Saturday, December 31, 2011

Praying "To" and "Through" People

There are those who have a problem with praying "to" a saint; they say we should pray directly to G_d. There are others who feel that we are too insignificant to approach G_d directly, so we must have our prayers delivered "through" one who went before us to the feet of The Master, or "through" an ordained "priest." And then there are others who feel that they have a great friend in Jesus, who walks and talks with them as would a fellow friend or sibling.

I'm not sure what prayer is, but I consider the remembrances of those who loved me in this life to be prayer. I feel their energies infusing me, and I try to channel their examples of behavior.

My mothers did not approve of me, but each of them had certain gifts that were saintly to others. I studied these behaviors, and I try very hard to get past the negative baggage that comes with memories of them to the saintly qualities that I saw them sharing with others. It is often difficult to embrace their saintliness without my demons rearing their ugly heads.

My father thought I was quite a prize, but we were taught, even by him, that there was nothing remotely saintly about him. I still find myself remembering him fondly. Even though I don't "say" prayers to him, I do find myself feeling his presence infusing me with a certain positive energy.

Each of us has a relationship with a different aspect of each person we encounter. Those that have been a saint in one's life may have been pure pain in the life of another. In seeking the Spirit of Wholeness, I steadfastly strive to incorporate the positive from every encounter and hope that my Holy Spirit can keep the demons of destruction at bay. Is this prayer? I think so.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Much-Maligned Masses

A life without hope is certainly not worth continuing to live. When authority figures overstep their bounds to the extent that the masses no longer have hope, the masses become reckless because they feel they have nothing left to lose.

People had hoped for comfortable retirements after many years of hard work, but the corporations who love to portray their entities as people with consciences have created many layers of law that exempt the people who make the rules from any consequence of their ill-fated decisions. Many are left penniless while the robber barons are offered lifetime security and extreme wealth.

People hoped for peace in the hereafter, but the religious organizations convinced us that they have the power to grant or deny our entry into paradise. The religious leaders then exempted themselves from the rule of law governing their flocks, thereby insulating themselves from the earthly consequences of their disrespect for and abuse of their fellow humans.

People hoped to have the powerful in our government making, following, and enforcing rules of fairness. The officials in government exempted themselves from all their own rules and became the worst of the bullies, taking advantage of the weak and granting themselves lifetime benefits denied to their fellow citizens.

Religion and "our" government representatives have sold their souls to the almighty dollar and a continuation of power for their own elite. Corporations have no souls, and by their legal instruments of incorporation, are given licenses to steal.

What do the maligned masses have to look forward to, short of death? Death, even without the promise of paradise, might at least give the peace of no further pain. Nothingness may seem better to some than continued striving for fairness that is not forthcoming.

We must not stay silent as the masses band together to call for accountability. We must be willing to stand with them as they attempt to steer the world toward right. We cannot go back because there is no "back" to which we can return. It has been either destroyed or bought by the very people who now wish for us to go backward to "their America" and their world, a world from which they have exempted us.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Loving and Lashing Out

Why is it that we can give G_d all the thanks for all the good in our lives, but we tend to lash out at other people for all the evil that befalls us? I can understand children, as teenagers, lashing out at their parents because they are trying to clearly identify who they are and their own values as separate from their co-creators. If we really trust that G_d will always love us, why can't we trust that we can lash out at God when we are angry, hurt or confused?

G_d has bigger "shoulders" than any human, including those of our own fathers and grandfathers, and yet we quake in fear at the thought of shaking our fists toward heaven. Moses questioned G_d, as did Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. In my reading of the Bible, from the beginning of creation, it was the people who hid from G_d that were lost, not those who struggled with G_d. Maybe if we hadn't been taught that G_d punishes those who question "Him," we'd be more prone to open dialog with The Force that really impacts our lives.

It is natural for children to be in awe of their parents, up to the age when children have mastery of their own values and skill sets. If we are truly firm in our faith, isn't it time that we begin talking with G_d as adults instead of as quaking children? Awe is not the same thing as fear, and yet there are many references to "fear of The Lord" in the Bible. We cannot be in honest relationship with that which we fear. Parents who demand fear from their children get children who are outwardly obedient, but not bonded in the spirit of community.

I have been the recipient of so much misplaced grief and anger that my heart is broken. Since I seem to be the strongest, I am too often seen as the only one who can "take it." I don't think it will ever mend until my people begin to give their grief to G_d instead of dumping it on each other. But, unfortunately, most of my people seem really afraid of G_d.

My hope is that we will all begin to experience the strength of an internalized and freely shared Spirit of Wholeness, which, I believe, only comes with a mature faith.

Monday, December 26, 2011

God and Good Will

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." - King James 2000 Bible (©2003) Luke 2:14

"Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased." - New Living Translation (©2007) Luke 2:14

How many of us haven't heard the Christmas carol with the King James version of the message of the angels, who upon the birth of Jesus, appeared to the shepherds? In looking past the Christmas carol, it seems that there are a number of versions of what was said, based on the translator, and presumably, the narrator, since we know that Luke was not an eye witness to this event.

It seems to me that the two versions quoted here mean entirely different things. I have been trying to make peace for many years based on a Christmas carol version of a bible saying. Maybe it's time for me to rethink which version of this bible verse I accept. People without boundaries are not people of good will, neither are they people with whom we can find peace.

From my experience with animals, including myself and other humans, there is no peace without clearly defined boundaries. This is the reason I've come to dislike being in crowds whose boundaries are not defined. It is difficult to know what will cause the crowd to unite, and for what purposes. I have not found the "crowd mentality" to be a generally good thing.

We seem to live in a society of covetousness, not knowing the difference between what we need and what we want. We are kept in a constant state of arousal by the many merchants accosting our senses with everything from rap to Christmas carols, from the ringing of the registers, to the bright blinking lights. We are meant to become so frantic with the sensory overload that our reason short circuits. We are all children in our emotional selves; too much stimulation leads to meltdown.

The wise parents put boundaries around their children, and take them out of situations where they are becoming too lacking in peace. Those who follow a religion are putting boundaries around their behaviors, and have an expectation that the others in their tribes will adhere to the same set of rules. This creates a place of peace in which to let down our guard and come to a sense of inner balance and balance with our fellow people of good will.

My wish for the new year is that we all find a place of peace among people who define their boundaries and live by their espoused rules.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holy Days

Last night we had supper with a professed agnostic,
And we tried to find a common view of God that would fit.
We seemed to all agree the the God force leads to good;
This is a conversation I enjoy, and I wish we all could.
I wish for Peace on Earth to all of good will;
This takes compassion and voices not shrill.
Is all the good in the Universe simply the Image of God,
Including all creatures who, on this earth, trod?
The spark of God's image in a rock, I think may be less
Than the free will to grow it with which humans are blessed.

A perfect Christmas morning, snuggling with Santa Claus;
This is the way to spend holy days, taking pause,
Celebrating the gifts that we always have at home.
Sending hopeful wishes to those who are alone:
The military people who protect our families,
The doctors and nurses who have patients to see,
The police, the fire fighters, the cooks, and wait staff
Who work away from family while we party and laugh.
It is time to give thanks for those at gas stations
Who keep us visiting family all across the nation.

What if every staff was Christian, Muslim, and Jew
Each holy holiday would badly affect only a few.
Fridays could be the day of Muslim worship;
Saturdays, the Jews could into their temples slip;
Sundays the Christians would not ever work;
This would be a great melting pot perk.
On Christmas, we used to have our Jewish friends over,
And I've enjoy a Jewish friend's family Passover.
I have no Muslim friends, but whatever holy day meals they do;
I'm sure I'd love learning their customs, too.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry F---ing Christmas

From Bruce Nolan who is proudly serving our country while away from his own family this Christmas:

Tonight...
all across the world
in the mountains, deserts, plains, cities, and waters
of the Middle East,
in the Horn of Africa,
Northern Africa,
across Europe,
in remote outposts in the Pacific,
in the Caribbean,
across South America
even in the U.S. ...

Tonight, as Soldiers stand duty behind a machine gun,
Tonight, as Sailors stand watch on a bridge,
Tonight, as Airmen fly patrol in aircraft,
Tonight, as Marines ride in convoys,
Tonight, as Servicemembers, wherever we are,
one will turn to the other,
and say with all bitterness
Merry F---ing Christmas

Deep down,
we are thinking of our loved ones,
our friends,
our families,
those we don't even know,
that are home,
safe,
with friends,
in their house,
surrounded by comforts,
enjoying Holiday parties,
some will miss us dearly,
some only know who we are.
We miss them...
yet,
we also know that they can enjoy the comfort of home
because we are here.
Deployed, fighting, maintaining presence,
so that you can be home safe.
We are here, so you can be there.

And that makes us proud.
Proud to know that behind each of us,
is a country of grateful people,
who honor what we do.
Proud to know that behind each of us,
there is someone at home wishing we were there
but knowing we serve a higher purpose.
There may be those against us,
but there are so many more behind us.
Supporting,
grateful.
They they can enjoy where they are
because we are here.

So tonight,
I say to you all,
from the bottom of my heart,
Merry f---ing Christmas.
And I mean it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Toys and Boys

The baby boys are coming;
A good time will be had by all
Won't know when until they get here
Because their mom can't call.
I seems that one of the boys
Threw her phone into the toilet
How will she disinfect it,
Since she surely can't boil it?

But more to the point at hand,
How will she communicate
So we'll know how much time I have
To clean while we must wait.
"What," you say, "you're cleaning
Before the boys come to play?
This seems to be a silly way
To begin this grand holiday."

Cookie goop is on the floor
And the counters in the kitchen.
I don't want them to think that
This is how we greet our friends.
And I like to know that
Everything has its own place
Before we begin running
The two and four-year-old race.

And, of course, there will be gift
Wrappings strewn across the floor.
We don't want this stuck in
Cookie goop and tracked out the door.
We also must make space for them to
Play with their new race track.
When they go to their house,
We can put our furniture back.

And when playtime is over,
And its time to go to bed,
And we speak the words that
All playful children dread,
"Pick up the toys and
Put them neatly away."
They will have some idea
Of where each toy should stay.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Graceful Grief

The holidays are a time for catching up on relationships that may have been too long ignored. This leads to a lot of visits with friends and family, and the sharing of many memories. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of providing lunch for my uncle's widow, and in return I came away with some her soul to sustain me.

I have come to the stage in life where many of my friends are widows. No matter how tempestuous their marriages, the common complaint is loneliness; yet most of them aren't inclined to marry again. It seems that their souls are still bound to the men with whom they shared their children and friends. There really is no substitute for shared history, even with the sorrows that the history retains.

I feel honored that these women of such wisdom share their stories with me. I feel blessed that I knew most of their husbands well enough to have a feel for how to hear their loss. Being with these brave women, most of whom grew up in a time when a woman was nothing without her man, I am in awe of their ability to continue loving and laughing through their tears. A favorite phrase from "The Wedding Song"..."A woman draws her life from man and gives it back again," seems to hold much truth in the energy of these widowed women.

One of my favorite friends of the widowed set is ninety-two years old. Mamie has been widowed for forty years, and still talks about her Frank like he died yesterday. Her son of the same name became her buddy after the loss of Frank, Sr. Junior's recent death brought double grief, as she felt the loss of her husband all over again. Mamie has lived so long that she now houses and cares for her oldest daughter with Alzheimer's. How she continues her happiness is a mystery to me that I'd love to learn from her.

My contemporaries and I may one day face the same sadnesses. It seems important to me that we take the time to sit at the wailing wall with these wise widows and learn how to gracefully grieve.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Gift of Light and Life

Why am I obsessed with death at this time of year that is filled with such joy? I think it's because I am so very aware that our bodies begin to die at the moment of conception. What we do in the interim is what I believe creates the hereafter of our souls. It was while kneeling in church at the age of six contemplating the sweet baby Jesus that I had the realization that what I do to others affects Jesus's joy, just like what we children did to each other affected my parents' joy.

Unfortunately, the emphasis in my religion was on the guilt that we should carry for, not only our sins, but the sins of our ancestors. This guilt was fed with the constant reminder that Jesus died for our sins. How could a six-year-old be held responsible for sin? But we certainly were.

There is a custom in some Jewish practice that the afterlife consists in being wrapped in a glorious cloth of the good works that one performed in life. The teaching encourages the followers to be very careful of what kind of cloth they are weaving. This is one way to honor the interconnectedness of all of creation.

We seem to have gotten so focused on our individual relationships with a heavenly presence that we forget that we are put on earth to be valuable parts of creation. As we age, we are faced with a dilemma. How do we continue to be valuable?

The fact is that all physical resources are finite. If we hang onto life even when we become a drain on the resources so needed by those who come after us, what will we leave for them? People of faith espouse a belief in an afterlife of pure peace and joy, so we are we so afraid of "going to God?"

I think it is because of the focus on sin rather than on sharing. I firmly believe that Jesus's life was one of great joy, and that he was born to an observant Jewish family to be a mentor for mitzvah (living the commandments). I believe that part of his mitzvah was to show how much he was dedicated to his cause by allowing himself to be sacrificed. I don't believe that this was the most important event of his life on earth, but was probably necessary to make his point.

Christmas day is a time that I reflect on a life of thirty-three years lived completely and totally by the commandments. He admonished us throughout his short life to help one another. He left The Spirit of Eternal Mitzvah for us all to follow.

My Girl Scout laws included the promise to leave every place I visit better than I found it. I want to leave more good energy on this earth than I have received. I wish that there was a way to bequeath to my children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews the resources that I won't use if I let my body break down in the way that all of nature eventually disintegrates. This would be a present worth wrapping up and placing under the Christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Desires and Death

As this season of death and rebirth does approach,
My gift is a subject which nobody likes to broach.
The day we're conceived is the day we begin to die,
Leaving the positive behind is that for which I've tried.
The birth of Jesus began a sequence of life;
One in which we are shown The Spirit of less strife.

Lord, please take me before my second childhood;
I had a first one, and it truly wasn't so good.
People get tired of wiping poo out of people's pants;
At least when we're tiny, there's a little romance.
But for the elderly and the physically infirm,
The thought of complete dependency makes most of us squirm.

As my body ages and I begin to disintegrate
Eternal peace of the hereafter is that for which I wait.
To give up holding on to this body of mine,
There should be a way to sign it over on the dotted line.
Not simply to say that as I breathe my last breath
And there are flat brain wave studies and other tests.

This season of rebirth and personal regeneration
Has given me pause to think about the next generation.
I've worked so hard to give my children, nephews, and nieces
A way to make peace with our ancestors' disparate pieces.
I want to go while the positive that I've imparted
Still exceeds the bad memories of the dearly departed.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Still Soul

My soul is still this morning, even though I have much to do.
The fear for my children that has fueled me seems to be in a far-back pew.
I finally feel connected to the Divine Feminine in other mothers;
I feel that The Spirit is beginning to infuse even our dads and brothers.
It is our bosoms that hold our children and men and soothe away their fears,
But our men have been taught to fight this truth over so many years.

It seems that now men are finding the joy in being daddies, not fathers;
They are feeling their own Divine Light shining in their sons and daughters.
This gives me hope for a new compassion to infuse all of us on earth
We must remember the pain of getting here, and celebrate this new birth.
This is the joy of Christmas for those who follow the Christ child:
The Spirit infuses all with whom we share This Light in times of trial.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Renewal and Reflection

All alone baking cookies for us and our closest friends;
Letting my loved ones know that when the holidays end
The greatest gift they can give me is a bit of their time;
This is all that gives my life a bit of reason and rhyme.
We have enough candy, cookies, candles and potpourri,
And most people won't dedicate time to be with only me.

I'm not good in crowds because I may say something that offends
And then the pre-planned time of happy camaraderie ends.
I cherish the moments when I can sit and share with one
Who seems part of my world since my time on earth has begun.
I have no need or desire for politics or other small talk;
The shallowness of thought in these simply make me balk.

I have within my heart peace on earth, good will toward men,
But I cannot seem to hold this against the greed that has no end.
I look forward to the visits from those whose love I cherish;
Without the times to renew this, I'm sure that I would perish.
The holidays, if Holy Days, would be a time to reflect and renew,
But renewal and reflection seems to be the plan with only a very few.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Preparing for "My Pretties"

People wonder why I feel that I must tidy up for visiting family;
They tell me often that family should, from judgement of me, be free.
It isn't that I'm afraid that they will think less of me;
I want them to feel that I've prepared a special place for them to be.

I feel that the world outside our families can be such a hard, cruel place,
And that home is where we go to rest when we're tired of running the race.
I want our home to be a shelter that offers protection from outside harm,
Where we wrap blankets of love around those who seek a place that's safe and warm.

I like to think that after we feed and fluff up those we love,
They take away some strength that comes through us from above.
I like to think that we, in the family human, are doing our part
To soften the bonds of fear and anger that have hardened many a heart.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Moving My Merriment

Pumpkin pies for grandson and a gingerbread house for my angel
These are the projects that gave yesterday its holiday angle.
Today it is observing my granddaughter in her school choir
What more could I want to complete my Christmas desires?

Its back home to my sweetheart at our little condo.
I'll miss all the excitement here, but it's time to go.
On to an overnight visit from our niece and nephew;
Our times with these college students are far too few.

Perhaps we'll have lasagna and and my man's amazing salad.
For dessert, our nephew usually thinks that carrot cake is good.
Then we'll give them gifts to celebrate the season
Hoping that their memories will be long-lived and pleasing.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Food Fairy Feats

When my nieces and nephew get together, I'm their food fairy;
Having even this little part of their lives makes me feel merry.
All-you-can-eat good sushi is their favorite "food fairy" treat;
This is what my nieces and nephews wanted me to provide to eat.
It gave us the opportunity to strap the toddlers into high chairs,
And have a bit of adult conversation about in which toddlers don't share.

It wasn't without its moments of challenging by the boys,
But with a four adults to two toddlers, they could not kill our joy.
The waitress was wonderful; she must have children at home;
Of all our special requests, she refused not even one.
Then home with eggnog for grandson to chug-a-lug out of the jug,
And preparing shepherd's pie with my ten-year-old grand love.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Laughter and Love

The grandson is begging for eggnog,
The granddaughter for cookie baking.
Bourbon balls were already in their cans
To keep the children from them partaking.

Son smoking baby backs on his big green egg
His wife acting as teacher, chauffeur, hostess,
I help my son get the kitchen ready for fun;
She welcomes all comers with a smile and a kiss.

Grandson and son fought homework battles,
While granddaughter and I together baked
Peanut butter and jelly cookies for us,
And some extras for the neighbors to take.

After teeth are brushed, we watch the Grinch,
Before goodnight tickles and goodnight prayers.
Son and daughter-in-law tuck us all in with
Enough laughter and love for all to share.

Happy Holy Days

All these people with their panties in a twist about whether we say "Happy Holidays' or "Merry Christmas" are really giving me a rash. In fact the very word "holiday" is a reworking of the words holy and day. "Happy Holy Days" it seems to me would be no less honoring of the Spirit that Christ left on earth for all of us than is "Merry" Christ Mass. "Merriment" doesn't exactly evoke visions of "peace on earth, good will toward men" for me. It seems that it sort of feeds the flames of eat, drink, and get drunk, in other words, forced fun.

(Old English m├Žsse, from Church Latin missa, ultimately from Latin mittere to send away; perhaps derived from the concluding dismissal in the Roman Mass, Ite, missa est, Go, it is the dismissal)source: Wikipedia. I believe this dismissal is, or should be, an admonition to go forth and live the light of the Holy Spirit.

Neither Muslims nor Jews dispute the greatness of Jesus. Gandhi, a Hindu, spoke about his admiration for the ways of Jesus, and his use of Jesus example in his peaceful protests. Even atheists, if asked, would probably not want to go back to a world without the gentling aspects of the truly Christian way.

Rather than complaining, let's start a subversive protest. Many movements take root because they are sneaky and subversive, like early Chritianity. Would anyone object if we went back to saying "Happy Holy Days?" And how about wishing each other a Happy Christ Mass because we are going out into the world with the joy of the light of the Holy Spirit revealed to many of us by our Christ? With both, we can acknowledge the specialness of the new life breathed into the world by the introduction of the Ways of our Christ's life, not just the ways of his cross.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Home For The Holidays

How peaceful I feel in the light of loving parents;
How wonderful it is to bask in their reflected glow.
This is the way to celebrate Christmas for me;
This seems a real holy family, not just for show.

The Christmas tree lights glow warmly,
But not as warmly as the love all around.
Baby Jesus is tucked into his crude crib;
He must be enjoying all the family sounds.

My nieces and nephew came by for supper,
Which I had the honor of providing.
My granddaughter read bedtime stories to me;
I sang to her of The Good Shepherd's love abiding.

All of these magical, messy, merry moments
Will forever be stored within my heart.
It may not bring peace on earth, goodwill toward men
But at least for me, it's a good start.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Addressing the Human in Humanity

Comments on "Simply Sacred"
From a Unitarian Universalist friend:
"
Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.

In the Unitarian/Universalist tradition the “dedication” service is just as you describe (except for not being in the home.) The whole community dedicates themselves to the child.

Communion. Community. Communing. Commune."

A very faithful Jewish friend:

"This is wonderful.... and these rituals can be found in Judaism.

A baby is welcomed into the community with ceremonies. A girl may be named at home or in the synagogue with a special blessing, with a clergy member officiating (rabbi or cantor). Prayers for the child and parents are sung/said, with the hope that the child will be raised to perform loving deeds throughout his/her life. Circumcision for a boy is traditionally performed on the eighth day, and signifies the covenant that Abraham made with God. A naming ceremony for a daughter takes place anytime. At both ceremonies, the child is given a Hebrew name, frequently chosen to honor the memory of a loved one in the family. However, in Sephardic (Mediterranean) tradition, names are often given to honor a still-living relative (i.e., grandparent). These rituals are meant to be shared by the community, in the hope that, in the future, that community will gather to celebrate other occasions in the child's life - such as Bar/Bat Mitzvah and marriage. Education of the child is meant to be shared in the home and in the community. "Show me the way in which to go...."

My husband and I introduced the "Motsi" prayer (thanking God for the food we eat) to our children on a regular basis, after being in the home of friends who did the same. We enjoyed clasping hands around the table, saying or singing the blessing, and then enjoying our meal. My husband and I continue our ritual to this day, and we really surprised my daughter last night, when we did the same at her house. Acknowledging those who have prepared and provided our sustenance is a powerful connection to make for our children and grandchildren. And I, too, mourn the loss of regular family meals in many homes. Community.... communing.... at home and away. Beautiful values, all!"

I Googled "Motzi." Here is what I found:
"Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth."

Read more: How to Give the Motzi Blessing | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2175474_give-motzi-blessing.html#ixzz1gEZR2Hvi

A retired Pentecostal minister who was long-stationed in Africa posted this in the comments:
"These things you mention are some of the reasons that in our tradition we have called "Communion" by a different label most of the time. We do refer to it from time to time as "Communion", but more often as "The Lord's Supper". For me, the Communion is about remembering the Lord's death on the cross as the price for my sins. He died that I might live. The wafer signifying the broken body - and the fruit of the vine signifying the blood that He shed on Calvary's cross.

In my growing up as a Pentecostal, we always were taught to pray before every meal and it included something like, "Thank you Lord for the food set before us and ...Lord bless this food, the hands that have provided it and those that prepared it. In Jesus name." That's thanksgiving first to God, then to the human hands that took part in the preparation thereof.

The "dedication of a child" always involved a charge to the parents that this was a moment of challenge to them that it is their responsibility to teach their child the ways of the Lord to the best of their ability. This dedication does not assure the child's salvation. That is a personal matter for the child to decide when the child comes to the age of accountability and makes his/her own decision to accept Christ or reject Him."

I believe it was Mother Theresa who said that we are God's hands on earth. I believe that we all need to understand that we as human animals need human touch and human ministry in so many ways. Each of us is given some gift(s) to give, even if others don't want to acknowledge our value. We must look for the value in each person and honor the Divine Spark in each person, lest we lose our collective souls in the competition for most-favored status.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Simply Sacred

Growing up, I was a Catholic kid. I received infant baptism into the church and my First Holy Communion after my first act of Confession. All of these rituals required a priest.

As I have grown I have often asked myself why parents can't hold a dedication ceremony in their own homes at which time they swear all present into a community of people who will lay down their own lives to raise the child in the way he or she should go. We would have to define laying down one's life, as very few of us will ever be asked to stand between a child and a bullet. But we are daily challenged not to lead our children to sin with our own examples.

In watching the lives of truly righteous people, I would respectfully suggest that it is much more difficult to live in a righteous manner than to allow oneself to be killed for what one espouses but doesn't necessarily live. It is we that should be dedicated at the dedication ceremonies, not the innocent infant. Only in this way can we stop handing our children our legacies of the sins of the fathers and mothers.

As for communion, our family meals should all be acts of gratitude for the gifts of the Creation and the lives that are dedicated to nourishing and protecting us. Some have a tradition of acknowledging "The Unseen Guest" at their tables, referring to the Spirit of Jesus. The Native Americans had rituals for honoring the food and the Spirit that provided the food. Kosher laws provide for respectful homage to the gifts of creation. Somehow, it seems to me that our giving over the full power of the Eucharist to a person performing a ritual among a group of strangers is not what makes communion holy.

We have lost the culture of family meals at which we honor The Creator, creation, and the providers of the labors of love that go into the nourishment of the vessels of our souls. Never do I feel more like I'm experiencing Holy Communion than when I am at the table of our dear friends where we always begin the meal with a blessing that ends with, "And bless the cook."

Having been a cook my whole life, I feel that he really does understand the efforts I expend to feed them my best blessing. The last time we were with them at their table, he was rather taken aback when I retorted, "and bless the people who earned the money to buy the meal."

My parents and grandparents spent untold amounts of energy providing for our meals. We would go to church and experience the sacred in that communion, but we were never taught that communion can happen in every loving home, and does in many every day.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Parental Protection

At what age should a child be free of the womb?
It seems that many are freed too soon.
As seeds must sprout in the shade of a tree
To grow roots that are strong enough to be set free,
So must children be protected by parents
Until they claim their own unique presence.
Then they can face the drought and the storm
With community that helps protect them from harm.

Our duty as parents is to nurture strong seeds,
Providing, not their wants, but their needs.
Some will grow to be oaks that won't bend;
These are the ones who surely need friends.
Others will be willows that wait with calm grace
For those that seek a restful place.
All of them need time to develop strong roots
To produce humanity's most nourishing fruits.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Child's Smile

Faith and innocence is the greatest gift,
And when our hearts to darkness shift,
Our lives are so often set adrift.
We do not have to teach children
About the disappointments yet to come;
We can hope that they will avoid some.
Only tell them what they need to know;
In time their own experience will grow.
They don't have to reap what others sow.

I want to grow old gracefully
Watching children flit around me,
And coming to rest upon my knee.
I want to watch them sing and dance,
As their eyes twinkle with the romance,
That all things new are worth a chance.
My greatest wish is that each child
Will always have reasons to smile.
This makes earth heaven for a little while.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Oceans of Emotions

In this season of so much raw emotion
I'm trying to avoid all the commotion.
Will many may wonder if they did something amiss
If there are no boxes of Christmas gifts?
I love the hellos, but hate the good-byes;
I am always left with tears in my eyes.
I tried for years to get used to them,
But my tears always upset our friends.
It seems to be true that both pain and mirth
Leave lasting impressions upon the earth.

Instead of crying, I can make myself laugh,
But even this, it seems, is a gaffe.
When I scream, people run for cover,
And look to hide behind their mothers.
But if I'm their mother, it's safe to say,
They simply want me to go away.
I've taken to avoiding the people and the pain
This way, from emoting, I can refrain.
But avoiding pain shuts out good memories;
And what is life if we don't have these?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

We Were Too Close

My best friend from seventh grade sent this:
“We don’t see things as THEY are. We see things as WE are.”

Psychologists call it projection when we put our thoughts and feelings into the minds and hearts of others, believing that the other feels and thinks as we do. I believe this is also the basis of compassion, but can lead to what is called enmeshment where we can't tell where we end and the other begins.

I have almost destroyed myself and others with my attempts to have people see others and themselves as I see them.

There was a 1970 song by Melanie Safka with this verse:
"We were so close, there was no room
We bled inside each other's wounds
We all had caught the same disease
And we all sang the songs of peace."

As parents, good friends, and as marriage partners, it is important to know when to bond and when to allow each other our own space. This is not always easy to do, especially when we know that compassion is the only way to live a loving life.

My daughter and I used to call each other for what she jokingly called "mortal support." I am blessed, as is she, by a circle of friends that will join us in the three-legged relay race of life so that we don't have to be totally dependent on the "mortal support" coming only from each other. This is what community is about: those with whom we will bond and then let go as needed, trusting that we will each keep up the our parts on the path to the finish line of life.

I like to share my visions of life and the people I love through my rose-colored glasses, but I have to stop tying so many legs to my own, and dragging them along with me. It is true that we are all children of The Universe (that which is called God, Allah, Yahweh, etc.) but we are not all children of each other; that is why there are dads, moms, neighborhoods, church congregations, clubs, and families.

In my walk in life it has been hard to see
That I am not you and you are not me.
We each have our strengths and weaknesses too;
Neither of us holds the absolute truth.
I will share with you what you ask,
Be it thoughts or be it tasks.
And then I will go back to my space
Where you will always have a welcoming place.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Gardens We're Given

We are each given a personal garden to tend.
There are some who have spouses and/or children,
And this is where their gardens end.
There are others who are asked to manage many
As teachers, doctors, trainers, or nurses,
And those who serve the people managers,
Helping them survive leadership's curses.

But every one of us must carefully define
The boundaries of our responsibilities,
Of the lives and gardens that are mine,
Based on who we and they were meant to be.
Only then will our gardens bear good fruit,
As we prune away the dead wood, we'll see
That our missions in life will follow suit.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I Blog Because...

"In order to live, man must act; in order to act, he must make choices; in order to make choices, he must define a code of values; in order to define a code of values, he must know what he is and where he is – i.e. he must know his own nature (including his means of knowledge) and the nature of the universe in which he acts – i.e. he needs metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, which means: philosophy. He cannot escape from this need; his only alternative is whether the philosophy guiding him is to be chosen by his mind or by chance."

Ayn Rand, "Philosophy, who needs it?".

The purest definition of the word philosophy seems to be "The love of thinking." To think without a context is decidedly daydreaming, but to think within too close a context is purely prejudice.

To have a degree in philosophy does not mean that one has the love of thinking; it simply means that one has been exposed to many manners of thought. I have often been accused of being a philosopher by those much more educated than I. I was even told by one of my physicians that I should take up tennis instead of thinking. I tried, but my spasticity prohibited me from performing.

As I have aged, my body has left me few options outside of serious contemplation. The internet affords me options for study that I never even imagined when I was still a student. My association with many of wisdom and education has prepared me to discern with discrimination. I now feel as if I have much to offer in the way of words of wisdom, not gleaned only from my experience, but from my education at the knee of those who offered their knowledge to me. I have been both their Mary and their Martha, feeding their bodies and accepting the feeding of my soul.

I blog because I feel I have much to say, as a reporter, not as an expert. I invite all to offer their comments and critique, but, as I asked of my children, keep the comments respectful.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Divininity in Darkness

Every breath of autumn's clear, crisp air, every dapple of the sun
Speaks to me of the majesty of The All Powerful One.
Every dimple on a child's smiling face, every tear in a baby's eye
Is something that I seek to embrace as a reason to continue to try.
Every trill of birdsong, the pelicans bobbing on the waves,
Let me know that it is the life we embrace that saves.

I say I'm comfortable with accepting the Eternal Mystery
Of what or who The Eternal Energy of The Spirit must be.
But from limits to God's faces, my soul is free;
I look for This Energy in all I am privileged to see.
But if I truly could accept the deepest unknown
Wouldn't dark nights, like day, feel like home?

Perhaps this is the lesson I have yet to embrace:
That there is Eternal Energy in the darkest place.
We seek out The Spirit in love and in light,
But we must learn to find peace in the darkest night.
Only then will we find balance in our present life,
And stop fearing and hiding from times of strife.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Words Which Forever Fester

Words may hurt and words may heal,
Once spoken, they're forever real.
Those who often speak carelessly
Perhaps don't see what I think I see:
The wounds that will bleed forever
Because someone was being clever.

Maybe they see in others more strength
Than the vision of self which some were sent.
Those who belong to a successful tribe
Have an identity on which they thrive.
They think nothing of rejecting others;
They don't feel called to be earth mothers.

Those who had no parents to protect them
Feel the pain when others reject them.
They cannot stand strong and true
In the face of careless things people do.
They suffer from society's rejection
Because they ask for more introspection.

The bearer of bad news soon becomes
The person from whom others quickly run.
If you point out problems you will be
The problem from whom other people flee.
You must begin to hide from all who embrace
The shaming of others to save their own face.

The greatest message I see in Christianity
Is permission, from our ancestors, to break free.
We can choose who we follow and who we'll be
Based on our personal gifts and ability.
It is up to me to choose an accepting society
Based on the life values held dear by me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Marvelous Majesty

I don't think evening can get more beautiful.
Can I stand this much glory when my heart is full?
I've surely already died and then to heaven gone
The water, sky, and sea are all gloried as one.

The pelicans feasting on fish before night begins,
Are part of the circle of life, beginning and end.
The Marvelous Majesty in the golden rays of the sun;
I imagine it was there before the earth was begun.

People on the promenade hurry home to loved ones,
As early animals did before our civilization was begun.
Birds find their nesting places in the trees on the grounds;
The feral cats hunt for the prey that in them abound.

I've loved what I could see as I looked upon the day,
But I know that none of these moments are here to stay,
Except in the memories as we welcome the dark of night
A vision of life's wonder in which I wish to delight.