Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter solstice

"Embrace the darkness", she exhorted.

She had just completed a mini-lecture on winter solstice; it's origins, history and how (WAAAAYY back in the day - 1400-1500's) Christianity combined it's beliefs with established pagan traditions as a way of ensuring it's acceptance by the early Celts and Druids.

It was informative and she was knowledgeable... but I couldn't help but think of an experience I had with GI Joe shortly after the death of his father.

The first Ash Wednesday after his dad died, GI Joe was attending a sermon for kids at the altar about what the imposition of ashes signified and why we did it.
The Rector giving the lesson was a woman he'd known for years, one of my best friends.

Right after she got through the explanation - that it's a way for us to remember that God formed us from dust of the earth and to it, we will return - GI Joe stood up and started to walk away.

When Susie asked him where he was going, my 5 yr old replied "Thanks, but I just saw my father put dead in the ground; I don't really need another reminder".

I understand today is the day when daylight is at it's shortest since our planet is in its furthest rotation away from the sun. I appreciate that 'the ancients' (why do I feel uncomfortably like I could fit into that category!) feared that the failing light would never return unless they intervened with anxious vigil and antic celebration.

Did you know the Mesopotamians are believed to have been the first to have engaged in a 12 day festival designed to help the god, Murdak, "tame the monsters of chaos" for 1 more year.
To which I say, "Nice try, but it didn't work!"

I've seen several monsters of chaos in the past few weeks and, not only have they not been tamed, they're still going strong!

We have all kinds of wonderful ways to ward off the darkness this time of year and many of them work, at least, temporarily.

When I was a child, confusing, scary and hurtful things happened when the lights went out.

I have worked VERY hard to overcome a lingering fear of the dark and have succeeded all too well, according to family and friends - many of whom ask for a miners helmet when they enter my house since it's generally so dimly lit.

(Can you say overcompensation?)

I don't think there's a single person working in the ER who isn't painfully aware that there are forces of darkness at work in the world.

And, for all the beautiful ways we try to fool ourselves and keep it at bay, it's still there.

The darkness that lives within human beings makes itself known in both blatant and insidious ways.
So, for now, I'll continue to combat the darkness with the only means that I've found to be effective.

I don't understand 'solstice worshippers'.
Do some folks really need a whole day to recognize, honor or celebrate the darkness?

"Embrace the darkness."
Thanks, but I've seen children beaten to death by people who supposedly 'loved' them.
I don't need another reminder.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Every school had one...

you know who I mean...

the girl who wasn't really all that nice but she was rich enough to buy her 'friends' all kinds of treats and, because she did, everybody wanted to hang out with her which made it seem like she was the most popular girl in the class?

I have just one word:


OPRAH.
'nuff said.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Parents: MIA

Two recent events have left me wondering where all the grownups went?

A recent class action lawsuit was filed by a mom claiming that McDonald's was encouraging her children to eat lousy food "by luring them in with toys in the Happy Meal".

I don't mean to enter into the whole sodium- laden, fat- saturated, artery-clogging debate that is fast food in our country.
Been there, ate that, licked my fingers afterward to get all the salt...and I think the toys are darling.

IF however, you're of a different mind and don't want your children to start down that path, what happened to saying NO?
What happened to telling your kids you don't want them to eat there and driving on by?
And, if there's not another restaurant in a 25 mile area, and your children are seeing stars from impending starvation, how about ordering them the carrots, apple slices and milk to go along with a plain hamburger?
Or just buy them a yogurt.
You DO have choices.

How is it McDonald's fault that you have no spine?
How 'bout actually being in charge and being a parent.

Likewise, our ER was clogged this week with 15 kids who had been maced at their school during what amounted to a food fight.

Again, leaving beside the issue of whether resorting to chemical restraint was really necessary by the Security folks with boots on the ground, I can tell you that if the adult behavior in our ER was anything like what Security at the school dealt with, then the kids are lucky the nunchucks didn't come out.
Instead of the parents reading their kids the riot act, using this as 'a teachable moment' and a lesson in guilt by association and the stupidity of getting caught up in mob rule, the parents wasted no time in congregating together in the hallway, leaving all their kids unsupervised, shifting the blame and bitching about how the school didn't notify them soon enough!

Hello, someone must have called you; you're here in the ER within 15 minutes of your kids being brought in... and if you'd stay off your damn cell phones long enough to actually talk to the doctors, you'd know that not one of the darlings has anything close to potentially life threatening injuries.

But our society, being what it is, rewards this Lord of the Flies scenario with TV cameras, 15 seconds of fame and new scrubs to wear home.
Why?, you ask.
Because they couldn't possibly wear the same clothes home in case, God forbid, they have a molecule of irritant remaining on them.

How 'bout you go home and get a change of clothes for them?
How 'bout you make them wear their clothes home and if their skin gets irritated, maybe the discomfort will drive the lesson home and, maybe next time, they won't act the fool.

Obviously, tough love is NOT in the current parenting lexicon.
It's a shame it's not.

Friday, December 17, 2010

No holiday cheer tonight


At the start of my mothers recognizable journey with Alzheimer's 15 yrs ago, a journey which led to her being placed 7 yrs ago in assisted living, I prayed for the strength to walk this path with her with patience and a modicum of humor.

I'm humbled to say that God apparently DOES answer prayers - only, sometimes, the answer is "NO".

I've never found patience with her- answering the same questions a bazillion times in ten minutes, over and over and over again - and there's nothing funny about it.
It's like being trapped in a nightmare version of Ground Hog Day!

I recently read that some theologians consider that movie to be One of the Top Spiritual Movies of our time; a perfect example of how God keeps giving us opportunities, over and over and over again, to learn compassion and more loving responses.

Oh good, so I'm failing not only Daughterhood 101, but Religion 101 too!

There's a reason I don't keep guns in the house.

BTW
I've stopped praying for the strength to get through this with patience and humor; I'd settle for strength to get through it alive.