Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thanks be to God

Rowan, Bishop of Playing, has posted a great homily on the Beatitudes today on FaceBook. He adapts these verses to include those we love and those with whom we live - our beloved dogs and cats. What a joy to think that those non-humans in our household are also beloved of God! Sometimes we forget that God loves all of creation and not just "good" humans. God looked at creation and said, "It is good." All of it, all of us, all of them (whoever them might be). Creation is good.

To me, the story of the fall is an allegory that tries to explain why bad things happen to good people - very inadequately explain. I don't know why everything is not all good. I don't know why natural disasters happen (other than the scientific explanation). I don't know why violence and murders happen. But, the Fall is not a good enough explanation for me. However, I don't need to know why those things happen. What I need to know is that God found all of creation to be good.

Blessed is creation, a song of praise for the maker! We cry out, "Bless God's holy name!"

The Beatitudes makes all sorts of promises to people. Promises that most of us interpret to be foretelling of the future - after we are dead, after judgment - but the truth is that all are blessed, all receive the promise - and that promise is that God is with us. Immanuel.

Okay. I admit that I pick and choose in the Bible. I discard some ideas and eagerly adopt others. So do we all. And, some of my ideas about God didn't come from the Bible at all, but came from life experiences, from other reading, from "gut" reactions, from dreams, from visions, from conversations. God is among us, and we only have to open our ears and our hearts to know God.

Blessed is creation!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Following directions

Remember Ayn Rand with her indiscriminate individualism? Understood young enough, her principles are a great way to get out of the mire. However, once you're out of the mire, they don't work so well. You need to move up a step on the socio-political ladder if you're going to stay out of the mire. Socialism with its sharing and networking seems to work well for a time. Then someone says to you - Did you know that Jesus was a socialist?

You're accustomed to reading the texts by now; so you grab a Bible and turn to the gospels where you find lots of confusing footnotes like "not written by a single person", "handed down orally for about 90 years", "this refers to Hebrew Scriptures and was probably put there to validify Jesus". The story is fragmented, confusing, redundant, conflicting and undetailed. Other books you've read are at least attributable to one person or a few people who are named. Usually they follow a good sequenced pattern. Not so, the Bible. The barest facts are recalled in everything except a few instances. You put it aside.

One day you conclude that some of the best networking is in churches - big churches where rich and influential people sit, stand and kneel together with the fireman and his family, the clerk and her children. So, you join the church and begin participating in its activities. They expect you to share your money, your time and your talents. Huh?

Eventually, you have made yourself into what you wish to be professionally or you haven't. You keep going to church because that's where you find your friends. You've done the mission trips, the church school teaching, the choir, the twice yearly clean-up. You've worked the homeless mission, given food for the local food bank, donated money to help those in foreign lands, and been coerced into increasing your donation to the church.

You pull back and realize that you're hanging on to Ayn Rand's philosophies with clenched fingers. I have made myself into who I am. I can do whatever I want because I have freedom. I can dump you at the food bank and never see you again. I can socialize with the top notchers. Then, you wonder why am giving all this money to a church that's fighting over how people have sex or whom they love or which version of the prayer book/hymnal do we use?

You pull back even further and stare at the world around you - hanging onto possessions and principalities with a single-mindedness - just like you're hanging onto your individuality. Just like you're still balancing between the sharing of the church and the individualistic self-preservation of Rand. You've fragmented yourself into thinking either/or.

Some people revert back to their Any Rand tendencies and hoard their money, use their time strictly for themselves, and stow their talents in gym bags.

Other recognize that life is a grand mixture of getting, giving, keeping, sharing, and continuing to grow.

I vacillate between these two ideas - isolating then giving away time and talent that could make me more financially secure in my old, old age. But, like the child who couldn't sleep when the adults were playing canasta in the next room, I'm always afraid that I'm missing something important, something fun, something I really, really need.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Midnight Rambling

Enya's "How Can I Keep from Singing" resounds in my ears tonight along with the whir of my four inch fan that keeps the air circulating here. I feel like singing - even though the witching hour is just past and everyone else in the house is fast asleep. Guess I won't sing. Some days are just better than others.

Hot today as it has been nearly everywhere lately. Pity those poor folk in Moscow - glad I'm not a tourist there. But we survived the heat here. Had a great dinner of baked chicken, asparagus and small red potatoes. Cats have been good tonight - not too much talking back...more a murmuring of agreement when I tell them they are beautiful.

Good hugs, good medical reports - well mostly. How can I keep from singing?

I've almost finished a diagonal scarf as a sample for the shop - used Noro's self-striping yarn in Silk Garden with greys, purple and bright turquoise. I like turquoise in many things. I also like red and cobalt blue. I've grown to like a really good purple and a bright lime green (not fluorescent).

This would be a good time to get in the car and drive to Kinston and back - 4 lane road, 70 mph, cool enough for a window down. Clear my head and my problems - leave them behind - not that I have any real problems. Life is good.

The osprey are migrating wherever they go. I saw ours yesterday, but the young ones are hunting on their own now; so it won't be long. I'll get up one morning and the next will be empty - moving on to other places and lives. I've always wondered how people divided their time between two homes. How do you leave behind the things you love, things that represent good times in your life and go to another place? Do you split your "things" between them - or do you not have "things" but good times, good memories and activity.

As a circle is drawn from a starting point, the pencil comes full around - back to that starting point. Another cycle begins then. A beginning, and ending, different experiences.

Lots of my circles of life are coming around lately, and I wonder what the beginnings will be. One has clearly begun with the discovery of a person very dear to my heart - unseen and unheard for more than 50 years. What a joy! Lots of catching up to do. Shared memories of a good time in our lives.

My surgery (gall bladder removal) marks a time away from the yarn shop. They are surviving okay. The new computer inventory and sales system seems to be working. I'll need more surgery this fall - damaged meniscus - knee - not quite right until three weeks after surgery. Is this a circle that is coming around? What will its new beginning be?

Holidays once standard issue for us - changing - Thanksgiving in Denver. Christmas here. Our tree trimming party always the first Saturday or Sunday evening in December. I'm cooking less and less for the party and ordering more from restaurants and caterers. Still everyone looks forward to this time together. Lisa plays piano and we sing Christmas carols.

So many circles in my life, and I look at them through new eyes. Six years without regular church attendance or participation - now I've taken on the church newsletter. Should be fun. Improved health may get me up early enough to attend services. I hope so.

Peace to all and may the circles of your lives continue with their beginnings and endings.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Boundaries of the Mind

By all psychological definitions I should be psychotic, locked up. In the book Boundaries of the Mind, the descriptions of various psychotic conditions include how the mind fixes its boundaries - the essence of who a person is. One of the questions involves that time between waking and sleeping and another questions hyper-sensitivity. Some of the more easily understood questions involve the uses of various rooms of a house. Do you perceive that a room has only one use? Or various uses?

After reading and re-reading this book, I realized that I have few boundaries. I dream entire science fiction stories in graphics and color. I have had visions of myself waking up in that moment between sleep and waking. I have few firmly fixed ideas about the uses of rooms or objects. I can be whoever I think you want me to be - Oh, not forever, but at least for a while. I've held many jobs far beyond my training because I became who the employer thought could do the job - sometimes I did, sometimes I didn't. I can be the life of the party or the wall flower.

I can even be you or think that I am you (that's called co-dependency sometimes). In movies, I become a part of the story and that lingers for a while afterward. A few minutes of meditation and I am a fairy...or I think that I can work miracles (unfortunately God lets me do that occasionally - just encourages my fantasy).

I talk to the other people in my head. They don't always agree with me, and we have had arguments. Sometimes I think one of those in my head might be God. That's when I really listen.

At times I think I can sense that something is happening to someone I know, more often someone I love. I can see spirits that live in houses when they want me to see them. We had a delightful little gray spirit dog in one house. He liked to be in the kitchen with me and would try to trip me.

I've learned some boundaries. I am not you nor am I God. I am not responsible for your happiness or well-being or what you do. I know who I am and who I am not.

But, I can live without many boundaries. I can be 13 when I remember my first boyfriend, and, if you interrupt my remembering, you might get a teenager's answer to a question. If I'm sitting with you when you die, I might feel your death in ways most people can't imagine. When I put my hand against a tree, I can feel its history.

Yes, imagination, but more - a oneness with almost everything. I can distance myself from this oneness, too. More and more often, I do that. It's less...less painful...less happy. Those highs and lows will break you.

Most people never know these things. I act and appear normal. But, I have written other people's stories without having heard them. They aren't all fun either. Waking at night to sense another's tears or worries brings sadness.

Oh yes, I'm crazy, but I'm not psychotic. I live a normal life. Oh, yes, I do.

Really, I think I've had too much time alone at home recovering from surgery, and I'm imagining all of this. Yeah, that's what I think.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Meditation on Pain

Pain is universal. One person's pain may be another's agony. We humans cannot measure one pain against another easily. If I have no shoes and you say I should be glad because this person has no feet, does that put shoes on my feet? No, just makes me feel guilty for complaining to you; so I find someone else who will sympathize with me.

So much for meditation. I have fibromyalgia; so pain is a regular feature of my life. I ignore it as much as possible, gripe a little when it's appropriate, and try to sleep well. But, these blasted staples from the gall bladder removal are instruments of hell. Oh yeah, the doctor said, you can take off the bandages Thursday and leave them off. Well, I have six in my navel, and I wear mostly pants/shorts. A button on top of six pointy staples in your skin is a big ouchie. And, my t-shirt snags on them. So I cover them with bandaids...the fabric ones that stretch and give. It's the third day after surgery - I expect resurrection. Aaarrrrrggggghhhh. I sit for a while and when I stand, my insides feel as if I'd glued them together with gorilla glue that expanded to fill the open spaces. Gradually, I straighten up and tear the glue apart while making random noises in deep tones and occasional high-pitched eeeeoooowwwws.

Oh, you can drive on Thursday. Right, Doc. What I most want to do is get dressed in some garment that touches only my shoulders, trudge my way out to the steps and wish for a small hover craft to get me to the car. Once I've arranged my body behind the steering wheel of the Little Red Car, I find that I must fasten the seat belt by pulling it across my body where the staples are lightly covered with bandaids and a long t-shirt that is probably meant for sleeping. Oh, this would be fun. Riding home from the hospital was bad enough with the blasted strap right across my sorest part. Why on earth would I want to do that again. Six staples, mind you.

And, oh yeah, I was brilliant in my hospital room. I pulled all 200 lbs of me up in the bed with my right arm. Needless to say, my ribs hurt, my muscles hurt, and my breathing deeply in impaired from that little stunt. Turning over in bed is now a major effort. And, the soreness inside from the surgery has abated greatly.

And, TMI, bowel movements are much to be desired. The nurse suggested lots of water, and milk of magnesia tomorrow.

I want a Coca-Cola, cold, with flecks of ice in it and lots of carbonation. Don't think that's the best idea I could have right now. And, I ask; Could it hurt any worse. Unfortunately, the answer is yes. I know from experience. I tried that yesterday.

However, I have a wonderful mate who has done for me what I cannot do for myself - caregivers are much to be praised...even when they tease you. I have a comfortable bed, two loving cats who have managed not to hurt me even though one of them sleeps on top of me. I have loving friends who send me emails and cards, and even one who sent flowers - gorgeous Gerber daisies - red with deep green foliage around them. I put the balloons on the mantle so the cats wouldn't play with them, but the daisies are closer for enjoyment.

Pain. Constant pain can drive people crazy. Temporary pain is to be gotten through and overcome. Like when you want a popsicle and you don't want to ask your mate to get it for you.

Goodnight. Headed slowly for the fridge.