Tuesday, August 29, 2017

It didn't disappoint; it never does

Rosebud Reservation, South Dakota.
A whirlwind weekend trip back to one of my favorite places;
a place that's beautiful no matter what the time of year.
There's brokenness to be sure -
just as there is on every reservation -
but if you concentrate only on seeing what's wrong,
in ANY place,
you'll miss seeing the strength and beauty that's there too.
 I spent two days working with a mission team,
cutting, splitting and stacking wood 
to be used by the elderly during the coming winter.
We also took in the pageantry and beauty of the Fair and Wacipi.

I left my 'good' camera at home,
hoping that a wildly talented local artist/photographer,
Kermit Grimshaw,
would post his images on line.
And he did! 

Sitting, soaking in the sounds and sights - 
without changing lenses and trying to get all the shots I wanted -
was a totally new experience for me.
I loved it.
 The Sicangu Lakota, the Brulee, 
are also know as the 'Burnt Thigh People'.

As I understand it, 
their tribe was forced up against a bluff during a prairie fire
centuries ago
and, in order to survive, 
they had to go out through the fire 
resulting in burnt thighs for the survivors.
I loved how this dancer (above) honored and paid tribute to their history.
 I feel like a proud Aunt.
I've watched this one grow up since he was a toddler!
To see him as this proud, strong, beautiful dancer -
the Champion in his age group in Grass dancing -
was such a treat.
They may say 
"The road to the house of a friend is never long"
but they'd be lying.

It was long,
but it's always worth it.
Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world.
All things break. And all things can be mended.
Not with time, but with intention.
So go.
Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.
The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.

L.R. Knost

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Path of Totality

I'm not going to lie.
I was probably the only person who will admit out loud 
that they weren't excited about the eclipse.

Isn't there enough darkness in our world already?
At least with this event, 
you were fairly sure it was temporary!

But there was NO way to live in the Path of Totality 
and not get swept up in a few minutes of hype,
especially when the hospital basically shut down for a few minutes.
Who was I not to join in?!

Glad I did;
it evolved exactly as predicted.

My favorite image of the event?

Now, back to 'ordinary darkness'
and political mayhem...

remembering that it too will pass.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Going with gratitude

We all know there's plenty to be worried about but, for today, I'm not going there. 

For today,
I'm going to focus on all the things that made me smile
and think
in the past few days;
and there were more than I could ever have anticipated.

I went to an amazing conference on the
Impact of Inter-generational Trauma
(and I will have more to say about that later, after some 'processing' time)
but the presenter showed us a quilt he had purchased 
decades ago in Egypt
when he retraced his ancestors path through slavery.

It was stunning;
all hand stitched and pieced
 It was easy to see why he had fallen in love with it.

"The Ancestors' were also on my mind 
when family I love made a trip to LBI
(Long Beach Island, for the uninitiated)
and they sent back pictures!
 They found our family cottage,
still standing;
 maybe a bit worse for wear
but we all carry signs of what we've been through on our faces. 
My grandparents bought the house in 1929,
right before the Depression.
It's been through SO many hurricanes,
including Hurricane Sandy - 
but it's still there - 
holding its ground
and I'm taking it as a good sign.

Some of my happiest memories were in that modest home,
surrounded now by McMansions.
The ashes of my grandparents, great grandmother and parents
were scattered at the beach at the end of 'our' block.
To see another generation of people I love 
loving the same place
made my heart rejoice - and my eyes well with tears.
And, while this is NOT a picture of me from back in the day,
this little one is my soul sister!
(I found her in an antique store in MI two weekends ago).

It's on my mantel 
as a reminder to embrace 
whatever shape my body and hair are 
on any given day!

Life is short - 
smile and keep a life preserver handy!

There was also THIS happening this weekend
The St Louis Book Fair.
I tried to talk myself out of going;
honestly, I still have stacks of books waiting to be read
in nearly every room.
but I failed.
These are my treasures for this year.
I can practically hear Amazon executives sobbing now ...
they won't be getting my business anytime soon!

in just 4 days,
I'll be headed back to the reservation 
on a mini Mission trip 
and for the Fair!

Even in dystopian nightmares,
there's beauty and joy to be found.
Keep looking, friends!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

It gave me pause.

I don’t know, friends. 

 Just when I think he can’t possibly go any lower, 
he proves me wrong. 

 I keep telling you there aren’t any words to describe 
how disheartened I am by the current inhabitant of the White House 
and all the moral midgets 
who stand silently by his side 
while he attempts to destroy
everything decent and honorable about our country.
 Maybe I should just say there aren't any new words. 

 I chastise myself, 
thinking I should know better.
#45 will NEVER change; 
he will ALWAYS be a con man and a liar. 
 Knowing HE won’t change, 
I keep thinking I should.

I shouldn’t watch so much (or any) news.
I should shake my head and let the inanity roll off my back 
rather than scream at the screen until my blood pressure reaches stroke level. 
I should retire to my happy place, read and pray – for the next 7 years, 
accepting what I can’t control 
and letting God be God. 

But it’s not working.

I went to church early on Sunday morning 
after being overwhelmed all weekend by news of the tragedy and horror 
unfolding in Charlottesville. 

I went early because I knew I needed extra time and space to pray -
for forgiveness and
for a softening of my heart. 

You see, the reality is that as I watched the news of people with my skin color, 
carrying tiki torches
and spewing hatred for anyone other than them,
other than us
my anger grew
and, along with the anger and disgust, 
there was hatred. 

Seriously, my anger matched theirs; 
if it could have grown legs
it would have marched in goose step 
parallel to them;
shouting different phrases
but radiating hatred all the same.

white nationalists,
 the KKK,
all the people who encourage or tolerate them 
and whoever else considers themselves part
of the so called ‘alt-right’ –
whatever the hell that is -
beyond a pathetic attempt to make themselves sound
more palatable and benign.

My hatred quickly broadened into hating
all confederate Southerners 
because, let’s face it, if they hadn’t existed 
we wouldn’t have had the damn Civil War to begin with, 
let alone having to deal with the so called ‘dilemma’
of what to do with their damn sculptures. 

Frankly, I don’t think it’s a dilemma at all. 
They’re statues celebrating traitors who sought to tear our country apart.
We wouldn’t put up a statue of Timothy McVey in Oklahoma 
or the 26 terrorists who flew into the Trade Center on 9/11 in NYC.
Why have the likes of Robert E Lee, Sherman, Jefferson Davis
 and all the other secessionists around? 
They wanted to leave this union– so leave!!

 Oh, and while I was at it, 
I threw evangelical Christians into my Hate bucket as well;
those miscreants who have contorted the gospel, 
the ‘good news’, 
into being nothing more than a message
 their ignorance and intolerance.

I really hate those right wing religious nut-jobs 
because they’ve co-opted
all I hold sacred 
and made ALL Christians suspect.

As I sat and wept,
I realized that all my hate 
made me exactly like 'them'.

This isn't to say that 
righteous disgust and moral outrage
directed at the actions of people
who would deprive other human beings 
of the very act of existence
is wrong.

It's not to say I won't continue to fight against the forces - and faces - of evil.

It's just a recognition that the feelings,
the ease with which they sprang up,
and the depth and intensity of them
 did make me slip off my high horse 
(for a few minutes)
and I have to fight like hell
to resist becoming the evil I deplore.
God, it's never been this hard to be a citizen of the United States.

It's exhausting.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

We need more stillness and more shining

When I am among the trees, 
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines, 
they give off such hints of gladness.
 I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment, 
and never hurry through the world 
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,”
they say, “and you, too, have come
into the world to do this, to go easy,
to be filled with light, and to shine.”

Mary Oliver
if there could be a beach at the end,
that would be perfection! 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Thoughts while walking in the neighborhood

 All is not as it seems.

 The message:

We’re welcoming.

 We offer rest for the weary; sit awhile.

We value leisure.

We’re the kind of people who sit and have meaningful conversations with each other.

In a frenetic world of people struggling just to survive, we can afford to sit back and relax.

The reality:

OMG, are you kidding me?
Between work, after school activities for the kids and our meetings
for various community and church groups at night,
who has time to sit?

I have work emails to catch up on, a report still to write
and then we’re catching up on missed episodes of GoT.
I can’t do any of that outside!

I’m not sitting outside;
there are bugs, it’s humid, there’s a breeze;
my neighbors will judge me
(on my clothes, what I’m drinking, my thighs, my hair –
you know what humidity does to it, right?)

Why are you sitting on my property?
Do you know you’re trespassing?
I’m giving you 5 seconds to get off my lawn before I call the police.

We can barely manage a few sentences without prompts from our cell phones
or the constantly blaring TV,
telling us what to comment on
and what to be enraged about.

We haven’t scratched the surface of our relationship in years;
we don’t dare.
And, if we were crazy enough to try,
we certainly wouldn’t make ourselves that vulnerable in public!

I can’t sit outside –
my allergies are bad,
there’s carbon monoxide from the passing cars and buses
(do you know there still are buses?
There are, well, mainly to bring our cleaning people in from other neighborhoods).

There could be PBC’s in the plastic of the chairs;
there could be formaldehyde in the lumber used to make the chairs;
there are mosquitoes – they could carry the Zika virus or malaria!

It’s dangerous outside.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Main Event

Let's face it,
there are times when you want sun -
when you want high, white, fluffy clouds, 
temps in the mid-70's,
low humidity
and cool breezes off the Lake -
the quintessential Michigan summer day.

And the Universe delivered.

I can't say enough good things about the venue.

It was beautifully simple
and simply beautiful.
I can't imagine a more perfect setting for a wonderful celebration of love.
 The love between two people,
the love two families have for both of them
and the love two families have for each other.
 And even though there were members of our family that couldn't be with us,
we know they were there in spirit
because love endures
and isn't limited by time or space.
It was a blessing and honor 
to witness the start of their new life