Sunday, April 23, 2017

I didn’t think it would be like that.

I’m not exactly a stranger to ‘service’.

I know what its like to serve on the reservation, 
in soup kitchens, 
or on my job working with children in foster care.
I’m not a stranger to being called to serve ‘the least among us’.

I’m also blessed to be in a faith community 
where the impulse to serve is a shared value 
and bedrock of our understanding 
of who we are 
and who God is.
During a 'Mission Blitz Day' yesterday,
 I signed up to work at the Cathedral
putting out eggs, bananas, coffee and donated pastries and bagels for the homeless.

Frankly, I figured the biggest sacrifice 
would be getting up early on a rainy Saturday morning 
when every inclination was to sink back into my new pillow top mattress 
and sleep 'in' until 8AM.

But I didn’t 
and, despite the early hour, 
there was an abundance of riches that day -
from good friends to drive with and work beside
to a full supply of baked goods from a local business.

As folks came in out of the dank, grey, cold morning, 
they helped themselves to coffee and made their way to the pastry table where I was stationed.
Most were familiar enough with the ‘rules’ of getting one item - 
and then coming back after everyone had been served 
to see if there was enough for seconds. 
Their choices were deliberately made, 
with the frequently expressed hope that they could come back for another selection.

I noticed that the cookies were the first things to be chosen - 
M&M’s, oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, chocolate peanut butter and decorated shortbread - 
all were pointed to eagerly and received gratefully.

One young man came up, pointed to an oatmeal cookie 
and, as we made eye contact during the exchange, said 
“These remind me of home, when someone used to care about me.”
My heart broke open in that moment and my eyes filled with tears.
I wish I could say I was quick enough to have responded with
 “We care about you”. 
“God cares about you.”  
But I didn’t.

My mind and heart were too filled with the blinding realization 
that not only was every one of us in that room literally a child of God, 
but that a small child dwelled in each of us, 
longing to be cared about, 
desperate to feel loved and accepted as we make our way through 
what can be a hard and lonely life - 
until we finally make our way home again.

I didn’t say the right thing Saturday morning.
I’ll have to keep going, trying and serving until I get it right.

His words have echoed in my heart ever since he spoke them.

I didn’t think it would be like that.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

If Dandelions only bloomed in rare places, they'd be more valuable than orchids.

 
I always thought I'd like to be a dandelion - 
those vivid yellow flowers that bloom
in the cracks of sidewalks or abandoned lots.

Anything that thrives in such strange, broken places holds a special kind of magic.

It shines bright and golden for a moment
before it withers,

but then -
when most have given it up for dead -

it explodes into an elaborate globe of spiderweb seedlings
so fragile that a wind
or a wish
sends it to pieces.
But the falling apart isn't the end.

It depends on the falling apart.

Its fragility lets it be carried to new places,
to paint more gold in the cracks.

I always thought I'd like to be a dandelion.

But I think, in a way, I already am.
 Jenny Lawson 
~~~~~~~~~~

This was just the reminder I needed this weekend 
about the resiliency in 'falling apart'

and the truth that what appears to be 'the end' 
rarely is. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Planting for a future that isn't mine.

I can't see the simple beauty of dogwoods 
and not be transported back in time 
to my grandparents backyard in New Jersey.

We went to my maternal grandparent's home nearly every Sunday after church for 'dinner'
which was the word my grandmother used for the main meal
in the middle of the day.
(The evening offering was less elaborate,
usually 'get-it-yourself' and was called 'supper'
and we frequently stayed for that meal too.)
There were always bags of 'leftovers' to be taken home
which I now know was extra food my grandparents purchased
to get our family through the week.
The pretense allowed us kids to be oblivious to 'hand-outs' and tough times
while protecting my parents egos as providers.

All I knew at the time was that it was a lot like the loaves and fishes we talked about in Sunday School...
there was always more than enough when it was shared
at Nanny and Pop-pops house.

While my grandparents home may have been modest by today's standards,
it was a child's paradise.
There were places to explore, both inside and out, and, during our time there,
adults were on their best behavior.
The tension and alternating undercurrents of hostility and pervasive sadness between my parents seemed to evaporate.
 Or maybe it was only because of the hiding places in the attic and yard
that I could pretend the feelings that wrapped around me like a heavy blanket at home
had been shrugged off for at least part of a day.

Nanny and Pop-pop owned several acres of undeveloped land behind the house
and separating the manicured lawn and rose gardens from the densest part of the woods
was a border of huge, gorgeous, wild dogwoods...
perfect for climbing.
Within the safety of dogwood branches,
it was possible to be within hearing distance of the house
and yet remain unseen.
Accompanied by a blanket and a book,
I spent hours nestled inside the trees;
lost in reverie and other worlds
while the words of this reality,
if they reached me at all,
were muted and filtered,
seeping through the white and pale pink perfection.
Sporadically my grandfather would call me down from my hiding place
to accompany him on explorations further into the woods.
There was a tiny burbling pool of water deep in the forest
that my grandfather claimed was the head water of the Passaic River.
We would stand there in the silence and listen to birds,
the wind in the trees,
the water bubbling up from the earths depths.

"Even wild untamed things have to start somewhere", he would intone,
"you can never tell just by looking
where something small's gonna go
and what it can become
when it joins forces with all the rest."
He told me the little stream in our backyard would merge
with other rivers from across the state 
and they'd all flow into our beloved Atlantic Ocean
and, ultimately,
we'd be swimming in this same water someday
at our summer house
down at the shore.

Even as a kid,
I loved the idea of our small pool of water
being part of something bigger,
leaving their property in one shape
and being transformed
into something powerful and constant.
To this day, there exists within me two opposing desires:
to remove myself from the fray of 'ordinary' life,
remaining secluded to the point of invisibility,
with information reaching me only after being filtered through beauty
and the other a desire,
even a willingness,
to go deeper into the unknown;
to stand in the dark and listen to the still, small center
as it merges it's tiny efforts into a larger force;
a force with the power to change shorelines and obliterate obstacles,
creating as it does,
a rhythm that seems to be the earths very heartbeat.

6 years ago,
I rescued dogwood 'twigs' from the closeout bucket at Lowe's.
They cost $10.00 each.
 While they've more than doubled in size,
no one will be climbing my small dogwood trees for decades.

Even the 6 foot white ones I bought today
(for 20 times more than I spent so many years ago)
won't be 'climb worthy' within my lifetime.
It's enough to know that long after I'm gone,
some child might find solace within its branches.

We all plant futures that won't be ours.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

When dilettantes play war

I will never understand why
when men don't know what else to do,
they blow things up.
I'm not so naive as to think there's never any justification for military action,
but the 'horrendous' images of dead children that 
reportedly 
so moved #45
he decided an air strike against a Syrian air support unit was called for
seems as "trumped up" an excuse as you'll ever find.

I say reportedly  
because I don't believe pictures of dead babies were his motivation 
at all.

There have been too many other images of horrendous suffering,
not only in Syria 
but around the globe;
children covered in ash from the rubble of their homes,
separated from families,
 starving, 
and dying;
bodies washing up on beaches;
hundreds of thousands of children
being brought by their parents 
across an ocean
in vessels barely worthy of the name 'dinghy',
hoping to find some peace 
from sectarian slaughter 
and a new life.

But there have been too many soundbites of #45 telling those same families
they're not welcome here,
they should go back where they came from,
telling his followers to 'get'em outta here';
emphasizing that, on his watch,
it's gonna be Americans first.

There have been too many actions:
cutting off foreign aid,
decreasing our presence and support to international relief agencies,
the cessation of involvement in multi governmental organizations 
working toward a more just and equitable world, 
as well as cutting off food subsidies 
for starving children
in this country.

I accept that our current president is functionally illiterate
and a 'visual learner'...
but the pictures have been there before;
he simply chose not to see them.

And having your un-elected heir apparent 
dress up in army gear,
pretending to be your eyes and ears about all things military
doesn't fool us either.
It's pandering in the basest form.
And, Donnie, striking an airbase,
after you've warned your pals,
the Russians,
that we were coming so they could have time to clear out
amounts to nothing more significant than a mouses fart.

Your ratings were tanking...
you continue to be an unparalleled National Embarrassment ...
yet in the distorted world in which you live,
move and have your being
blowing things up 
without having formulated any policy or cohesive strategy
for what comes next
was just the distraction 
and conversation changer
you were hoping for.

Maybe men are that easily distracted;
women are not.
I'm not.

You won this skirmish.
The country still is the biggest loser.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Every year it happens:

earth shakes her sleepy head, 
still a bit wintered and dull, 
and feels new life stirring.
 
Every year cocoons give up their treasures, 
fresh shoots push through brown leaves, 
seemingly dead branches shine with green, 
and singing birds find their way home.
Every year we hear the stories:
Empty tomb, 
surprised grievers, 
runners with news and revelation, 
unexpected encounters, 
conversations on the road, 
tales of nets filling with fish, 
and breakfast on a seashore 
And every year 
the dull and dead in us meets our Easter challenge: 
to be open to the unexpected, 
to believe beyond our security, 
to welcome God in every form, 
and trust in our own greening
 Joyce Rupp 
 
 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Outrage is the new norm.

I was driving the other day, 
running errands and singing along with the soundtrack of Hamilton 
when the lyrics “History has its eyes on you”,
rang throughout the car.
I was blindsided by a wave of sadness 
that brought tears to my eyes.

What will future historians think of this current Administration; 
will they have any idea of the depth of disdain
felt by millions of citizens 
and of the millions of small -
and perhaps ineffective - 
acts of resistance in which we’re engaged 
in a desperate attempt to save our country 
from becoming a fascist state
with a mentally ill ruler?
~~~~~~~~~~
I wrote that start of a post 10 days ago ...
and the events of each new day 
are worse than the ones which preceded it;
which is exactly how extremist governments succeed.

If you can't dazzle them with brilliance,
wear them down with bullshit -
and with this Administrations specialty - 
the never ending shell game
of 'find the hidden Russian'.

Not that treason 
and conspiring with a hostile government
for the takeover of OUR government
isn't worth investigating 
but, in the meantime,
 we have criminal nepotism, 
gross incompetence 
and the dismantling of all government agencies
and efforts to halt any of it
are fragmented at best.

The assault on our way of life is simply being fought on too many fronts.

When white men in dark suits are the ones making healthcare decisions 
that impact MILLIONS of women,
it makes my blood boil.

When a son in law is given the task
of re-creating our government into 'a business model',
I want to scream - 
oil companies?
the auto industry?
the banking system?
the telecommunications monopoly?
big farming concerns?
the pharmaceutical industry?

What business can you think of that has NOT failed miserably 
and then had to be bailed out by the government?

What business has NOT screwed the American people
with unfair labor practices,
uneven wage scales, 
created environmental damage
and exposed employees to safety hazards?
What industry has not had ultra rich executives with golden parachutes
 and barely hanging on employees?
Oh yes, do lets make THAT our goal for our government!
Are you fucking kidding me?
 A government is designed to protect and serve its citizens.
A business has as its only goals
to make a product and make money.
Do you really think any money the government 'makes' is coming back to us?
Please, that's the same old 'trickle down' economics the Republicans
have been pushing for decades -
it didn't work in the past and it won't work now - 
just in case you've been living under a rock or in your trailer 
and you haven't figured it out by now.

Then lets install the first daughter in the White House
at the highest level of security clearance
"as her fathers eyes and ears"
rather than face the facts that he has dementia,
is incompetent 
and can't find the White House bathroom 
without someone holding his hand
and leading him there.
 The fact that its his daughter with that job and not his wife
is just incestuously creepy!
And this observation is from someone with over 3 decades 
of dealing with the sexual abuse of children
and all variations of what incest looks like;
I know from creepy!

And the bullshit about how he 'gave his all' 
trying to pass the Republicans joke of a health care bill?
Seriously,
he gave it a smattering of attention for 3 weeks .
(Although that may be all he can muster. 
He has the attention span of a drunk mosquito).
It was a shitty bill to begin with
because Republicans, 
despite 8 years of bitching and moaning about the ACA,
never bothered to craft anything better.
And #45 couldn't sell it 
because healthcare is complicated,
 has concepts with a lot of big words
and he's both too stupid to understand
and not motivated enough to try.
It's really that simple.

Don't even get me started on how our tax dollars are paying for him 
to go golfing every weekend
at his damn country club!
Dear Donald,
if you want to be an old white man in Florida,
playing at your country club,
go do it.
Just don't pretend to be President at the same time.
 You're not smart enough to juggle both things!
~~~~~~~~~~
Deep cleansing breath.

This bitch has taken herself back to yoga 
to reconnect with 'center', balance 
kindness and good karma.

Having a hard time dealing with reality, 
can you tell?

Peace out.
Namaste.