be happening! Not to my baby! Not to me! Not to us!”

Isn’t that how it goes when we’re faced with circumstances beyond our control? When our carefully thought out plans are suddenly ambushed?

We’re cruising through life, a few bumps and glitches here and there, but nothing we can’t handle. Then suddenly..Wham!!

We find, not just the proverbial rug pulled out from under us, but the floor too. The ground has just opened up and swallowed us whole!

And when we’re done free-falling, we have to find a reason. The ‘Why’ must be answered. It has to be SomeOne’s or SomeThing’s fault.

A friend sent me a card once that read, “Life is all about how you handle Plan B.”

Plan A is what you want. Plan B is what you get and I wasn’t dealing well at all, with what I got.

I fell into absolute despair trying to figure out what I did to cause my child’s disability. For months it filled every waking moment and many sleepless nights. Those pesky, “I should have” and “I shouldn’t have” scenarios, plagued my thoughts constantly.

There was plenty of help in the guilt department from well meaning folks. Everything from, “You should of eaten more potatoes while you were pregnant,” (no kidding) to “You must have bad sin hiding someplace in your life for God to punish you like this.”

Apparently there was a rash of babies born with Down syndrome at the time. In an attempt to find a common denominator (or something to blame) the Department of Health and Human Services for the State of New York called when Jon was about a month old to ask if they could survey me.

“Do you live near power lines? How long have you lived there?”
“Have you ever taken drugs? Did you take drugs while pregnant?”
“How often do you drink alcohol? Never? Occasionally? Once a week? Everyday?”
“What kind of make up do you wear? What brand of laundry detergent do you use?”

After an hour long barrage of questions, I hung up the phone more convinced than ever I was the cause of my son’s diagnosis.

When I finally gave up blaming myself I turned my angst on God. He could have prevented this but didn’t. It was His fault and I was mad. What kind of God did I believe in anyway? An overwhelmingly devastating question for me, since we were fresh out of Bible college and my husband was just beginning a lifetime of pastoral ministry.

Though it seemed artificial to be so angry at God when my husband was a pastor, and I, the pastor’s wife, anger was all that made sense at the time. It was the easiest life raft to cling to.

We see it in the daily news continuously. A crisis occurs, a shooting, tornado, flood, fire, mudslide, plane crash, death, violence or destruction. The talking heads start in, opinion-ating, analyzing, philosophizing and finally conclude with, “Something must be done to make sure this never happens again.”

Either people want to believe they have this much power, this much control, or placing blame is just a coping mechanism for the unanswerable and unexplained.

Sometimes there is someone to blame but more often not. Sometimes stuff just happens because we live on a fallen, broken and sin cursed planet.

Finding possible solutions is useful but the blame game often goes around in a monotonous circle until we are divided and estranged, from each other and from our only source of hope. God.

It seems God is blamed for most everything that goes wrong, by people who barely acknowledge His existence the rest of the time or bother to thank Him for any of the good and right in life.

In his book, Reframe. From the God We’ve Made to the God With Us, Brian Hardin said it this way: “We don’t usually start with God, but if we can’t find an answer we often end up there. God has become the cosmic trash heap for all humankind’s unexplainable suffering. He’s apparently got His hands in everything from tornadoes to human trafficking. From cancer to the reason the car wouldn’t start this morning. And this is the God we’re supposed to be in a relationship with?”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: I can’t control everything that happens to me, to those I care about or to the world at large. And I don’t have to figure everything out, don’t have to know all the answers.

I only have to admit and own what I’m responsible for and trust my Heavenly Daddy has a greater plan and purpose than I can see.

He will bring justice in His time. He will make everything right in His way and acceptance of this truth, deep in my heart and soul, not just my head, brings peace in a frenzied world.

And for all my initial distress, despair, crying, sighing, shouting and blaming, my son turned out to be a blessing, a unique treasure God values and loves. Someone who is always teaching me the art of selflessness, drawing me closer to the heart of my Father.

I eventually laid it down, the miserable scrutinizing, finger pointing and fretting over who or what was at fault. It was exhausting and served no purpose. Blaming drained life from me and returned nothing.

The blame game was over and I lost.

But I’m no longer a sore looser, just a grateful one.

 
Job 40:1-5 The Lord said to Job: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” Then Job answered the Lord: “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.”

Romans 9:20 “Who do you think you are to talk back to God like that? Can an object that was made say to its maker, “Why did you make me like this?”

John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Staying Home Instead

fourth-of-july-fireworks-It’s July 4th. Independence Day. The great American holiday.

People are celebrating the founding of our nation by going to the park, the lake, the beach, to a cookout with friends, a get together with family, or to a fireworks display.

Before or after a holiday the common question is, “What are you doing/did you do for the holiday?”

My answer is always the same. “Depends on Jon.” or, “Stayed home with Jon.”

We’re often invited to something, somewhere by someone on these special occasions. It’s not that friends purposely leave us out. “Oh just bring Jon with you,” they say.

And it’s not that we don’t want to go, we just never make it. Jon doesn’t care about being on time or if it’s July 4th.  He doesn’t like crowds or fireworks. Last night, as the neighbors set fireworks off all around us, he stayed in his room yelling, “Shut Up!” over and over again at the outdoors.

So others go and we stay home, learning how to celebrate without joining the masses of those ‘going’ and ‘doing’.

Because of this, I appreciate the true meaning of holidays in ways I never use to. Limits force what is taken for granted, to a place of greater meaning.

Today has been a day of simplicity. I’ve looked up some ‘reminding myself’ history on the founding of our nation and listened to several renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner” on YouTube.

We fertilized and watered all our plants then, surrounded by their colorful beauty, cooled off by floating in the pool for a while,

We broke away from our mostly plant food eating plan to celebrate in proper, God Bless the USA, style. Mike went to the store to look for no nitrate, no msg, no hormone, all beef hot dogs (hot dogs and rolls taste so much better when you hardly ever eat them!) and devoured them with corn on the cob and watermelon.

Americans are often bored and dissatisfied unless something monumental is going on. I know. I was one of those. Once.

Going. Always going. Doing. Always doing. Restless. Wanting. Miserable.

Be careful of a mindset that says we must constantly do huge, exciting things to enjoy life.

It’s not true. Don’t fall for the lie.

Most of us have a lot of what we want and everything we need, so be thankful in the still and overlooked moments and, in spite of our troubles and problems, the blessing of living in the greatest nation on planet Earth.

If you’re out somewhere celebrating our American Independence today, enjoy. But don’t forget to take time to remember what you’re celebrating. And don’t forget to explain it to your children so they can develop a sense of significance and appreciation for the day. If the meaning behind this day is important to you it will be important to them as well.

The gift of freedom should never be undervalued nor should learning the art of contentment in going or staying, being or doing, having or wanting.

Don’t live out of the constant dissatisfaction of What Is Not. Instead discover the joy and fulfillment of living in What Is.

Right here.

And right now.

 

 

 

 

 

The Freedom Within My Walls

imageJon was still awake and roaming the house when I went to bed late last night and the kitchen was a wreck this morning. He’d been in the pantry, cupboards and fridge, gathering food and dishes, setting them out on the island and table, opening jars, boxes and containers but not eating any of it.

He was also dressed, with shoes on, ready to go somewhere.

I quickly made breakfast and cleaned up the kitchen mess while he waited in the car. Then I sat with him in the car at the end of the driveway, close to an hour, waiting for him to give me a hint as to where he wanted to go. He finally handed me a Dunkin’ Donuts coupon. I drove there and waited another hour, for him to get out of the car. When he finally did, he went inside Subway instead.

There’s so much about the way Jon functions I don’t understand and these behaviors confine me to a life that looks much different than the norm. I sometimes feel I’m living inside closed walls, observing through a small window, the rest of the world rushing by.

But I have slowly come to realize something profound. There is a freedom within these walls.

Endless waiting brings freedom of time, quiet observation and contemplation.

While others rush from one place to another, I wait.

While others are frantic with long to do lists and schedules, I am excused.

While others speed past the obvious and the hidden, I notice.

I notice people rushing into restaurants, gulping down food and rushing out, taking no time for tasting, talking or relaxing.

I notice the simple joy and happiness of a small boy swinging himself in half circles on a bicycle rack and how his expression shifts to sadness as his hurried mother grabs his arm and jerks him away.

I notice the swagger of a young man as he walks through the parking lot, swirling keys around one finger, and am reminded of the strength and confidence of youth.

I notice the old woman leaning on her cane, shuffling with slow steps and wonder about the life she has lived and if anyone bothers to benefit from the wisdom treasure within her.

I notice the smiling young woman with no legs, entering the building in a wheelchair and don’t stare at her but at the people staring at her, watching their reactions and reading their thoughts, visible as a billboard, on their faces.

I notice the beautiful young woman with perfectly formed limbs intact, so lacking in confidence and longing for acceptance she dresses to draw attention to the intimate parts of herself and I pray for her.

I notice the many shades of green in nearby trees and a quirky variety I don’t recognize, comical in shape, like something from a Dr. Seuss book.

I notice a tiny bird chirping in the tree in front of my car. I watch him and think of Jesus’ words, that I am worth more to The Father than many sparrows.

I lean my seat back and notice the intense blue of the sky and think about Heaven and my young friend, Rachel and her dreams.

I listen to my daily Bible reading again and praise God for finding ways to speak encouragement to me.

And I observe my son, his unusual and mysterious ways dictating my every day, and wonder why we don’t measure with greater merit, those who march to a different drumbeat.

Yes, there is liberty in this confinement and a freedom in all this slowness and waiting; one others, too busy rushing, wanting, scheming, planning and doing, rarely experience.

Walls, it seems, keep me in but also keep the unnecessary out.

Maybe I am more blessed than I know.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God..”

Jon and the Cutting Dilemma

Jon is into cutting. But not in the same way or for the same reasons as other people.

He cuts sleeves off shirts, toes off socks, slits in the center of our bath and dish towels, legs off his father’s pants and hem strips off sheets and bed skirts.

towelsYesterday I took him to Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins. He dressed in his finest: a sawed off sleeves, blue T-shirt with two belts tied around his waist, one made from a strip of a nice, fluffy over sized beach towel he repurposed and the other, a bright orange and white flowered cloth tie belt he took from my closet.

When I’m tempted to be annoyed about this mysterious (and money wasting) behavior, I stop and remind myself to be thankful Jon’s not harming himself. He has his own brand of creative fun going on in his very unusual and imaginative brain.

And it’s just stuff. I can always go to Walmart and buy more cheap, made-in-China towels and T-shirts for him to cut up. It’s all replaceable. He isn’t.

Hanging out with Jon gives me an entirely different way to look at life and teaches me how to relax about little things that don’t really matter. While Jon is cutting up stuff in our house, God is cutting away the Me that wants to rise up and demand life always go My way.

God uses the people in our lives, yes; even those with annoying habits, to instruct us, change us and expose areas where we need to improve. There is nothing more liberating than letting go of the unrealistic expectations we have for others.

Ask God to help you look at those frustrating, annoying folks around you through His eyes, with His heart. Then look inside yourself and let Him transform you so you can love freely, unconditionally and without barriers.

The same way Jesus loves me and you.

 Philippians 2:3(ERV) “In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves”

Proverbs 27:17(NIV) “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

 

 

A Beautiful Thing

 

My friend was married a few days ago. As ‘best woman’ I stood with her, my heart about to burst for joy,  knowing what a long, long walk it was to that ceremony. Me and Glee wedding

And I’m not referring to the stroll from the parking lot of the New Hampshire state park, up the frost-heaved sidewalk, onto pine needle dusted soil and down the center of the outdoor pavilion to a wall size fireplace, where the wedding took place.

I’m talking about a lifetime of hurt, pain, shame, guilt, addiction, rage and change.

We are often victims of man’s free will. It’s natural to recoil when wounded, especially when the hurt isn’t our fault. Then reactions become decisions, piling up and building insurmountable walls of defense.

During the past twenty years I watched my friend kick, scream, cry, fight and forgive for a hard won freedom. She was willing to do what it took to excommunicate the demons of her past and experience an internal peace and liberty.

She faced every challenge head on. It wasn’t easy. And required unusual determination, endurance and more time than most are willing to wait.

I was privileged to walk beside her for most of the process.

We talked, laughed, prayed and cried through many hurdles as she gave in and gave up to the beautiful grace of God at work in her heart, over and over and over again. As the years flowed by I watched a slow but amazing metamorphosis; a hard, angry heart turned marshmallow soft, a dry lump of clay gently crafted into a useful vessel of outpoured love.

The butterfly has emerged from the dark days of the cramped cocoon to fly freely into joy.

There is no sin, no shame, no wound, no hurt, no scar that the merciful love of our Heavenly Father cannot heal when we surrender our life to Him. He takes any and every broken and yielded piece of us and makes it new. He restores all damage, makes us whole, forever erasing the pain of yesterday.

When God renews, old things are passed away, sorrow and ashes turned into beauty. We are raised up to a life filled with promise and a future full of hope.

I’ve watched and tasted this. In myself, in others and especially in my beautiful friend who at long last has been restored to love and trust; so evidenced by the large and diverse group of people who came to celebrate this special day. God’s love was tangible, undeniable, surrounding all of us.

Knowing we are loved changes everything.

My friend finally knows, without a hint of doubt, she is valuable and she is loved.

Of utmost importance, by God.

Also by others.

And by the incredible guy who took her as his bride.

Freedom is such a beautiful thing.

     John 10:10 “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.” ~Jesus

     2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

     Luke 4:17-18 “..the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him [Jesus]. Unrolling it, he found the place where   it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free..”

     “Everyone wants to change the world but no one thinks of changing himself.” ~Anonymous

Independence Day

Like all of us, my son Jonathan, craves independence – freedom.

How do I know this? 

Well, first of all I know my son. I’m with him more than anyone else. But the most convincing evidence is observance of his actions and reactions.

When he wanders off, he’s not running away (like the police who help us find him believe), he’s relishing the idea of going someplace on his own, without being followed or watched.

In a restaurant, he longs to make his own food choices and scowls if suggestions are made. Occasionally he refuses to sit with us and moves to another table. I’m not offended. I understand he wants his own space.

At the store, he chooses items he likes, with no regard for cost and becomes very aggravated when asked to put something back.

He likes to stay up all night so he can have freedom to do whatever he wishes, without someone telling him to shower, shave, take his meds, put on clean clothes and a myriad of other directives that steer him toward a bit of responsibility.

If rushed, he balks, often freezing in place, because he wants the freedom to do it in his time and his way.

Jon has few choices in life. To give my son a small taste of the independence he craves, I have become incredibly adept at appearing to be uninterested in what he’s doing while constantly watching or following from a distance. Sometimes I am called out for this by strangers in public places, who don’t understand. They accuse me of being inattentive.

Maybe they don’t understand that true love recognizes the unspoken needs and desires of another and makes allowances for them.

What Jon doesn’t comprehend is this; freedom is not a license to do what we want whenever we want. It is a privilege that directs responsible living. 

We are not given liberty for selfish means with no thought of the ripple effect our actions have on others. Freedom, lived out properly, sets us and everyone within our sphere of influence, free.

Choice is a wonderful thing but it also has consequences, not just for us but also for those around us. When Jon chooses to not take his meds and is sick, not be ready on time for an appointment, not be safe by wandering away, it affects us in colossal ways. 

His desire for independence does not encompass the enormity of the consequences created for those who love and care for him.

From the very beginning we understand God created man with options and never forces us to do, say or choose the right thing. He watches and follows us from a distance if need be, His heart bursting with love and concern for our well-being. 

We may push Him aside or away, but He is always waiting in the wings for us to choose righteousness, to choose what is best, to choose Him.

And when we wander far away, He recklessly searches for the one lost sheep, gathers it in His arms and brings it back to the safety of the sheepfold.

I’m not certain my son will ever understand how much he needs me, a flawed and often inadequate mother. 

I, however, never want to forget how much I need my perfect, powerful, loving God. My only hope for true freedom lies in knowing Him. 

He gave up everything, laid down His life so I could.

So you could.

Don’t see Him? Don’t feel Him? Turn around and look. 

There He is..watching and waiting from a distance, just like I do with my Jon.

He never takes His eyes (or His love) off of you. 

He is waiting to set you free.

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm,then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit,and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Tolerating Intolerance


A recent article in a disability newsletter I subscribe to states that the social networking site, Facebook, has problems with “pages featuring questionable content and misappropriated photos of those with disabilities.”  The company promises to do more to control this type of offensive and bullying behavior. (See link below).

I’m not sure it can. People still have the right to be thoughtless and rude if they choose. Human thought and speech, is hard to control without creating burdensome laws, rules and regulations for everyone.

I’m someone who’s tuned in to the offensiveness of actions and words. I have a developmentally disabled adult son who has been and still is the brunt of other people’s disrespect on occasion and I’m also a pastor’s wife. Over my lifetime, I’ve experienced enough crazy human behavior and offensive words from those two situations alone, to fill a volume of books.

We have more ways than ever before to be heard, yet our freedom to speak is under attack now more than any other time in recent history. The war of words rages on in America.

There is a great conflict arising in our post modern culture over what constitutes intolerance and how to legislate it. On one side of the issue, our priceless First Amendment protects our freedom to speak our mind. On the other side we have an emerging attitude that anything anyone deems offensive becomes “hate speech” or “racist” and should be banned.

One thing I’ve figured out; what one person might consider a free-to-express opinion, another may judge offensive, even hateful. There is no way to force everyone to see eye to eye, be nice or think the same way. We can’t control it all, not without becoming a totalitarian state.

Tolerance is defined in my 1976 edition of Webster’s Dictionary as: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own, the act of allowing something. 

The definition has not changed in the most recent edition. It’s quite clear, from this definition, we don’t have to agree with an opinion or difference to ‘allow’ it and that creates the new problem in our current culture. Obviously we need to regulate immoral and illegal behavior in a free and civil society but when disagreement is construed as intolerance; that is a dangerous road to walk down.

The new tolerance says we all must pat each other on the head, believe, feel and do exactly as “I or you don’t like me.” Is it not good enough to make allowances for each other anymore?

We all have issues we believe strongly and things we don’t tolerate well, but quite frankly, I’m tired of the labels we put on each other when there is conflict. Someone who doesn’t agree with a lifestyle is considered a hatemonger. Another person who believes in God, guns and the Constitution is considered a right wing radical. Other’s who think we all should live and let live are construed as left wing liberals. One group’s beliefs and opinion are perceived as suspect and dangerous if they differ from another.

If certain words are spoken, political correctness moves in to make sure there is just punishment. Journalists are fired, and cooks are removed from TV shows; then there’s the double standard of one group calling each other words that are suddenly offensive if another group uses it. Words that used to mean one thing have evolved into something else, so they aren’t usable anymore or they have come to define people in a way they were never meant to. It’s a crazy game of Scrabble!

Meanwhile, this patriotic baby boomer is standing here scratching her head, wondering what’s happening to First Amendment rights in my great country. There are days I don’t agree with my own husband, for goodness sake, and I still sleep next to him at night and I don’t call him names. We either work it out or agree to disagree – agreeably! That’s how we’ve managed to stay married for thirty eight years.

I’m not accountable for the words others say, but I do have a responsibility to speak the truth with grace and be a keeper of my own words. James 3:1-9 gives a sobering picture of our speech and paints the tongue as set on fire from hell, restless, evil, full of deadly poison and unable to be tamed. The Psalmist in chapter 141:3 asks God to, “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” I desperately need God’s help with this, because like most of us, I have difficulty doing it on my own.

I also get to choose to NOT be offended by everything others say, believe or live that disagrees with my point of view and convictions. I get to give another space to be who they are and allow God to fix them if necessary and hope they will do the same for me. I also get to state my opinion and listen to another, even if we don’t meet on every point.

Those who believe in the truth and authority of God’s word, understand there are teachings in its pages that are clearly intolerant of certain ideals and conduct. We are not required to give consent to everything and everyone but we are required to show love and respect to all, while defending what we believe.

America, we can’t have it both ways. We can’t preach free speech and then despise people for using it and we can’t preach tolerance while being intolerant to those who disagree with us.

But not to worry, I’ll still like you even if you disagree with everything I just said.

1 Peter 3:8-11Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.  Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.  For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;  let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.