Please join me today in welcoming my friend and guest blogger, Claire Cassell, as she shares a true story with a needed message in a time when many of us have lost friends, family and associates due to toxic polarity in our country. Claire’s story of heart choices, told through the lenses of honesty and humility, touched me so deeply that I wanted to share here with you. Thank you Claire. This is timely and truly a step in the right direction for reconciliation needed right here, right now.
By Claire Cassell
I hadn’t talked to my step-sister in a long time. We were both born in St. Louis, but we didn’t grow up together. We had the same dad but had different mothers. We never got together for holidays as kids, but when we became adults, we exchanged Christmas cards and signed them with love. She would call every so often when she and her husband traveled through my city on one of their trips around the country. Even though she was technically part of my family, I didn’t feel close to her and always felt some guilt for not reaching out to her more or showing interest in her life.
I knew that she would be at my niece’s wedding and so I called her ahead of time to let her know I would be there. I decided that when I did see her, I would show interest in her and try to make a real connection. My call was an attempt to begin the process of reaching out. As I listened to the phone ringing and my heart beating, I hoped that it would go to voicemail and I could leave a quick message. “Hello?” she answered. After I caught my breath, I said, “Hi, this is Claire. I’m going to the wedding next week. I heard you were coming too.” We exchanged small talk for a few minutes.
Then she said, “I just dropped off my ballot,” and proudly announced who she voted for. My heart quickened and my hand tightened around my cell phone as I blurted out, “Well, you and I are on opposite sides of the fence.” Suddenly, my step-sister, with whom I was attempting to make a connection, seemed like the enemy. All of my judgements raised their ugly heads like monsters coming out of the deep. I pictured myself talking to her at the wedding, which would happen right after the election, dreading how awkward our conversation would be. I wished I had never made the call or accepted the invitation to the wedding.
When I came out of my trance, I heard her say the words, “That’s okay.” I paused, and thought, that’s “ok” when so much is at stake in this election? Her nonchalant response didn’t match the urgency I was feeling around this particular election. Was it OK that we were on opposite ends of the political spectrum? Knowing this, would we still be able to make a connection as family members? Then, somewhere out of my unconscious mind, the words came floating up, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; (Democrat nor Republican), for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
A memory sparked in my mind remembering my step-sister babysitting me when I was very small and she was a teenager. She was kind, loving and fun. I never understood why she always went home to another mother and didn’t stay at our house. My dad tried to explain to me that she was my half-sister, but I didn’t understand why she couldn’t be my whole sister.
Now, fifty years later, the choice was mine. Was I going to accept my sister who grew up in a different house with another mother and who was now on the other side of the fence? As I prepared to respond to her, I felt another spark inside, but this time it was in my heart. “No matter who wins the election,” I said, “I love you, Barb. See you at the wedding.”
Claire Cassell currently serves as a pastor at Abiding Hope Lutheran Church in Littleton, Colorado, a chaplain at West Pines Chemical Dependency and Behavioral Health Center and a Spiritual Director and Life Coach. Over the past forty years, she has served in parishes, campus ministry, chemical dependency and chaplaincy settings around the country. She loves teaching spirituality classes, workshops and retreats and has been practicing and teaching Qigong for over 30 years. She has a passion for the healing arts and is a Reiki and Healing Touch practitioner. Claire lives with her husband and two dogs in Arvada, Colorado and enjoys hiking, swimming, gardening and kayaking. If you would like to connect with Claire she can be reached at email@example.com
Connect with me, Laura Padgett, on Twitter @lauraleepadgett or my Facebook Author Page
Check out the books I have published
“Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers. If you live in the U.S. and would like an autographed copy sent directly to you, click on the tab for buying books on my home page
The award-winning “Jesus in Shorts: Twenty-five Shorts Stories of Life-Changing Jesus Moments,” available now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you live in the U.S. and would like an autographed copy sent directly to you, click on the tab for buying books on my home page.