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Politics, Prayer, Tiny Pee, and a Poll!

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Here’s something I’ve never done before. Since the voyeurs among you seem to enjoy my occasional “journal snippets,” how about a peek into my Facebook page?

“Spare us!” you cry. I know, it sounds dull, doesn’t it? It most certainly will be for my FB friends, but for those of you not fortunate enough to receive my daily gems of wisdom, humor, and insight, witness a week in the life:

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Sad to leave the Bernie Fan Facebook page that I’ve been a part of for so long. But the vitriol and conspiracy nonsense has gotten to be too much. At first there was a good back & forth after Bernie stepped out of the race, but now they won’t approve my posts anymore – only one opinion welcome there, and it ain’t a vote for Clinton.


Oh my, trapped in the gym for forty minutes with a woman who does not believe that humans have anything to do with climate change. And she knows cause she’s a high school history teacher. I will say two things:

One — I have grown up A LOT (though my tongue hurts from biting and my throat hurts from choking back the passive-aggressive bile.)

Two: I hope our gym schedules coincide again. My heart rate was two points higher than it usually is when I do the same workout.


I was trying to remember the name of an author who wrote a little book on prayer many moons ago, so I googled it. Mistake. Now I’m getting all kinds of ads for tacky prayer books. May favorite so far is: The Battle Plan for Prayer: From Basic Training to Targeted Strategies.

And — would this be praying to the Prince of Peace?


The Most Hippie Towns in All Fifty States: This article calls for a long road trip!


Somehow I never pictured myself sitting at home on a Friday night reading The New International Commentary on the New Testament. And my guess is, neither did any of my friends! At least there’s cabernet involved.


An amateur photographer catches a bee peeing in mid-air. Cutest pee ever!

Bee Pee

Bee Pee


I shared quotes from two of my favorite authors:

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Annie Dillard

“To be open to the world is a dangerous way to live. It threatens us with learning things we’ve always been taught to reject.”

Joan Chittester


One hundred years ago today, August 20, 1916, one of the kindest, big hearted gentlemen of all time came into the world: Balous Frederick Griffin. Happy birthday, Daddy. I look forward to celebrating on the other side!

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Now, so my blog readers don’t feel left out of my exciting Facebook life, I’ve designed a special poll just for you! And, like my Facebook page, it’s all about ME! Join the fun, how do you feel about ME and my Facebook page? (Actually, I’ve just discovered this polling function, so I’m playing around. Expect to see more polls, until I get bored with them.)

Fifty Shades of Whatever

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I googled “fifty” today, mostly because I’m avoiding writing next Sunday’s sermon which is currently a 9,000-word hot mess. I’m pretending that if get my writing muscles moving by blogging about a random word prompt, I will move seamlessly back to my sermon.

My “research” turned up many sites that teach us how not to look, dress, feel, act, smell, or have sex like we are fifty or (gasp!) older. But mostly the word “fifty” just brings up the continuing obsession we have with that banal bit of sticky fluff, Fifty Shades of Grey.

I suppose that the internet is to blame. Everyone is trying to increase their PPC (pay per click) and SEO (search engine optimization) numbers — they figure that “fifty shades of anything” will bring traffic, and traffic brings sales, fame, or both.

We’ll see what kind of response I get to this blog post. Perhaps the stats will shatter everything I’ve ever written on love, world peace, racial reconciliation, grief and healing, environmental apocalypse, and similar frivolous topics.

Several of Fifty Ways to Waste Your Time & Money

  • There are the predictable spin-off books and movies, Fifty Shades of Freed, Fifty Shades Darker and so on, and of course — God save us — multiple fan fiction sites honoring the original.
  • If I weren’t a vegetarian, I’d certainly spring for the Fifty Shades of Chicken cookbook. Maybe it’s got photos of naked chicken wings and breasts in risqué poses.
  • Here’s something almost as appetizing as grey chicken: you can purchase a Mixed Pack of red and white Fifty Shades of Grey wine. Eeeew.
  • How about the Fifty Shades of Surf detergent — their “naughtiest fragrance yet?” Because that’s what I’m after when I do laundry.
  • Or the Fifty Shades of Grey teddy bear, which comes dressed in a suit and holding handcuffs and a mask? In case you are looking to draw in girls younger than the twelve-year-olds already hooked on the original sticky fluff.
  • There’s the Walmart FSOG gift basket for a mere seventy bucks — of course it has handcuffs (chrome-plated with double locks) and an eye mask, but also a theater-sized box of “Untamed Love” Hot Tamales and a large bag of Twizzlers Strawberry Twists. Plus tea and pretzels because they had to fill up the basket.
  • My personal favorite, which I want for Christmas, is a coffee table book featuring portrait-quality photographs of fifty psychotherapists in their offices. Snore.
  • For those of you with newborns, you might be interested in this one (not):

    OMG

    Fifty Shades of Tasteless

Oh wait, my fifty-second attention span has expired. I just came across this site of fifty-word fiction stories. I should really try to get published there. And then I’m going to get serious about that sermon.

The Way That You See

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Today is all about seeing, apparently. I didn’t choose this theme for the day, the universe did. Or God. Depending on how you look at it.

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First, I read today’s entry from Frederick Buechner’s Listening to Your Life, my hands-down favorite of the dozen-plus “daily readers” that I own. He says you can learn a lot from “religious observances” like weddings, bar mitzvahs, and christenings if you are in a receptive state of mind:

“The word ‘observance’ itself suggests what is perhaps the most important thing about them . . . It is life going on. It is always going on, and it is always precious. It is God that is going on. It is you who are there that is going on. As Henry James advised writers, ‘be one on whom nothing is lost.’ OBSERVE!! There are few things as important, as religious, as that.”

Then I turn on my computer and in my inbox is a daily meditation from Father Richard Rohr called “Nondual Consciousness.” This is his favorite subject, but it’s not as wonky as it sounds. It’s really about how we see ourselves and each other. Which is to say, it’s about love. Here’s an excerpt:

“You give a piece of yourself to the other. You see a piece of yourself in the other (usually unconsciously). This allows the other to do the same in return. You do not need or demand anything back from them, because you know that you are both participating in a single, Bigger Gazing and Loving  . . . You accept being accepted — for no reason and by no criteria whatsoever! . . .

To put it another way, what I let God see and accept in me also becomes what I can see and accept in myself. And even more, it becomes that whereby I see everything else. This is why it is crucial to allow God, and at least one other person, to see us in our imperfection and nakedness, as we are — rather than as we ideally wish to be. It is also why we must give others this same experience of being looked upon in their imperfection; otherwise, they will never know the essential and utterly transformative mystery of grace. This is the glue that binds the universe of persons together.

Such utterly free and gratuitous love is the only love that validates, transforms, and changes us at the deepest levels of consciousness. It is what we all desire and what we were created for. Once you allow and accept God’s love for yourself, you will almost naturally become a conduit of the same for others.”

Richard Rohr is best in small doses, like rich chocolate cake. If you liked that bit, I highly recommend reading his book, Everything Belongs. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it changed my life. It certainly changed how I see.

The Eyes of the Heart

Then I pick up my bible, which has been ever by my side lately as I work on two sermons simultaneously — remind me never to do that again! My head is a complete muddle and I have two messes on my hands, one of which is to be delivered in a week. Anyway, I come across a wonderful prayer from the apostle Paul to his friends in Ephesus, present-day Turkey. He prays that “the eyes of their hearts” would be enlightened so that they can see the hope and abundance in which they’re living. What a timely prayer for today!

Also a good reminder not spend too much time watching or reading about Donald Trump, lest my heart be filled with negativity and darkness — lest his anger and contempt seep into my heart and fill me with hate and fear. Elsewhere in the Bible, you’ll read: “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.”

Watch what you see!

Back in my email, I find the daily word prompt from WordPress is “Eyes.” Of course it is.

eye

I leave you with the words of one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite songsters, Bruce Cockburn.

It’s a verse from Child of the Wind:

Little round planet

In a big universe

Sometimes it looks blessed

Sometimes it looks cursed

Depends on what you look at obviously

But even more it depends on the way that you see

Political (R)evolution

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I’m thinking about giving Hillary some money. I wasn’t planning on it — I am at best a grudging supporter, my teary-eyed pride over a woman nominee notwithstanding. Hillary is way too conservative and cozy with corporations on the issues I care most about. She always has been; it’s her default position.

I was and still am a Bernie supporter, and now, like the majority of his flock (thank God), I trust his judgement that the only way to defeat Orange Man is to vote for Hillary. I’m grateful that Bernie has nudged HRC and the Democratic party to the left; I hope the progressives will eventually disband their circular firing squad and unite to make sure Bernie’s progress is not lost.

So this is where I’ve been for a few weeks: I will vote for HRC, but that is where it stops. I will not volunteer, I will not give money. (I generally do quite a bit of both during election years.) I was holding in reserve the possibility that if things looked bad for the Dems in New Hampshire, where I have a place to stay, I would put on my super hero outfit and fly up to volunteer in October, as I did for Kerry and Obama. But my heart wasn’t in it. It was all about stopping Trump on November 8th.

But. But. The more I read his rants and watch his finger-pointing and see his — ahem — unusual supporters, the more I realize this is not a one-off thing. This is not just about keeping his small, orange hands off the nuclear arsenal and his big, orange bigotry out of the Supreme Court.

Interesting people in Daytona Beach. Photo courtesy of Matthew Danver

Interesting people in Daytona Beach. Photo courtesy of awesome godson, Matthew Danver

Donald Trump is not going away. If he loses (God, PULEEEZE), he will claim the election was rigged. He’s already saying so. Presidential candidates do not do that. Lord knows, if anyone had a right to question the legitimacy of an election, it was Al Gore in 2000, but he chose to put what he saw as the stability of his country first.

Not Orange Man. He will continue to travel around and rant before adoring, cheering crowds in order to feed his voracious ego. He will continue to incite violence and division with his claims of a rigged election in order to prove his power over people. His narcissistic sickness will not allow him to stop.

Not in My Country!

So I’ve come to the conclusion that the “homegrown demagogue,” as President Obama (only slightly indirectly) called him, needs to be utterly repudiated, rejected, and shut down. HRC needs to win a solid majority of the electoral votes and win big in the popular vote. I had been toying with the idea of voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, since I vote in the safely blue state of Maryland where I can afford to vote on principle without fear of helping Trump. But now I think not. I want my vote to be a loud, clear NO! NOT NOW! NOT EVER! NOT IN MY COUNTRY!

And so I’m sending HRC some money. Twenty-seven bucks at a time, so she knows it’s from a progressive Bernie supporter, and hopefully some intern somewhere in the bowels of the campaign will put a check mark next to “a climate change and Citizens United voter.”

I know a couple of Bernie supporters who will yell “sell out!” at me just as harshly as the HRC die-hards were yelling “traitor!” at me a month or two ago. Save your breath, y’all. I’m not hating on you, and I’d appreciate the same. I’m having my own personal political (r)evolution where love trumps hate. You can do your own thing.

Admiring Humility

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“Whom do you admire?” It saddens me that an answer doesn’t come easily to me. When I was young, I admired all manner of people – rock stars, teachers, politicians, TV actors, scientists, activists, writers, you name it.

Nowadays not so much.

I admire certain aspects of many people, but finding an admirable whole is harder, especially a person in the public arena. I do admire the heck out of Barack Obama. He’s one of a kind, a class act, and I’m so, so grateful he pulled us out the mess we were in after the Bush years. I’d vote for a third term in a flash.

Barack-Obama-portrait-PD

Four More Years!

Other than Barack? Hmmm…

The virtue I most admire is humility, and it’s very hard to find. I am quick to identify a person’s need for approval, recognition, honor, esteem, or affection, and it turns me off big-time. The pathological version of this represented by Donald Trump utterly repulses me. Why? Because those needs are so very strong in me, and I can’t stand them! I want God to remove them immediately. But I fear the reason I long for humility in myself is at least partly so that other people will admire my humility. Which is probably why God lets me stew in my neediness.

Sigh.

Famous people aside, there are a number of humble people in my church that I admire, some suffering with disease or depression or physical pain, some teaching in troubled, low-income school districts, some caring for elderly parents, some carrying unimaginable grief, some sacrificing their time and freedom to adopt or foster or mentor needy kids. I am glad for these role models.

Thanks to WordPress for the word prompt: Admire, and I’ll leave you with Mother Theresa’s advice on cultivating humility:

To speak as little as possible of one’s self.

To mind one’s own business.

Not to want to manage other people’s affairs.

To avoid curiosity.

To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.

To pass over the mistakes of others.

To accept insults and injuries.

To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.

To be kind and gentle even under provocation.

Never to stand on one’s dignity.

To choose always the hardest.”

Carefree

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I’m sitting on the weathered wooden deck behind my cottage in rural New Hampshire watching an orange butterfly flit among orange day lilies and admiring my orange toenail polish. Presidential candidates not withstanding, orange can be a nice color. This deck is my “safe place,” the place I bring to mind when I’m working with my therapist and need to get centered and calm.

I’m supposed to be working on a sermon, but let’s be real. I am not. Instead I am in that sought-after but rarely found state of mind referred to as “mindfulness,” “being in the present moment,” or “abiding” in pastor-speak. A human being rather than a human doing. Care-free.

Usually the soundtrack in this safe place is the chiming of the grandfather clock through the open window, the chittering of goldfinch and chickadees at the feeder, and the ssshhhush of leaves being caressed by the wind. Today though, I also hear my nephew’s kids chatting over board games and reading each other comics — at least one is engaging in that fave teenage pastime of rifling through the fridge to see if there might be different snacks than there were five minutes ago.

Choosing to Be Childlike

This week marks the beginning of my annual month of hosting Jeff and his four kids here at Quiet Hills, just as my aunt hosted me all my growing-up years. Being with kids reminds me of how glorious it is to be a child, and I grow younger when I’m with them. I feel carefree.

Budding Archaeologist

Budding Archaeologist

 

Field trip to a local quartz-mica mine

Field trip to a local quartz-mica mine

Of course there are cares I could entertain, such as two un-done sermons, my cluttered home and overgrown yard at home, an upcoming meeting with my new financial planner who thinks I am insane for keeping this old house and would no doubt disapprove of the ice cream budget this month — or even the fact that a narcissistic orange megalomaniac might become president. But today right here, right now, I choose to set aside those grown-up cares and be carefree.

I’ll Save the World Next Month

I have yet to process or write much about the Wild Goose Festival that I attended just before coming here, filling my head and heart with the cares of the world: poverty and hunger, oppression and injustice, racism and white privilege, homophobia. I have pages of notes from workshops and dialogues, and the margins are full of scribbled ideas for next steps I can take to nourish my soul and save the world. There is no shortage of work for those of us trying to bring hope and healing to a hurting world — “plotting goodness” as my friend Brian calls life with Jesus.

But this month is about peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and maple walnut ice cream, day trips to the swimming hole and late-night story times, evening walks to the beaver pond and midnight-marathon board games.

Story Time

Story Time

Thanks for the carefree word prompt, WordPress Gods of the Blogosphere.

Predictably Unpredictable America

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Unpredictability. Not my favorite thing. It feels dangerous, risky. I don’t mind being seen as unpredictable myself, mind you — that seems charming, whimsical, youthful, fun. But I want to be in charge, I want to know what to expect next. I cherish the illusion that I can somehow control what happens around me, which of course is a fantasy. One never can. Especially these days.

A truck might plow through a celebratory crowd, or your office holiday party might turn into a killing field, or you might be held hostage or murdered at a night club. Or your kid could be shot at her elementary school or your husband be shot by a rogue policeman.

Or a mentally unbalanced, completely unqualified orange man who is also a pathological liar could be elected president. Anything can happen in 2016.

trump_stop

Like most people I know, I cringe when I fire up the computer each morning or turn on the radio. What awful thing has happened? In fact, the bad news — the violence and hate and racism and vitriol — has now become completely predictable.

We feel uprooted, unprotected, aghast at our world.

But maybe, just maybe, being uprooted is precisely what we need.

As the good-hearted but disengaged people of America become jarringly aware of what is happening to our collective human spirit, perhaps they will be shaken loose from their complacency. Perhaps the orange vomit of hatred that is polluting our nation has finally caught the attention of the millions of people who have been privileged enough to ignore the simmering hatred up until now. The shock of Orange Man’s success may finally disrupt the status quo.

“We have seen the enemy, and he is us.” (Walt Kelly, from the Pogo comic strip.)

At the same time, an old geezer from Vermont has awoken the sleeping masses of young people in America with a call to get involved and fight the corruption and corporate control of our nation’s political and economic systems. Who saw that coming?

Unpredictable.

I don’t know what will happen, but I think there’s a chance that as we all stand mired in this putrid, stagnant swamp, some of us will sense a new but ancient stream moving somewhere deep below, and we will thrash and kick and roil the muddy waters and make waves until we bring up fresh, clean water that everyone can drink.

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