A to Z Blogging Challenge

Love in Action

Laity Lodge cacti.  The cactus “protects itself against danger, but it harms no other plant…” (from “The Power of One” by Bryce Courtney

L is for Love in Action.

Well did Monty Python choose a rabbit — the Rabbit of Caerbannog — to protect.

The retreat at Laity Lodge was put on by the Rabbit Room, an online community modeled after Lewis and Tolkien’s Inkling community that met in an Oxford pub in a room called The Rabbit Room.

The denizens of this online community now refer to themselves as rabbits. Unlike many online communities, Rabbit Roomers have multiple opportunities for flesh-and-blood meetings via events like Hutchmoot, the Laity Lodge retreat, and concerts.

A group rabbits yesterday turned into Rabbits of Caerbannog when I shared with them that “Joan Jackson” has continued to comment on my blog, although now all her comments go to my spam folder.

Below is their response:

It has come to our attention that repeated attempts have been made to shame and silence Sally, the author of this blog.

It is sad that bitterness could turn into something so consuming. If this weren’t such a damnable waste of time and resources, it would almost be comic that two elderly people would spend their last golden decades on planet earth acting like silly teenage girls. How foolish the human heart grows while seeking revenge. If there weren’t so much to be pitied about this sort of behavior, it would be laughable.

However, because this problem has persisted, Sally’s friends have decided to take action. Below is our plan.

First, we have offered to manage the spam folder for this blog. From this point forward, Sally will appoint a friend to manage her spam. The new manager of this folder will scan the first few lines of every message and immediately delete anything slanderous. No matter what is written in those messages, we will assume every single word to be false. We will not be shocked, and we will not be shaken. Anyone cowardly and immature enough to send anonymous messages over the internet has immediately lost all credibility in our eyes.

Secondly, as a team, we are committing to doing one act of goodness and grace in the world for every negative message received. For each attempt these attackers make to shame our friend, we will make something beautiful or healing for someone in need. Every venomous or poisonous post will result in tenderness and generosity being carried out by a team of friends who knows the wonderful woman that this blogger really is.

Hatred will be turned to laughter. Shame will be turned to healing. Darkness will be turned to light. And all of this will be done in a manner that not only turns evil to good, but that multiplies goodness exponentially. We will do this because this is what God does with broken places; he turns them around and makes them beautiful.

We praise God for this opportunity to stand in the gap for our dear friend. We also hope that a strong and definite stance will help our friend’s abusers move on with life. We stand about her as a shield, accepting her as she was, loving her as she is, and excited about who she is becoming.

Friends of the Blogger

Like the Rabbit of Caerbannog, they will stand as my protectors.

Unlike the Rabbit of Caerbannog, their actions will not be destructive, but healing.

I couldn’t ask for better friends.

A to Z Blogging Challenge


J is for Jonathan, Jonathan Rogers, to be exact.

Jonathan Rogers is a writer, speaker, teacher, and Flannery O’Connor expert.

For whatever reason, I am prone to say the most awful things to him — insults and degradations.

Like this past fall, when I saw him in Nashville, and he was talking about Georgia, a state dear to him because he grew up there.

“Every time we drive through Georgia,” I told him, “my kids complain because it smells so bad.” (There must be a rendering plant or something near I-95.)

I realized how awful that was as soon as I said it. I looked around to see if the words had maybe come from someone else’s mouth, but, no, I was the only one standing there.

He stopped what he was doing and looked at me. “Do you sit at home thinking of ways to insult me?” he finally asked.

No, Jonathan, those insults seem to come quite naturally to me.

I knew that Jonathan would be at Laity Lodge and felt the anxiety rising. I would not insult him this go-round. I gritted my teeth in firm resolve.

I’ve been the recipient of enough rude statements, mostly regarding my family size.

“Again??!??!” — on seeing me pregnant for the 6th, 7th, or 8th time.

“Don’t you know what causes that?” — generally followed by guffaws and elbows to the ribs.

“You have too many children.” — a statement to which I responded, “Which one should I get rid of?”

“You got your girl. You can stop now.” — after Helen was born, my first girl after three boys, as if having a girl had been a goal.

But, Jonathan — I don’t know why unkind words roll off my tongue in his presence. And I don’t like that about me.

“Really,” I told a friend, “I may just try to avoid him.”

When I saw that Jonathan wasn’t present at dinner or the first talk, I actually felt a little sad, because these were his people far more than my people. I’m an interloper, but they are all too gracious to expel me.

The next morning I got up early, my usual routine.  When I went to get coffee, two other people were also getting morning beverages. I stopped partway through the doorway — it was Jonathan Rogers and his wife.

“Good morning, Sally,” he smiled. Did I mention the fact that he is nice and I am not? “I’d like you to meet my wife.”

We said our hellos.

I think I was polite.

As it turns out, his wife is delightful.  One of my favorite conversations from the whole retreat was an honest vulnerable breakfast we shared.

I liked her so much that I braved a Facebook conversation with Jonathan to get her email address.

I may have insulted him by asking for it.

“This happens every time I take her anywhere,” he wrote. “I write for the Rabbit Room for what, 8 years? One weekend and she is more popular than me.”

Sorry, Jonathan.

A to Z Blogging Challenge · Travel


Wouldn’t you know it? Yesterday I discovered the A to Z Blogging Challenge for April, where for the month of April the challenge is to blog every day except Sunday, and use the letters of the alphabet to mark off the days.

April 1st, A, I decided could be Assistance, since that’s what the story was about. Today, I could say B is for Bus, but I semi-promised no more bus stories.

So B is for Bluff, more precisely, Circle Bluff.

I’m no longer telling a chronological story; it’s an alphabetical one, but I hope you’ll bear with me.

The destination for all my travels was a place called Laity Lodge in the wilds of Texas. I’ll have to come back to my time at LaGuardia and Charlotte airports, my short stay in San Antonio, my first real Texas barbecue, and even my drive through the river to get to Laity Lodge.

Let me simply say that Laity Lodge is pretty close to heaven on earth. Pretty. Darn. Close.

I heard someone say “Friggin'” there, so I knew it wasn’t heaven. Still.

A group of us went for a hike on Friday. The fact that it felt like it was straight up half the time was a testament to how out of shape I am.

It was up, but not straight. Straight up is a cliff.

And straight down is the direction I looked once we were up on the bluff.

I wasn’t alone past the rocks.

Apparently there was a sign — “Don’t go past these rocks.”

I honestly didn’t notice the sign.

I just saw all these other people out there and climbed over the rocks.

The view was spectacular.  I kept looking at this little out-jutting ledge, thinking how fun it would be sit on it, and dangle my legs, and really enjoy the view, but when I looked back at our trusty hike leader, she was literally holding her heart in her chest, like it might fall out from the palpitations we all were causing.

So I just took a picture of the ledge.

It would have given me a great view.
I considered sitting here.

Because, really, I never got that close to the edge. See?

Me, taking pictures of the view.
Me, taking pictures of the view. (photo by Kristen Kopp)

And the truth is, the farther away from the edge, the less spectacular the view.

In fact, Evel Knievel said, “Where there is little risk, there is little reward.” I remember watching his daredevil stunts when I was a kid.

But he is also listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the survivor of “most bones broken in a lifetime”. 433, to be exact.

So I risked a little, but not too much, and loved the view.

From the bluff.

Which begins with B.

Looking down from Circle Bluff.
Looking down from Circle Bluff.