Just Two Simple Questions (Part 2)

Image Description: Three pink bleeding heart flowers. A blue sky is in the background.

— Who loves you?

One of my friends has a nightly ritual with both of her daughters. They are six and four, both completely precious. Every night, after reading to them, my friend says these final words before they go to sleep:

“Who loves you?”

Then both girls go through this litany of naming who loves them — parents, grandparents, teachers, and friends. Sometimes the stuffed animals get named too.

I wonder who might be in your list.

— How can you build a rhythm to remind yourself intentionally of this love?

Renee Roederer

Ancient Teeth

“Ancient Teeth.” I’m definitely aware that that’s an odd title for a blog post.

But I’m also laughing about it this morning.

These days, I’m doing something I haven’t done in many years: I’m reading the Bible from cover to cover. As I’ve done so, I’ve encountered passages that have moved me deeply, and I’ve found some that puzzle me too. But I also need to share this: The Bible is also funny. I have found some snarky, one-liners from characters that have made me guffaw aloud. Or at times, the narrator of one of the books will make an aside about a situation, and that also makes me chuckle. I love the humor.

There’s a section that wasn’t intended to be funny, but it’s made me giggle too. When I got to the Song of Solomon, I encountered King Solomon and his great love passing on an array of compliments that sound so strange to us millennia later.

“Your hair is like a flock of goats!”

“Your brow is like a slice of pomegranate!”

And there’s this one. It actually shows up several times throughout the poetic book:

“Your teeth are like a flock of newly shorn sheep coming up from washing, each one having a twin and not one missing.”

Gurrrl, you look so good! You have all your teeth!

This complement shows up multiple times. Not one of your teeth is missing!

But then, I started thinking about it, and this was a thought I have never had in my life: Without dentists or even toothbrushes, ancient people were likely missing teeth. Throughout most of human history, people were frequently missing teeth. I’ve never thought of this before.

So I guess it is high praise after all:

Not one of your teeth is missing! Not a single one of your newly shorn sheep teeth! You look gooooood!

Renee Roederer

Just a Little Left

Image Description: A white mug of coffee on a white saucer. Public domain image.

When I visited some chosen family members this winter, one of them blurted out that I should feel energized because, “after all, don’t you drink like five cups of coffee a day?” I laughed and said that while staying with them, I had never had more than two. He came to his five-cups-per-day belief because I reheat my coffee in the microwave a lot. I guess I’m a slow coffee drinker.

When I was 7 and 8 years old, I would sometimes spend summer days with my Papaw Jim. He would take me to McDonalds, and I would order a Happy Meal while he would order a coffee. Sure enough, I would finish my meal way before he was finished with his coffee, and I would feel so bored.

“I’ve got just a little left,” he would say, with the cup half full.

“Just a little left.”

“Just a little left.”

This was such a marker of my summer. There was hardly ever just a little left.

I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Renee Roederer

Encouraging Shout Outs

A word of encouragement goes a long way.

I was reading and listening to a few news stories yesterday, and the themes felt so daunting. I have no need need to make any silver linings out of them. We know that painful, troubling stories of war, gun violence, financial difficulty, and climate emergency weigh heavy upon us, and they impact some directly in devastating ways.

I took in a deep breath and sighed. When we hear all of these things, particularly if they’re framed in a certain way, it can feel so daunting and dooming, as if there is nothing we can do to make this world better.

No silver linings, but I do know this last part isn’t true: We can do things to make this world better.

I sent a few texts to people I know who are connected to the themes of these stories. I told someone that I’m glad she’s working on an electoral campaign. I told someone that I’m glad he’s a peacemaker. I told someone that I’m glad he’s a doctor.

And these shoutouts of encouragement didn’t only benefit them. They benefitted me. They reminded me that we change things relationally, and I know some really stellar, committed people.

It reminds me of the poem, “Good Bones,” by Maggie Smith. (Have a read)

We can listen, sigh, and feel these stories in our own bones. And we can make this world better.

Renee Roederer

Is Imagination… Material?

Image Description: NPR’s Hidden Brain Logo with a blue background and white block text.

I was recently fascinated with this podcast episode of Hidden Brain, and I’d love to pass it along to all of you. It’s entitled, Secret Friends: Tapping Into the Power of Imagination.

Imagination may involve thoughts, visualizations, and sensations that are internal to ourselves, but can it also take shape? Imagination becomes a lens that impacts what we notice, and thus, to a certain extent, it materializes into what we actually experience in the world.

There are very real ways to form relationships with ideas and even people internally inside our own imaginations, and this can impact how our bodies feel materially.

Such a good episode. Check it out!

Renee Roederer