What do I do with this?

I somehow raised at least one child who falls on the opposite side of the political spectrum from her parents. She is a wonderful young woman, a wonderful Mommy to her daughter, a caring friend, a practicing Catholic. But, she probably would be an ardent Ayn Rand admirer, if she ever read the books. Can you tell I think Ayn Rand was just so wrong on so many levels?

That said, the other night I was staying over with her, and she brought up the current presidential election. I didn’t, she did. That lead to a discussion on approaches to social programs, child rearing and more. But what rather stopped me cold was when she said to me: “The difference between us is that you believe everyone is fundamentally good. I know better.”

The only response I could even think of was one that I had to bite my tongue not to say (because it would not have been said in a very nice tone): “And this is a problem because?” or “Duh! that’s what I’m going for.” She nailed it. She didn’t get my dander up really (even though I did think of some snarky responses). She caused me to pause and think “Thank you. It gives me great joy that you think that I am like that.”

This, I think, might be an instance where God let me know that on occasion, I am a witness to his overwhelming Love. It holds me up as I reflect on today’s second reading, where we are urged not to just hear the Word, but to act on it. Maybe, at times, I am able to do that. Certainly not always, but it must come through on occasion. If I ask Jesus to help me see with his eyes, how can I not be trying to see the good (or potential for good) in everyone around me?

What do I do with this? I’m still not sure, but, I am thankful that for one bright, shining moment, I was assured that I had reflected the God I know.


Last week I spent a couple of days where I had to just breathe and be in order maintain composure.

I wonder at some things — like what are folks who tend toward certain political stances afraid of? I hear the fear and self-defense of those who support the T-party. It seems that all one, with a different take on things,  has to do is breathe in their presence and all of that emotion (which to me seem to be mostly fear and hatred) belch forth like a geyser.

I’m trying to comprehend a bit of this: A relative recently proclaimed that I wear blinders because I don’t willingly listen/watch Fox News.  The fact that I strongly suspect that this relative hasn’t listened to/watched anything else in years, makes me wonder about the blinders. But, I digress… If I am in the same room with this person, and make the error of mentioning almost anything that could have political overtones, I see the claws and fangs come out. I see the defenses go up. I know, when I see that, that I am about to be called defensive.

Hmmm…. with my daughter, we seem to be able to talk a bit with one another. She actually makes statements and will listen to a response. She can articulate where we might disagree. She is open as well to hear that maybe her perception is a bit off. I find myself able to listen to her, and I think she can hear me. We come to different places, but, at least, with the 2 of us, we can have some sort of dialogue.

Not so, with some others.

And so, I breathe. In and out. Am I here? Now? Breathe. In and out. Let go. Pray for myself. Pray for those that you perceive as persecuting you. Pray for those that seem to think that you want to persecute them. Breathe. In and out. Let God be present. Breathe. In and out. Smile. Know that perhaps, it could be a positive sign — if your presence causes those who would divide instead of unite to put up defenses then you are doing something right. Breathe. In and out. Now.

Pact with the Devil

I grew up loving trips to the Gulf Coast… cross the state line into Florida and I get a feeling of HOME — and odd, deep, excitement. As a child and later a teenager, 20 something and young mother I could stay at the beach, playing in the surf and watching the waves for an eternity. My soul rests when I look out at the Gulf.

In 1977 I was a part of the scientific crew on the Machias (research vessel from the University of Miami) to do baseline studies of the Gulf prior to opening it up to oil exploration and drilling. Due to an accident, we came in to port a week early to drop off our injured worker, only to discover that the Bureau of Land Management had decided to pull all of our funding. When we got off the boat a week later, we had no jobs. And, more importantly, there would be no hard data to show what the ecology and environment in the Gulf of Mexico had been like prior to drilling. If you can’t show what was there before, it is really difficult to prove that there has been great damage. That’s politics and law.

Today I find myself grieving. I drive a car, so I’m a part of the problem. Granted, one of our cars is a hybrid (Prius); Helps with gas mileage. Still, I grieve. The damage assessment from this leaking well only seems to get worse by the hour. I hope I live to see the recovery. I pray that God will guide the hearts and minds of those who must try to stop the hemorrhaging oil well and lead them to a solution. I look in horror at the pact with the devil that humankind has made to satisfy our need for energy – coal and oil…

Yes, I’m distressed. And trying to figure out how to help straighten the mess out (without making things worse). Forgive us, Father — we really don’t know what we are doing.

Language of Love

A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I were talking and he mentioned something he had read or heard about the difficulties of understanding the various ways of expressing love. Some talk, some do. It seems I’m married to a “do-er” as it were. I’ve tried watching carefully for the past week of two to see if I can understand this. Interesting trial.

He does. He went to Walmart for something, and while there, hunted down a cable I needed for my iPod so that I could use it in the car — 2 cables, it turned out. In the past, he bought me a 12-string guitar for my birthday (one I had looked at, played and liked very much.) He calls on his way home from school (he’s a teacher so he’s off earlier than I) to see if there is anything needed at the store. There are more things that he does. Many more.

This is not my preferred communication method. It’s hard to see it. It requires work on my part to pay attention enough to see that this is his way of caring. I am much more in tune to to talking, sharing, emotion. That I understand that without so much work. But, I think this might be impossible for him.

This weekend the second reading for mass proclaims that love is the most important. Perhaps it is not only important to love, but also important to try to understand and accept the sometimes cryptic way others attempt to love us.

The Angel Gabriel

This morning my husband came out with an interesting take on the Angel Gabriel. Yesterday, the Gospel reading told the story of Zechariah being struck silent when he did questioned the idea that his wife Elizabeth would finally conceive and bear a child. Today, the Gospel relates the story of Gabriel bringing the message to Mary – who also, it seems aked “How could this be?” JP has concluded that Gabriel is sexist in a very subtle way: he expected less of Mary – (read “Oh, sweetheart, I know this is confusing — let me explain it to you [because I know you aren’t capable of understanding this].”

My husband is a teacher – a high school science teacher. He sees this subtle sort of discrimination in Education: the discrimination of diminished expectation: You’re not so capable, so I’ll make it easier for you. It’s not only how girls are sometimes descriminated against in school, it’s also how blacks were very subtly (or not so subtly) discriminated against — it’s a gently cloaked way of saying “You’re not good enough. I don’t expect that much of you.”

I’m not so sure I come away with that conclusion about these 2 stories. But, I also know that Scripture has a way of telling many stories in a single story. It illustrates to me just how a single story is there to reach us wherever we are. He is a successful, demanding science teacher who’s students often complain at the time and come back later to say “Thank you! I was so well prepared for the next step.”

In my reading of the 2 stories, I can see his point. But what might be there, that my spouse doesn’t pick up on is this: both responded with questions, but what was the attitude with which the question was asked? Was Zechariah curious? or did he close his heart and just refuse to even consider the possibility? Did he require the forceful hand to keep him humble and out of the way until the work was done? Was he arrogant? Would he have even listened to a further explanation? Was Mary more open and just plain curious? She was obviously troubled by the whole plan. From the outcome, it can be concluded that while she might have been a bit skeptical, she remained open to listening, open to possibility.

I suspect I’m not describing all of this with any great facility.

The third idea that comes from this is that JP giving me his insight is not only a gift of his insight, but a glimpse of what lies beneath in him. How he sees the stories lets me see where he is (something that is very difficult for him to do directly – maybe impossible). His response speaks even more about where he is than it does about the stories themselves.

And maybe that is the gift of understanding that I was meant to have.