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I don’t even remember the full context of the conversation.  We were discussing that God is neither male or female. That’s how we can both be made in God’s image.

“Oh, yeah!  And people of all races and abilities. And all of creation.”

::cricket cricket cricket::

Clearly as far as this person was concerned, I had just jumped the shark, gone too far, walked into oblivion.  And I have to admit that for me this understanding came in stages.  Men and women and all of humanity came first.  Only later did I come to appreciate the fact that all of  creation itself reflects God.

I’d always sought God out in the outdoors.  Listening to the wind and watching cloud shadows cross the desert.  But a piece of art work brought it all home to me.

At a distance, this is an image of Christ.  Closer, you see it as dozens and dozens of natural images.  There are flowers and fronts, birds and beasts.  Taken individually, you see that one plant or animal.  Pull back and you see the big picture – God in Christ.

Every plant.  Every animal.  Every human being.  Each is an imperfect, incomplete reflection of the One wharped and wavering and still capable of showing us something greater.

–SueBE

 

 

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Working at the pool in the summer can be a little crazy.  The outdoor pool is awash in kids off school for the summer and mom’s looking to get them in the outdoors.  The indoor pools host classes and camp kids.

My son is a lifeguard at two indoor pools.  Recently, a new group of campers asked him about the rules.  “Walk, don’t run.  And don’t argue with me if I tell you to stop something.”

Most of the kids were satisfied with this but one little worrier needed a bit more.  “What will you tell us to stop?”

“My job is to keep you safe.  Okay?”

“Yes, but. . .”

“And don’t be a butt to anyone else.  Okay?”

Even the worrier was satisfied with this. Walk, don’t run.  Stay safe. Don’t be a butt.

With the addition of rule #3, he could cut loose and have fun.  But fun that involved being mean to other people was not allowed.  That seems like a pretty good way to reword the Golden Rule.

–SueBE

 

In a conversation recently, I had a disagreement with an acquaintance around my age (53), and I was struck by how civil we both were. “If I may,” he interjected, as I made my point, “That’s not the case.” He continued for a moment, and then I interrupted politely, saying, “I’d like to point out…” and I made my argument. At the end of the conversation, we were still cordial.

It made me wonder if civility is actually an extinct language. It may have gone the way of Latin. It still exists, but very few people are fluent.

It can be difficult to remain calm when you’re talking to someone who’s being decidedly uncivil. Being civil doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to say what’s on your mind. Bluntness may even be required, but never belittling, or using pejorative or profane terms.

When I feel angry, hurt or offended in some way, I try to put it into words immediately. My son knows that when I come to him and say, “You know my policy; I have to tell you how I feel about what you just said”,  that’s the time for him to speak plainly as well.

Recalibrating my communication settings to say what I mean freed my soul from the clutches of grudges. That toxic energy only takes up space that’s meant for grace. Once you clear that parking spot, you’ll find you’ve made room for incoming blessings. Who knows? They might be circling overhead right now, waiting for you to wave them into your life.

This is one of my favorite prayers. Okay, technically, it isn’t a prayer.  It was written in The Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich.  But I use it as a prayer.

For those you who don’t know of Julian of Norwich, she lived approximately from 1342 to 1416.  She was a spiritual counselor, a woman who set herself off from the world and lived at St. Julian’s Church in Norwich.  Thus the name by which we know her.  That’s right.  This isn’t even her real name.

Does that mean we should pity her as a woman whose identity has been taken from her?  I don’t think so but not because that isn’t an issue.  It is but in this case I suspect it is what she wanted.  She was an educated woman who wrote the oldest surviving Western book to be written by a woman.  She has a clue.

In The Revelations of Divine Love, she writes about her visions of Christ.  In one vision, she was bemoaning the fact that sin had to exist.  Wouldn’t everything be better if there was no sin? But Christ answered her in her vision, “It was necessary that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

How often in prayer do we spend our time looking back, gazing on past sin and suffering?  Oh, God.  Why did this have to happen?

It did happen.  But there is God and where there is God there is hope.

“But all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

The world is not a perfect place and yet we have grace.

“But all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

We are flawed but we are God’s.

“But all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

–SueBE

My son is in college with the goal of working in music production, so the next thing on his To-Do Liszt is to get an internship in the industry. So, without too much fanfare, I’d like to propose that some dear reader in the music business give him a hand.

Do you know how many points I’d score if some music mogul reading this offered my son a job? It’d be off the charts! Then he’d have no choice but to visit me every so often, even after he hits it big on a grand scale. The important thing is to really get a Handel on the skills he’ll need so he doesn’t end up Haydn some 9-5 job.

So here’s my pitch: he’ll write you a song, and you send him money! Everybody wins! 🙂 Here’s a sample of one of his songs: 

stay here pt2

Barring that, perhaps you know of an internship position in which he could learn the ropes, kind of a bridge between school and the rest of his life. That transition can be major, and sometimes we fall flat when we first go solo.

There’s an old saying: Get a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. I’d love it if he got a great gig, preferably close by, so he can always bring me presents (let’s call them “royalties”); well-paying, so he can pay off my mortgage (maybe he can write a nice house music song to do so); and working with people who are upbeat.

I’m probably preaching to the choir, but life is a collaborative composition. If you can help someone out on the road of life, whether it be a lead on a job in their field or just a kind word, you’re part of a larger movement. That’s humanity in harmony. Thanks for listening. Be Bach soon!

When my son was younger, one of the kids from the neighborhood came over just as my son and his friends were getting ready to ride their bikes. Landon (not his real name) didn’t have a bike, so I told him he could borrow mine.

When Landon came back he looked guilt-ridden. One of the other kids was saying to him, “You’re in big trouble, man. She’s gonna get real mad at you. She’ll tell your mom, and you’ll be on punishment forever. Nothing you can do about it.”

When Landon finally came up to me on the porch, he apologized. “For what, honey?” I asked. “I broke the bike,” he said. “My mom gets paid on Friday, so I’ll ask her to pay for the bike, and I’ll do chores to pay her back. Might take me a year, but I’ll make it right.”

This was both touching and heartbreaking. What a long ride back it must have been for that young man. Especially with the other kid bending his ear, piling guilt upon fear.

“No need for that, son. That bike was already hinky. One of Cole’s other friends messed it up, and didn’t even apologize. Don’t worry about it for a minute. Come on. We’re having Jiffy Pop.”

I wanted to say to the other child who’d appointed himself chief guilt-inducer, You should be ashamed! But it was too late for that. He already was. Misery loves company, and that’s the only language he knew. Someone had said these things to him, too, in his lifetime. I decided to extend hospitality to him instead. “Popcorn for you?” I asked.

Shame can be contagious, but luckily, there’s an antidote: grace.

A young man knocked on my door today and said he was in the neighborhood “helping out” my neighbors. He mentioned specific names of neighbors whom he said had already signed up for his services.

I said I wasn’t interested. Closed the screen door, closed the inside door, locked the deadbolt, walked down the hall and realized he was still pitching his wares! I heard him talking to the closed door for a moment there.

Finally, he packed up his digital clipboard, got onto his segway and rolled to the next house. That’s a high-tech way to pester people, I must say.

I’m sure that none of my neighbors had signed up because we don’t want to encourage solicitation. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to say, “Oh, Rene signed up? Let me call her to confirm what you’re telling me,” but I didn’t think of it until later.

What was he selling? Pest control, of course! Oh, the irony. Is there some kind of repellent for pest control salespeople?

Hmm. This has given me an idea for a new type of insurance: anti-solicitation coverage. If anyone shows up at your door to sell you something, the insurance company will give you money. Of course, you couldn’t sell this type of thing door-to-door!

People deserve better than to be sold a bill of goods, especially when you talk to them about what you believe. Helping a neighbor, holding a door for a stranger, offering a kind word — being neighborly is more effective than being a noodge. In faith and in fumigation, it’s better to be blessed than to be a pest.

I’ve been thinking about traditional values a lot. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about the values that my grandparents taught me.

  1.  Work hard.  My grandfather graduated with a degree in mining engineering as many mines across the US were starting to play out.  Yes, he worked as a mining engineer but he also managed a gas station, custom painted cars and maintained the city parks.
  2. Get creative.  Because they kept chickens, my grandmother saved the print fabric feed bags.  She used the prettiest prints to make dresses for the girls.  She used the geometrics for the boys.  The rest became underwear.  That has never been lost on me.  She made their underwear.
  3. Be generous.  They didn’t have a lot but what they had, they shared.  There were never only 5 plates at the table for Sunday dinner.  Everyone who was there got a chair and a plate and there were always friends and neighbors present.
  4. Laugh.   My maternal grandparents loved to laugh.  Most of the photos I have of them include one if not both of them with a big grin.  Laughter is essential.
  5. Have Faith.  All four of my grandparents were faithful.  We prayed when times were hard.  We read scripture.  And we learned to give people the space for their own beliefs.  Granted, in my Protestant family, this often meant no more than giving people the space to be Catholic but I’ve chosen to apply this a bit more broadly.

Hard work. Creativity. Generosity. Laughter.  Faith.  These are the family values I experienced as a child.

–SueBE

For a previous blog post, I used the voice-to-text function on my phone to write down an idea, and this is what it wrote when I said SueBE’s name: “Ksubi”

That word sounds like an ancient dynastic title of some kind, which is fitting for our anthropology expert. Interestingly, it spelled Lori’s name correctly. It didn’t type Lorie or Laurie.

Sometimes you get your point across, even to a machine. At other times, you can’t even get through to other human beings. I’m constantly amazed at how in sync the three of us on this humble blog are, even though we’ve never met in person.

When I come into my fortune, I’ll fix things in need of repair in my house, get a new fence, re-finish the floors. Of course, I’ll pay off the house and bills. I wouldn’t want a new house or anything fancy.

If a genie told me, Do all those practical things, but you’ve also got to choose two things that aren’t practical, but would light you up from the inside. Well then!

Okay. I’d start a publishing house called “Yes Press” and ask Lori to be the editor. I’d ask her to curate uplifting wonderfulnesses (to coin a phrase) from around the blogosphere so we could have all the warmth in one place.

I’d start another publishing house called “HiStories” to tell history-stories that touch on how God has a hand in the life stories we co-create. SueBE could write about fascinating facets of nature that are hard to explain but interesting to ponder, like the Coelacanth, a living fossil that seems to have bypassed evolution. I believe God likes a good mystery and created this fish to give us something to talk about. So, if there are any traveling genies out there, come on over!

People used to ask me why I did’t camp with the Scouts.  Because when I did one of two things would happen.  It would rain.

As a Cub Scout mom I reconnected with another mom.  We had been Girl Scouts together.  We shared a tent on a Cub Scout trip and at one point she looked at me.  “Oh, right.  It did always rain when you were at camp.”  Some of us are just talented in unexpected ways.  What can I say?

Sometimes it would storm.  On my only camping trip with the Boy Scouts, we had three tents collapse.  Lightning was slicing through the sky as we put two new tents up.  Me?  I elected to sleep in the car.  My husband and I were the first two up come morning.  The sun was out and birds were chirping.  Then we discovered that one end of the dining fly had been smashed.  We managed to reach the camp stoves, the coffee pots and the doughnuts.  When everyone else got up we had the brew perking away.  “Why are you in such a good mood?” snarled one sleepy dad.  Yes, I laughed out loud but I also handed him a cup of coffee.

God made us so that we can laugh.  He also gave us the ability to cry.

When faced with a crisis, you can select which way to go. I tend to opt for laughter.  Sure, it annoys some people. But if you cry, you won’t be able to smell the coffee.  Me?  I’m opting to laugh with my fellows over a cup of coffee.

–SueBE

 

 

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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