Rhonda Cagle

Posts Tagged ‘Churches’

Of Patriots and Patriarchs

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2013 at 6:37 pm

There’s something about being out of my element and off of my routine that causes me to see the world differently. It’s as if – suddenly – I see my surroundings and myself through an entirely new set of lenses. The world – and my response to it – is infinitely more colorful and clear.

A recent trip to Boston was the catalyst for such a moment. In full disclosure, this trip had been on my bucket list for a long time. My late husband and I had planned a trip that included Boston in the fall, complete with reservations at postcard-perfect B&Bs and some of the landmark restaurants in the area. He died two weeks before we were scheduled to leave. Instead of being on a plane, I was in a cemetery, burying my beloved.

In light of this, I tried to approach my trip to Boston with low expectations. After all, it was primarily a business trip with an additional 48 hours of weekend tacked on. But it was Boston. In the fall. During peak leaf season. And I couldn’t keep my expectations from reaching a bit higher with each passing day.


My new husband was accompanying me on the trip. Somehow, he knew how important this was to me and went out of his way to make it exceptional. We walked the Freedom Trail, which was something not on my original itinerary. I reveled in every step, retracing the founding of our country. The floors of Boston’s Old State House creaked under my feet as I walked toward the balcony where the Declaration of Independence was read to the people of colonial Boston for the very first time, just a few weeks after it was penned. We walked the trails of Boston Common, the site of our nation’s first public garden.

Everywhere I looked, I was surrounded by history. By the fiery hues of the changing season. And by the people. The richness of diversity, language, and culture was captivating.


And, of course, there were the churches. Trinity Church. King’s Chapel. The Old North Church. Walking into each one felt like coming home. I entered the center aisle of each church, genuflecting; oblivious to the tourists around me. Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy name, through Christ our Lord, Amen.

A few steps forward, and the details of the altar became visible. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory; forever and ever. Amen.

Finally, I found myself at the front of the church, immersed in the faith once delivered to the saints. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

The architecture and décor was majestic. The historicity of the church so breathtaking, I could barely breathe as I walked through the sacredness.


And then I walked out of the holiness and back into life. And I looked again at the people. The homeless – the hurting, ill, and broken among us – sat on the steps of these sacred spaces. They no longer had the will or wherewithal to go inside. Instead, they huddled at the edges, eyes down, hands out; praying to God for something – anything – to bring some comfort or relief.

Perspective became inescapably clear. I would not catch glimpses of God by looking up at the soaring steeples. Instead, I needed to look down and into the outstretched, dirty hands of the helpless in order to see him.

And the history of this country I call home became real in the eyes and lives of these down-on-their-luck citizens. This nation, borne of those who fought for the belief that all men are created equal, could be seen in the furtive, desperate glances of those daring to hope for this same opportunity.

To one I offered the leftovers from the meal I had finished and intended as my breakfast for the next morning. To another, I offered a few dollars. I had watched as church-goers literally stepped around her in their efforts to get into church on a cold New England Sunday morning. I simply could not walk on by.

As I placed the folded bills into her hand, I grasped her chilly fingers and rubbed them with the warmth of my own. Startled, she looked up. I smiled and, for a brief moment, her hand clasped mine. “Thank you, God bless you,” she whispered.

“No, God bless you. And thank you.” I replied.

“For what?” she mumbled with a look of confusion.

“For helping me see God today,” I replied.

As I walked away, I looked up. The steeple of the church was clearly visible. Suddenly, God was, too. I was off of my routine and out of my element, lucky enough to see the world differently while walking in the city of patriots and patriarchs.

Sex, Religion, and Politics

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Sex. Religion. Politics. The mere mention of these subjects makes my genteel mother squirm at my lack of civility. Given our country’s current religious and political climate, however, my mother is desperately hoping I’ll regale you with tawdry tales of past indiscretions and sweaty trysts with lovers named…


The truth is it would be a lot easier to talk about past peccadilloes with unnamed lovers.  The politics of our current day have become infused with the vitriolic fervor of religiosity prompting members of churches and Congress to firmly, fearfully retreat to one side or the other of the respective aisle. Crossing that aisle has become something like traveling through the DMZ with both sides sniping at the person in the middle. Just listen to Glenn Beck equating churches that preach social justice as code speak for Nazism or Communism or Rev. Jeremiah Wright preaching the assertion that the United States brought on the 9/11 attacks with its own “terrorism.” Both are extremists, encouraging those on either side of the respective aisle not to get too close to the center. These two men, and others like them, seem to be pompous windbags who earn a living on making people afraid of or angry about one thing or another. The trouble is, people listen to them.

Today I read in the news that the FBI is launching several investigations into death threats, bomb threats, and acts of vandalism aimed at lawmakers. Members of Congress have had office windows smashed. A condom and shredded American flags doused in gasoline were sent to representatives who voted for healthcare reform. HazMat crews were called in to investigate suspicious packages sent to members of both parties. Both Republicans and Democrats have been subjected to hundreds of letters, phone calls, and e-mails filled with language that would make a sailor blush and accusations of racism, Communism, and all the –isms that cause people to move further away from the clearing in the middle and take cover in the protection of propaganda. Healthcare reform will bankrupt our country. Republicans are opposed to any kind of change. The words keep flying and the people keep running. Those who don’t run – those who get too close to the middle – are cut down with insults of “baby killer” or “traitor.”

I wonder what would happen if Americans of the Christian faith or no faith – Democrats and Republicans – would be quiet for just a few minutes… take a step toward the middle… look into the eyes of the people on the other side of the aisle. We might discover some interesting facts about each other. Those on the other side have family. Like me, they’re worried about affordable healthcare and giving their loved ones good care without going broke. They don’t like raising taxes. Like me, they’re trying to figure out how to balance the good of the individual with the good of the whole. They don’t have all the answers. Like me, they’ve inherited a country facing unprecedented challenges and they’re doing the best they can with limited knowledge and ability. Looking across the aisle, the opposition looks less like a jackass and more like a person – a person like me.

My mother taught me not to talk about sex, religion, or politics. But maybe, just maybe, my mother was wrong. If we talked more – listened more – about subjects that are off limits, we might be willing to step out of our comfort zone and move toward the middle.

Now, back to those unnamed lovers…

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