Like nature models, political, social and moral models originate in human experience, and, as experience accumulates, they evolve. Typically, the models we've inherited from the past were formulated over centuries, if not millennia.
The woman I call mom is not my birthmother, my adoptive mother, nor even a legal in-law in the majority of the USA. She is still undoubtedly my mom, and I am proud to call her as such. She is my husband's natural mother and a year ago this stranger became mine.
I dreamed of becoming an All-American hero. I just didn't know how I was going to get there. I had no real job skills, and hadn't done well enough in school to earn a college scholarship. Maybe that was why a commercial I saw about the Army intrigued me.
There are too many people in our communities who find themselves in the middle of a life journey that does not seem to lead them to places of peace and comfort. One of those persons was a former neighbor of mine who took her life a few weeks ago.
In a disaster aftermath, whether caused by hurricane or earthquake or tsunami, the right impulse is to rush in with appropriate relief. But for people of faith, too often this same "rush in" model is applied to making excuses for God.
The struggle for me during these times is how to not treat such times as some voyeuristic movie experience that can be paused or halted by powering down my device, but instead find a healthy way to participate in the healing and support.
Comfort food is what helps Frances Owens deal with important transitions -- the wild ride of politics and transitions she is making in her professional and personal life. Together we dished on life in Colorado, the calling she feels as a community leader and dinners at the White House.
Talk to her, I thought. Talk to her. Normally, I don't strike up conversations with perfect strangers but there was something about the woman waiting for the elevator with me at the medical complex. I couldn't ignore the voice in my head any longer.
I believe each of us has an innate capacity for strength and throughout our lives, we develop -- through conditions we find ourselves in -- the skills to be secure, passionate, formidable and determined.
Outside the kitchen my life was spiraling downward. I told myself I was in control, that I wasn't really addicted at all. I used heroin to come down from coke, alcohol to moderate the pills. I had it all figured out.
In the most important moments of life and death, when I might have hoped for some religious clarity, the lines of religion blurred right in front of me. It was no use leaning either toward or against them.
The only way out is through -- which it is kind of like a birth, or re-birth. It is the path to a second half of life that is deeper, and about tuning out some of the noise of the outside world and listening to that inner voice in the quiet of a dark night.
Many of us give ourselves permission to say things we really don't believe; challenging our beliefs can serve as a filtering system that enables us to compare what is in our minds and in our hearts and to confirm there is a congruency between thought and belief.
I've always felt we religiously unaffiliated "Nones" were a tiny minority. But here we are, surging in an America that's been steeped in religious dogma, where Republican politics has been overrun by zealots hellbent on controlling women's bodies and discriminating against gays.
Haven't we all met the Christian who's so compelling to us that his or her presence inspires our faith? And haven't we also met that sister or brother whose words, actions or attitudes cause us to literally doubt our faith?