Not sure how this all fits together. My first reflections this morning were on how to “let go” — I read the readings before mass; I thought of Solomon asking for wisdom and letting go of his own glory. I reflected on Jesus’ words about finding a treasure and selling all to be able to buy the field where the treasure lay. So many ways to let go of what is no longer useful.
I thought about the gospel and how the fishing net collects many things which are sorted later — and what is good and necessary is kept, and the rest thrown away. So many times I’ve not been willing to throw the net and see what is caught before I throw things away. I want to decide ahead of time what I will catch and keep. My judgement first.
As I listened to the choir practice before mass I realized that it was going to be difficult to “go with the flow.” I hear the music at a different tempo than those who lead it at church. I felt called to try to let go of what didn’t really matter, to let go of my own way and try to follow the timing of that other drummer without all the negative stuff. That’s hard.
You see, there is no closure. When I let go of the timing I hear in the music it’s a small death. When I can’t let go of my drummer and fail to enjoy the other drumbeat, it’s a small death. There is no winning or losing. I must accept both. So, I can get closure in either direction.
I can’t say I succeeded. The closing song was sung at a tempo that felt dirge-like to me. It might have been beautiful to others, but it sucked the life and energy out of me. I can say I made a stab at letting go of how I would have led it and in that way I could search for a certain beauty/joy in the way it was sung. Perhaps one day I will be able to appreciate it. Perhaps not. But certainly, it’s not an anger of frustration that deserves to hold on to my life and my spirit. It just is a different approach to the music. And, the music is what calls me and soothes my soul.
I’ll try to focus more on what’s good and important and let the rest of it work itself out.
Wish me luck.
I’ve pondered this budget that the new President has thrown out for consideration. I’ve listened to those, like Senator Ryan, who make claims about cutting out services as “an act of mercy.” I listened to those who voted for a candidate who is definitely not going to make their lives any better — who seem to vote in opposition to their own good. I’ve struggled with a feeling of superiority when I think I have a better way.
The source of all these ills it seems is Pride. Yup. Those currently in the White House are very proud of their own success. Senator Ryan it seems is very sure that his position and benefits are completely due to his own work. He is proud of himself and his accomplishments and is sure that those who have failed financially, relationship-wise and otherwise are simply not putting out the effort. He wants to push them to work hard and be proud. Those in coal country and others who voted for the current administration so often did so because they seek to be in a place where they can feel proud… no handouts, nobody to be as good as them, no need for a little help from their friends, no need to acknowledge that the Prosperity Gospel is not Christian Gospel.
And myself — I have to fight being proud that I don’t subscribe to so many of those ideas. Once you start thinking you are humble, you are not humble.
Yes, I believe that the government should serve the people. I believe that at least basic health care is as much a right as food and water and not being beaten up and abused by your neighbors. Yes, I think that tax dollars should support the common good such as the EPA, arts and humanities organizations, health care and food security — oh, and clean drinking water. On the political spectrum I probably tend a bit toward socialism, if that’s what you have to be to believe that the government is there to serve and protect the populace.
And still, I find that my beliefs cannot be allowed to make me feel proud and superior to those who see the world differently. These beliefs must call me to prayer. They must call me to a place where I respect others even while I disagree vehemently with them. If I let pride drive my actions, I find it all to easy to make fun of the other instead of pushing for justice.
Yeah — I know, they make it all to easy to make fun… but the results aren’t going to be any fun at all.
Yesterday marked 50 years since “Bloody Sunday” — the first attempt by non-violent protesters to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama as a part of the march to Montgomery. The behavior of the State Troopers and other local law enforcement is a black mark on the soul of Alabama. It left scars that may never completely heal, both on those who were working for voting rights and those who sought to maintain the status quo.
Today at mass, after communion we heard a lovely, soulful piano rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” It is a good thing that my mascara is waterproof. Images filled my head — the juxtaposition of the attitudes and beliefs of various family members clashed with each other and with society.
I grew up in Alabama in the 50’s and 60’s. I am of an age to remember asking about White and Colored water fountains, restrooms and movie theater entrances. I have memories of seeing the news on TV when Bull Connor turned the dogs loose; I remember George Wallace in the door at the University of Alabama. JFL’s assassination and Martin Luther King’s assassination are real life events for me. It was very confusing. Why were the asian and other international families more or less accepted and the black families not? (yes, those families that were sort of accepted were generally scientists employed at TVA); Why would someone shoot a US president or a black Baptist preacher?
In my world, we still stood for Dixie with even more pride that the Star Spangled Banner. The only version of that other song (Battle Hymn of the Republic) that we sang generally had words that were making fun of school or striking out at other things that children like to rail about.I could sing them now and type them out, but they seem so petty and mean at this point in my life. My father held a deep distrust, and maybe even hatred of Catholics. And yet, this morning I was moved to tears as I sat in a Catholic Church listening to the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
One song brings memories of another. Past life plays a role in shaping current life. Injuries, like the injustice, fear and just plain meanness at the Edmund Pettus Bridge leave scars. Even when the injuries heal, the scars are often left behind. I’m thinking that is not a bad thing to have to see and accept the scars along with the beauty. It is difficult to accept and forgive my home. Today, as in the past, Alabama shows off her wounds and her meanness and her stupidity (and seems to want to brag about them!). Some days I want to take this state, its people and its government, and just shake it and holler “You are better than this! You know better! Stop it!” But then, I must love her, scars, fear, hatred, love, smiles, Auburn football and all.
The jays, mockingbirds and brown thrashers out back are not pleased with me these days. It has nothing to do with my playing Angry Birds (oh, yes, I’ve been playing Angry Birds and enjoying slingshotting birds of various capabilities with varying success at blowing up green pigs in all sort of houses… but I digress).
We have blueberry bushes out back, with an abundance of berries which are ripening up nicely. The birds and I disagree over who should get most of the crop. So, a couple of days ago we covered the bushes with bird netting to inhibit the birds’ ability to steal the berries. They have squawked and fussed at me. I have run at them flapping my arms like a human scarecrow. I’m winning, I think.
Competition for resources is a part of life. My spiritual life leads me to try to live in the parameters of “share” and there will be enough for everybody (even the birds, I guess). But, for now, I’m taking the hard line. There is other food for those birds in my yard. There is enough to go around. I just want the blueberries. The birds can have the worms, the grubs, the pine nuts, the acorns — the nectar (I saw a humming bird the other day).
Something to ponder… while I eat the blueberries.
A couple of weeks ago, I thought I probably overdid the weight on a certain exercise at the gym and it seemed for several days that I had strained an exterior oblique. Pain. It takes a pretty strong dose of over-the-counter stuff to make it quit hurting. Then there was itching, and the skin got really sensitive, and a puffy rash appeared. It dawned on me, “Maybe it’s not just a pulled muscle.” Turns out I was right – it was shingles.
Why am I thinking about this (other than the ever present discomfort for nearly 2 weeks)? I was feeling really whimpy about complaining about this pain in light of what some of my friends are enduring, when a friend observed – “just because someone else has more pain doesn’t really diminish your pain.” Ah – I’m back at pushing my own feelings aside because I don’t deem them to be of the same caliber as someone else’s feelings. Funny how just acknowledging that makes it easier to deal with. It makes it possible to try to do something to help correct my own issue, so I can be available to be present for someone else’s needs.
As for the shingles, I got to the doc (I needed some pain relief) before they really fully broke out. Got a diagnosis and an antiviral prescription. It took nearly a week for the pain to stop, but in my checking around, this seems to have been a very quick recovery. There’s a lesson there somewhere. It seems that I had to pay attention to my own pain and seek healing so that I could get back to a place of being able to help others cope with their pain.
I’m glad to be over that pain.