Now, Do It Now

There are many clichés to cover the idea of’ reading between the lines, of mindfulness  in awareness, of reaching out before a need is voiced.  This is a good day for that.

We all know people who struggle, short-term or in a sort of perpetual depressive state.  Some struggle with loud bumps and moans letting the world know that this is a bummer.  Some struggle with times of being overwhelmed, drowning in details and no life-preserver in sight.   Others struggle with a quiet, “Fine–I am fine” when we know fine does not cover the pain.

So in case anyone is listening, this is Now, Do It Now Day, a day to put our personal concerns under the stack and take an action that will surprise and soften the life of someone in our prism.  A note, a phone call, handling a task that isn’t getting done, anticipating, understanding with true compassion and taking action.

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Molly and Me

Kurtis, our most exceptional and much appreciated mail carrier, delivered National Geographic Magazine and Molly headed for the big chair and a marathon reading session.   How many grandmothers get to enjoy the company of a 17-year-old during the week of  spring break?   Molly is very bright, articulate and funny.  The week is passing quickly

“You know, Grandma, I love reading National Geographic but after I read it I think the world might be about to end.  We have messed up so many things.”

Our conversation took the path of possibilities, but one Mollyism often repeated was that her generation would not/could not fix things because they were self-centered to the exclusion of caring about any future that did not include immediate self needs.   Molly talked about the behaviors in the new teen favorite, Glee, and the predominate attitudes at her high school.

While I burned the dinner rice, we talked about the need for purpose with passion…of the willingness to do much more than worry about conditions and hope that a miracle saves the earth.

While the broccoli cheese sauce scorched, we talked about past generations that cared–but not enough.

While the garlic chicken smoked the house, we talked about the power of money to sway beliefs and create false needs through advertising and entertainment.

While I arranged the unscathed parts of the meal onto a really fancy plate designed to disguise, we talked about the need for Molly to have a subscription to National Geographic.  The week is passing far too quickly.

 

Science City At Union Station, KCMO

Through the generosity of a dear friend, my grandson and I spend part of most Fridays enjoying Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri.  Every minute is a new adventure and Sam considers Science City his favorite Friday place.

Volunteers staff much of the public activities, always pleasant and helpful, rarely reacting to the lesser side of human behavior.  There are definitely times when I wish it were my place to publicly applaud the volunteers and berate the adults who should be supervising children.

Because this blog may read like a rant, I want to be clear.  Most of my working life took place in elementary schools, teaching, taking field trips and working with all aspects of educating children.  I understand the rewards, the joys and the challenges.

Science City is a field trip, an educational experience designed to give students hands-on opportunities to test scientific principles.  It is a break from the classroom .  Granted some exhibits are inoperable but that is not the fault of Science City.  It would take thousands of dollars to constantly repair damage caused by careless and intentional  mistreatment.

It amazes me that some student groups wear identifying tee shirts, especially when running, without any visible supervision, causing near and real collisions with others trying to enjoy Science City.  Often adults wearing the same shirts are talking with one another, oblivious to what the students are doing.  Exhibits get mistreated so fellow students can laugh at the antics.  Younger kids are often pushed aside.

There is a room designed for the youngest visitors and the equipment is often misused.   Thomas the Train layout is  popular and kids wait for a turn at that table.  On two occasions, I have asked a child to return train cars being taken out the door.  Both times, the adult tried to wither me with a look while tossing the train piece back into the room.

A defense might be offered by saying that teachers cannot find enough parents to volunteer for field trips, that it is impossible for one or two teachers to adequately supervise a class size group of kids, that keeping the group together would cause long waits to participate in some activities.

All probably true, but treating Science City like a free range play ground is not the educational experience intended.  If adults consider  running, scuffles, and general horse-play as acceptable behavior then a public park might be a better Friday break from the classroom.

 

 

Mindfulness

No intake of breath.  The last air releases and a single moment closes a life,  responsibilities, obligations, joys evaporated in a click.

The world continues.

Sobering?  Maybe.  Liberating, too.  Looking at that last breath could be a way to go into our deepest and most profound emotions.   Accepting and trusting that we ‘get’ the whisper that is our life might balance what we want to have…what we want to hold dear.

If we think about the last breath, we might be more inclined to give way to mindfulness.  We might embrace what is rather than harboring what was or preparing for what might be coming.  We might discover how much fear and insecurity control behaviors pegged by a past that cannot be changed or a future that cannot be clearly predicted.

Integrity,  character formed through  lifetime moments, built by instant choices that match with our mindfulness is our becoming.

Regrets rarely focus on wishing we had not shared those moments of love and joy with family and friends. Rather, we want more.

Regrets rarely focus on  efforts to understand the truths of others unlike ourselves.  We  could learn.  We could expand our grasp of truth.

Regrets rarely focus on reaching out to others in need of our attention and care.  Rather, we want to go back and give what we withheld because we were too busy in the moment.  Retrospect erases the excuses allowing the mundane to overrule compassion.

Mindfulness is being in the moment, attending to the now of our life.  Sounds so easy.  It isn’t.   Distractions pace and push in constant movement.

We have had teachers, men and women, who understand a part of mindfulness.  Thoreau taught by retreating to his quiet.  Gandhi taught by giving away.  Mother Theresa taught by seeing the Jesus in others.  Pandit Rajmani Tigunait taught by seeing death as birth.  Some  religions actually do teach by sincere search.

And so we are back to the truth that finding our integrity and character through mindfulness IS simple, but never easy.

A New York Minute

What I really need is a Randy Newman or a Tom Waite song, one of those dips into the core of truth, a raspy look into the ‘little bitty eyes’ of our lesser selves.  I need anger, shouted gut spilling anger.  Not gangsta rap anger but polite Catholic school girl anger gone rage.  Randy Newman or Tom Waite would know the words.  They would not be hampered by my ‘stuff’, my fear of anger.

This is grief, raw sadness.  Anger has been slower to come than have the other so-called stages of grief.  None of the anger is the expected kind.  This does not feel like anger at Bob for dying or for leaving so many stones, boulders, for me to turn.

It has been five months of processing and my expectation clung to the conventional wisdom that six months held some elixir of passage.  Every day is wrapped in death in some form or another and 30 additional days make conventional wisdom sound like a fool’s errand.

Each of my adult children  has done everything in his/her power to ease this passage.  When the anger threatens, I keep it at bay by concentrating on  them.  Their love and concern is constant and given to the degree that is possible for them.  If you read this blog on an intermittent basis, you have read of the generosity of specific friends and neighbors.

It has been a conscious goal to avoid living widow-like, lamenting, hiding or doing the dance of sighs.   My sons and my daughters-in-law have encouraged every effort to be alive, to set goals, to find joy.  They have done everything possible.

That should be enough, right?  Many people never come close to that degree of support.  So why the anger?  Why the New York minute need to spill what I will end up swallowing again rather than having the courage to vent?

Anger won’t heal.  Anger will just tear the scabs and open new wounds pushing six months into a lifetime.  Maybe this is the best I can do now, this lame attempt at speaking out–speaking to the hurt of indifference, the hurt of the assumption that being alone isn’t wrenchingly lonely, the hurt of expecting me to be who I was before part of me disappeared, the hurt of distancing because it is awkward when searching for words.

Lord.  Talk about lame.    Wish I had the courage to take the plunge.  Maybe that New York minute will explode later.

 

 

Same Sex Marriage (ccr)

Admittedly I have my red-dot issues, all forms of child abuse, institutional acceptance and cover-up of child abuse,  hatred based on differences and institutionalized inequality.

I have been known to write about civil discourse while controlling a rant against  the use of anger as weapon.   It is very difficult for me to accept the one-size-fits-all-one-righteous-way mentality that disdainfully dismisses non-conformists.  Disdain is such an ugly weapon especially when used to destroy dialogue.

A scholarly presentation requires that I write, edit and rewrite after careful fact checking.  Some of my blogs could combine, be  edited with a merciless blue pencil and pounded into a paragraph.

But I don’t pretend to be reporting is the finest sense of that word.  This is a blog, a ramble, a wind-mill tilt.

My efforts to distance from any religious or Biblical arguments is unnecessary.  The Bible is a beautiful book addressing the message of the Christian world.   But just as the Bible lost the women of the early church while conforming to a  culture of exclusion, so it continues.

Same Sex Marriage is a misnomer in that it gives intentional emphasis to a single aspect of marriage, sex between same gender couples.     Once upon a time, sex was perceived as exclusive to marriage, but no more.  In our current time and culture, sex is as handy as the next hook-up, exchange of names not required.  Birds, bees and young kids do it.  To assume that  couples marry simply to have sex is beyond any measure of naive.

Marriage, any partnership, is only as good as the participants.  Each union reflects the values and mores of the two people accepting the responsibilities of a shared life.  Any children of the union, birthed or adopted, will be raised according to the standards of the parents.  The kind and depth of love is never universal. Every aspect of a marriage  remains a determination of the couple.  All marriages are hard work, demanding ongoing commitment and constant renewal.

It is time to leave it alone, this debate about who can marry.  The evidence seems clear enough.  We do not determine our sex.  It is not a choice to be heterosexual or homosexual.   With divorce ending about 50% of all marriages of heterosexual couples, it does seem odd to purport to be protecting the institution by denying it to couples willing to accept the challenge.   Character and commitment are not the exclusive province of any single gender.

Riddle Me This. (ccr)

Recently, I reviewed a PBS program on the Inquisition in the obscene depths of that horror.   In my younger days I cried easily but not so in my seventh decade.  Last evening I wept.

It is easy to admit to being undereducated in matters of faith and morals.  I will write what I think I know.

The Pope is infallible when speaking on matters of faith and morals.  He has the wisdom and direction of the Holy Spirit.  This infallibility is an attribute of all Popes, historical and current.

Church teaching gives God the attributes of omnipotence and omniscience, all-powerful and all-knowing.  The Church also teaches that man is created in the image and likeness of God.

Now a step back to the Inquisition and Pope John Paul.  This Pope of the Inquisition wrote against and brought humiliation and harm to the Jewish people, herding them into locked ghettos at night, forcing them to wear yellow hats by day.   This happened while the Pope was overseeing the horrors of the Inquisition.  All manner of  suffering removed those who disagreed with the church.

Church defenders tell us that all such matters  can only be understood the context of time and culture.  The Inquisition gets blurred and softened  by saying that an understanding of the society of the times explains false imprisonment,  torture and murder.

Why?  How?

Had not the gentle man, Jesus, lived and taught His message of peace and justice?  Had He not walked in simple robes forgiving, restoring and gently admonishing when His chosen twelve strayed?

Where was the attribute of omnipotence and omniscience when the Inquisition cleared a disagreement with boiling oil/turpentine or with a bonfire to char the flesh of a heretic?   Remember that the same church teaches the story of Jesus using spit and dirt to restore eyesight.

God knows no time or culture.  God’s omniscience simply IS, correct?  Was the Pope not listening or was Jesus’  message not one approved by the Holy Spirit?

For the sake of understanding, let’s leave the time and culture of the Inquisition and move to modern conundrums.  The teaching is that  God created all people in His/Her image and likeness.  That still stands, right?

Two huge albatross pull Church equality into disbelief.  If God created gender inclusive ‘men’ in His/Her image and likeness am I not as much reflection of God as is any ordained person?  If my soul reflects God as does any ‘male’, why am I not a fully accepted member of the Church?

Could it be that the same infallibility that fostered the Inquisition is the  papal gift that excludes women from ordination? Riddle me this.  Help me sort.