It’s a little dusty…this soap box of mine. To maintain sanity and sustain my personal sense of peace, I’ve been choosing (attempting) to live above and think beyond the “worldliness” of our world for many months now. My deliberate efforts to remember that I am responsible for only myself - my thoughts, actions, impact on the world - have been partially successful in freeing me from griping, grumbling and guffawing at the actions of others. And those efforts have kept me from being swept away by a tide of depression and angst when I see, hear and absorb what is happening around the corner, or across the continent, or half-way around the world. But, there comes a point, there comes a time, when I feel like I might explode if I don’t ascend my rickety soap box and shout out to anyone within earshot - “Enough, already!!”

From her bully pulpit, Rosie O’Donnell bashes our President and spews such vile hatred in the direction of anyone who disagrees with her liberal views. Nancy Polosi, with her new badge of power shining on her lapel, hops a plane bound for Syria, a terrorist-supporting country. She is oh so much smarter than our leader, and believes that we should extend our hand and a listening ear towards the people who have supported our enemies, and are more than likely our enemy, as well! I want to tell both of these women, and anyone who shakes their head in agreement with their views, that they need to wake up! But then, all of us who disagree with them also need to wake up - and speak up!

Here’s what I believe. Rosie, Nancy and so many liberals (and some conservatives) are missing the point. I think they truly believe in what they believe, but they don’t realize that we’re not playing with kids we’ve known all our lives who live just down the block! The “kids” we are playing with don’t play by the rules. They are cruel, they are out to win at any cost, and they are sneaky. They don’t blink when they knock us down and bloody our knees. They smile and pat each other on the back when they fake us out and score hits. Why are Rosie, Nancy and so many of you so quick to disbelieve our coach (President Bush) when he tells us the other kids are cheating? He knows the score, he knows there’s only so much time left in the game, and he knows that if we don’t rally together we are going to end up with much more than bruised knees! We are going to lose the game, and the loss is going to be too costly. So he keeps sending in new players, hoping that their energy and efforts, sweat and blood, will stem the power plays of the other team. He can hear the jeers and boos coming from the bleachers, but hopefully he can also hear the clapping and whistling that signals support for the home team. I, for one, will continue to support my team, and my coach, no matter what the scoreboard says! Because I know, just like the coach knows, that the game is more than just a friendly contest. The other team is playing for keeps!

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There are times when two powerful emotions - grief and gratitude - blend and blur together. In our sorrow we are silenced, even as our heart is filled to running over with thankfulness. And sometimes it is impossible to thank everyone personally for their love and goodness in our time of overwhelming loss. But we remember the hugs, the kind words, the thoughtfulness that has been showered on our soul, and so we find a way to say “thank you”.

Thus, I was asked by Rod Richardson’s wife, Rita, to tell each of you how much she appreciated all the compassion and love that was extended to her, and Rod’s friends, when she brought him home for burial. During a touching and heartfelt phone conversation last Saturday, Rita told me she daily reflects upon the faces, the touches, the words that swirled around her during the week following Rod’s death in Baghdad, Iraq, last October. She appreciated the honors given on Rod’s behalf - the signs displayed in store windows, the beautiful flower arrangements, and the local people who stood with flags in hand as the funeral procession wended its way out of town. And she wants everyone to know that each of these expressions of love didn’t go unnoticed - they remain in her memory, bringing her comfort when she is feeling low.

Rita also asked that I pass on to you some of the thoughts of the men who came to bid their friend and comrade farewell. Affectionately described as the “men in black”, most of them were professionals and from far-off places. Several of them had no idea little towns like Boise City still existed. They were surprised by the affection and the open arms of hospitality they were greeted with. One man reflected, “This is America. This is what we’re fighting for!” And the man who played the bagpipes at Rod’s service told Rita about stopping at a convenience store on his way out of town. When he went to pay for his purchase, he was told it was already taken care of. Someone - one of you - chose to honor Rod by honoring this man. And that thoughtful act greatly impressed the bagpiper!

It is the little touches of grace, mingled with the monumental moments, that Rita keeps tucked in her heart. And for which she desires to humbly say “thank you” to each of you who, in so many wonderful ways, expressed your love for her, Rod and their entire family. Her heartfelt gratitude shines beyond her glistening tears.