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Tell me about a complicated man.

Muse, tell me how he wandered and was lost when he had wrecked the holy town of Troy, and where he went, and who he met, the pain he suffered in the storms at sea, and how he worked to save his life and bring his men back home.

He failed to keep them safe; poor fools, they ate the Sun God’s cattle, and the god kept them from home.

Now goddess, child of Zeus, tell the old story for our modern times.

Find the beginning.

These opening lines of Emily Wilson’s translation of “The Odyssey” struck me like a lightning bolt.

Some critics believe that her choice of words may affect the classic’s meaning.

“I want to make them see that all translations are interpretations,” she said.

The same can be said of the Bible. People curate specific texts and tailor them to pet peeves. Maybe they want women to “stay in their place,” so they quote Ephesians 5:22. They cherry-pick passages to berate gays, immigrants, trans people. You know. Anybody they don’t want in the neighborhood.

I was amazed to read an article about priests trying to deter annoying parishioners from becoming part of their church.

Sometimes we’re not even aware that we treat people who are different from us, well, differently.

It doesn’t take much to create a compassionate community. Just an open door. A kind manner. A heart for humanity.

It’s trusting that God knows what he’s doing. In a nutshell, it’s a timeless story with a happy ending. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get lost in translation.

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In the eighth grade, my best friend had a crush on the class’s most unavailable boy — unavailable in that he was dating one of the more popular girls in our class. I remember my mother telling my friend that she was so much prettier than the girl in question, but my friend didn’t see it. Probably because children (teens included) lack far-sightedness: While the “girlfriend” had almost certainly done her “blooming” already, my friend had barely begun to nudge at the edges of her life-long flowering. At 52, she is still in her prime, and as any reader of Muriel Sparks knows, “Prime is best.”

It takes time to wake up to the possibilities of ourselves and to allow the negative grip that others have on us to diminish. I think that’s why so many young people feel depression and act out on it — they can’t see the way ahead. Time is the one gift we cannot bestow on another, and it’s just the gift so many need.

In my own life, I had nightmares for years about a bully from high school. I went to an all-girls’ school, and while we did not have to contend with toxic masculinity, I am here to tell you that toxicity is just as lethal in the female of the species. In our school it took shape in passive-aggressive cattiness, sudden shifts in friendship and verbal abuse. I let this person take roost in my subconscious for years because I was afraid of her. And then a funny thing happened: Time passed.

Specifically, social media happened. And it was here that I learned the truth: She was just another struggling human being. She had no power over me or anyone else. Her life was no picnic. No one’s is. And with that knowledge, she lost her hold on my psyche. I don’t dream about her anymore. I feel, if not empathy, sympathy for her. And all it took was the passage of years.

I have a young friend who is currently contending with nightmares about a person who deeply hurt her. I long to hug her and tell her that it will take time, but healing is not only possible but probable. God has given us such a gift in time. It is not a gift we can instantaneously take advantage of, however. But maybe that’s the beauty of it. In the dark days of struggle, we learn about ourselves. And we are forced to turn outwards toward God if we are to survive at all.

I hope my young friend will keep reaching outwards and allow time to show her that those who loom large today can evaporate into nothingness tomorrow. All we need do is wake up to the power and possibility we each possess. All it takes is time. And God has that well in hand.

Too funny.  Here is the dandelion post that was supposed to go live in the wee hours of the AM.  I wish I had gotten it right the first time.  Ah, well.  Maybe someone needed to see them both.

When you see a field of dandelions, it won’t always be possible to see the wishes and opportunities they represent.  But if you try, every now and again, you may see a path before you.

–SueBE

Let’s see. What did I do this weekend?

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Well, I built a soapbox for the annoying schmoe in my life, so he can really annoy me in style.

Next, I created a showcase for the pesky things that bother me, so as to really accentuate them.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

By pouring all of our energies into the things we stand against or get irritated by or just can’t even!, without realizing it, we’re tacitly saying: I don’t want this thing in my life, so I’m going to take a selfie with it and put it into a picture frame.

Stuff happens.

Don’t give it life.

Don’t say, this is my problem or my circumstance that can’t be overcome or my Achilles’ Heel.

Don’t put that pronoun on it. It’s not yours. It’s just a thing that happened.

Don’t invest in it in that way, because when you do, you’re crowdfunding the crud.

If gum gets stuck to your shoe, you don’t build it a shrine. You scrape it off.

Here’s what it really is: A moment in time. A thing that was. A speed bump on the road.

Of course, that’s not to diminish the trauma of things that really do set into the psyche and echo, even decades later. But not everything is of that magnitude. Sometimes it’s a matter of not getting out the Dymo Label maker (dating myself there!) and putting a name tag on it.

Letting go of all of that pain clears the way for what doesn’t cause pain. For the good stuff ready to come your way.

So, unplug from that source of “disempower” and get back to your good life. Dear readers, that’s a good place to park your pronoun.

Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

This week, I found myself using this phrase more than once as I read the headlines:

Why are they like that?

For example, reading about “PharmaBro” Martin Shkreli, I found out that his idol is Donald Trump. In pictures, they seem to be doing the same smug smile.

There’s one news article that perplexed me as I wondered why people do what they do – the one about the eighty-year-old woman who delayed a flight for five hours because she threw pennies into the plane’s engine for luck. Headlines characterized her in various ways, “Elderly Passenger,” “Chinese Woman,” “Buddhist Senior.”

She didn’t do this because she’s a senior. It’s not because she’s a woman. Or Asian. Or a Buddhist.

It’s because someone told her that this was “a thing” and she believed it.

Everything we believe is information that came to us through someone in whom we have faith. Parents, teachers, siblings, friends. Pastors, priests, gurus. Nowadays, the internet.

I know people who play their “lucky numbers” in the lottery every day. A man I know hit the “bonus” on the daily lottery number one day and won $500. He was so excited. But. He’s spent five dollars A DAY on those tickets for the last twenty years. He still hasn’t broken even. Actually, if he’d put those five dollars into a jar, he’d have had a nice little nest egg by now.

Actors won’t say the name of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, instead referring to it as “The Scottish Play” because saying its name inside the theater is bad luck. (Just to be on the safe side, I’m not going to write it either! You can Google it. 🙂 Okay, it rhymes with Quack-Breath.)

We do things like this so that good luck will turn our way, or so that, at the very least, bad luck stays away from us.

If I could give advice to the woman who threw pennies into the plane’s engine for luck, it would be this: Keep the change. You’re better off flying on a wing and a prayer!

Warning: What follows may not be acceptable to sensitive readers. But that’s life.

When you are the caretaker of more than one cat, you remain in a constant state of new motherhood — that is, you have to deal with certain “outputs” on a regular basis. To put it bluntly, there’s a lot of crap involved. And urine. And vomit. Today has been one of those days. Our three elderly felines have left behind them a rash of “land mines” that I am obliged to clean up. Honestly, they were less trouble when they were kittens.

But that’s the way life goes. Unless you are so wealthy as to be insulated entirely from humanity, you probably deal with chores that you don’t care much for. There is a beautiful little children’s book in which a school janitor explains to a child why she cleans toilets by hand: It is to force herself to become used to saying small “yeses” in preparation for the “big yes” that will come at the end of her life. I often think about this character as I scoop and sanitize. By forcing myself to deal with what my cats can’t control, I get experience in dealing with what I can’t control. And that’s humbling.

We’ve had a front row seat this week to the devastation of things we can’t control, like wildfires on the west coast and hurricanes down south. It’s brutal and ugly and heartbreaking. Thousands of people are being forced to say “yes” to things they aren’t ready for. Will it make them better people? Maybe not.

But it is a reminder that we are not the authors of our own lives. We don’t get to write our own endings. Every day we must deal with a certain level of…crap. Some days more than others.

How do we get through it? For me, it all comes down to a higher power. I can’t imagine how people face catastrophes without faith. I’m not sure I could get up in the morning without it. The “faith tape” in my head goes like this: You may not understand it, you may not be happy about it, you may be struck low, but there is always someone with you who longs to make it better. And that is enough to keep me going.

The best part of my faith life? Sharing it with others. Maybe you can’t quite get to the “yes” just yet. That’s okay. I can help. Lots of people can. We are, after all, God’s hands and feet on earth. You are allowed to let someone else help with your problems once in a while. You have only to ask.

Got too much crap in your life? Take a deep breath and remember Jesus’ “big yes” on our behalf. Or give me a call. I’ve got experience with crap.

Everybody’s trying to be heard. They’re making a point, even if nothing’s being said.

Like the way my cat stalks elegantly into the kitchen, gliding over to his bowl and waiting, back foot out, tail up, as if he’s still in motion. He’s conveying, I’m moving toward this bowl, and as you can see, for some inexplicable reason, it’s not filled to overflowing. It’s only half full. Is there… some…reason for this, hooman?

When I fold laundry, I have to remember that in KitKat’s language, a folded towel reminds him of his early days when he was still getting used to being in a house for the first time. I’d fold an old towel, put it onto the floor, then the couch, then the bed, so he’d realize he could sit anywhere he liked. He was welcome here.

So one time I was folding towels near where KitKat was resting on the bed. I put one down, ready to fold the next one. He immediately got up and came over to the towel, carefully putting one foot on it, looking at me as if to say, Is this okay? Cuz I’m going to sit on this towel you put here for me. Gingerly, the next foot went on, and he looked at me, then the next, until he was sitting in a circle, purring. So nice of you to fold this fresh, clean towel for me! It’s soft and comfy. Even warm! Guess I’ll take an eighteen-hour nap now!

He looked so comfortable there that I just patted his head and went on with the laundry. In his language, he’d heard me say, Sit here, beloved feline friend. It really was a nice gesture. I wish I’d thought of it!

Sometimes I find myself getting frustrated when I pray and it seems no answer is forthcoming. But I look around and realize we’ve got a roof over our heads, food on the table, and a peaceful place to call home.

Just like a slow-blink from my KitKat. Seems to me that God sends his love without even saying a word.

On this humble blog, I talk about my health issues, since readers dealing with the same things may relate to my experiences. I’ve got MS,  so I move more slowly than most people. It also takes me longer to process information.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed while writing my post “Facebook Friends in High Places,” that our SueBE had logged in, drafted a post and put it up on the site while I was still finishing my draft! That lady sure gets stuff done.

Now, even after looking at my post for a while, I didn’t catch a glaring error until I was about to hit “publish.” I’d misspelled the name of the wonderful organization I wrote about.

The correct name is this: Skyline Urban Ministry.

What I’d written – twice, yet – was this: Skyland Urban Ministries.

So I got two of the three words wrong. Well, at least I got the word “Urban” right! Heck, I could’ve mis-named it as “Orbit” instead!

Skyland Orbit Ministries. Announcing our revolutionary new Outer Space Outreach! It gets cold on Saturn, even in August. Let’s send up some blankets and space heaters! Mission control? Let’s rocket those missionaries to Mars!

That’s one of the problems with having a condition that affects your mind. It takes longer for things to sink in. It takes longer to write a post. I can’t remember things sometimes, so I write myself lists. Of course, I can’t always remember where I put the list!

That same day, I wanted to find a prayer-poem for a friend, and remembered this one by our Lori. She can write such glorious poetry at the drop of the hat, while I’ll mull over the first line of a prayer I’m writing for days on end.

So even if I can’t accomplish a fraction of what SueBE and Lori can get done, we’re a team, so I’ll trudge along at my pace and ask God to take care of the rest. Mistakes may be made, but we’re all only human. When all is said and done, life really is a team effort.

Surely, I’m going to write about Charlottesville. How could I not write about Charlottesville? How could anyone remain silent as evil surges through the streets; as so-called “Christians” claim not to hate anyone, while in the next breath asserting that they would never break bread with a person of color; as a woman is killed by Nazis on American soil?

I need to take a breath. I feel sick.

I feel sick when I reckon that 34% of this country stands with a guy who sees no difference between White Supremacists and those brave enough to stand up to them. I feel sick when I think of the lie of history behind those “beautiful statues” (mostly dedicated in the early 1900s, when Jim Crow laws started being enacted, and the rest in the 1960s when the Civil Rights movement was burgeoning). I feel sick when I think of the hate burning in the hearts of all of those polo-shirted white guys marching with their tiki torches, as if they were waylaid en route to a suburban barbecue.

I am heart-sore. Weary. Nauseated. And yet, I know how privileged I am — what must our black friends, our Jewish friends, be thinking and feeling? It makes me want to swoon into despair.

SueBe and Ruth, my co-bloggers, have been my lights this week, reminding me not to give into the darkness. To keep my candle lit so that others can add their own little lights to it, so maybe we can make a path through the darkness and into a better place. What would I do — what would any of us do — without the support of those who “get it,” who feel as we feel and recognize that what’s on the line isn’t about politics; it’s about good versus evil?

So, for everyone out there too sick and sad and sore to grab onto the life preserver of hope, let me be an outstretched hand. Good people still exist. They’re out there. Maybe they need to make a little more noise, but they’re out there.

And I love you, and I stand with you, and I will hold out my candle defiantly, no matter what occurs. We will not let hatred win. Because no matter which biblical excerpts some people mutilate in order to justify their racism, there is one that trumps (ha!) them all: “7 My dear friends, let us love one another, since love is from God and everyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.8 Whoever fails to love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4: 7-8)

Let love mend us. Amen!

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