When the Water in your Well is Empty

  There is very little joy in our households following the horrific murder of 26 innocent people in Sutherland Springs, Texas.  You might rightly ask how such a tragedy could occur in a house of worship?  Many of you who are looking for answers already know the answers lie within each one of us.  By this I mean we see, hear and remain silent.  The experience of the agony has visited us several times in the last 40 days and we just wait for the next tragedy to occur.  The experience of the agony resides in each one of us and we are to be held accountable.  We are now left weeping and praying for those whose lives were cut short in Texas.  What a sad commentary on us!
The Scriptures remind us “weeping may endure for the night, but in the morning cometh joy.”  Well, its morning and very little joy has come to the families of the victims.  We weep, we pray and we taste our tears and the tragic facts seem to recur again and again.  Yet, I continue to believe the words from the Scriptures telling you and me that ‘trouble don’t last always.’  I have tried all of my life to keep hope alive, especially during times of drought.  Today I decided to raise the water level in my well by affirming the words of a song by the Rev. James Cleveland. “I don’t feel no ways tired, I’ve come to far from where I started from. Nobody told me the road would be easy, I don’t believe God brought  me this far to leave me.” Google this song for yourself and experience the waters of life beginning to spring forth and filling your empty well.  It’s not complicated!  It worked for me!
Next, I found it helpful for me to turn again to the writings of my mentor and friend Dr. Howard Thurman.  Many of us turned to Dr. Thurman’s eloquent and inspirational words following the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  As the nation mourned I remembered being at a park not far from our home in suburban St. Louis.  I was with our first child Kathy and upon hearing the news of Dr. King’s death I lifted her up and gave her a huge hug as my tears could not stop flowing.  In that moment I gave thanks for my daughter’s love and innocence which gave me instant strength and comfort. Although the two Morehouse College men had never met each other, Dr. King was smitten by Dr. Thurman’s writings especially his book Jesus and the Disinherited which King aways kept in his briefcase. This was Dr. King’s way of making sure the water in his well was rarely empty.  I encourage you to go to Amazon and order this book.
Should the water level in your well still be low I leave these words of Howard Thurman to ponder with the hope your well will fill again with water to keep you grounded and to prevent you from going into the abyss:
I share with you the agony o your grief, the anguish of your heart finds echo in my own. I know I cannot enter all you feel nor bear with you the burden of your pain.; I can but offer what my love does give: the strength of caring, the warmth of one who seeks to understand the silent storm-swept barrenness of so great a loss. This I do in quiet ways, that on your lonely path you may not walk alone.  Now there it is! Go now and plant your seeds. . .and pray for rain.  Stay hopeful and wait for the morning.  It will surely come.  And so it is!  Dr. Paul


Perhaps you who are reading this post will take a few moments to let these words “confession is good for the soul”, sink in before you offer any thoughts.  Please, just try this?  Now. reflect on the next set of words and let them sink in before you say or write anything.  Please!  ”If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it change your attitude about it.”  Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou’s quote comes from our family Christmas Letter composed by my wife Fran.  It is my hope we may derive some real meaning from them.  I have already.
I confess I have a lot on my mind these days as you probably do.  Yet, in my quiet moments of discernment and reflection, I am aware of the words of one of the old Spirituals, “It’s me, it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer”.  After reading the sermon of a Universalist Pastor sent to me by a dear friend who is a member of that congregation, it suddenly dawned on me that, I am the change I am seeking,  I am the one who is in need of confession-not prayer, even though I believe in prayer, rather I am in greater need of confessing my need to confess. Do you know what I mean?
In the sermon the pastor says “I know I should resist that division of creation into good and evil. . .but the world is feeling a lot like that these days-Blue States and Red States, Gun advocates and the peace lovers, Progressives vs those who would take us backwards…the truth that I am finally accepting is that I have become pretty dug in.”  Wow!  These words struck deep into my own sense of purpose and being.  These words of the pastor describes exactly what I, and perhaps you as well, have been wrestling with in these toxic and distressful times for our country.  Again, Maya Angelou’s words speak to me: if you don’t like something -45 and his followers-change it. if you can’t change it change your attitude about it.
Right here, right now, I am confessing that I am seriously in need of a spiritual makeover.  I confess that my cup runs over with anger towards slave masters and overseers who brutally beat my ancestors as told by Abolitionist Harriet Tubman. I confess my hatred towards 45 and his administration whose attitudes and actions towards people of faith and peoples of color make me tremble, tremble, tremble.  I ask myself, how can I change my attitude about all that I am feeling?  Well, I begin with truth-telling as I have just done.  I have no answers other than what Maya Angelou and the Unitarian pastor. To make the necessary changes required of me, I must “unharden”my heart towards those people I have just listed.  I have to empty myself of the continuous dialogue going on inside of But, I thank God for the gift of memory which my head keeps telling me how wrong 45 is and how right I am. I am awaiting a hange to come over me, so I can see with a new vision and I can have a new attitude towards those things which up to now has imprisoned me.
But, I will however, continue to resist the evilness of evil that I see in the country and in the world.  I will continue to make my voice heard as I speak truth to power as I know and believe it to be.  I confess my inability at times, to keep hope alive and embrace Scripture which calls me to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God”. But, I thank God over and over again for the gift of memory that allows me to visit and to revisit those moments of clarity.  And I thank God, over and over again when I can remember those precious moments when life has been kind to me. And yes, confession is good for my soul.  How about yours?  And so it is.  Dr, Paul


There is little doubt in my mind that Trump (I have not been able to write President), being concerned about his lack of popularity and his disastrous poll numbers decided to do only what he knows best and that is create a diversion.  In an effort to get the American people to like him Trump decides to drop bombs instead.  First in Syria and then in Afghanistan. Everyone paying attention knows how egocentric Trump is which requires him to take action to “prove” to the American people and indeed the world that he is not the ill prepared, narcissist and temperamental man many of us have seen hound to be. So what does he do?  He bombs an airfield in Syria and during Holy Week he orders the “Mother of all Bombs” to be dropped on Afghanistan.  The media and some of the American people were very congratulatory to the Donald which boosted his ego which is exactly what he felt he needed to do in order to make people like him. With those two actions Trump has placed America more in harms way and closer to another war.  What is it going to take for America to wake up and see Trump for who he really is: a pathological liar, a bully and an insecure egomaniac.

Is America’s denial about the depth and breadth of racism so engrained in it’s consciousness that it is willing to have a dangerous and ill-prepared bully as its Commander in Chief?  What will it take to make America recognize exactly what made so many like minded Trump supporters elect this man as POTUS?  What will it take for America to realize how the two party system is destroying our democracy?  What will it take for America to admit the election (though fairly) of Donald Trump) is a reaction to America’s election of an African American and highly educated and charismatic man as POTUS for two terms? One need only look at how a Mitch McConnell and a Paul Ryan are gleefully embracing Trump knowing full well their efforts to deter everything positive President Obama tried to do for our country.

Has America forgotten how McConnell refused even to accept Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court nor allowed the candidate’s name to even be brought to the House?
What will it take for America to see how Trump is playing America like a fiddle?  What will it take for Americans to see how ill-prepared and temperamental Trump is and as a result has placed America in harms way?  What will it take for Americans to see how the Democrats squandered many opportunities to distance itself from “those politicians” who have been in the storm too long and cannot  see a way forward except for their ‘good ole boys?” The setting for bickering and infighting and personal insults and attacks  against one another is now standard practice.  CNN in its effort to be nonpartisan has become the prototype for how one should behave-by slandering, misinformation, arguments and attacks against each other regardless of ones point of view.  How dare Jeffrey Lord a political analyst for CNN and a Trump supporter try to compare Trump to Dr. M.L.King Jr and not expect to receive much deserved criticism? What will it take for Americans to come together to recognize what a terrible mistake was made in the election of Donald Trump to POTUS?  Of course I understand the election is the way of democracy and I have to accept it.  But what I do not have to accept nor give my consent to is someone who is such a flawed person in so many ways. I have long advocated how I am less interested in your being perfect but more interested in your being accurate. With Trump there is neither perfection nor accuracy which has already placed the America he intends to make great in immediate candidacy for another senseless war.

I remain a firm believer that it is not by might nor power but by My Spirit, thus say the Lord.  I am persuaded that America is so toxic and filled with anger and revenge that none of us is safe.  One need only look how two white cops in Georgia brutally attacked a black man with his hands up yet, the Black Lives Matter movement is viewed by too many as being racist.  One need only look at the recent incident on a United Airlines flight where an Asian doctor was physically dragged off of a flight  and ended up with a broken nose and a concussion.  What will it take for Americans to understand that something is terribly wrong with all of us and we need to look more closely at what our respective religious and and spiritual beliefs teaches us to become.  Last week my wife Fran and I were invited to share the Passover Seder with a dear friend along with several members of his family. As l listened to the ancient words from the Haggadah being read aloud by each person seated at the table, I  realized how blessed all of us were in that special moment because we were all celebrating what it meant to be free from any kind of tyranny or threats.  America is already great and America must use its greatness to become better and not bitter.

I leave you with the words of the late theologian and preacher Dr. William Sloane Coffin who expresses what I believe to be my difficulty with Donald Trump.  “The world’s smallest package is a person wrapped up in himself.”  And so it is;  Peace and blessings, Dr.Paul


        I would like to get right to what I have been writing about in my journal regarding what has been the most toxic, ruthless, racist, homophobic and insulting election campaign many of us have ever witnessed.  There were times when I wondered whether I was living in the U.S.A. and I tried my very best to make some sense out of what I was hearing coming out of the mouths of those seeking to be the POTUS.  A dear friend of mine reminded me and rightly so, that America is a democracy and as such, allows anyone of us to speak freely and without fear of reprisals and recriminations.  I get that and I support a democratic society.  What I do not support is demagoguery, self promotion, hateful and insulting language which almost always has unintended consequences.  One need only look at the make up of the Donald Trump followers to see just how and why they are angry.  Generally speaking Trump followers are mostly white, male and without employment probably for a number of reasons.  But the Trump followers, in my opinion never really tell the truth about why they are so angry.  They disguise their anger using words like “our jobs have gone to China, our economy is in the gutters and America has lost its standing in the world and Government is too big.”  Demagogue Trump taking advantage of being in a democracy which allows for his rhetoric created a slogan that fits right into what his followers want to hear:” Make America Great Again.”  which as many of us already know means Make America White Again.
    Here is what I think about the Trump followers and to my despair, I hear very few if any of the CNN and other networks pundits saying or questioning Trump and his followers on.  I will just list them and then you are free to think what you will about what I believe is really going on with the Trump phenomenon.
1.  They are angry that an intelligent, educated and charismatic black man is the President of the United States.  That he is popular and was elected twice really makes them angry.
2.  They are angry with China who holds America’s debt and many American Corporations have moved their businesses (jobs) to China.  These are jobs they never really wanted or thought they were too good or too white to have in the first place.
3. They are angry that the Attorney General, Homeland Security Director and Under Secretary of Agriculture are among a few Obama Cabinet appointees who are African Americans with credentials they could only dream about.
4. They are angry at Harvard University, the law school of the POTUS and the AG and a few others which they see as elitist and out of touch with “real Americans” like them.
      I ask these angry followers where was your anger and rage when Senator Mitch McConnell and his band of separatist boldly declared “to do everything within their powers to make sure this President (Obama) will not succeed.? Where was your anger when the Republican majority in the Congress blocked every bill, proposal whether or not it was good for the country?  I ask, where was your anger when the POTUS and the Congress tried to enact legislation to curb the gun violence in America?  Where was your anger when children and teachers in Sandy Hook were gunned down?  Where was your anger when the U.S. Congress received the lowest scores in history for its lack of getting anything done on behalf of the country?  Where was your anger when the Congress failed to fulfill their Constitutional responsibility to receive and vote on the nomination of a Supreme Court nominee? Please don’t tell me how angry you are until you have walked in the shoes of Eric Garner’s family, of Freddie Gray’s family of Michael Brown’s family or the family of the 12 year old black child gunned down within 2 seconds of the white cops arriving on the scene?   And by the way before you followers of Trump have something else to be angry about, the Black Lives Matter movement is not much different than the song “Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud or the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. King freeing blacks from the hateful and racist attitudes and actions of white folks in Montgomery and Selma, Alabama?
   You see, I cannot afford to be angry like you are because I am not white.  I would love to say the first thing that comes to mind (like Trump does) but unlike Trump there would be huge and dangerous consequences for me.  The Black Lives Matter movement morphs into a “tell it like it is moment” causing whites following Trump to label blacks as separatist.  They want to change that narrative to say “all lives matter”  What they fail to realize is their whiteness gives them options black and Hispanics can never have. l had to explain to my two grandsons how to act when they are confronted by white cops for fear they would be injured, arrested or even shot to death.  Billionaires and many whites can afford to be angry simply because they are white and privileged.  They fail to see how blacks and Hispanics are targeted and marginalized.  Just read the anonymous comments made on social media about President Obama’s daughters.
   I wish to close by making a comment about ANGER. When any one of us responds with anger the consequences are almost always dangerous and hurtful. Just watch the anger of NHL players who have a stick in their hands or an NBA player who takes a hard foul by an opponent?  What appears obvious cannot be seen when anger and fear dominate.  Trump and his followers want you to be afraid because by doing so, he sets himself up as the one who can save you.  It is hard to be saved when you are angry and fearful. Just look at what Trump just said the other day which makes it clear he is playing into your fears. Trump said “I have no doubt Refugees will stage a 9/11 scale attack in the U.S.”  How ridiculous and outrageous is that?  How irresponsible is that? 
   I have always said and believed that I have no need to be right but I do have a need to be heard.  I am exercising that need now. I know America is better than what Trump wants his followers to believe.  I know American democracy is what allows Trump and his followers to opine about.  I believe it is more meaningful to build bridges for people to cross  rather than to build walls to hold them in captivity.  I believe America yearns to be a place where fairness is practiced. I have a friend who makes fairness the core value for the corporation he runs. Why can’t we?  I believe with the poet who says and I try my very best to live out his words: “They drew a circle that shut me out, heretic, rebel a thing to flout.  But love and I had the wit to win, we drew a circle and took them in.”
   May we all draw a circle to take in all who would live a life of peace, love, fairness, openness and understanding where the public discourse can he held. 
And so it is.  Dr. Paul


      A few months ago I had open heart surgery from which I have recovered and I am doing quite nicely. I still have a few more cardiac rehab sessions to complete however, I feel like I have my “groove back” and I am ready to resume writing on my blog.  I do want to thank all of you for your many kind words and prayers during my illness and I also want to affirm the goodness and the Grace of the God of my life and yours as I am returning to full health and strength.
      I need not tell you how toxic and mean spirited this election cycle of 2016 has been.  The politicians rhetoric has created unintended consequences creating a frightening tone that is quite frankly an embarrassment to our country. It seems we have lost our bearing and have forgotten the many large and small blessings provided to this great country we live in?  Perhaps our cups have been running over too much lately as we are consumed by the via negative of the rhetoric and speeches of the candidates running for POTUS?  Maybe there has been too much of our turning on each other rather than turning to each other. In an effort to climb out from under the endless bombardment of negativity I sought and found a way to open up my heart.  It wasn’t until I listened to Gospel Artist Yolanda Adams singing at the Kennedy Center on January 18th in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, that I realized I had found a way out.  There is a link to this celebration which I encourage you to listen to because it will give you an opportunity to “open up your heart.” I was in the audience that evening.  Here is the link:
      You and I must always, always be on the hunt for an opening to lead us out of whatever is ailing our spirits.  We must always be on the hunt for that which makes us come alive and keeps us from going over the edge.  There is always an opening for us but we have to be disciplined in order to see, feel and find that opening. To do this is no easy task to be sure.  When our soul is in the lost and found and no one comes along to claim us it requires a lot from us to find an opening.  I do not take this lightly because I am not always disciplined enough to handle my discomforts. During my recovery from open heart surgery I was having severe issue with pain and the only thing that could stop my pain at that moment was the drug Percocet.  While I knew the importance of prayer and meditation and my dependence upon God, I realized my need at the center of my pain was not for God, rather it was for Percocet.  It was an honest recognition and I had to deal with it until I could find a way to wean myself off of the medicine and find my way back to the God of my life.  You have to do the same thing as you consider how easily it has been for you and me to sink into despair and anger as a result of the cruel and hateful rhetoric of some of the candidates running for POTUS.
      Early this morning I came downstairs to my office (my man cave) and I first listened to the silence of my house (it was 4:30AM).  Slowly but surely, my anxieties and disappointments and hurts began appearing before me.  The night before I had gotten some disappointing news. I had also been restless as a result of the disappointing losses of my NCAA basketball teams.  What to do?  In the silence I remembered how I felt sitting in the audience at the Kennedy Center here in Washington, D.C. so I put on my earphones and began listening to the first song by the Let Freedom Ring choir “Woke Up this Morning with my Mind stayed on Freedom”.  Within a few minutes I found myself feeling energized and hopeful.  Within minutes my disappointments seemed so pointless in the scheme of things.  Within moments I realized that song and Yolanda Adam’s song “Open Up My Heart” was exactly what I needed.  You and I need to find ways to open up our heart so we will no longer wade in the waters of the via negative.  Opening up my heart is what I am called to do but I had forgotten how to do that. I was guilty of the things Donald Trump and his followers are guilty of and that is responding out of anger to life’s offerings. Decisions made out of anger are almost always going to bite us in the back.  Make a list of the things that make you angry?  This is a necessary first step as far as I am concerned.  Next, ask yourself ” what part did I play in causing my anger? You must be brutally honest when making your list otherwise your anger will not subside. I began to understand that “its me, its me, its me O, Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”
      Finally, I ask that you take a few minutes and think about opening up your heart.  Perhaps you forgot you woke up this morning in a clean, warm home with no worries about having food on your table.  Perhaps you forgot about the refugee crises as you sat comfortably on your couch or favorite chair as the refugees “found no room in the inn.”  Or maybe you felt tearful as you saw the photo of a mother with a child in her arms and her other two children clinging onto her crying because they do not understand what is happening.  Most of us have not experienced the tyranny that has caused so many to flee their homes with only the clothes on their backs?  Please open up your own heart so you may open your heart up to another.  Open up your heart to the realities of what makes you cry and what it takes to make you whole again?  Open up your heart to the needs of others whose futures have been robbed by war, famine and the greed of ruthless political leaders. Open up your heart so you can truly listen for the sound of the genuine in yourself first and then hearing the sound of the genuine in others.  I can tell you when you can listen to the sound of the genuine in yourself, you will hear more clearly the sound of the genuine in others.  I return to the words of Yolanda Adams: So I need to talk to you and ask you for your Guidance Especially today when my world seems cloudy guide me until I’m sure, I open up my heart. . .so show me how to do things your way don’t let me make the same mistakes over and over again your will be done and I’ll be the one to make sure it’s carried out and in me, I don’t want any doubts and that’s why I open up my heart.”
Now there it is good people.
I say to you today, Please Open Up Your heart.
And so it is,  Dr. Paul


      It is early morning and I am sitting here quietly with . . .ME.  Does this sound strange?  For what ever reasons I woke up this morning realizing I needed just a little time with. . .ME.  I have been on overload with my thoughts about the world, my family and my friends.  I know how important it is to worry about them but on this particular morning I am giving myself permission to sit quietly with. . .ME.
As I sit quietly, I feel myself emptying a lot of excess baggage.  There are packages on my life’s platform I have never opened.  I see these unopened packages and wonder what’s in them?  Why have I not opened them?  Why am I just now noticing them?  It was not until I was sitting quietly with me that I realized they were there.  I have spent too much time feeling guilty about taking time for ME.  What’s up with that?
Am I not entitled to sit quietly with . . .ME?  Well, had I not I would not have noticed the unopened packages on my life’s platform.
I will not go so quickly to open these packages. I must be willing to wait.  After all they have been left unopened all of this time and I had not noticed them so why the rush?  Now that is my first clue?  I am always rushing to something or  to someone or to somewhere which is why I hadn’t noticed the unopened packages in the first place.  Sitting quietly with. . .ME I discovered I am wondrously made.  I have been truly blessed.  I am living in my own time which is a good thing.  Why do we keep beating ourselves up about who we are?  Why do I keep worrying about every one else except ME?  In the quietness of this morning I am giving myself permission to sit quietly with. . .ME.
The mystery of the unopened packages left on my life’s platform still haunt me.  Not in a negative way but positive.  I think I already know what’s in those unopened packages and that excites me.  You see, I lost some of my excitement.  All the time I was being overwhelmed by the chatter of other people.  I had forgotten to sit quietly with. . .ME.  In my quietness I see myself passing by.  I see the hand of God holding my own.  I see the beauty of a cathedral built on the site of a church destroyed by U.S. bombs in world war-the photo was sent to me by Jim Johnson who is in Japan. I could see what Jim saw as he sat quietly in that beautiful cathedral.  As I sit quietly with …ME I remember the words of the song “I’m so glad trouble don’t last always.”
Please take time and sit quietly with yourself. It is a wonderful and healing experience and I encourage you to try it.  I close with what Howard Thurman writes and for you to ponder:
 “The awareness that the universe is dynamic gives the individual the quiet assurance that wherever he may be located he is in immediate candidacy for the strength that comes from a boundless vitality. . .the blessing of self-consciousness makes possible a deliberate resourcefulness out of which arises all of the joyous overtones of human relations.”
I dare you to sit quietly with yourself!  And so it is. 
Dr. Paul


        It has been too long since I have posted anything on my blog.  In a few weeks my team will be rolling out a new and more interactive web site and blog.  It promises to be set up in such a fashion to make responses easier and for information to be easily shared.  In the meantime I will resume posting on this site until the new changes occur.
      Like many of you I have nothing but good feelings having watched and listened to the Holy Father on his very first visit to the United States.  For six days we got a break from the via negative of American politics and politicians.  The Pope’s visit gave time for my dust to settle so I could really focus upon the things that really matter to me-my family, my grand kids and my friends. His visit saved me from my cynicism towards America politics and politicians that filled the airwaves more than I would have preferred.  I will write more about The Holy Father and what impact he made on me.
    I have been practicing the importance of holding out in order for me to hold on and I want to assure you it is not easy.  Over and over again I have been drawn to the edge by all that has happened since I last communicated with you.  Holding out is a discipline we should all practice.  To hold out is not to give in to anger, hate and judgment of others.  Holding out means taking the time to practice the meaning of true forgiveness. I begin with forgiving myself because I tend to be harder on myself than necessary.  I acknowledge living in a culture of mistrust.  The media is responsible for much of what ails me and tries to control what I believe and think.  I already know this so I must hold out from its seductive tendencies towards me so I may hold on to what matters most in my life.  I begin by remembering God’s multiple blessings.  It is so easy to forget my blessings and that disturbs me. By holding out and not giving in to the seductive forces of selfishness, navel gazing and tales of woes I start holding on to those simple things which sustains me and my relationships and my life.
     I did not realize how deeply I was wallowing in the political narratives that continue to fill the airwaves.  I try my best to hold on to the things that historically have made me come alive-that have made me whole and make me strong.  Why did I struggle to defeat my anger and my constant complaining about everyone and everything?  Where along the way did I not hold on to the beliefs and practices that have grounded me most of my life?  Do you know what I mean?  Unless I hold onto what is dear to me and brings meaning to my madness, I am in trouble.  And when I am in trouble I am a danger to myself and to those around me.  In holding on I seek and I find higher ground.  I yearn to stand on higher ground where the God of my life stands with me. In holding on I anchor myself in the Lord’s goodness and love.  In holding on I see my neighbor and the world with clearer vision.
     Ask yourself this?  In my house, my apartment, do I live in love and tenderness?  In my encounters with my spouse, my neighbor, my friends, my boss, a stranger, do I live in love and harmony?  Do I keep my eyes open and connect in solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of refugees whose images flood the screens of my television?  As the Pope reminded me so vividly and so concretely “life means getting our feet dirty.”  I cannot hold out nor hold on unless I am willing to get my feet dirty.  I am reminded of two quotations that summarizes my thoughts right now.
Life offers us a second chance.  It is called tomorrow.
The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and the acceptance of love.  
I encourage you to hold out for love instead of anger and hate.  I encourage you to hold on to what is good and noble and fair and brings jubilation to your spirit.  I encourage you to get your feel dirty and to wallow in what is right and good regardless of the consequences.  I encourage you to hold out against everything that seeks to destroy your joy and your hope.  I encourage you to hold on to everything that makes you come alive and gives you the greater meaning and purpose.  And remember, there is in God, sufficient strength, whatever our needs may be.  And so it is!
Dr. Paul


      A couple of weeks ago I was invited to the swearing in ceremony of Loretta Lynch our new Attorney General and a dear friend.  There was hardly a seat in the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. where the ceremony took place.  President Obama was at his very best in praising Loretta whom he has known for a long time.  I had not seen the president so happy and it showed on his face and in his interaction with the crowd who had come to witness the ceremony.  Little did any of us know how soon the President’s smiling face would quickly turn to one of grief and frustration upon hearing of the massacre in Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  The President’s cup like my own had “runneth over.”  What does one do when ones cup overflows with unbearable agony and grief upon hearing the news of the tragedy? That the tragedy occurred inside of a house of worship during bible study is unimaginable and too hard to understand.  So, what do you and I do?  How can we cope with the tragic fact of what happened?  If your cup is running over as is mine then what must we do?
     First, I had to acknowledge that the tragedy did in fact take place.  As painful as it was for me I could not be in denial that it occurred inside of a house of worship, during a bible study and the person who allegedly killed nine people was an integral part of that bible study group.  How could this be I asked myself and no matter how many times I asked the question I had to acknowledge that it did happen. Until we acknowledge that the tragedy did in fact occur we delay the reality of our pain.  Not one of us is exempt from the affects of the killing of nine innocent people.
     Secondly, I had to acknowledge my anger was real, so real that I was ashamed of myself longer than I am willing to admit.  My anger is the same kind of anger all of us have and when it gets out of control we become as dangerous as Dylann Roof.  I confess my anger caused my cup to overflow rendering me null and void and no different than any who are not able to manage their anger.  Allow yourself to acknowledge your anger until you can manage it in such a way that you are no longer a threat to yourself or to others.  While angry I missed the clues awaiting me which would come from a place I had not expected.  However, those clues would provide a way for me to deal with my anger in a way that would not harm anyone.  Here are the clues: acts of forgiveness and faith by those who were hurt and harmed the most: the family members of those who were killed.  How could I stay angry when I heard their testimonies?  How could I even justify remaining angry when I was witnessing such acts of forgiveness and faith?  Think about it!
      Thirdly, I learned about the real essence of forgiveness and faith coming from those who had lost the most and that kept my cup from running over any further.  What I thought I knew about forgiveness and faith I really didn’t know or understand until I witnessed it first hand in the aftermath of the nine deaths.  While my cup continued to run over I soon learned I was about to find a way for my anger and grief to abate.  But, I had to take to heart what I had witnessed from the families who had lost their loved ones.  They were and have always been people of faith and forgiveness.  It was a part of their DNA and even though their cups had run over upon hearing of the deaths of their loved ones they dug deeper knowing the well of forgiveness and faith awaited them.  My flow began to stop when I heard the testimonies and I saw how the God of my life and theirs is the only answer to the experience of the tragic fact.  Scripture tells us:weeping may endure for the night but in the morning cometh joy.  And morning did come.
      You and I must be willing to wait for morning to come because it will surely come. Wait on it!  Wait on it!  Morning keeps coming to me as I watched a group of children and parents of different racial and cultural background enjoying the community pool together. They were laughing and playing together without regard to any differences. Morning comes for you and me when we are given a second chance to say “I’m sorry for hurting you.  Morning will come to you when you say with the song writers of old “its me, its me, its me O, Lord standing in the need of prayer.”  Morning came when one family member faced the accused killer and looked squarely into his eyes and said: “I will never hear the voice of my son again but I forgive you“.  Morning comes when you and I are willing to move beyond life’s tragic facts and move to that place where we see and we hear ourselves in need of each other and in need of God.  Morning came for my dear friend Esther when she held her three month old granddaughter in her arms upon learning of the massacre in Charleston. Right now, find someone to hold, or to hug and morning will come to you.  Morning will come for you and for me when we take time to go deep inside of ourselves and find there the stuff of life that always, always, always stops our cups from overflowing.  Wait I say for morning to come. And remember, there is in God, sufficient strength, whatever our needs may be.  And so it is!


      Where do you and I begin when so much has happened the past couple of weeks?  There were times when my little cup ran over with grief and I thought there were no words of comfort to be found.  There were moments when all I could do was taste my tears as I tried so hard to make sense out of what was happening in places like Nepal and Baltimore, Maryland.  And then I saw a fifteen year old boy being rescued from the rubble of the earthquake in Nepal after five days in darkness and fear. My Lord what a blessing that was!  I saw my spirits soaring as I witnessed one mother in Baltimore publicly chastising her sixteen year old son for throwing rocks at the police during a demonstration. I remembered the words of Howard Thurman: “life is antecedent and consequences, reaping and sowing darkness and light, joy and sorrow.” Yes my friends life is like that! And it is up to us to find a balance.
    So many who respond to my writings on this blog often begin their words with “I woke up this morning. . .” or they write “I was just thinking of something you said. . ..” There is something deeply settling about the very first words from our mouths especially when we are trying to maintain a balance for all that is going on in and around us. When your cup is running over for whatever reason what do you do to turn the situation around?  How long does it usually take for you to find the other side of that which caused your cup to run over in the first place?  And when you get to the other side of what has stopped you in your tracks can you remember how you got there?  I want to encourage you to take time to discern how you felt when you came out of the wilderness of an experience that caused you to wonder how you were going to make it?  I believe by doing so you and I can learn how to maintain the balance between the joys and sorrows of daily living. Life, as a matter of fact is like that!  One day we are riding high and our spirits are soaring with joy and gratitude.  The next day our spirits have forgotten how to soar and joy is no where to be found.  That’s life! I believe we are called to maintain that delicate balance between soaring high and traveling the low road of despair and heartbreak.  Aha, but how to do it?
     Those who begin their writings with “I woke up this morning. . .” have already received the first gift life offers which is simply this: “you woke up.”  What a joy there is in “waking up.”   One faithful friend who reads my entries sent words causing my spirit to soar.  How did she know I needed to hear those words and at that particular time when my own cup was running over?  I submit her words were exactly the balance I needed at the time even though I had no idea she was thinking about me.  As a matter of fact, it was her remembering a time of grace of sharing, listening and understanding which caused her to make contact with me again.  Little did either of us know at that first serendipitous meeting it would become a moment of balance.  Here are the words she shared with me which I now share with you with the hope they may help you to find your balance:
     Let your mind be quiet, realizing the beauty of the world, and the immense, the boundless treasures that it holds in store.  All that you have within you, all that your heart desires, all that your nature so specially fits you for-that or the counterpart of it waits embedded in the great Whole, for you.  It will surely come to you. Yet equally surely not one moment before its appointed time will it come.  All your crying and fever and reaching out of hands will make no difference.  Therefore do not begin that game at all. Edward Carpenter, author.
     Waiting is one of the hardest things for us to do.  When my soul is in the lost and found I don’t want to wait to be found.  I want to be.  But wait I must.  I must believe that I am not alone in my waiting-the God of my life waits with me.  The boy trapped beneath the rubble of bricks and steel waited and waited for help to come.  Surely, he though he would not be found and though tired of waiting he had no other choice.  But he did not lose hope and after five long days of waiting he was rescued.  I believe God was in the waiting with this fifteen year old boy and ultimately, that is why he was rescued.  You may rightly ask about those who waited to be rescued but were not?  I can only say their deaths became the tragic fact for them and for their loved ones waiting for them to be found.  Life is like that!
     My thanks for all of you and for Dianna who reached out to me in a moment of my need for discernment and balance. Come by here Lord, come by here!  Come into our hearts as we seek balance for our daily endeavors.  Fill the lives of those for whom justice has been delayed and not expected. Lord touch the hearts of those who walked the streets of Baltimore with hope for “joy that comes in the morning” and it came on May.1st. Send your Angels of mercy to the weeping souls of those who lost loved ones and friends in the devastating earthquake in Nepal.  Come into the lives of those who have come to expect injustice but continue to hope for justice.  For those in Nepal for whom the experience of the agony is real, please send Your Comforter and Healer into the middle of their unbearable pain and grief.  May we all find a pathway to peace and reconciliation as we try to discern what God is saying to us through natural and unnatural causes.  I ask all of this in the Name of the One who loves us unconditionally, Jesus the Christ and in Whose Name I pray. Amen.  And so it is!
Dr. Paul


         I discovered this morning that somewhere along the way I had put joy on the back burner of my life.  Do you know what I mean? It was during my quiet time that I realized joy was missing from my daily routine.  Have you wondered why you have been feeling overwhelmed by the vicissitudes of daily living?  Have you been in the storm too long not knowing how or when your storm will be over?  I encourage you to read the words of the French poet Apollinaire written here:
 “Come to the edge” he said.  “We can’t, were afraid” they responded.  “Come to the edge” he said. “We can’t ,we will fall” they responded.  “Come to the edge” he said.  And so they came.  And he pushed them.  And they flew.
     I suspect our spirits are so frayed these days it is difficult to believe Apollinaire’s words fit our situation.  We are so over whelmed by life’s vicissitudes that we don’t have confidence our joy can ever be restored.  May I remind you of what Scripture says about our condition: weeping may endure for the might but joy cometh in the morning. I want to encourage you to stop whatever you are doing for a few moments and allow the poet’s words to penetrate your heart and mind.  Put yourself in the group Apollinaire is calling.  He’s calling you to the edge.  Are you willing to step closer to the edge?  If not why not?  Do you wish for restoration of a bit of joy in your life and if you truly do, I invite you to come to the edge with me.  Go deep within yourself. In the quiet moment you have just entered see yourself standing in need of some joy.  Now come closer to the edge you have envisioned with your mind.  Are you ready to be pushed?  Who will be pushing you?  Are you afraid you will fall into the abyss of darkness?  Will you come fly with me?
      Now allow yourself be pushed over your imaginary edge. It is up to you whether you will fly or fall.  I know I can fly because I just did while writing this entry.  My joy was restored because I would not give my consent to fear.  I listened to music on a device given to me as a gift by the choir of First Presbyterian Church.  Whatever was weighing heavily on my mind and making me fearful got lost.  I stepped away from fear and inserted in its place the joy of being alive and being surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who having come to the edge were pushed but now they are flying.  I remembered how beautiful I felt as the music engulfed me with its many melodies. I could feel my anxieties and petty thoughts slowly peeling away.  Joy, joy, joy started lifting me higher and higher.  I could hear my Grandmother sitting in her rocking chair on her wraparound porch singing her favorite songs at the end of each day.  She always sat in her rocking chair on her porch at the end of each day.  It would be many years later that I realized this routine was her way of restoring joy to her life  at the end of each day God had given her life.
     One more thing!  You will have to be willing to practice what I have just described if you want to free yourself from the fears and anxieties that haunt us and try to invade our space.   I am flying now and I am stronger now as the joy keeps lifting me higher and higher.  It is flying time for Dr. Paul.  It is flying time for you.  So, fly, fly, fly.  The God of your life and mine is flying with you. Joy awaits you.  And so it is.
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