Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Somebody's knocking

Somebody's knockin'
Should I let him in?
Lord it's the devil
Would you look at him?
I'd heard about him,
but I never dreamed
he'd have blue eyes and blue jeans.

Terri Gibbs (so my Internet search tells me)

I had not heard this song for eons and caught it on a West Texas country music station, about the only listening in the Sonora-Ozona area. I just loved hearing it again!

I listened to a book on CD for the drive out to the Buffalo Trails Boy Scout camp, located off the road to Fort Davis, and only got about halfway through it. I then had to put it away for the drive back -- too adult for my boys to listen along. It included a lesbian relationship and a psychopath murderer who was into things too vile to describe, except of course the author did! I was mildly interested in finding out the outcome -- this book was "Point of Origin" by Patricia Cornwell -- but not enough to try to find another 7-8 hours to finish listening. My life is complicated enough, thank you, and I'm trying to read 2 books right now without much time. I've been spending hours gearing up for Vacation Bible School next week, which I've been majorly involved with since 2005 or so.

I've been reading Carol's post on her decision to have a midlife experience, and it got me thinking. If I were to have one, what would it look like? Definitely no body piercings. But I decided I would have to retire the halo for a while.

It isn't a real one, that much is obvious. But I live with this sense of obligation to do the right thing and to spend my time in service to others. I've been doing this for years. My mom called me a chicken with its head cut off. An apt description! Part of it (most?) has been trying to be the total opposite of my mom, who seemed to spend her time reading, eating, or smoking at home for most of the time that I can recall her. I want to start saying "No!" when people ask me to do this or do that, or to serve on this or that committee. Not that I do that much, but I find it eats up hours of my time each week, even the "little" stuff.

I'm currently the deputy chair of the Finance Committee, meaning I am the heir apparent to become chairman next year. If I believed that this happened due to my innate talent and fitness for the job, that would be great. Instead, it's because no one else wants this dog of a job. It's been passed around through the years and they want some fresh blood. I've been "in prayer" about whether to accept the chairman position next year. I haven't spent much time specifically naming it when I am praying in words, but it's definitely been there in the background. I have found that what is motivating me to say yes is feeling sorry for whoever else might be dragged into the position if I step down. That's not a good enough reason.

Quite honestly, the greatest talent I have, the light that I should be showing the world, is writing.
I think I'm luckier than most people -- I have a talent! (I don't care if you beg to differ, either, nanny-nanny-boo-boo! because I know I do.) And, praise God, I know what it is. So why in God's name aren't I using it more? OK, there, it went from a thought in my head (rather shady) to a real written-down statement. It's becoming real. Pastor Janet talked one time about the difference between gifts and talents and fruits (of the spirit). Gifts and talents, we are born with. Fruits are what we actually use. The gifts and talents can just sit there for a lifetime, undeveloped, like that fig tree that Jesus cursed because it produced no fruit for him. Then it's as though they were not even there. They do no good for anyone.

I've been placing writing on the back burner, much of my life, because it's not an obvious way to glorify God. It seems downright selfish to spend time dawdling around here, though I quite enjoy it. I just don't see a definite future or immediate benefit. I don't have the patience to wait and see what might happen, if I gave this talent more of my time.

Do I fear failure? It seems weird to think that I would, since failure is mostly what I have experienced from writing thus far. I should be over that worry by now. It's just the feeling that I am doing the equivalent of navel-gazing, lint-picking. This would be a good time to post an actual photo of me picking lint from my navel, but I must admit I have never actually done this. (Have you?) There -- I did a quick inspection to make sure there were no fuzzies hiding in there. I'm pretty sure that is just a figure of speech, but who knows?

So, I am just musing along ... what if I resigned from everything, as of next year (give them time to adjust)? Sunday school teacher (that's a biggie), Education & Finance Committee, meal scheduler for the youth. But I think, if I'm not working, I still would want to do Vacation Bible School. I get a big sense of accomplishment from that one. I see how I really made a difference
and infused spirit into the Bible story, and I get to see all those kids. They remember me, too.

Here's sort of a random picture, but it speaks to me about dreams. See Randy Pausch's book for more on that. Here are two of my very favorite Disney characters, Tigger and Eeyore. The child hugging Eeyore is our own family Eeyore right now, too. And on the Tigger-to-Eeyore spectrum? I am way over by Eeyore. Very rarely am I like Tigger. But the important thing is that they are both just as lovable, and irritating, in their own unique ways.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Get real!

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:12-13

These, in my view, are perhaps the greatest verses in the entire Bible. The whole section on love ("charity") is of great comfort to me. Love is the way, the only way to live a meaningful life. Yes, that word is overused and perhaps trite, but it has to suffice.

I am, at heart, an intellectual. So I also draw strength from the promise given that one day, I shall know fully. And what a wonder that I am fully known! I can't figure myself out, but I am known.

Paul had his drawbacks, the greatest being his misogyny and disdain of marriage, but he clearly had a direct spiritual connection to God when he wrote powerful scripture like this.

Today, I did a couple of things that were quite real and linked me to the natural world and God. I cooked some of the Pavliska's beef from their cow that they raised, grazed, and slaughtered. This meat did not ooze quantities of water, nor drip fat. It was not overprocessed or hormone- or antibiotic-filled. It was quite dry. Maybe this will sound strange, but it seemed to me more filling than the processed storebought meat that we, in our spiritual poverty, typically eat. It was denser. It was real.

I also put the sheets out on the clothesline today. I love the smell and feel of laundry that has been caressed by the breeze, even if it's the deadly 100+-degree kind that has been blasting through South Texas lately! I feel a pang of regret if a load has too many small items, or things that would have to be ironed if I didn't dry them in the dryer. I now prefer my towels stiff and air-dryed. Yup, they are more real that way.

I also watered the garden and harvested more okra before the wasps drove me away. I just want to live in harmony with them, but I don't know if they realize that or not. I think they are attracted to the lush, watered plants ... an oasis in a desert. Our okra is going gang-busters, and every day I see several gigantic okra that must have been overlooked from the last harvest 2 days ago. I don't believe they can grow that quickly, can they? Andrew learned to love okra from the last time we grew it in the garden.

I have been eating a tomato a day from the garden. Now that's as real as it gets. Those storebought dry, tasteless red spheres masquerading as tomatoes -- please. You can leave those pretenders on the counter all summer, and they will never ripen. They just get harder and more dry. I remember a writer friend, Art, who wrote a rapturous short story about searching for the perfect tomato. Unfortunately, he was looking in the store. I could have told him that story would not have a happy ending.

This "real" business was written about by C.S. Lewis in one of his Christian books, "The Great Divorce." The difference between heaven and hell, in his reckoning, was chiefly that heaven was so real. Hell was false, a human-created place where neighbors couldn't stand each other and moved further and further apart. Heaven was so real that it was quite alarming to people who were used to living in their own fictional world. They preferred to stay in hell. At least it was familiar to them.

His ideas have more than a ring of truth to them. People do live in a world of their own creation, that bears little resemblance to what is really going on. Of course, this describes the human condition. It's impossible, as Paul points out, to see what is really happening, trapped in our prisons of flesh. I have no choice but to live in the first person, as do you. I try to make sense of the world with the limited senses I have. Being in contact with others, people and God, is the only way to broaden my perspective.

But so many people don't ever explore outside of themselves, or really work to understand other people as the completely unique and individual creations they all are. People get blinded by their own circumstances until they lose the charity that seeks to improve the welfare of all of God's creation.

I think we are born with the ability to empathize, but many people block off that part of themselves until it withers and dies. It can be quite painful, after all, to be aware of all the suffering out there. A child with terminal brain cancer; children starving to death and dying of preventable diseases; the trees and grass and animals crying out for water; people losing love and becoming more entrenched in hatred and violence; the list is endless, isn't it?

For people who can tap into God's all-encompassing love, it is possible to not just be aware of a multitude of problems, but to do something positive to help, without being completely overwhelmed. But even the most saintly people do become overwhelmed at times, even Jesus. Even Mother Teresa. You have to allow it to happen and have the faith that God will pull you through, somehow. Too many people covet their own lives, their own welfare, their own money and possessions, and purposefully blind themselves to how they could help others.

Even though I write this, it does not mean that I have reached this stage of enlightenment. But I believe in the power of thoughts, that become words, that become actions. Guard thoughts, for they are the gateway to the soul.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Staying connected

Pray continually.

That is hard to do, especially when I don't sense God. I feel disconnected and discombobulated today, a headache lingering on, the type that hit me before I even woke up this morning. I did not enjoy the cruise ... much! I don't like crowds of people and don't like being stuck in one place, as we were, for 5 of the 7 days (no matter how many football fields long it is). I did not appreciate all the cigarette smoke in the hallways either. We skipped a stop in Cozumel because of the swine flu ... what's that?!

I was also sick, really sick for a couple of days & feeling the lingering after-effects the rest of the week. At one time I had that awful feeling of being about to pass out, plus throw up, at the same time! I think by then, I was a little dehydrated.

I didn't do either, and never actually threw up but felt like I needed to. Maybe it's because I took anti-seasick pills and then bought some accupressure cuffs to stop the nausea. It probably would have been better just to get it out of my system, but I really, REALLY hate to throw up.

Most of all, I felt out of place. I am no seafarer, and I'm not a cruiser either, I discovered. I think I could have guessed this about myself. So now I'm back on solid ground, but my brain is still bobbing at sea somewhere!

Here's me & hubby, on the cruise. (Why does my neck always look so stringy in pics nowadays?)

Father Richard Rohr (and Eckhart Tolle) talk about getting away from the mind and how important that is. Father Rohr talks about contemplative prayer, while Tolle talks about fully inhabiting the present moment, where the mind never is. These things are very hard for me, because I identify myself so completely with my mind. I live an internal life and spend a lot of time observing my thoughts just scurrying around, like squirrels chasing each other, looking for a way to come out (thus the blog). The thoughts are not me, but they are very important to me.

I have a terrible memory for most events, places, people, because my mind keeps me so preoccupied much of the time. This is just how I am. I also think my mind is a channel, at times, of enormous creative energy, not my own. When it happens, it is my best reason for being alive.

I don't know that I could write a good fiction book, because I lack that attention to external detail that makes most books and their characters come alive. I always appreciate writers who are able to convey characters so convincingly.

I feel unplugged from God right now, thus the centering quote at the beginning. I think I left God behind when I left on the cruise! The kids both had late curfews while onboard (11, and midnight), and I certainly did a lot of praying to get them back safely to the cabin. But that was selfish prayer. It was really more like, God, please don't hurt me! I can't stand that kind of pain!

I need to pray and I cannot right now. How can I pray when I don't feel that divine presence? I feel lost right now. I have faith that it won't last, though.

Knock, and the door will be opened to you. Seek, and you shall find.

Here's a little comic relief. One son tells me the other has been in the bathroom for "like, the past hour." We didn't notice. We are wondering, if we don't tell him it is time to come out, how long he will actually spend in there. I'm not naming names here, but this son needs to be told things like it's time to come out of the bathroom. I suspect I was very much like this when I was a child. I think he may grow up to be a physicist, because they know (or suspect, at least) that time is just a human invention and isn't real. Then he will have the last laugh!

Search This Blog