For as long as I can remember, they've been talking about the "Big One." That mega earthquake that could bring down much that stands in California.

A "Big One" hit a few days ago. It didn't show up on seismographs, but it rocked Hollywood. And its aftershocks continue to reverberate across the entertainment, political and business landscape.

    It's been one unwelcome anniversary after another. First Native ministry summer without our beloved Mama Hutch. First Thanksgiving and Christmas without the heart, the hugs, the laughs of our dear Karen ... Mom ... Grandma. Every family members' first birthday without the light of our lives.

    And then, May 16. The day my baby - so vibrant and alive the night before at our grandson's graduation - was suddenly gone.

      I've spent a fair amount of time in graveyards.

      Looking for some missing "leaves" on our family tree. There's even a "find a grave" website. Run by some folks who've obviously spent a lot more time in cemeteries than I have!

      And I actually found a lot of ancestors' graves. Which filled in a lot of genealogy blanks.

        I think we all do it at times. We walk past a store window, and we look at more than the merchandise. We look at our own reflection. Or we glance in every convenient mirror.

        It's just natural - checking yourself out. Wanting to impress, to look good. It's just natural to talk up our wins, our good stuff.

          Full disclosure here. I'm not the guy you want to call when you need a guy to do a job with a hammer.

          But I do know the fundamentals. A hammer can be used to build something - or to tear it down. Either way, what a hammer hits can't possibly stay the same.

            Christmas Eve at our house is anything but a "Silent Night." How about "Family Circus"?

            Each year brings a lot of high-energy, high-decibel giving and opening of gifts. One year, somewhere in the flying wrapping paper, was one overwhelmed two-year-old. Quietly dazed amid the happy din.

            There was one person who noticed. Grandma. Of course.

              It was just days before Christmas. A drunk driver suddenly veered into our lane and totaled our car - with our whole family inside. Thank God, we were all okay. Our car? Junkyard.

              Then there was the Christmas my sons and I decided to try out the NFL football one had just gotten as a gift. Great fun - until Mr. Klutz here caught one on the end of his finger. My finger? Broken. The emergency room folks gave me a Christmas gift. A splint.

                I think my pastor spoke for millions of Americans on this first Sunday after Election Day. He simply said, "I'm exhausted." Beyond the battle fatigue, there's a wide - and passionate - range of emotions. From celebrating to grieving, from anticipation to anger, from relief to fear, from hope to hurt. With the political battlefield strewn with damaged relationships, raw emotions, finger-pointing, conflicting passions - and lots of uncertainty.

                  We're all broken.

                  And we're covering it up. It's too risky to come out from behind that mask, that wall we put up to keep people out.

                  Until someone else does. Speaking transparently from their own brokenness. In essence, giving us permission to face our own hurt and darkness. The "truth" that will, in Jesus' words, "set you free" (John 8:32).

                    I've always loved the hymn "Amazing Grace." Now I'm living it.

                    When a song or a favorite food or an old voicemail slams me with the still inconceivable reality that she won't be back. Or when I'm in the living room where the love of my life and I shared so much. Her touches are everywhere. Her laughter is in the walls. Her absence is overwhelming. She's been gone a month now.

                                  

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