In December 2013, at the end of a very difficult year, I hybridized my first African violets. The seeds were harvested in May 2014 and planted in October 2014.
Now, the first plant is setting buds, but I will have to wait a bit longer before seeing the full fruit of my labors. It has been almost a year and a half from hybridizing to bloom -- a quick-passing period when I consider it. But it's a very long time, if viewed from the beginning, before the seeds were formed.
He sits at the kitchen table with just a bit of soup in his bowl. He is hungry but knows that after he consumes the miniscule amount of food, it will quickly rise in his throat and he will have to expel it. He has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer and told that "the end is very near." Eventually he bends his head, cradling it in his hands, and prays that soon he can join his beloved Lavern in heaven.
The older I get, the more time I spend enduring medical exams and "procedures." Never willing to waste time, I often pray in my moments alone while waiting. I'm also fond of chatting up and observing people. That can provide flashes of grace.
When Pope Francis was elected two years ago, he called on us to reach out to the marginalized and showed us he was going to lead by example. On his way through St. Peter's Square before his Mass of Installation, Pope Francis spotted a disabled man and instructed his driver to stop. He descended from the vehicle to kiss and bless the man. Less than two weeks later, on Easter Sunday, an 8-year-old boy with cerebral palsy was lifted up and Pope Francis embraced him.
Even before the U.S. Department of Justice released the long-anticipated "Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department," our community heard stories of abuses by Ferguson's police and in the municipal courts. Many protesters last year cited these injustices as the real motivation for protests. Michael Brown's shooting was just a catalyst.
The protests often were mixed with criminal acts of violence and vandalism. Police -- and even some protesters -- pointed to outside agitators as the antagonists.
It is quite extraordinary to note how much our need for social connections and affirmation has changed over the centuries and recent years. As social beings, we never tire of finding ways to tell our personal and communal stories. Whether stone or clay tablets, hieroglyphics, smoke signals, written words, images or holograms, we crave for human interconnectivity.