"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Becoming friends

When I was young, teachers were teachers. They lived at the school, as far as we were concerned, and surely had no other interests than the subject they taught. Sometimes they would tell us that they had families, but part of us never really believed that. They were unseen and therefore not part of our reality.

The only difference was Mrs. Thurman, whose daughter had been in my class since first grade. I had been in their home. We played Trivial Pursuit. She made spaghetti with actual meatballs (something I thought only existed in the movie Lady and the Tramp and was surely too good to be true). She was also my ninth grade geometry teacher. And frankly, that was a little weird. But it was only weird for an hour or so a day, at the beginning of the year. Then I compartmentalized Mrs. Thurman again, with teacher this time instead of friend's mom. It was okay.

I had teachers I adored, but they were still teachers. They had no first names. Their mothers surely named them Mister and Missus at birth. I had teachers I did not quite adore, too, but they also were teachers. They were on the dark side.

Pastors were the same. Our pastor from the time I was twelve (until the time in my teens that I left for Anglicanism) took an interest in kids. He took us on retreats and outings. He was interested in leather working and golf. We got to know him. Still, he was our pastor. When our assisting pastor went to work for the region, he moved compartments in my mind. It was dissonant. He was the regional youth pastor, but we had some claim on him, surely, because he had been our pastor. My brother thought he looked like Jesus.

That worked through college. Professors, no matter how closely you worked alongside them, were still professors. And their mothers named them Mister, Doctor, Missus, Mizz. Surely. Very fore-thoughtful mothers, no doubt.

Then seminary happened and our professors were called by their first names. Allen, Rod, Ann. Still, they were professors. They lived in that category of teacher.

Except I went to church with Ann. And somewhere along way I had need to call her at home for something, which seemed at the time like a terrible no-no. You don't call your professor at home. That's why they have offices.

Our priest was supposed to be the same way. Priest, professional Christian who lived at Church the way teachers lived at school. Okay, by then I knew better. I had friends who were priests. But I had yet to have my own parish priest as my friend. Teachers and priests had not yet broken down the walls of their compartments.

And now, old person that I am. They have. Tonight I sat with Ann at dinner, not because she's my former Greek professor, but because she's my friend. We share hobbies together I'd never have expected (she knits, I spin... so we make stuffed sheep together to celebrate special people in our lives) and can call one another just to say hello. Heavens, she texts me. (And I her, of course.) I'd have never dreamed. And we were at dinner to celebrate that same parish priest, whose birthday is today, who broke that wall between priest and friend. Many have since, of course.

I still keep walls, because I am a pretty private person (who blogs, people are full of contradictions) at heart. But childhood me would have never thought of pastors and teachers on the inside part of that boundary line.

I still can't call my childhood teachers by their first names. But I have come to realize that one of the joys of growing up, and yes, growing older, is to come to know people as the multifaceted wonders that they are.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fallen leaves

Oh, hello, blog. Its been a while. My fault.

A memory.... I remember, I must have been about ten or twelve, a hike in the woods with my dad. In the snow. Dad would take us on a hike around the property, 42 undeveloped acres, like a king on progress through his realm. This time it was just him and me. I don't ever remember any other snow-hike, just the one. In the home stretch, dad looked down and saw a leaf, bright red and oval with a perfect point at the tip, sitting neatly on the fresh snow. "Look. You don't see that very often." He picked it up and handed it to me. I held on to it, for the rest of the walk, or so I thought. But when we arrived home, somehow, from my mittened hand, the leaf had slipped away. I never see red oval leaves on the ground without thinking of that. People, like leaves, slip away, too often unnoticed, no matter how firmly we think we hold on.

En français:

Un mémoire. Je me souviens- peut-être j’avais dix ou douze ans, une excursion dans le bois avec mon père. C’était dans la neige. Souvent, Papa nous emmenait pour marcher à pied autour de la propriété, quarante-deux acres vierges, comme un roi qui fait le défilé à travers son royaume. Cette fois, c’était seulement mon père et moi. Maintenant, comme une adulte, cette excursion est la seule dans la neige dont je me souviens. De quoi ?

Enfin, quand nous sommes retournés près de notre maison, Papa a regardé la neige sous ses pieds et là, il trouva une feuille rouge pourpre et pénétrante, ovale avec une pointe parfaite au bout. Doucement et soigneusement, la feuille restait sur la neige. << Regarde. Tu ne vois pas vraiment cela souvent. >> il m'a dit.

Ensuite, il prit la feuille et me la donna. Ensuite, je l’ai gardée pendant le reste de l’excursion, ou bien, je le pensais. Alors, quand nous sommes arrivés chez nous, je ne sais pas comment, de ma main mouflée, la feuille avait disparu.

Ces jours-ci, je ne regarde jamais les feuilles rouges et ovales sur la terre sans penser à cela. Et, alors, je comprends que les gens, comme les feuilles, peuvent disparaître, inaperçus, même que nous pensons que nous essayons de saisir.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Drip, drop, drat. (A sijo about water and modernity)

Trickle, trickle, trickle, the laundry water down the drain. The machine is leaking. Drip, drop, from the washroom floor. And from no where else-- the pump that brings water to my house, also broke.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Musings on Nutrition

The way I see it, pumpkin pie is the world's first "superfood."

Think about it. Now keep in mind, I was raised in the days of food groups. These food groups were primitive, not capable of organizing themselves to build food pyramids. They were just groups. All groups were equal. No discrimination here. Except for the fruit and vegetable group which was considered more equal than the other groups, especially the vegetable subgroup, for the sole purpose of driving children crazy.

I really didn't understand how brussels sprouts and strawberries were the same "group" but if they were, why did my mother not consider them interchangeable in my diet? I would happily have substituted.

But that's neither here nor there.

So considering. A serving of the meat-eggs-nuts-protein group.... and a serving of the vegetable group, mashed up together with cinnamon which we know has health benefits. Top it with a visit from the calcium rich dairy group. Serve it up on an ambassador from the wheats and grains group, unless you're gluten free... then we have a gluten free option for you.... lower carb, too for you moderns... skip the crust. I do. And voila pumpkin pie. Allergic to dairy, skip the whipped cream (poor fool). No teeth? No problem. Soy free, nut free, and artificial ingredient free. We've got this.

So today I had pie for breakfast. A little post-thanksgiving tradition. Tomorrow its back to normal, cold cereal and warm coffee. But today, it was pie.

I feel healthier already.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Adulting. Yes, its a verb.

There's a meme going around the internet these days with the theme "can't adult today..."  and another that says something like "that moment when you look around for an adult and realize you are an adult so you look around for someone adultier than you." 

My eldest son is an adult.  I'm not sure when it happened.  It wasn't turning eighteen.  He was just the same at seventeen and 364 days as he was at 18, only he was eligible to vote and his signature was binding.  There is nothing developmentally magic about a birthday; it is just a transition from one day to the next, like any other.  It didn't happen at high school graduation either.  I was still fussing at him about the condition of his room, the lateness of his going to bed, and the manner in which he treated his brothers on the first day (week, month) after graduation.  Graduation, since he was homeschooled, was in itself a random thing, a "hey, you're out of assignments so congratulations and here is your grandfather's math book as a gift" thing.  We took him out to dinner.  That's about it. 

I can guess that some of the adult came along when college classes started.  Suddenly he had homework and there was no one to tell him to do it.  No one told him to go to church on Sunday either, but he did.  More adulting.  (Adulting... a word so non-existent that its giving spell checker fits right now.)  I suspect that more of his adultiness came along when he caught that first college cold the second week of class and there was nobody to tuck him in and bring him apple cider.  Doing his own post-cold laundry to get the germs out, hoping his roommate didn't catch his cold, this also was probably a transition point. 

But I can only guess.  Because I wasn't there.

And maybe that's the point.  It is when our parents aren't there that we become adults. 

I'm looking forward to a long friendship with my adult son (and his two not-yet-adult brothers eventually, too).  Sending him into the world where I am not there was about the hardest thing I've ever done.  Everything we do as parents leads up to this, and its a fine thing.  But in the end, when the caterpillar comes out of his homeschooled cocoon, mamma butterfly doesn't get to see the magic moment. 

And that's fitting, because it isn't our moment.

When I dropped him off at college, I realized that this is about him.  I was excited for him, how could I be sad for me?  This was his call, his life, and he was grasping it for the first time.  How could I mourn?  And I said to him that I realized that this was right, that if I had raised him to be mine, for my sake, I was treating him as a pet, not a person.  It was an off the cuff moment but it was the moment when I realized the truth in everything we always say, everything that the years have known. 

Our children are not ours.  They never were.  They're only entrusted to us until they no longer need that cocoon and are able to fly. 

But I do look forward to every time the boy will fly back home, to stretch our wings from time to time together, I hope, as long as mine have strength. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Planned Parent at the Y?

UPDATE:  I wrote a letter to the Y.  They called to tell me they are changing their policy about vetting who they invite to have a display at the Y.  Seriously they were wonderfully responsive!  In fact, they didn't just call me back but tracked me down, since I had been away for several days and they couldn't reach me.  Impressed.


Original post:
Friends do tell me if I'm being crazy.  In this culture and age its hard sometimes to tell.  But I've been pondering this for about a week now...

Last week I went to my local YMCA to catch some swimming time with a friend.  As I walked in, I found, in the front lobby, a table manned by Planned Parenthood.  What was in the process of becoming was an evening health fair in which several members of the community representing health services was invited to have a table and make contact with those of us who were traipsing through the Y that night.   An open house.  A few insurance companies and the like turned up later in the evening, by the time I was done swimming.

But there was Planned Parenthood, complete with cute young women wearing shirts that said on the back something about pregnant women not being accommodated in the workplace.  And an older guy in a tie, looking very professional behind the table.

And just everything seemed wrong about that picture.

Here was the supposedly "pro-woman" organization being led by a man in the attire of authority while young women were clad in matching pink tee-shirts proclaiming their feminist values.

Here was a supposedly health fair giving voice to an organization whose sole function is to end healthy embryonic lives and to suppress healthy reproductive function with medical dysfunction.

Here was an organization which proclaims sexual freedom for women while still leaving them bound to bear the brunt of side effects of hormonal birth control (some of which can be life altering or threatening) in order to be more sexually available for men whose freedom from consequences these products proclaim.

And here is my local Y, a supposedly pro-family organization giving voice to the most anti-family organization in America.

I ask myself what does the YMCA have to gain from giving such a platform to Planned Parenthood?  What is in it for the Y to have an organization there which would surely make some of the Y's existing clientele feel uncomfortable, invaded?  Is the Y unaware of Planned Parenthood's documented history of racially directed abortion services?  Are they intentionally blind to Planned Parenthood's role in covering up abuse and sexual trafficking?  Do they not know that Planned Parenthood advocates drugging girls with birth control and inflicting abortion on their developing bodies without their parents knowledge or consent?

And if they YMCA is aware of these things, are they not then being complicit in giving Planned Parenthood access to any teen girl who may walk into the Y that night?

I'm not interested in being unnecessarily combative.  I don't expect my religious convictions to be taken seriously in the secular public square (despite the C in YMCA standing for Christian... I shan't call them out since the Y and M stand for "Young Men's" and I am neither... my Y is a secular community organization and if I were telling myself otherwise I'd be fooling myself).  I don't expect the Y to kowtow to my comfort zone.  But how does one graciously ask an organization whether its values are perhaps in conflict with the neighbor to whom they've given a platform? 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Flags... really, people? They're flags.

I swear, if I see one more controversy about a flag, I may do something goofy.  Maybe I'll sew a bunch of them together into a big old quilt with all the ones that represent groups that don't like each other next to one another.  A public art installation.  Except I don't sew.  And really, I am past the point of wanting to learn.

But I guess "past the point of wanting to learn" is kind of what sums up America when it comes the the flag debates.

Gosh, folks.  I'm FROM the South.  Let me tell you something about the Confederate flag.  Its the flag of a dead nation, however a beloved one.  But the one thing that still holds true about the South is, as Lewis Grizzard said, "we don't care how you do thing up there in Cleveland."  Don't tell the South what to do with that flag.  For some it is the flag of hate, for some it is the flag of heritage.  But nobody south of the Mason Dixon wants to hear what that flag means in Cleveland, or Philly, or New York.  The South doesn't like being told by outsiders what to do.  That's the story behind that flag's origins.  That's the "restoration" story that followed it.  That is the only meaning behind that flag we all pretty much agree on.  Its a flag, let it go.

But I am from the South and I am also a Christian.  If it causes your brother to stumble, throw it out.  The voice that says "throw it out" has to be a Southern one, and mine is as good as any, though I've lived away half my life and never had much of an accent.  I grew up on sweet tea and know what "bless your heart" really means (and it isn't what you Yankees have been told it means).  I knew from the time I could walk "what's the difference between a Yankee and a damn Yankee."  My daddy tol' me.  And so I will say, that flag, though it means a lot of things and not all of them hurtful, causes our brothers to see hate they have received and causes others to see hate they'd like to dish out.  Let the flag go.

And just when I think all this hooplah is fading away, while everyone looks to the flag of a dead nation and fails to notice live burning churches, live hurting hearts, live difficult discussions.... just when I think we've set it all aside... some yahoo decides to fly a "Christian" flag over a US flag on church property in North Carolina.

Do not get me wrong, I'm not offended by the order.  The church is, at its best, a foreign embassy on US soil.  The state does not reign nor does it give us the authority to be the church.  I'm offended instead by the presence of the US flag at all under it.  The US flag likely has no use at all on church property, but less so flying in a way that intentionally provokes our  neighbors.  Again a flag causes our neighbors to stumble.  Throw it out.   Your idea may be technically correct, but it is not helpful.

The church has never been without controversy, but only this modern church seems to enjoy causing controversy for its own sake.  Poking at dragons.  I'm not saying hide your faith under a bushel; but I am saying that loving your neighbor is the opposite of provoking him.   Its time we stopped flying banners and hollering about colors and opened our eyes to our neighbor, our brother.  Its time we started seeing that our brother under the banner of Christ is suffering the world over, including in our back yard.  Churches are burned, the faithful are outcast, martyrs are made daily the world over.  Unwrap yourselves from the flags that bind you and like Lazarus, come out of the grave, Christians.  Come out.