Barbara Laymon

Praying and blogging along the way

Sandusky, shame, and doing the right thing

July 14, 2012

Tags: Triangles, togetherness

I don't know when a news story has made me as mad as this week's Freeh report on what happened at Penn State. I guess we've all seen someone try to cover up something. Years ago, a priest tried to discourage my husband and me from reporting an attempted sexual assault on a parishioner by a member of the vestry. (more…)

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2011

Tags: Prayer

We have a tradition in my family at Thanksgiving of going around the table and saying something we are thankful for. I used to really enjoy this custom and I still wouldn’t stop it. But lately, something about it has really started to trouble me. Putting aside the outlier years – the tough years where everything has gone wrong and the great years where there have been some real joys to celebrate – it’s the in-between years, which are most years, that really make me stop and wonder: exactly what is going on here?
We go around the table and everyone tries so hard to say something kind, and grateful, and yet one can tell that all is not well. That one person is happier than others. That one person seems a little sheepish somehow. That one person’s voice might be a little too determined when announcing the always popular “I’m thankful for my family.” That one person’s voice might betray some regrets about how her year has gone.
And so somehow Thanksgiving falls victim to this human tendency to make everything about us. About how our year has gone. About our relative fortune or lack of it and the unfairness of it all. Isn’t thanksgiving for everyone? Aren’t we all equally blessed? This is the kind of thing that bothers me. Not that I want to stop our little Thanksgiving custom itself – for one thing, that wouldn’t solve anything.
What I needed was a new perspective – a fresh way to think about Thanksgiving day. I began to cast about in my mind for some alternative. Something straightforward. Accessible. And then I remembered a prayer to use at Thanksgiving. (more…)

Changing up the to-do list

January 29, 2011

Tags: Functioning, 1 John, Matthew

Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.
A pioneer farmer goes to church one Sunday after a long week plowing the fields. He has spent years working the land, and although his forty acres – once a wilderness of trees, overgrowth, and mosquitoes – was somewhat tamed, it still required his every waking moment. He listens to the preacher wax on about the perfection of God and God’s handiwork. As the farmer is leaving, the preacher, shaking his hand and noticing the tiredness around his eyes, attempts an encouraging word. “Brother Steve, I was out past your place just the other day. Your farm looks beautiful.”
“Yep,” says the farmer. “Thank you preacher. You should have seen it when God had it.”
If God’s creation is any reflection of God’s character, God does seem to have a high tolerance for chaos. God might even be seen to have a preference for chaos, for uncontrolled growth, for letting things go, and even for allowing error (or sin) into the universe. The farmer, though, is stuck. Chaos for him means no crops, no food, no life. Perhaps the green movement would say that the farmer should have lived off the land differently, in harmony with the chaotic universe. And although there may be some truth in that, it misses the point, the reason that the joke evokes a laugh, an immediate recognition of a deeper truth: God’s ways are not our ways.
How, then, are we to be called the children of God? Knowing that we have to eat, how do we live on this earth in a manner that is consistent with a God who invites us to live a life unencumbered by the problems of this world? How do we have the faith that considers the lilies of the valley, which neither toil nor spin? (more…)

If I only had a brain

January 22, 2011

Tags: prayer, humor

Maybe the scarecrow was onto something
Have you seen the Human Origins exhibit at the Museum of Natural History? The increasing brain size of the evolving human, and its evolutionary advantage, in spite of the many demands a large brain places on our bodies, is stunningly obvious. Somehow, though, even in a town like Washington, DC, where intellectual prowess is (more…)

All this and Yusuf (Cat Stevens) too!

October 30, 2010

Tags: humor

Yes I was there today at the Restore Sanity and/or Fear Rally today and yes I really like living in our nation’s capitol! Although there’s enough material from the Rally for a thousand blogs, here’s a short summary: really great music, kind and courteous crowd, perfect weather, everyone having fun, (more…)

Strasburg's Setback

September 4, 2010

Tags: Differentiation, Challenge

Strasburg’s Setback Galatians 5:16-21

I must begin by asking Strasburg’s forgiveness: he has become a handy symbol, and I hope his multi-million dollar contract is somehow making up for his very public life.
At any rate, Strasburg has suffered a setback: an injury to his pitching arm that has put him on the disabled list and sent him in for surgery. Right when everything was going so well, too. (more…)

James Gammon Rest in Peace

August 14, 2010


James Gammon died last month. May he rest in peace.
My family and I, we were fans. We weren’t really familiar with Gammon’s distinguished career; only while reading his obituary did I learn that he was a well-known stage actor.
But we did watch videos, (more…)

It's OK to be Miss Iowa if God made you to be Miss Iowa (Luke 19: 1-10)

August 1, 2010

Tags: Differentiation, Humor, Anxiety


Last Tuesday, we went to the Nationals game expecting to see Stephen Strasburg pitch. The game was delayed for a few minutes and people – 40,000+ people who had come to see him pitch – were getting restless. It was a fan seated right below us who noticed it first. “Who,” she said, “is that on the (more…)

Let's Stay Together (Matthew 7: 13-14)

July 17, 2010

Tags: Community, Differentiation

This week my office sponsored a conference in Memphis TN. You would have thought we had flown to another planet. D.C. and Memphis are two different worlds: one is competitive, urgent, brisk – the other is open, relaxed, slow. It was fascinating to note the effect on all of us. First were the comments (more…)

No news is good news? (1 Samuel 3)

July 17, 2010

Tags: Faith, triangles


I have quit watching the news. Or listening to it, or reading about it. Since the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I just haven’t been able to take it. Still, one catches glimpses. Like the other day, when the Washington Post ran a front page, above the fold picture of (more…)