Sunday, November 30, 2014

11.30.14 along S. Florissant Road, Ferguson, Mo.

I have a regular appointment in Ferguson, and today I biked there from the MetroLink station as usual. I love this path, the Ted Jones Trail.

 I meant to just grab a cup of coffee or some ice cream at the Whistle Stop before my appointment - didn't want to be a gawker - but I did bring my camera, and I'm glad I did. Like along Grand near my home in the Tower Grove neighborhood, the artwork on the countless boarded-up windows throughout downtown Ferguson was stunning.

Along with the colorful designs and positive messages, it was great to see people interacting. Multiple times, cars pulled over near someone painting to thank them for what they were doing and admire the work.

The three men painting boards on the Whistle Stop were local residents, as were most of the people I spoke with. One of them explained that after the boards are no longer needed, the plan is to auction off the artwork, with proceeds going to help the local business community.

These folks (below) traveled in from Indiana, hoping for justice and peace.

Ferguson Public Library (below) ...

The skies threatened rain in the afternoon, but that didn't keep this boy from adding a chalk message of his own.

City Hall ...

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping' ... there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." -Mr. Rogers

Friday, November 28, 2014

11.28.14 along south Grand

I took a walk this afternoon in our neighborhood and was amazed and inspired by what I saw.

"Be the change that you wish to see in the world." -Gandhi

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” -Einstein

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” - Mother Theresa

Before I left I saw two people with a typewriter writing poems for people on the spot (learn more at

They wrote one for me and read it aloud. "What's your name?" "Evie. It's e-v-i-e; v as in victor."

(((St. Louis)))

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Better questions

"Do you know for certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven? If God were to ask you why he should let you in, what would you say?" 

I was a fearful adolescent, and approaching strangers to ask them questions like these did not come easy in high school. I did it anyway on occasion, knocking on doors along with other church members in an effort to draw our unbelieving neighbors’ attention to matters of eternal significance. One time the uncomfortable field trip was part of a weekly class on sharing our faith, where we studied chapters from a book titled Telling the Truth. In another instance, during a youth conference, a handful of my peers and I were carted to a busy downtown district to videotape such conversations with people on the street.

At the time, I took it all very seriously, and much as I struggled to be bold, I believed souls were at stake. Acquainted with worry from an early age and less than confident of my own eternal destination, I think I also participated in the evangelism in search of a surer sense of salvation for myself. I wish I could have imagined being in the shoes of those we approached enough to let them be. I knew what it was like to lie awake worrying about hellfire, in want of the assurance others professed.

Upon leaving the church in my twenties after a crisis of faith, I soon found myself on the receiving end of evangelistic attempts at dialogue. The volume has tapered off the last few years. But the comments, concerned letters and arguments still come calling now and then – a less-than-pleasant reminder, among other things, of my own efforts as a teen. The latest – a handwritten letter – arrived earlier this fall.

“One day each of us is going to die,” the relative wrote to my husband and me. “According to an atheistic belief, we will be just like an animal, nothing more. But according to my belief we will bow before the triune God, and we will go to one of two places, Heaven or Hell. I would rather be in my shoes than yours. Only one of us is right.”

This divide was sandwiched within an otherwise cheery update on our loved one’s life and several expressions assuring us of much affection and regard, the authenticity of which I appreciate and do not at all doubt. But here it might just as well have been Blaise Pascal, or my younger self, imploring us to place a safer bet before it’s too late. Pensive and stuck on the question of God’s existence way back in 1670, Pascal reached a moment where he took a pragmatic leap toward Christian belief, despite personal uncertainty.

“I look on all sides,” he wrote, “and I see only darkness everywhere. Nature presents to me nothing which is not matter of doubt and concern. If I saw nothing there which revealed a Divinity, I would come to a negative conclusion; if I saw everywhere the signs of a Creator, I would remain peacefully in faith.”

He moves beyond this dilemma soon enough, reasoning that he has significantly less to lose in wagering that God in fact is. Any troubling ambivalence about the matter is laid to rest, at least on paper. 

Another possibility is to set the whole matter aside, embracing the uneasy state of not-knowing and pouring our finite energies into equally difficult, but hopefully more productive, inquiries - questions I don't ask nearly enough: How can we make things better? Where can I help?