Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Don't Shame On Me

There are three words that should be taken out of the English language. One phrase to be precise. "Shame on you." These three words, when written in an editorial, express fear and a lack of compassion. A young man recently expressed the opinion that maybe we should take care of our fellow Americans. Someone used these hateful words (shame on you) to relate dismay at the man's lack of empathy for the victims of Haiti. Can we ever run out of compassion for our fellow human sufferer? Is the victim of the earthquake more worthy of love than a single mom just trying to feed her children and experiencing dismay? My Higher Power has enough love and compassion for all of us, even the one who utters the phrase that send chills down my spine. Shame is a deadly emotion that can be used to keep us from truly loving ourselves and others. Just for today I choose to attempt compassion for my human family, whether they live here, in Haiti, and whether they spread love or fear.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lot's wife

I read the story of Lot's wife for a literature class this week; it is the tale of a woman who flees her native town because God is setting it on fire and annihilating all its inhabitants. Not only does this poor woman lack a name, when she turns around to see her beloved city burning one last time, she is turned into a pillar of salt for disobeying God (He told her no peeking.) Yesterday evening my house (that my ex husband now lives in) burned to the ground. Thank God that he got out safely with the dog, and that my son was not there as he usually is on weekends. Today, however, I needed to go to view the wreckage. I needed, like Lot's nameless wife, to see the place that had been my home for nine years. I needed to walk through the rooms and see what was left of the place I called my home, the place where my son opened Christmas gifts year after year, the place that we raised a child. I had already left it when I divorced, and missed its cozy rooms and beautiful backyard. But there was always the possibility of coming back, of buying my ex out when the time came for him to sell. Today I mourn the death of that possibility, and the death of the structure that housed many happy memories, as well as sorrow. I am grateful that my family is safe and sound, but in order for me to truly let go of the home, I needed to revisit it, to smell the soot and feel the water drip on my head from the ceiling, left over from the night of dousing. I sit here now, having been able to see my home one last time. But Lot's wife was punished for this desire with death. In the bible verses, Lot doesn't even wonder where she went, he just continues his journey. Today I know the importance of that backward look and am grateful that mine was possible.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Log on

I am a fairly new member of facebook, and have been thinking a lot lately about what draws people to the website. The answer that came was community connection. We are hurtling into an age where we lack the most basic of connections to a greater community. The popularity of organized religion has waned so we no longer meet our friends and neighbors at our weekly service, or join in with other members in church activities. Our ancestors lived together in knit communities, the generations residing together in homes, grandparents living with children and grandchildren. Although some of this may still exist, it is not as common. Households are split apart by divorce and many people escape to the country or live with strangers in a metropolitan area away from relatives. Grandma goes into a nursing home where strangers care for her. Today's children text to stay in contact with friends instead of having sleep overs or riding bikes to the park. The need to connect with others is still a part of the human makeup, our cave people relatives all lived squished together in communities, huddled together for survival, hunting and gathering as a group. Maybe I am glorifying the past, but I sit here alone in my apartment, waiting for my son to get home from school. He will be the only contact I have with the outside world, until I log on and instantly get glimpses into other people's lives, friends and family that I will not meet at the church picnic or barn raising today. I get to participate in my friend’s lives for a few moments, but it is the connection with others that satisfies a very human need for relationship with fellow humans.

Friday, January 8, 2010

You are Invited

I almost threw myself a pity party yesterday, complete with blue streamers and "woe is me" punch. Luckily I connected with some friends who helped me to realize how good I actually had it. What happened was that I "forgot" to write a gratitude list! When I skimp on my daily spiritual practice (morning prayer, meditation, writing and gratitude) I begin to focus on the problems I face, which are really luxury problems. One of the pipes in my house is leaking and my toilet isn't working and I live on my own so I have to deal with the icky stuff myself. That is the only thing that I can consider difficult today. And I was feeling sorry for myself. So I set out to address invitations to my pity party. I figured I could have snacks and maybe a game or two. I am writing this sitting in front of a fire in my beautiful apartment on a gorgeous, crisp, winter day. I have a brilliant red cardinal visiting my feeder and two cats curled up on my lap. And all I have to do is call the plumber. Yes, I am getting over myself. I will write my gratitude list, offer up a prayer of thanks to God for this fabulous life, eat a nice nutritious lunch and watch the cardinals at the feeder. Time to put those invites away, until next time.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Resolutions for a New Year

Usually I do not make New Year's resolutions. I watch the numbers swell at the gym every January only to shrink by the first of February. I question whether the New Year is the best time to attempt a new habit. It is cold; I am slowing down and in hibernation mode. The days are still short and any attempt at increased exercise falls short of my ideal. The thought of healthy food is whisked away when the leftover Christmas cookies and Lindt chocolates start to mysteriously pop out of my freezer. Maybe it is my difficulty with the word resolution, or the very act of joining in with millions of Americans as they attempt to positively change their lives. In musical terms a resolution is "a dissonant (lacking in harmony) chord followed by a consonant (the property of sounding harmonious) chord." This definition rings truer to my understanding of this yearly ritual. A resolution therefore could be an attempt to live life in a harmonious way. This takes some of the pressure off. I don't have to eliminate all fatty foods from my diet, exercise 4 hours a day, get organized, quit smoking, spend more time with my cats or learn to parasail. What I could do is try to find ways to make my life a little bit more harmonious. In order for me to know what will make my life begin to harmonize I need to be present to myself. Prayer and meditation are the two practices that are crucial. In the cold of the winter season, when I am already squirreled away in my cozy home, it is easy for me to find quiet spaces for contemplation. If I resolve to hit the gym five nights a week, I know I am setting myself up for failure. If I resolve to spend five minutes a night in prayer, and five minutes in meditation, I have a chance. Only time will tell.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Morning Prayer

I open my hand and allow God to fill it. Lying in bed this morning I found myself slipping into a fear-filled space. What if I don't have enough to do this? What happens when that? Fear has a life of its own, it exists without justification. It pokes at me in the early hours; it tells me that I am not enough. It is in these times that I need to open my hands, my heart and my mind to God in prayer.

Dear God, fill my empty hands with your spirit. Please encircle my heart with your love, your life and your wisdom. Guide me as I journey to you, and show me the next right thing to do, as I seek peace and serenity today.

I fell asleep soon after asking God for help and woke feeling refreshed. I don't know what today will bring, but I do know that whatever it is, I am walking with a full heart.