Sunday, August 11, 2013

It's Greater In Decatur: August 11, 2013

Several years ago I was driving with a friend from Australia.  A colorful street sign boldly welcomed us as we entered downtown Decatur, Georgia.  When she saw the sign she announced, "oh, so we're in "'Deck-a-tour'."  I chuckled and responded, it's not Deck-a-tour it's "Da-cate-er."  She looked completely disappointed and simply said, "that's so peasant."

Sunday, July 21, 2013

We Want Justice: July 21, 2013

Shortly after the first speaker began addressing the large crowd gathered at the Richard B. Russell Federal Building in downtown Atlanta, the rain started.  As the rally for Trayvon Martin moved forward, the rain got heavier and heavier.  But the rain did not deter the crowd in demanding justice for Trayvon.  There were so many poignant images in the crowd, including one particular sign.  The sign was soaked from the pounding rain.  Although the green, gold and silver letters were peeling off the sign, the raindrops decorated the letters of Trayvon’s name like shiny, valuable jewels.  Yes, the sign was battered, but the message was still perfectly clear.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Trayvon's Wedding: July 14, 2013

The chairs are lined up perfectly.  The grass is freshly cut and beautiful.  The decorations are impeccable.  It’s time for Trayvon’s wedding.  But there’s no Trayvon.  There’s no bride.  There’s no best man; just rows of empty white chairs on the green grass with no one to fill them.      

For Trayvon’s family, there will be no proms, no graduations, and no wedding because a grown man with a gun thought Trayvon was a punk who wasn’t going to get away this time.  That grown man followed him and fired a bullet into his chest that brought the teenager’s life to a screeching halt.  Does it really matter what happened between the following and the shooting?  Does it matter who threw the first punch, or whose screams were on the recording?  Trayvon did not create the situation that led to his death (unless buying Skittles and a drink is so punishable).  And if he did defend himself, wouldn’t we all have done the same thing if we were being followed on a dark rainy night by an angry silhouette with a gun?

Though the shooter was tragically mistaken, the “good” news was that we could take solace in knowing that the criminal justice system would surely bring Trayvon’s killer to justice, right?  WRONG!  Instead, the killer’s actions were somehow deemed justified because the situation that he created caused to him “fear” for his own life.  I will admit that I did not watch every minute of the trial and I’m not familiar with every piece of evidence.  But I don’t have to know all of the evidence to believe that there is something wrong with a system that allowed the killer to walk out of the courthouse a free man.   

I can’t say with certainty that Trayvon Martin would have someday put on a Tuxedo with his parents on the front row beaming like parents do at a son’s wedding.  But didn’t he deserve the choice? And didn’t his parents deserve more than being tortured by the images of their son’s lifeless body lying in the grass in that Florida subdivision.  Instead of front row wedding seats, Trayvon’s parents were presented with prime seats to the Seminole County Courthouse so that the injustice could play out in right front of their eyes.  Thank God they were smart enough to pass on those seats when the verdict was rendered.               

Saturday, July 13, 2013

I Don't Normally Do This....

We’ve all heard those words at one time or another, right?  Check out what happened to me a couple of years ago.  

 I had gotten a ticket for having window tint that was too dark.  Since it was an equipment violation I had to get it removed or replaced before going to court.  I went to a local tint shop to get a quote.  A nicely-dressed gentleman in his 60’s came out to greet me and gave me what seemed like a pretty reasonable price.  I told him I’d probably come back later and get it done.  Before I could get in the car he motioned for me to come closer.  I hesitantly moved toward him and said he understood if I didn’t want to spend that much.  He moved even closer and looked around as if to make sure that no one else was listening, and mumbled under his breath, “I don’t normally do this, after all, I am a pastor, but if you got 20 bucks I’ll give you a receipt so you can tell the judge you got the tint taken out.”  I looked him like he was crazy and got the hell out of there.

Lessons:  (1) When someone tells you that they don’t normally do something, they probably do it all the time, and (2) I’m glad I don’t go to his church!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Welcome to the World: June 30, 2013

Few things are as exciting as welcoming a new baby into the family.  As I watched my precious little cousin sleep yesterday, I couldn't help but wonder what the future will be like for someone born in 2013.  When he is my age, what gadgets will he take for granted that don't even exist today?  What diseases will be cured? What will be the impact of climate change?  What will race relations be like?  After so many thoughts of the future raced through my head, I shifted gears and began to think back to my childhood, fondly recalling the days of playing outside all day with my friends and cousins.  I'd get on my bike in the morning and ride from house to house to house, often not returning until it was time for dinner.  We didn't have a lot of money or the newest toys, but we had a close family and a strong sense of community.  I hope I can have a positive impact on my cousin's life like so many people impacted mine. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

It's Summer, Now Get Out of the House!: June 23, 2013

It was August 2011.  I had a ton of things to do but my desire to get out of the house and take a drive was much stronger than my desire to stay home and check things off my to-do list.  I needed to hit the road.  After convincing a friend to come along for the ride, we headed north on Georgia 400 without a particular destination in mind.  We ended up in a small town called Dahlonega, which happens to be the site of the first major gold rush in the United States.  After a nice lunch in the quaint town square we stopped by the Chamber of Commerce for some guidance on the next stop on this spontaneous Saturday outing.  We started leafing through the maze of travel pamphlets when one of them caught my eye.  Amicalola Falls.  I'd never heard of it, but it was close and offered a nice hike, beautiful scenery, and the tallest cascading waterfall in the southeast.  

Amicalola Falls State Park was a short drive from Dahlonega.  Visitors can choose different paths to reach the falls, each with its own degree of difficulty.  Of course we chose the more challenging trail with staircases that scale the Georgia mountainside and end at the fall.  Tackling the trail and those stairs on an August afternoon was not for the meek; so much for it being cooler in the mountains.  We passed several people along the way who either decided to turn around, or just needed a short breather.  Although my legs were on fire and my shirt was drenched, there was no way we were stopping.  After tackling what seemed like nature's version of the StairMaster, there it was - 729 feet of mesmerizing cascading water known as Amicalola Falls.  Sure, there are more majestic waterfalls and more scenic trails in the world, but on this Saturday afternoon Amicalola Falls provided me with everything I needed.  As I watched and listened to the sounds of this natural wonder, I couldn't help but think that sometimes you've just got to get out of the house and do something!  As summer begins, I challenge you to create your own adventure.  Oh, and please be sure tell me all about it!          

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Imaginary Hurdle: June 9, 2013

Have you ever had a vision for something but just couldn't get it to come together despite your best efforts?  That's how I felt about this photo.  I knew that I wanted to capture the runner in mid-air but the "pose" had to be perfect; the arms, the legs, the hair and the face all had to be just right .  Even if the runner did her part, there was the small matter of  my timing with the camera, which also had to be perfect.  Well, it turned out that it was very difficult to get all of these elements to come together to create the perfect image.  So I shot and shot and shot, at least 15 or 20 times.  And then finally, I got it! When I looked at the photo, I couldn't help but feel the sense of triumph represented by the hurdling runner.  I started to  imagine  her in a different setting, perhaps as a hurdler in the Olympics.  Then I thought, yes, she appears to be hurdling but there is no actual hurdle behind her, under her, or in front of her.  I got a little irritated with myself for creating a hurdle, albeit imaginary, when there was nothing facing her but green grass and blue skies.  That thought led to a question: how often in life do we fail to take action because of imaginary hurdles that we put between ourselves and our goals?