What you say and read

Advertising is targeted — it’s really obvious if you pay any attention at all to the ads that show up in the sidebar of a google account or a Facebook page or have every bought anything from Amazon and get on their mailing lists. Some of our other utilities try to figure out what we will like – It seems that Tivo will try to figure out by the shows you record what it thinks you might like to watch and can record things for you. It seems that programs — just like people — can draw some very odd conclusions.

There’s a story about a guy who had a Tivo that thought he was gay. When he tried to make it change its mind, by recording lots of war movies (“guy stuff”) it decided he was a crazy who wanted to see everything about Nazi bigwigs. I have ordered books from Amazon so I get email because they want to sell me everything Mary Daley and Sue Monk Kidd have every written… and watches, fancy lotions and camera equipment. Facebook sure seems to think I want desparately to lose weight and get rid wrinkles while studying photography. And just this morning, as I read my email from The Daily Gospel I found ads for The American Monk (Accelerate your spiritual growth…), Speaking in tongues today, Dr. Oz’s Real Age Test (???) and the Gnostic Bookstore. But, the ones that intrigued me the most were the learn more about the Easter Bunny and Kindergarten Sightwords.

Kind of scary, huh? I find it to be a warning to me. As one human in a community of humans, I hope that I do better at seeing the whole, real person underneath these external expressions. But, I probably don’t. We all make two mistakes — we observe through the particular focus of our own eyes, and we so often see only the things that we are keyed in to see (keyword searching, anyone?). It might be all I CAN do — so just be aware: I’m only slightly better at judging you than Google Adsense… and therefore I shall attempt to leave that judgement to God.

Self Portrait

I was reading Susan’s post this morning ( Portrait of Ourselves ) — I don’t think I have ever been so self-assured. My mistakes or missteps are more often because of being so uncertain that my view of the world is right or has any value. That may have saved me from some missteps – but it certainly has caused many others.

I am only getting to the point of “I will no longer serve that which I no longer believe in…” only in my 6th decade. Only now am I beginning to be brave enough to figure out what I no longer believe in. There are things that I have never believed in, true. But, there are some things that I have to look in the mirror and say “Honey – give it up. You just don’t believe that. Not now.” And that is rather scary to me.

I discover these things about myself often through reading – through characters I find in novels. The authors that put those stories into words do affect me by letting the characters speak and act.

Thanks Susan for the reflection — and for the focus it helps to bring to my own discovery process.

Focus

It seems that I can easily fool myself — I think I have taken the time to pay attention. But it doesn’t stick with me unless I make a real effort. And effort to be awake and mindful and not just let life slide by aimlessly.

So – yesterday I had my new camera at work when new librarians came around for a bit of a tour. I am sooooo very bad with names (names must not be very important to me). But, I’m giving it a try. I took a picture of each (good chance to reinforce any new tricks with the camera) and made a conscious effort to attach names and things about each one to the name and face. This morning I saw them again and I could remember names and where they came from before moving here.

Is that a bit like praying? Or what is necessary to actually be touched by prayer or study? Take the time. Focus on it. Be mindful of what is happening now. Absorb it. Review it. It is only those things/events/people that we take the time to focus on that stick for the long haul.

And, I really want Jesus to be in that category.

But where would I go?

Yesterday, Susan’s post Master, to whom shall we go? over at Creo en Dios! caused me to stop and consider. Susan is so good – so organized, so focussed. She is a born teacher. I follow her on Creo, and I always come away with a new, positive way to approach life and God.

On days when The Church and her many parts are frustrating me, I often find myself thinking — “I’m outta here!” I struggle with the institution. My gut screams, at times, when the it seems that the goal is not finding God and responding in with love to the gift of Jesus, but the goal is the enforcement of outer trappings. All those i’s to dot, and t’s cross. Get the official baptismal certificate for my son so he can the paperwork in place to get married. Make sure all the music is in acceptable to the powers that be for this service, or that ceremony. Shake my head at the priest who is uncomfortable with a certain devotion because it must be prayed at 3pm (and I understand his discomfort with something that seems almost superstitious) but then he turns around and becomes a hind-bound, unmovable rock with respect to the performance of other church rituals.

And then I stop – “But where would I go?” At this point I find that, just as Susan describes the path of discipleship, I have no other path that I am called to follow. I can’t leave because I can’t walk away from the Heart of the institution. I can’t walk away from the Eucharist that we celebrate. I know that other flavors of Christianity “have communion” – I’ve been there, and been a part of those celebrations. It’s not my walk. I sucked it up, and said “Yes” to joining this community when I was a college student. Even then I had my questions and my doubts, but there was no other way to go. In looking back, the decision to join the Catholic Church took more courage than going away to college, going away to grad school, going into counselling, getting married or staying married. In some ways, it was more difficult than the decision to actually be a Christian in the first place.

Where would I go? Nowhere. And when I accept that as truth, then the question begins to melt away.

“Life is Difficult”…

“Life is difficult” (Scott Peck, opening sentence of “The Road Less Travelled”). Right now I wouldn’t be so polite. The human condition sucks. We are cracked pots that leak. We are fragile — we not only inadvertantly hurt others, but we take offense and are frightened of others. We spend inordinate amounts of emotional and psychic energy protecting ourselves from the possibility of being hurt (and in the process inflict damage on others). It seems the very act of trying to hold the pot together and stop the leaks makes them that much worse.

Right now, I am falling back on Jesus — God’s Love Incarnate. An actual human being who walked this earth an showed a way of living openly so that the cracks in the human pot don’t happen. A whole and complete human person in communion with God – completely. A person who was so completely open to God that he was willing to go as far as required to show us the way — even if we tried to kill him for daring to live in this relationship with God.

Sounds like I might be running from the issues. I don’t think so. It’s that the fear and anger have grabbed me recently in such a way that make me long for the wholeness. I don’t like it a bit when someone behaves erratically and scares me. I don’t like what I find in myself when I want to swing back and knock that other person on his butt. I hate being scared. I am scared and angry when another person is totally unpredictable. I cry. I can’t speak coherent sentences. And then the tears come again and I’m really upset because I can’t make them stop and my mascara runs and my eyes are red, and when that happens I can’t even hide my distress from others. It’s frustrating and embarrassing. It’s a complete loss of control. It let’s someone see how badly I hurt.

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