You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2019.

Had you told me, back when I was a kid, that someday I’d be doing all my writing on a laptop computer, I never would have believed you. (Also, I would have asked, “What’s a laptop computer?” Those were simpler times, folks.) Even during college, I wrote out all of my papers — no matter how lengthy — in longhand before typing them up. My brain-to-pen connection was strong. Nowadays, everything flows through my keyboard. Even prayers.

What is it
that emanates from you:
enters, moves and exits,
dances my digits
across lonely letters,
forming whole words,
little acts of creation —
a platypus, perhaps,
beaked but mammalian,
spare bits that somehow swim —
or a perfect petit four, iced
elegance, consumed in a gulp?
Is it the stuff of charlatans,
tapped alphabets, levitating tables?
Or is it you, yourself,
hunting and pecking,
posing a sort of code,
and do I even interpret one word in three?
Whatever this holy magic is,
please may it always be.

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A couple of weeks ago, I was short-sighted enough to disagree with a friend of my husband on Facebook.  I should have known.  Really, really should have known.  It isn’t that I dislike him but I know him.  He is pushy.  I think he’s condescending because I’m female.  My husband counters that he’s condescending because he’s breathing.  Female.  Male.  People in general.  Condescension will happen.

And when it did?  I lost all perspective.  It became the most important part of my evening.  Again and again I looked up his comment.  How dare he!?  The amount of energy that went into verifying, repeatedly, that he had been rude and he’d done it more than once was, in hindsight, embarrassing.  I should have just turned my back on the whole thing.  I should have turned to face something or Someone entirely different.

What if I’d spent that evening doing something God wants me to do?  Using the talents God gave me?  Facing into the Light?  Maybe nothing grand would have happened.  But, if nothing else, I’d have had a much better evening.

And if we did this often and consistently?  I can’t help but think that we’d get a lot more accomplished acting as His hands and feet on this earth.

–SueBE

People who are sun-shiney and optimist no matter what is going on make me suspicious.  What is it they’ve missed?

But I’m not a pessimist. I don’t think everyone is out to get me.  I don’t think everything turns out badly.   Most people don’t even know I’m here.  And the universe? Neutral.

I consider myself a realist.  But over the years I’ve come to handle stress fairly well.  As long as no one is right in my face crabbing at me, I can pretty well just roll with things.   Imagine my surprise when my yoga instructor read us an article that explained why.  Yoga requires holding poses for a period of time.  These poses require using our muscles and focusing.  It is physically stressful.  As we work on these poses, our brains are rewired.  More cells and connections develop in the areas activated to handle stress.  These cells and pathways are there when we have to deal with stress out in the larger world.

Things may not be peaceful but they are managable.  They may not be ideal but they can be endured.   And the quiet at your center? It’s a great place to pause and listen for God.

–SueBE

 

Tell me something is impossible and nine times out of ten I’m going to try to prove you wrong.  I taught myself to knit before the internet swarmed with tutorials.  I had failed to learn from my mom but when my 12 year-old niece acted like I was a simpleton because I couldn’t do it, I had to learn.  Hey, don’t judge. I wasn’t a mom yet.  I didn’t understand that 12 year-olds act like you’re a simpleton just because.

And it isn’t like this trait has diminished with age.  One of my girlfriends calls it my “hold my beer” response.  Half of the joke is that I don’t drink beer, I don’t like beer and I will never need someone to hold my beer.  But if you tell me something is impossible you better step back because I am hardwired to try to prove you wrong.

Some people would call this a weakness and it could be.  But I’m a writer.  Writing is hard and so is getting published.  If I gave up every time someone pointed out how impossible this job is, I’d still have a desk job.

I like to think my innate stubbornness is a gift from God.  Whether or not you agree, it is definitely something I’ve used to my advantage.

-SueBE

 

If, like me, you live in an urban area, going into the countryside can be a shock when it comes to the night sky.  The name “Milky Way” suddenly makes sense to someone who is used to seeing only the very brightest stars.

During the day, we see one star, our own sun.  During a truly dark night, we see many.  It is amazing.

The other thing I love about being in this part of the state?  We have no cell service.  I can disconnect.   I wander down country roads, stopping to check rocks and moss and whatever else catches my fancy.  I can listen and breathe and simply be.  It’s in those times that I’m mostly likely to hear what it is God is trying to tell me.

Darkness and disconnect.  Both allow you to take in the Light.

–SueBE

 

 

In the court of public opinion, one side is blamed, the other acquitted. In this age of instant news, it can change by the day. The word “acquitted” can also be used to describe one’s behavior.

Neither side acquitted themselves well in two unsettling situations recently. With the drama around the State of the Union address, President Trump and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, proved that chronological age has no bearing on maturity.

And none of the three sides behaved responsibly when the Covington Catholic School students had a bizarre confrontation with a Native American man and another group of protesters.

Actually, I should say none of the four sides, to include online commenters. Based on the initial, short clip that went viral, there were bomb threats to the school. It also turns out that the Twitter user who posted the original video isn’t the person pictured on the account. Molly McKew, an information warfare researcher, said that “a network of anonymous accounts were working to amplify the video.” Oh, the times in which we live, that a job exists with the title, “information warfare researcher.”

Viral videos are the “honks” of cyberspace. Just as the horn of a car has been misused over the years, eventually, every form of communication becomes another weapon. At first, it was a great tool to be able to have news delivered to us instantly online.

We’re getting wise to the fact that we’re all being manipulated, even if it takes a moment to spot the hidden agenda. Maybe it’s wrapped in a funny meme or a truncated version of the truth, but the red flags are there. At the end of all of these controversies, someone got the views or “likes” they were seeking. And the truth got more elusive by the day.

I have to admit it. This one hits a little close to home.

Recently, I’ve been stuck doing someone else’s job.  I don’t mind helping someone out.  But I’m a volunteer.  She gets paid to do it and hasn’t for months.  And did I get even a thank you?  Um, no.  Her attitude toward me is distant on good days and on bad days it is even worse.

My attitude? I’ve been whining.  Or whinging, depending on which spelling you prefer.  As my grandmother would say, I have been a bitter pill.

Oddly enough, her attitude hasn’t gotten any better.

I can’t do much about her attitude, but I sure could do something about mine.  It is time to stop fussing.  God does, so I am told, love a cheerful giver.  It’s about time I stepped up and started being one.

–SueBE

 

Is it me, or does the world seem particularly noisy right now? Arguments abound — about who’s at fault in the government shut-down, about the kids from Covington, about how long a person ought to be able to last without a paycheck (“Just get a loan,” says one out-of-touch billionaire), about whether and how quickly political events are dragging Venezuela and England and the US and Zimbabwe (and a whole host of other countries) to hell in a hand-basket. It’s getting loud out there.

We cannot, of course, ignore current events. I mean, we can, but the minute we tentatively extend our ostrich heads out of the hole we’ve planted them in, the problems will still be there. Hiding won’t make the news go away. But being quiet and centering one’s self and getting away from social media (as Ruth has wisely done) can give us the space to get our heads together and form our own opinions. So —

Crawl into the smallest place in your mind,
the darkest, the most in-dwelling, and breathe.
Get entirely quiet with yourself.
Bring a book if you are uncomfortable with silence.
Turn inward on yourself until you are wrapped
securely in a sheet of inner tranquility.
Wait.
When you are ready, release yourself into the world.
You will be different —
one look at you and mouths will still.
This is a good thing.

By now, I suppose that many of us have let our resolutions slide.  Maybe you tried to start exercising and then your town was iced in.  Or you started watching your diet but . . . Christmas cookies.

It doesn’t really matter what your resolution is just under four weeks into the new year is too early for substantial progress.  How can I say that?  It takes about seven weeks to establish a habit.  It doesn’t matter whether you are trying to break a bad habit or establish a new habit, it takes about 7 weeks for the new process to take the old habit’s place.

Motivation to change?  It will get you started.  Habit is what will sustain you over time but it will take time even to establish habit.

What can you do to make that change happen?  Pray.  Facing into God’s loving presence will help you find the light and energy you need to keep going.  But so can the prayers of others.  Ask your praying friends for help.  Whether its my writing accountability group, my fellow sopranos in choir or the other Bible students in women’s circle, someone will be by my side, nudging, encouraging and maybe even pulling me along.  It’s amazing how having someone by your side lightens (or perhaps Lightens?) the load.

–SueBE

Him: What’s wrong?

Me:  Nothing.

Him:  Seriously. What’s wrong?

Me:  Well, you are getting annoying but other than that nothing.

Him:  Then quit it.

Me: …

And this, my friends, is when we discovered that I sigh when my asthma is bothering me.  I’m not going to admit how many years I’d been dealing with asthma before my son put it all together but this made me wonder.  How many people assumed that I was aggravated when I was just trying to draw a deep breath.

Humans are social animals. We live in groups.  You’d think that this would make us really good at telling what others are thinking but I don’t think that’s the case.

We are rearranging the seating in choir and a few people missed the rehearsal when everyone got shifted around.  When I tried to tell one of my fellow sopranos where her new seat was, she covered her face with both hands.  She had some in late and we were in the middle of actually singing so I couldn’t strike up a conversation right then and there.  But I did wonder – what the heck?  Attitude much?  When I had the opportunity to ask, I found out that she was in the middle of a migraine.

God granted us all the power of speech.  How often though do we make assumptions instead of making human connections and asking – what’s up?  There may not always be a problem or a problem we can address but we will have showed genuine carrying and made a connection.  We are, after all, social creatures.

–SueBE

 

 

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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