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When we were kids, my best friend and I would announce it was “opposite day” and turn our jackets or sweaters around backwards.  Who knew that this silly childhood game would become a national pastime.

Did someone there on the right disagree with me?  Sorry, couldn’t hear him.  I’m already running my mouth again or jabbing my phone to post a snippy response on social media.

Step back.  Take a deep breath.

If this is something you truly believe in, leave off the snotty Facebook posts. Look for a protest march to join.  Write a letter to your Congress people.   Mine is going to include a quote from Romans.  A slightly longer quote than the one used to justify the abuse of children.

Yeah.  I said it – abuse.  But it isn’t a term I selected in anger.  Being slow to anger doesn’t mean ignoring wrongs.  It just means you need to hear them out in good faith.  Then you get to have your say.

–SueBE

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My friend Alice is collecting answers to the above question. Feel free to chime in. As for me, I always speak most clearly in poetry.

Providence is the hand of God in the world.
It is like the wind: You cannot see it,
you can only see what it does
(stir a sailboat, rustle a leaf
loosed from a tree),
and even this is best glimpsed
in your memory’s rear view mirror.
It is a confetti storm of pieces of paper,
a single word printed on each,
that somehow settles into a book.
You could have read it weeks ago,
but your eyes were not ready.
It is the tiniest movement of a fly
on a leaf that sends a drop of water
skittering to the ground below where
a seed has been mislaid, unlikely to ever
make anything of itself. Instead it flowers.
Perhaps it will be a rose, perhaps a cactus.
But even that will make sense when you are
lost in the desert, and in falling over, parched,
you break open the limb of a saguaro and there is water
cool and reviving, inside.*

 

 

* Just a metaphor. Do not do this in real life.

 

 

You can tell a lot about a person by how they handle things they don’t like.  The other day I walked into the community center with a group from my yoga class.  As we walked in from the parking lot, we noted that the flag was flying at half mast.  None of us knew why.

One of the women marched up to the receptionist’s desk.  “Why is that flag at half mast?”  No “excuse me” or “good morning.”  Her tone wasn’t even polite. I’ve since learned that this woman treats everything she doesn’t like as a personal affront. If she’s happy, every one is happy because she’s very gracious.  Unhappy?  Well, she shares that too.

I’m not going to say that I don’t. But I try to start things out with a smile and a kind word.  It’s my way of trying to reflect a bit of God’s light.  There’s enough darkness without creating more.

–SueBE

 

I have to admit that I laughed when I read Miss Ruth’s post on whether or not we see each other around our own world view. I do not change directions easily.  I don’t think I’m narrow-minded but my brain seems to hard wire things.  This is X.  That is Y.  When I find out that I had it backward, it takes me a few minutes to reorient my brain.

Yesterday our Bible class was discussing Jonah.  Pastor Sean pointed out how important it is for us to understand that the Israelites saw the sea, any sea, as chaos.  The giant fish?  A beast of chaos.

As much as I loathe water and swimming, I would have remembered this if I had ever heard it before. It so fits my world view!

But my grandad grew up on Biloxi Bay.  He was a bay life guard and swam in the ocean, the ocean that scared me silly.

My great uncles on the other side were river fishermen.  My grandmother and aunt pointed out that out often.  “Fishermen, Susie.  Just like the apostles.”  For my family, the fact that they were fishermen made them, and faith, that much more accessible.

Chaos?  Really?

The problem with this mental reversal was that I was teaching the class.  Not the best time to sit there and reorient your world view.  Fortunately, most of them have known me since I was 12.  Chaos.  I had it backwards?  One tiny step forward but still not wise.

–SueBE

In a new story I’m writing, one of the characters is an older Chinese woman. I searched “older women in Chinese culture 2018,” but couldn’t find anything relevant.

Ten pages of results yielded articles about a teenager’s prom dress causing controversy and the fact that educated, professional women in China aren’t marrying these days, but nothing about what life is like today for a women of 65. On page 13 of the search results, I did find an interesting article about how a three-digit “social score” can change the course of a person’s life in China, but still, nothing about the experience of older women.

It shouldn’t take miles of search pages to find out the most basic facts about older women in China. Should it? It’s disheartening that the algorithm we all rely on to bring us the world is leaving out large chunks of humanity. At least older people and women as a group can exist online. Can’t they?

But then again, do we ever really see each other?

Last year during a MOOC about poetry, I watched a terrific video lecture from poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Despite viewing it many times, I didn’t realize that she had on a bow tie, even though it’s obviously a bow tie. My mind assumed it was a scarf. Why? Because I like scarves. I wear scarves. I knit scarves. I was wearing a scarf as I was watching the video. Later, I realized that this poet identifies as gender non-conforming. All I saw was my own worldview.

No matter how open-minded we may think we are, we always see the picture through our own frame. Like a reverse selfie of sorts. Maybe we all need to be double-exposed to new ideas to view the world as a group-photo waiting to happen.

These young ladies know the power of team work and use being part of a time to spread light and love throughout their community.  A lesson for all of us on how to do it right.  –SueBE

Clue: “Kid with X-Box changes left for right and makes an appeal.” Answer: Prayer, of course! As anyone who loves cryptic (or British) crosswords knows, the solution is right there in front of you. In cryptics, part of the clue provides the answer; the rest consists of the mechanics to get there. In this case, a kid with an X-Box is a “player”; you then exchange the “l” (“left”) for “r” (“right”) to get “an appeal,” which is “prayer.”

But why am I bothering to explain this? Either you already love cryptics (and found the answer annoyingly easy) or you have developed an antipathy merely from reading the opening paragraph of this post. I am obsessed with them, often creating my own clues (see above) just for the fun of playing with language. But I wonder, why do I so adore these puzzles? They are frustrating, hilarious, stupid, wickedly difficult, unfair and deeply satisfying. They are like my mind.

They are also a link to my family. When I was very young, I’d hear, from my bedroom at night, my mother and my Aunt Beverly working cryptics in the living room. They’d shriek with laughter. I wanted in. So I taught myself how to do them (there are a finite number of ways to solve the clues, such as hidden words, anagrams, charades, double meanings, etc.). I have spent many a happy hour since then unraveling these puzzles with my mom (with my father often playing straight man and voice of reason) or alone.

Maybe that’s why I’m so comfortable with the many mysteries of faith. Jesus is both God and man? Sure, why not? The Eucharist contains the real presence of Jesus? Stranger things have happened. Cryptic crosswords have opened my mind to the possibilities and seeming impossibilities of creation. I get why God made aardvarks and platypuses. I’ve never struggled with the lack of reason sometimes involved in spirituality. Because I believe the reason is there; it’s just hidden — cryptic, but present.

When I run into a problem with my faith, it does me good to remember my puzzles. I’ve often stared at a clue for hours before the answer clicks into place (“murder victim sounds qualified” had me stumped until I remembered our biblical friend Abel). Maybe faith is like that. Maybe our frustrations come not from a God who is inconsistent, but from our own inability to decipher his clues.

Because you gotta know that God is far more complicated than a crossword puzzle. But the joy of understanding God? A million times more rewarding than any puzzle could be.

 

Not happy with how things are in this world?  Tired of the swirling chaos and negativity? Thoughts and words, my friends.  Both have a huge impact.

I’m not saying that there aren’t bad things that need to change. There are.  Just this week, two workers died in St. Louis, Mo where I live.  Somehow the cage they were in while working in an elevator shaft disconnected from the safety line and fell.  It is horrible and the cause of the accident is being investigated.  Yet I saw that someone today is using this event to “prove” that elevators are unsafe.

The scariest part?  Watching people jump on her bandwagon.  She says elevators are unsafe.  Doesn’t that make it so?

Can I issue everyone who reads this a challenge?  For a day, when you don’t like something and the world seems bad, step back and look.  Are you creating negativity?  Making something worse or bigger than it is?

The world is  complicated place.  Acknowledge the impact that your thoughts and words have on how you see things.  Why not look for God’s light instead of the Darkness?

–SueBE

 

I am a painfully sarcastic person.  In truth, I’m fairly certain English is my second language and sarcasm is my first.

Snarky humor aside, I’m also basically positive.  Drop a problem down in front of me and I’ll brainstorm solutions with you.

But waking up each day with a positive attitude.  I’m not 100% there in part because I am a night owl.  Even when I get to bed and get to sleep, I approach the next day with caution.  Because of that, if you encounter me too early, I’m not going to seem positive.  I’m still waking up and preparing to actually interact.

Once that’s done, I’m generally good to go.

If, like me, you take a bit of time to warm up to positive, you know yourself.  Take the time you need.  You’ll enjoy the world much more and your positivity will help spread God’s love.

–SueBE

Lori’s post from yesterday was so timely.  Liberals are complaining about what this person and that person said.  Conservatives counter with some other hateful thing that a liberal said.  All of the comments are dehumanizing and need never have been said.  But then one person disagrees with someone else and you’d think the sky was falling.

And so often it just doesn’t make sense.

What was being discussed wasn’t even about the person who has taken it all oh-so personally.  And it isn’t that I never do this.  Oh, no.  There are days where I Am the Queen.  Usually it means that I need to take a step back.

Why?  Because what has upset me didn’t have to.  I let it.

There will be upsetting things in this world.  There will be suffering.  As Lori pointed out, we ran right over to the Tree of Knowledge.  That decision has made for a life of suffering.

But what someone said in response to a post, a meme or a comment?  That’s small in comparison.  We all need to learn to let some things pass.

–SueBE

 

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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