Fortezza, Umilitade, e Largo Core - Courage, Humility, and Largeness of Heart.

Friday, April 30, 2010

How do we see God?

This evening in my Praxis fellowship meeting we discussed how do we see God. Chris began by showing a clip from Ira Glass’s This American Life. People gather in the Mojave Desert to gather photographic evidence of God’s existence. These are people that are full of faith, yet they still feel the need for something tangible that they can hold close in the absence of being able to hold God close.

Last semester I took “Otherness of God,” in which we discussed the problem of addressing God as this Wholly Other, super human being. To make God approachable brings God down to the level of humanity and thereby stripping God of his/her omnipotence. Yet from the beginning of written history, humans have been trying to reconnect to the divine.

So how do we preserve the nature of God as this omnipotent, Wholly Other entity but still connect to the divine source? Do we call upon a mediator to act upon our behalf? It occurred to me that throughout history, humans have had many versions of mediators: saints, ancestors, lower level deities, etc. We pray to them to intercede on our behalf, to bring our prayers before God. Their job as mediator is to bridge the gulf between us and God.

But that is only one way to connect to the divine. While I am not above using a mediator as a way to connect to the divine, my preferred method is to see God in God’s creation. My first husband says he feels closest to God in the Grand Canyon. Most people experience that sense of awe when enjoying a vista of one type or other. For me, though, I connect to God by connecting with other people. I see the divine in each of God’s divine creations. The most basic tenet of my personal theology is to honor the divine in everyone.

Namaste: I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light, and of peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, We are one.

Many theologians have pointed out that if we all began to honor the divine in each other, many of our social ills would be solved straightaway. It seems to me that our most important divine directive is to honor God’s creation, both the earth and humanity.

Since it is late and sleep is calling me, I will wrap up with a question: How have you honored God today?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wise words to live by

Code of the West
Never go back on your word.
Never rustle another Cowgirl's horse.
Show honor and respect for all living things.
Never shoot anyone in the back.
Don't cheat.
Tell a good story.
Show courage.
Always tell the truth.
Be a trailblazer.

from the rule book for Cowgirls Ride the Trail of Truth.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

How to send off the Bride-to-be

We wanted to show Hannah some Candler love, so we all pitched in and threw her an amazing bridal shower.

The theme was Favorite Things- instead of just buying things off a registry list, guests were instructed to bring their favorite thing and be prepared to share with the group what it was and why they selected it. This allowed poor graduate students to feel that their gift was valuable without hitting the wallet too much but mainly it was an amazing opportunity for us all to get to know each other better.

I am continually amazed by the fabulous people I go to school with. I love how open their hearts are. Hannah is not a pushy bridezilla by nature, so I worried about her getting enough love and attention. The love poured out to her today was so wonderful. The love and laughter flew freely, as did the alcohol. The games were creative and so much fun! Hannah got to be girly and giddy and silly. She was the Princess for the day, complete with sash and tiara to prove it! Yet, with the focus placed squarely on Hannah, she is still genuine and generous enough that the guests were allowed to reveal a bit of themselves too. I appreciated getting to know another side of each of the guests, learning about them in a way that I might not have otherwise.

Another thing that touched my heart so deeply was all the help that was freely given to me in pulling this party together. I am normally a control freak, which tends to create a feeling of disappointment in me when people don't succeed at the impossible goals I set for them. However, Post-Lyme has forced me to learn to ask for help, to rely on others and to trust. My faith was rewarded! Ladies, truly, you are all amazing! Thank you!!

I have posted pictures from our fabulously fun day on facebook. I hope that each person will comment on the picture with their gift and share why they choose it as their favorite thing to give Hannah. (The inspiration that went into the gifts was wonderful and I would love if you would be willing to share with everyone.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Roaning Out

Roan is a coat color found in many animals, notably horses, cattle and dogs. It is defined generally as an even mixture of white and pigmented hairs that does not "gray out" or fade as the animal ages. While the roan color might occur naturally from birth, as an animal ages and naturally turns grey it creates an illusion of “roaning out.”

This last year, my hair has been getting blonder and blonder. I have always been a strawberry blonde, so I am accustomed to red hairs intermingling with blonde ones. Though I am indoors most of the time lately, due to academic pressures and health limitations, I am noticing a significant increase in the percentage of blonde hairs. In some light, they almost look grey, which sends a wave of panic through me. Friends have assured me that the hairs are indeed blonde. I reassure myself that they are blonde because the hairs are fine, where grey hairs are typically thick and coarse.

I have always hoped that I was secure enough to “age gracefully” but now that once far off possibility is coming closer to reality. I am not certain if my vanity will usurp power and if so, what form that will take: dying my hair, plastic surgery, a red corvette?

I continue to turn to the Serenity Prayer: to accept the things I cannot change. Nothing is stagnant, we are in constant flux, clinging to what is and what was will only cause suffering. Release and acceptance of this process of change creates inner harmony.

But most importantly I want to remind all of you: I am not turning grey, I am merely roaning out.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Gleeful Day!

Today has been a good day! Starting with the end and working backward: Shayanna threw a wonderful Glee party (I got my Glee cherry popped,) where I finally got to introduce Hannah to my Praxis peeps. I was able to have some quality Hannah time before she leaves to go home for the summer. I got a surprise package containing fabulous looking Smartwool socks and wind chimes from my BFF Bobi. I had a wonderful active yoga session (the first active session since I got pneumonia.) I have released attachment to salvaging this semester. (Pray, but row for the shore.) I thought I had gotten past the cognitive deficits of the Lyme but they seem to have returned when I got pneumonia. I might still be able to save one class but I am working towards not beating myself up if I have to withdraw from all my classes. I am continuing to try to break-through this brain fog- still writing and trying to read. I got an encouraging email from one of my professors. I am still tired and coughing a lot, but I made it to class today! On Thursday I leave to go home to Maryland for my 20th high school reunion. Now- bed.

Monday, April 12, 2010

True Confessions

In less than a week, I will be at my 20th high school reunion. I am normally very secure about my appearance, occupation, activities, etc even though the current circumstances of my life would push most women to neurosis. However, all of sudden I am finding myself obsessing over grooming and appearance. Wondering if I am skinny enough? Whitening my teeth, worrying about breaking a nail (really? Me, worry about my nails?)

These women are like my sisters- that is the nature of what happens in a small girls boarding school, we become family. I am sure there are some who disliked me, always have always will. But the ones who love me, love me for me- always have and always will. They don't care if my nails are perfect or my teeth are white.
I guess this is my public confession that I too am but an insecure girl inside, looking for love and acceptance and approval.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

It is all relative

Perhaps it is because my 20th high school reunion is next week, but I am finding myself using hindsight in new ways.

In 8th grade I started attending boarding school. My dorm parent and advisor, Miss Beers, seemed so old to me, so wise and so experienced. While waxing reminiscent, it occurred to me that she was probably just out of college; it turns out that she was a mere 22 years old at the time.

I wonder how I would have handled the challenges presented to my teachers if I had to face them at such a green age. At the time I resented their reaction to my acting out, but now with this new insight, my empathy grows. They were so young to address so many complicated situations and relationships. My young teachers were no older than my current classmates.

So here I am about to attend my 20th reunion, rapidly approaching 40 and I am looking both forward and back. While discussing Buddy Guy with a young classmate last night, she insisted that someone so OLD couldn’t possibly still be living. For the record, he is only 73. And this leads me to the shocking realization that I am using “73” and “only” in the same sentence. 25 years ago I thought 22 was old, now I making an argument that 73 isn’t that old and I think that my 24 year old classmates seem so young to me.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Be Here Now

Time is a human construct. Everything is right here, right now, in this moment. While there is a past that we should learn from and a future to be hopeful for, they are also in this moment. All that you will ever need has already been given to you. You are capable of overcoming all obstacles. And this is all happening in the Here and Now.

While this essay is my own, a nod of the head to Be Here Now by Ram Dass

Friday, April 2, 2010

Gimme that filet-o-fish.

I come by my quirkiness honestly- my mother was an eccentric woman.

I used to have a cat named Rubin, who I loved like he was my child. No really, my first husband and I actually thought of him as our child when making decisions for him, such as: “well, since Rubin won’t require a college education, we can take a small percentage of what we would have spent on college and put it towards his expensive vet bills.” My mother fully supported this idea, of a cat as her grandchild.

Rubin was also quirky. If he followed you into the office in order to “supervise” your work, happened to fall asleep on the job and wake up to find you gone, he would yowl uncontrollably until you returned to him. A friend house-sitting once snickered when I warned her of this behavior. When I called a few days into my vacation, she told me, “I totally didn’t believe you about Rubin but you were not kidding!” “I know,” I replied.

My quirky cat had abandonment issues. When Bill and I lived in Minneapolis, we were like many newlyweds: starting out our new life together with overwhelming debt (from the wedding and moving cross-country.) Because of this, I worked three jobs while Bill worked ungodly hours as a post-doc at the University of Minnesota. My mother was concerned about (her cat-grandchild) Rubin’s mental health with his parents being absent from the home so much. She decided to purchase a motion activated, singing fish to help fill his long, lonely hours. You might recall this trendy toy from the turn of century: it looked like a trophy fish but once activated, it would lift its head off the mounting and start singing this wonderfully obnoxious song.

“Give me back that filet-o-fish.
Give me that fish.
Give me back that filet-o-fish.
Give me that fish.
What if it were you hanging up on this wall?
If it were you in that sandwich,
you wouldn’t be laughing at all.”

Since everything old is new again, McDonalds has brought back the singing fish in a new ad campaign. The last several mornings I have been awoken to the radio spot via my alarm clock, waking me to the thought of the silliness that was openly supported in my family and the love I have for my Momma and Rubin, who have both since passed.