Unheralded

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Forgiveness And Love

It’s been 10 years since that night I left Ian’s basketball game at halftime because I knew I needed to go to the nursing home to see Steve. Driving through snow and bitter cold because I knew that was where I was supposed to be. When I walked in, he wasn’t responsive, but I’ve been around death enough to know …


Unheralded

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — ‘Break The Rules Day’

I was a very strict parent, especially until my sons turned 13. My boys still comment on how I wouldn’t let them watch “Rugrats” because Angelica was mean spirited.    But on Dec 31, we always celebrated “Break the Rules Day.” As long as their actions were not mean-spirited or destructive, they could break all of the rules. Have ice …


PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — A False Narrative

If you want to understand what straight white privilege and implicit bias looks like, the response to Brittney Griner’s release is a case in point. Over the years, there have been many prisoner exchanges the United States has had with countries that have unjustly imprisoned American citizens. Rarely if ever are there even exchanges and when they happen, other Americans …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Actions, Or Inactions, Have Consequences

Just after midnight on Nov. 20, which is Trans a Day of Remembrance, to honor the memory of transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of hate and violence, an armed gunman entered an LGBTQ nightclub during a drag show and shot and killed five people, two of whom were transgender individuals. In recent months, anti-gay rhetoric has been …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Don’t Let Indifference Destroy Democracy

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” ― Elie Wiesel Elie Wiesel knew what he was talking about. The indifference of the German people, who elected the Nazi Party to …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Freedom And Justice For All?

I was gone for two weeks traveling and return to a country very different than the one I left, thanks to U.S. Supreme Court rulings that question privacy, bodily autonomy, the ability to regulate weapons of war, the separation of church and state, rights of Indigenous people and the welfare of our planet, with the ability to conduct free and …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — God-Inspired Serendipity

Today would have been my 30th wedding anniversary. When I got married, I never imagined losing Steve twice to the same disease — first when our marriage ended and then when he died. I am the kind of person who uses anniversaries to reflect, and I can honestly say I will never regret my marriage. First, because I loved Steve …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — A Crisis Of Selfishness

It’s the same response every time. “We need to arm teachers. We need more police at school. We need to focus on mental illness,” which stigmatizes mental illness, as opposed to focusing on the real issues. It’s never “Maybe there is no reason to EVER have an AR-15 that isn’t about personal pleasure”  or  “18-year-old kids shouldn’t be able to buy guns” or …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — A Tarnished Olympics

As anyone who knows me is aware, I’m a huge fan of the Olympics. But I am struggling deeply with these Games because China is an abusive nation that is committing genocide against the Uyghur Muslims. And the IOC is a corrupt tool working with them to silence any athlete who wishes to speak out about their human rights abuses. …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Addiction Takes No Prisoners

On Sunday my first friend, Tim Quimby, the boy across the street with whom I walked to school every day for years, often holding hands when were kindergartners, lost his beloved partner, Jerry, to cirrhosis, as he was holding his hand. Nine years ago tonight, I was holding Steve’s hand as he took his last breath, also a victim of cirrhosis. …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Following the Path Of Martin Luther King Jr.

Growing up, my sisters and I were never asked if we wanted to serve or give of our time. It was expected. It was truly ingrained in us as part of our DNA. This morning, as we were reflecting on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in our “sisters” chat, we recalled how our parents instilled this into …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Do’s And Don’ts Of Grief

Over the years, I’ve often been asked by individuals how they can most effectively help those who are most directly touched by the death of a loved one. As a result, I’ve come up with a list of Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to dealing with grief. It is based on conversations I have had with people who have …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Be Part Of The Solution

Those who are outraged by the changing recommendations regarding masking by the CDC are a case in point why people should perhaps trust science and get the vaccine rather than leaning on their own limited understanding or the advice of friends who are not credible medical and public health professionals. Life is dynamic, not static, and all things evolve, including …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Facts Still Matter

Ignorance kills. It is the reason unvaccinated people are dying from COVID-19 and other diseases whose worst effects could be avoided. It is why people ignoring the consequences of climate change are wreaking havoc rather than being addressed. It is why people are victims of hate crimes and why teaching our children real history — not some whitewashed version that …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — The Truth Will Keep Us Free

The intransigence of the GOP leaders to move forward with a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection and attack on the U.S. Capitol is the height of party over politics. It is a glaring example of what is broken in our government.The Republicans were given everything they asked for in negotiations, including equal representation and power, and when …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — What Really Matters

I received a letter from my 22-year-old self this week. Well, sort of. It was a letter that I sent to the woman who was my camp counselor when I was 14, thanking her for the influence she had on my life. I sent it the week before I left for seminary, Aug. 31, 1986. She found it this week, …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Wanted, Critical Thinkers

I never received the smallpox vaccine. But I thank God for everyone who did. My parents were not anti-vax. But back when everyone my age lined up to get the vaccine that would leave a unique scar on their upper arm, I couldn’t join them. I had severe eczema as a child and due to a reaction that the vaccine …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Addressing The Color Divide

From time to time, I see Facebook friends who I know to be decent people post things about “cancel culture,” decrying what they see as an “attack” because someone found something offensive. It always makes me sad because I believe that a lot of this “forced” divide in our nation could be addressed if we opened our minds, heard the …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Separating The Wheat From The Chaff

The faux rage about “canceling” Dr. Seuss because the corporation that preserves his legacy removed a small handful of his countless books because of content that clearly is not appropriate and is hurtful in 2021 is so off point. Much of what Theodor Geisel wrote was lovely or fun. That is not going anywhere. It is the process of separating …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — My Lenten Discipline

This year, as my Lenten Discipline, I decided to devote 30 minutes a day to deep and intentional anti-racism reading and reflection. I selected a few books that have been on my “meaning to read” list and put them next to my recliner.  Every evening after dinner, if I have time before a meeting, or before bed if I don’t, …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Taking Something Up For Lent

Ash Wednesday is tomorrow, which is a time when many faithful Christians begin the process of their Lenten Discipline, or what is often referred to as “giving up something for Lent.” This year, though, I suspect I am not alone in my reaction to the thought of “giving up” something after a year of giving up a whole lot of …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Beyond Groundhog Day

Today is Groundhog Day, the day when Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his burrow to see if he sees his shadow to determine whether there are six more weeks of winter. Today also feels like Groundhog Day, as portrayed in the 1993 comedy classic starring Bill Murray. The premise of “Groundhog Day” is that a TV weatherman finds himself reliving …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Thank God For Bernie

If you are on social media anywhere these days, it is impossible to miss. A photo of a single man, his face covered by a mask, but still clearly glowering underneath, sitting in a fold-up chair, bundled up in a warm coat and wearing glorious mittens, photoshopped into a myriad of odd locations. The Bernie meme. This picture of Vermont …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — The Two Kingdoms

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. The events of the past week have left me at once glued to my television and also feeling a soul-crushing desire to just go upstairs, pull the covers over my head and pretend that this is not happening in our country. So I have been praying a lot about how to deal …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids —Democracy Depends On Unity

This morning, I watched with horror more videos of the violent insurrection, which was minutes away from a massacre. As awful as it was, it could have been so much worse had the rioters fulfilled their intent to kill the vice president and members of Congress. Many of the rank-and-file members of the Capitol Police, whose leadership was horrible, fulfilled …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — The Truth Will Set Us Free

My social media presence is fairly deliberate and intentional. I try to vary it between vignettes from my day to day life, spiritual reflections and my commentary on what is transpiring in the world around me. I have worked hard to not be the person who only rants about politics, although depending on what is going on, I will occasionally …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Out With The Old, In With The New

A few years back, I decided to toss away the idea of New Year’s resolutions and instead embrace the idea of a “Word of the Year by Which to Live.” The idea is to have one word for the year that you focus on and each day you work on that word. It becomes a centering principle by which you …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Uphold The Constitution

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski: “I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and that is what I will do Jan. 6 — just as I strive to do every day as I serve the people of Alaska. I will vote to affirm the 2020 presidential election.” Joe Biden won the presidential election over President …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — God’s Name Is Not A Tool For Our Benefit

I must admit to being bemused by the hypocrisy of people who claim the name of Christ who have looked the other way the past four years but are horrified over the use of a vulgar word by a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s staff. I don’t condone calling anyone names. It is wrong, and I don’t think it is …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Coronavirus Can’t Darken The Miracle Of The Christmas Story

Shortly after getting married, my late ex-husband, Steve,  and I knew our Christmas traditions were going to have to change. Growing up, I had always gone to Winnipeg for a large family gathering on Christmas Eve. In my first parish, we went to Steve’s  family farm on Christmas Eve, since it was only a few miles from the church I …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — COVID Is Real

I have COVID. You can take all the right precautions, wear a mask at all times, socially distance, wash your hands, etc.,  and still get it. As luck would have it, I hadn’t left my house for more than 72 hours before showing symptoms, so no one else was exposed. That made contact testing much easier! I got tested after …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Christmas Worship 2.0

Christmas is going to look different this year. That is pretty much a universal truth for so many people. We won’t be traveling to spend time with loved ones, we won’t be having large family gatherings in festive outfits as we exchange gifts, share food and drink and celebrate the joy of being together. And perhaps for many of us, …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Wanted: Responsible Leaders

Joe Biden won the popular vote for president by nearly 6 million votes and his electoral college total of 306 is identical to President Trump’s in 2016, though his winning margins in close states is significantly higher. The election was considered the most secure in history, as stated by Trump appointee Chris Krebs, who was fired for doing his job …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — God Is Always With Us

I decided to fast from all media this past weekend. It was a good choice. My spirit needed it. But when I listened to NPR’s “Up First” on Monday morning, I was overwhelmed all over again with the heavy weight of the world falling down all around me. The simple truth is, just like the reduction in light we receive …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Building Bridges, Not Walls

Over the past week, I have learned far more about the names of counties in Arizona, Georgia , Nevada and Pennsylvania than I ever possibly imagined. As election returns poured, or more like dripped in, I found myself transfixed, looking at returns, percentages and vote totals with what I’m afraid  became an obsession, until the race was called Saturday morning. …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids —Speaking To The Lord

I’ve been having trouble sleeping. I suspect I am not alone. In fact, in conversations with parishioners and friends, I’ve been hearing a lot of people are struggling to sleep at night. Whether it is falling asleep, or like me, waking up in the middle of the night and then struggling to get back to sleep, many of us are restless. …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Mister Roger’s Neighborhood Would Be Such A Welcome Place Right Now

“Well @JoeBiden @ABCPolitics town hall feels like I am watching an episode of “Mister Rodgers Neighborhood” Tweet by Mercedes Schlapp, Senior adviser to the Trump/Pence Campaign. I like Fred Rogers. His show debuted when I was in kindergarten, and I grew up adoring his slow-paced, intentional focus on accepting who we are, being kind to others and showing empathy. As a …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Attitude Of Gratitude

Monday was Canadian Thanksgiving. One of the joys of being a dual citizen is that I get two days set aside to focus on Thanksgiving. This weekend, I had a chance to celebrate it with my sons and their girlfriends, which was a source of thanksgiving in and of itself, and in November, we will do the same. However, I …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Let The Lord Be Your Rock

We live in uncertain times, times where there seems to be no strong foothold, where we are trying to balance on shifting sands. With all the unpredictability created by COVID-19 and exacerbated by what is unfolding in our national affairs, it is easy to feel unsteady, unsure and exhausted. Many of us wake up in the middle of the night …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — What Are Angels?

Angels aren’t what you think they are. At least if you accept the way that they have been co-opted by humans to provide fodder for Hallmark figurines and provide solace during times of grief. They aren’t, at least according to the Scripture, quaint and cute winged cherubs playing stringed instruments and flying around shooting arrows of love into people’s souls. …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — We Must Work Together

To my Trump supporting friends: I am not your enemy. You know me, you know who I am and what I represent. Sure, I’ve been a political creature since about the time I could talk. I did, after all, write a letter to Richard Nixon in 1970, at the age of 5, questioning the morality of the war in VIetnam. …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Walking In The Light Of God

I hate 2020. That was my visceral Facebook post after hearing of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, shortly followed by the announcement that 200,000 people in this county have died from COVID-19. Almost immediately, someone who doesn’t share my political views chimed in, “You should not hate.” A bit later, it was followed by a far more well-meaning parishioner …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Red Or Blue, All Lives Matter

On Wednesday, President Trump said, regarding COVID-19 deaths, “So we’re down in this territory, and that’s despite the fact that the Blue states had had tremendous death rates. If you take the Blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at. We’re really at a very low level. But some of …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — A Glimpse Of Hope In The Face Of Death

Marti was a rescue dog. We found her through “Petfinder.com.” My youngest son, Ian, was a huge Peanuts fan, and he really wanted a Beagle, and I found a Beagle/Terrier cross at the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter in my hometown of Willmar, Minn. It felt like serendipity. I had grown up in WIllmar with a Beagle/(we are pretty sure) Terrier cross, …