Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Tale for the Times

I was raised in a city, in a little shack.

Okay, so I do love me some Ray Charles. But I WAS raised in a city, not far from Los Angeles, in a very fine suburb, in a very fine time.

Mom, Dad, my seven siblings and I all enjoyed countless seashore and cultural outings, trips to Disneyland, camping excursions south of the border, a friendly and safe neighborhood for all the years we shared our lives. Always shy and retiring, I followed everyone else's lead and found great joy in doing so.

It was an elementary school librarian who provoked the city mouse in me to wonder: what am I missing? If life is but a dream in California, why am I so enchanted now with the life of a country mouse?

No, it wasn't the tale of "The City Mouse and the Country Mouse" I was prodded me to read. It was "The Little House in the Big Woods", which led to every book in the series. Oh, so enchanting--to think of less-populated, wide open spaces with panoramic views, a place to grow food and get closer to earth's beginnings, to grow a family and live more as was originally intended.

Into the future these fourth grade thoughts persisted. As newlyweds, my husband got on board....but acreage in California? Not by any stretch of our imaginations, or California dreamin'.

How does one (or one couple) perfectly content with big city life change their minds about it? Neither of us had complaints; good memories and ties abounded for both of us. Yet something was tugging at our heartstrings, inexorably.

Was it was the John Denver songs? Well, we did go to Colorado. We built a life and started our family there, which came to feel (for me) a mesh of the country mouse and Laura Ingalls Wilder (who we cannot call a mouse!), married to her man, dedicated to home and children, thriving on a western prairie.

Life was good in Colorado, too. But "something" got in the way. Circumstances of life, and our perceptions of what to do about it. There was no turning back to the urban life in California.

Now, my siblings and other family on the West Coast would tell you life there never stopped being good. I'm a distant viewer into the windows of their world, and I can attest, they live life to the fullest. They love it, and nothing fazes them for dealing with the intensity of population there.

And somehow, I know if we had stayed there, California would feel like second skin to us, too.

I think of a movie wherein an older couple has always lived together in a New York apartment, "Five Flights Up". The thick of NYC feels like second skin to them, they know the ropes better than any millennials on the block. But in dealing with the stresses of making the "change" they feel is expected of them at their ages, they soon learn: "this is what we know, this is what we love, let's just stay."

And so they do; a final scene shows the husband still scaling the stairs jauntily, down to a street level coffee house, cappuccinos and pastries in hand, back upstairs to his contented wife.

That ending makes me want a corner café within walking distance, too. I LOVE the thought, but NO....

My 4th grade thoughts still reign. We have lived in Wisconsin for nearly 30 years now, in the middle of acreage we never dreamed of, far from the madding (or maddening!) crowd. The weather here mostly doesn't cooperate for walks to the corner café, and there isn't one there anyway.

It takes my own efforts for our cappuccinos, and it takes gumption in the middle of winter for a house mouse to leave her nest, even for her nuts and seeds. So I stock up some, and my "Almanzo" drops me from a warm car to the door of the grocery store when we run low.

We count on things like snow-blowers and snow plows, salted roads and self-inspired fortitude. It takes things like a "God-wink"--my favorite grocery store EVER going in about 15 minutes from our lonely setting. The best "fixings" for everything are sold there, and home-made cappuccinos are like second skin to me.

But still I wonder: What makes two people fairly content with their "homeland" end up so far away? How do yearnings arise, how do things sustain those yearnings unto increased contentedness?

I don't know. We could go into a multitude of detailing, how the urban surpasses the rural, and vice versa. The city mouse hypes up the culture of its surroundings, as does the country mouse in contrast.

I think I just happen to believe, what is meant to be, will be. It doesn't matter what our circumstances look like, how many arrows dart about us. Will we be pierced by the least of what we want, or uplifted by the most we didn't even imagine?

All I know is that from our grandkids' local back-to-school book fair recently, a copy of "The City Mouse and the Country Mouse" came home to our house. It's timeless telling validated all the longings I've ever had, about a quiet, close-to-the-earth life, along the lines I think was originally meant to be.

The timeless never loses value, and what will be, will be.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Can We All Just Get ALONG....somewhat??

About the ages-old need to iron out societal differences: is it time to stop trying?

I am not a source of wisdom on this, but a recent coffee date (with a long-lost acquaintance) convinces me to dare say: the time is now for consideration of letting some chips fall where they may.

My coffee date was with a person well-regarded by many for reasons unique to her singularly. I hope in reverse, I am a person like that, too.

Some years ago (I say with confidence) there wasn't a whole lot this acquaintance and I saw differently. We were right on board with so many things, I am sure we could have talked about everything and anything and it would have been nothing but a peace and love fest. We didn't spend a lot of time together, but we were unified on a couple of societal issues we occasionally got together about. We supported each other's ideals mutually.

Now, things have changed. We are still the same two people, but we are each drawing on our innate cores as never before, because the emergent issues of these intense times call on us to do so. We still agree on some very important things, on others not so much, on some not at all.

The "not at all" could destroy things, I have realized, so that even coffee together seemed a challenging undertaking. Knowing this, I initiated getting-together anyway, because my plan was to focus on what we did agree about, and to be friendly and inquisitive about her very fascinating life. To have fun "catching up", as she so perfectly put it, when she accepted my invitation.

I knew current events would come up, as they did--to provoke revelations (from me) that would displease her. I kept my revelations to a minimum, but was true to myself. Thankfully it was not that hard to emphasize that which we still feel similarly about; we had a good visit and all was well when as we parted. Perhaps not so weirdly, it helped that although we are friends, we have not become social media "friends"--we mostly "guessed" at our current status on personal beliefs.

But....WHEW!! I felt like I dodged a bullet. Why? Because, as she very naturally spoke on matters she assumed I felt the same about, I distinctly felt the "vibes" that to over-talk these views would change the whole dynamics of our commonalities.

We are in a place where people cannot agree to disagree, where every day we are being told that to not take a stand, is to take a stand. We are in a place where love and peace are being fought for valiantly, but always with potential for volatility.

We're in a place where people who disagree cannot fathom the literal and figurative places others come from. The cultures and influences of our upraising, our faith teachings (or lack of), the places we grew up, our circumstances, even within a single family. Our eventual immersions at our comings-of-age and beyond, who and what drives us toward the directions we take--all tethered to what is innate in our cores.

A big indicator of how far apart people are is in the overuse of the SAME defamatory terminology, people using the same exact words, one against the other, "left AND right". We can't ALL be haters and bigots, can we? To care enough to accuse, don't some have to be lovers and broad-minded? By whose definition do we go? Aren't ALL of us persisting to be on the side of "right", in EARNEST? It's not dramatics, it's not ignorance of forethought, it's painful sincerity, to the core. And it is disrespected, this where-people-are-coming-from thing.

It appears the argument about who knows best will thrive until kingdom comes, and some of us believe that literally. It's sad to say we respect right-to-opinion but are so intensely grieved over (opposing) opinion itself. Hasn't this morphed into as big a problem as not respecting right-to-opinion would be, if we fell to that low?

Have we come to a place where it might be more helpful to accept: if we're going to still try to get along, we're going to need, while in each other's company, to stay on topics of commonality? Aren't we going to need to follow in everyday life the protocol of striving for a big, happy Thanksgiving dinner?

What's so bad about that? We still have our legislators (faulty as they are, they are what we have!) to bring the votes we urge before us. We still have written words and thoughts to share on social media platforms, to support and promote our preferences. We can share a share, we can decline to comment or comment peaceably, we can scroll on, we can just look at the recipes.

I don't think it's a "cave" at all to wonder, to retreat at the futility of regressive argument--argument that sets us back irrevocably. I believe the biblical words that remind and forewarn: hearts will harden (against God) and some will never, ever soften. According to the scholars, hearts will and have indeed been (further) hardened by God Himself, in order to use people (like Pharoah, for example) as a backdrop to usher in His awesome power.

The "hardening of hearts" is fodder for more argument: Who defines the criteria truly representative of a universally true and accepted definition of real love for and between humanity, and whose hearts are hardened to the correct truth?

I know Who I believe defines correct truth, but the trouble is, so does everyone else! When the summations are increasingly inflammatory, unchangeably persistent, and divisive, where is the good in talking things out, as if minds could be reversed and hearts made mellow?

I say: have that coffee or pot of tea, or glass of wine with that person who can't be mellowed your way. Talk about anything but what you'd like to mellow them toward. Love people and don't worry about the things they love that you don't.

Do unto them as you would have them do unto you, and let some chips fall where they may!!

Friday, June 23, 2017

"Wherefore We Come"

Is it a sad truth that we are better off, and better-liked, with zipped lips?

I thought of this when enjoying a rural view recently, of an Amish (possibly Mennonite) farmer in a farm field, plowing earth with horses. In the Midwest at least, these people are largely admired by others, even enchanting to most.

We flock to their bakery and produce tables at the farmer's markets, lining up to their "sold-out" end, while other vendors look askance, but enviably so. We strike up conversations wherever we can, trying to hear firsthand small tidbits of their lives. We purchase their quilts at double the price of others, and book seatings months in advance at their homey (but undeniably commercial) banquets...or so I hear.

In holding "the worldly" at a distance, the Amish send out a mysterious lure. People want to know more, and get closer. But if an Amish person stays true to course, this will not happen.

Even so, because we are intrigued, we research what is available, and then we respect their privacy, as well we should, to pursue our own ways of living.

Because we know what we know, we know that to some persons, there is not a lot of difference between any Christian and an Amish person--except that you will not see or hear what they believe about a God-driven life through any social media or public venue. They will not openly criticize an opposing view, and they will not defend their own view.

They just won't. They are to be separate from worldly ways and views, and this affects every aspect of their lives. They are busy in pursuing isolated, worshipful, older-world living and there will be no excuses, no explaining, and little to no involvement with those outside their sect.

It is the way of their world not to be swayed by ours. And even though they share space (earth) with us, they are not overly concerned with understanding or blending with us.

Despite motivations quite aligned with the tenets of Christianity, it would seem evident that because the Amish stay quiet, they stay loved. They are admired, respected, left to live their lives without pressures to conform to modernity.

They are not judged. There is no modern, progressive thinker scorning their Source of Wisdom, deeming it hateful and mean-spirited--degrading to a whole new description the Word of God as if were hate speech in its most literate form.

It is only when Godly people speak to defend or explain or simply declare firm belief in this same Word that rankle arises, sending forth bitter assumptions and accusations. The same could be said when other people speak, and against Godly principles.

How sad is this? And who started what first? Does how it started matter as much as how it ends?

Oh, that we could ALL seek to understand truly wherefore we come, and that our biggest enemy is what eyes will not see and ears will not hear.

This goes both ways! Refusing to know where people come from (as in essence, the Amish seem to do)is fine if we have been born into the culture, and the culture sustains us. Refusing to know where people come from is even moderately still fine if all we propose to do is coexist on the planet. But for those who dream of true kinships beyond the scope of like minds, dropping lip-service and seeking real understanding DOES matter.

I'll be honest. Sometimes I want to be Amish! I bet sometimes everybody does, if without the restraints. We just want to live left to our own desires, harmoniously if possible and peaceably at the very least.

What does conformity for the purpose of peace and harmony entail? It entails the impossible because inauthentic conformity is a simmer too apt to rage toward an authentic boil-over.

Anyway, as I understand it the Amish aren't taking anyone who is not their own. You have to be born into the culture, just as we were (most of us) born still-tethered into our own unique, distinctive cultures.

Most of us would say that within most of our cultures, we are more encouraged to partake of society, and even influence it if we can.

How to influence--the beauty or the horror of it is all in the respective eye-of-the-beholder. Either way, declining to state wherefore we come from closes doors to understanding. We can't be sure the idyllic image of an intriguing lifestyle proves it all that great, and we can't know what really drives the dynamics of lifestyles we for sure prefer to avoid.

Take handmade tamales, for example, and I know you would if you could. (Bear with me) Tamales are a highlight of my cultural food; most persons of my heritage would say we Mexicans should not be expected to live without tamales! Indeed, when I left California as a young woman and found myself with no authentic options for purchasing tamales, I had to learn to make my own.

Making tamales at home wasn't a hardship, but when I think of my siblings who could at the drop of a key into the ignition have fresh tamales anytime within a few miles, it was at the very least an involved venture. AND when a niece contacted me last Christmas to inquire for hints about tamale-making for a group attempt the family was making together, I have to admit it was a hard resist not to give myself a pat on the back for decades of single-handedly making them alone, thousands of miles away.

The thing is, we NEED our tamales and will do what it takes to have them. It is one single but definitive highlight of our culture, just as venison is in the Midwest. When we arrived to Wisconsin we quickly learned how much a staple venison is here, and that it cannot be bought in a store. It is hunted, the act itself a family and friends tradition; the culmination being a freezer full of meats and sausages, and drawers filled with jerky--sustaining food for families for months to come.

Which brings me to: (bear with me!!) a 2008 campaign trail observation by our former president, (also then-candidate Barack Obama) intimating that embittered folks across the Midwest choose to "cling" to religion and guns, against the progressive tide of modern times. Although his opposition at the time jumped on the condescending tone of the remark, she too in 2016 lumped such voters into a "basket of deplorables"--once again, not understanding where people are coming from.

People are coming from where they're coming FROM, literally. Across the land, beyond essential food traditions, we can't without a fight take away other particulars of a culture from people, either. If excessive tamales become linked to excess obesity or over-the-top guns result in over-the-top numbers in PEOPLE getting killed, we can and do have those conversations. We CAN alter what should be altered and fight to what degrees, but we cannot take away culture without first understanding where it is coming from.

This morning I listened to a very progressive mind rant about the immorality of Christians, who do not support and promote liberal social platforms. With vehemence she declared that not to support and uphold all persons in "equality" is not moral; her body language and facial expressions rife with the passion she earnestly felt.

I was intrigued with this evident passion, but it was also crystal clear she did not understand in the least where Christians "are coming from." Although dissenters abound and are free to be such, most Christians hold to biblical tenets not because they are rigid and most Christians enjoy BEING rigid--they hold to biblical tenets because the tenets are THERE. They are what they are. We read fully and we see Godly directives on love of humankind for one another, we know His immeasurable grace but so too His wrath when lines are crossed.

It is not our job to impede others because we know that, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord," (12:17-19 NKJV) HE is judge, we are not; our only job is to uphold our respective lives and lead to Word, as Word itself says it all.

By leading to Word, we offer the eternal possibilities for humankind, and THAT is the MOST moral thing we can do--want for others what we hope for ourselves.

Of course, those who embrace science only and reject God do not want to be "saved." But even with this certainty is another certainty: most often, within all circles of loved ones, there is love for others who love God and also love for those who can't. There is respectful resistance not to scorn our loved ones for their dissenting ways. Instead, we do our best to lead by example, believing always that good will prevail.

Believing always that good will prevail--isn't that how most people operate, or at least hope? We can think like the Amish, and separate ourselves, or we can think socially integrative and try to meld. We can fall somewhere in-between. We can live in isolation and cordon ourselves off from the world, or we can extend ourselves to "get the word" out...whether it is holy Word or more humbly, OUR words and thoughts.

Whatever we choose, we need to know wherefore others come. The Amish evidently did at one time, and came to a full-blown conclusion they wanted little or nothing to do with us! They have this right, as we have the right to do likewise or in contrast.

What none of us has the right to do is dismiss the wherefores of what brings people to who they are. I reside in a literal bubble of rural isolation, a place that inspires the contemplatively spiritual. But I have recently lingered over books and studies I haven't before, and I bought a book of science recently--urged upon me by a God-fearing man. Just a few chapters in, I've yet to see why. He claimed there is a reason, and I trust there is.

I am reminded that I did read "Origin of the Species" as a teenager, coaxed toward it by my cousin Ralph, who had it on his bookshelf. Both of us were raised Catholic, but it didn't put a dent in our belief in God. It did open our eyes to a view from an opposing side, and it opened the door to understanding that which we did not feel fully explained our beginnings.

Not agreement. But better understanding...a place from which we could still feel the good, solid ground of community, under our feet.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Judgement Unaware

Let's get real about "equality".

Have you noticed that one person's victory at feeling "equal" very often means someone else doesn't get what they want?

Have you noticed that common signifiers for equality have to do with physical characteristics and mental well-being? Things like being treated equitably despite color of skin, origin of culture and country, economic status, gender and sexual identity, feeling welcome and wanted whether one is svelte or obese, well-dressed and groomed or NOT well-groomed and offensively sloppy, obviously intelligent or obviously compromised in brain matter?

We all realize that when it comes to mindful matters, no one can SEE opinion; it first has to be conveyed. Have you noticed that when opinion IS expressed, if it does not conform to a preferred status quo of agenda, the rules change? Diversity and acceptance so fought-for across many stratums is met suddenly with resistance, with intent or hope to conform.

"That's no way to think" we might as well all say. We might as well bluntly say we will stand by people and try to help when they are being treated unfairly in ways we sympathize with--but we MUST draw the line at diversity of thought that rubs us the wrong way.

Diversity of thought, when linked to action,(i.e. any motion to arrive at an outcome) means someone's going to be unhappy, shortchanged, treated inequitably, regarded with disrespect. When rights or preferences won negate the rights and preferences of others, this is how things work; it is not rocket science.

And who is the judge of what kinds of thoughts and rights are best for all? We all know what the political divides insinuate--but clearly, identifying as a Democrat or as a Republican now is but a shadow of what it was, not so long ago.

The harder choice today is deciding if any choice we have is a real choice. We can cry "independent" and many do. But until there is substantive "clout" to being "independent" most will continue to succumb to an evolved status of being "a liberal Democrat" or a "conservative Republican", because anything in-between is like sand across wide-gapped floorboards.

Could anything be harder than sticking with a party that espouses equality while denying freedom of thought with seething judgement? On the other hand, could anything be harder than embracing a party you were raised to believe least represented the downtrodden? Sometimes a choice just doesn't feel like a choice.

We are preaching to the choir when we only seek those who think as we do. To respect an intellect only until it differs does not itself seem an intelligent response. To demean and insult, to become embittered by differing thought is clearly not an equitable reaction. It is not a "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" reaction.

If we are ones begrudging our neighbors diversity of thought and judging while at it, we are part of the problem, regardless. But an equality not freely given still requires the equality be allowed. Whether opposing action accompanies divergent thinking or not is up to the powers that be, the forces in play.

Wherefore we come from, whether we believe in a godless or a God-filled fate, "So it was written, so shall it be done" speaks to us all. All the divergent thinking in the world seems to change things only temporarily and in fluctuating stability: "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

But be without hope? Without trust that folks HAVE to have different strokes? Without certainty that no person EVER will be in true charge of separating chaff from wheat?

NOPE. Going to have trust, and derive from it plenty of HOPE. In these dark times, more than ever.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Home, my Happiest Place

Home may be my happiest place, but it would be a guilt trip if I let it.

This world has its way of pulling you in, making you take stock, measuring you up, compelling you toward something more than yourself.

This may be how it should be, but these times surprise me. I come from the freest-thinking generation I think has ever been, and I never expected to "progress" towards regress.

It used to be we could really be ourselves. We could try this or that approach to life, and whatever it was, when someone asked what drove your "spirit", their response was almost always "that's cool."

That's cool. That's fine. It's not for me, but you go right ahead. I like to do "my thing" but hey, let's do something sometime.

And we really did do something sometimes. No judging, no condemning, no trying to sway big thoughts. People really did live and let live, even if in private there were more emboldened thoughts of dissent.

Even if there were emboldened acts towards rights. Marches, protests, demonstrations, love-ins, sit-ins, hunger strikes, bed-ins ala John and Yoko. Some of this stuff resulted in not much more than raised-eyebrows, some of it resulted in real change. All of it resulted in real thought.

I don't think it's a stretch to say we've never seen an era (this one) of more "real change" occurring in a relatively short time. I also don't think it's a stretch to say that although big changes have occurred, there is as much desire to lose some of the change as there is to keep and build on it.

We are just there, in the thick of push-and-pull. We are just here, in the throes of communicating as never before--and have you ever seen this extent of persuasive articulation toward respective certainties that, "THIS is the world we should all want to live in"??

I haven't, and I bite. I want to know the thinking behind what I disagree with, and I want to feel supported by thinking I am in harmony with. I love validation, as do we all, and I'm human enough to enjoy a little vindication too, when I read others' words expressed in a way I haven't succeeded with--words I can "share" nonetheless.

But the bible says vengeance is not ours. I've come to believe in the bible, but I need to undertake the full understanding that the bible might mean as little as nothing to someone else. I need to absorb this, even as I push it...because the bible tells me I must push it.

So I push what I gather undisputedly--what there is mostly consensus about, by true scholars of the book. Others push what they gather in opposition, from sources and toward ends THEY feel are indisputably more worthy. Accomplished effectively, we bring each other to pause, at least in pockets and folds.

This big war going on about who is more moral, who is more "right"....where will it bring us? What can we do to uphold the "side" we are on? What good can we do? Must the good we do be politically or religiously motivated, directly connected
to the current tides?

The "good" I've done has nothing to do with any side of any thing or for any grand end. I just have always known I liked to nurture with food! So I have prepared meals in my home and taken them to people who appreciated them. I've cooked and also volunteered to home-deliver meals for and from our local senior nutrition center, where I learned a long-ago lesson about the good we do that has nothing to do toward any grand end.

You just present warm, lovely food, and people BEAM. They light up. They receive the meal in their kitchens, because they are homebound, and usually this means they are lonely, too. They beckon you in, as if you didn't have a list of others to deliver to, as if you hopefully have time to chat a spell.

And you know you DON'T have the time, but you MAKE the time. If only for a moment. When someone really pulls at your heartstrings, you go back, on your own dime and your own time. And you are every bit as fulfilled as they are.

Except toward my family members, that is almost the extent of the good I've done in this life. I'm more of a retreater than a marcher, and cooking for others has got to be good enough!

Personally I'm fine with this "good", but there is a whole lot of pressure going on now, to march and serve on boards and demonstrate our passions in a multitude of benevolent ways. The trouble with paying too much attention to the noise is that you can't hear your own voice...and this is where guilt can rule.

I have decided not to let it! My "comfort" zone of home also BRINGS comfort to others (if mostly to my family members these days) and it has never been politically or religiously motivated.

I love that however we struggle with our places in the world, it is a most wonderful life-hack to show love without answering to people-pressures.

Now God-pressure, that's another thing...but He must love me, to have found me this answer! I believe it, and I have received it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Don't Make Me Come Over There!!

If you ARE a parent or if you HAVE a parent, you know this much: Parents never give up wanting the best for their children, in every way.

In our own parenting we "get it" more easily, but as adults we remain independently averse to following our own parents' "rule of law."

We just do. We don't have to be rude about things, we don't have to be "in-your-face" about things, but we ARE going to differ in some ways and we ARE going to act on them.

But some of us ARE rude, or "in-your-face" by stubborn, affecting behaviors--actions that impact whole families, relationships within, and respective lives involved, particularly one's own.

Our child's own life. THIS is what we care about most.

There is a story in my family, of a son who passed from this earth in self-destruction--his parents could do nothing to save him. For several years they tried every approach, and finally they came to a day of "tough love."

The stance of "tough love" backfired on them. There was no chance for reversal; the tactic brought its result, and it concluded in heartbreak. But they had one more son to save, and for him they decided "tough love" never again.

We parents, and OUR parents, just so often fly by the seat of our pants. We can go by recommended schools of thought and advisements, but most often we just have to take things one day at a time, being as proactive as our circumstances allow. So many of us do the best we can and HOPE, others do the best we can and PRAY.

I recently read an article where the introductory catch-line claimed that the worst thing people can say to others (in any circumstance) is, "I will pray for you."

The author was offended by prayer; but prayerful people would consider this the benevolent thing to do toward a loved one's interests. In a world where actions speak louder than words, even prayerful people will do what they can to promote the safety and wellness of their children.

We just do. We act, and we worry...but worry, a prayerful person knows, is the antithesis of prayer. It is the thing that undermines the mission and hope of prayer, because it implies distrust. It implies a lack of faith--first that God cares about us enough to help, and second it implies disbelief that He will help us to our end, even if we think He does care.

We are torn between the truth of other people's unanswered prayers (to the end they prayed), we are torn about being deserving, we are torn about the facts-of-life and that suffering is all around us--we are torn about many, many things.

Being torn will always bring us to indecisiveness. Indecisiveness leads to putting things off--as in putting off if we will pray shallowly or in earnest, if we will pray or believe at all.

Have you seen the movie "The War Room"? A "spirited" elderly woman serves a young "seeking" woman a cup of lukewarm coffee, and the younger turns from it in distaste. The message is we need to have "heat" (passion) in this life, for many things to be the best they will be. We need to be "on fire."

I once asked a Catholic nun what a day in her life was like. While she was (is) active and on-the-go in her Godly work, most days are spent with the majority of its hours in prayer.

When I heard this I thought, well, that's an easy life. That's a good way to live in a comfortable place with all your needs met daily. Not in sarcasm did I think that! I sincerely thought: "What an easy way to make a good life."

I don't see it that way anymore. I see prayer as something you have to be earnest about, "on fire." Prayer needs passion, and a person whose life is devoted to prayer has to feel this passion towards other people's needs. They also have to pray for people who may not even be praying for themselves, people who haven't asked for prayer but whose loved ones have on their behalf. There is no fooling God about our earnestness; this woman took a vow and has to fulfill it, always in earnest! Always in the high hopes of others.

And what about people who haven't asked for prayer, who would indeed scorn it and reject it if you ventured to say, "I will pray for you..." to them?

What about children whose very attitudes defy you to pray for them? Those whose actions make clear even if they're not entirely averse to prayer, they are not wanting the change that just might weirdly come through prayer?

I personally defer to the ultimate Parent and what He directs. If all is fair in love and the war of free-thinking minds, we who pray are entitled to pray for those who won't. I'm not sure what the contrasting response would be to this, but we who pray are called to pray, and good luck trying to tell us the worst thing we can do is what we are called to do!

And herein lies the gist of this entry: If a loving parent will always want the best for their child, it stands to reason that a loving child will always see the good their parent hopes for them. This means that prayerful people will always answer to their Parent Most High--about furthering His ways and His words to their own children.

This "I will pray for you" thing?? It's an honoring-your-parent and loving-your-child kind of thing! And don't make me come over there to tell you this firsthand!!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

It's a Dream Thing

On a gloomy day, do you ever ride the roads home glancing for lamplight in the houses along the way?

It must be a pioneer thing, but I do it every chance I get. A light in a window makes me think of LIFE, and how God intended it should be lived. A sheltering home and family within, small comforts and needed sustenance, love in its purest and most essential form.

It's a "dream" thing too, because from the beginning of time, life has always morphed into complicated.

I think of "light" as something more than wattage, of course. I think of it as adversarial to dark, as in darkness of life and global circumstances. A soft glow is all I need, an insistent, evocative lure that reassures about the sweetness of simplicity, about the good to be drawn toward.

I am the first to concede there is not much modern or exciting going on in my own lamplight. I like the modern conveniences, but even these are most basic--if there is such a thing as basic in some things "nowadays." If something comes with too many bells and whistles, I own it only because it didn't come in a less-complicated model.

My spouse and I "bypass" a lot of stuff in our daily living; we could be accused of being boring or of not living life "to the fullest." But I like to think we're attracted to the lamplight of how life was meant to be lived long ago, when there weren't so many options (in everything) to choose from.

Call us old-fashioned, which we never would have minded. Until recently, when it seems "old-fashioned" has become a loathed way to be. The term implies way too much, some of which we DO mind.

I think what all people mind most about being "categorized" is the assumptions that come with; the resulting perceptions really only arrived at by the perceptions the perceiver is limited to, by his/her own world views.

I wish this "light" bulb (of a moment for me) would never flicker, but alas, it will and does, and I venture to say in other heads, too. In my steadiest flame, I want the world to know: I know that my limitations in world view do not and should not limit others. Likewise, if I want to live within some limitations of past times, the choice of that should not be affected by the choices of others.

It should not be diminished in validation, or demeaned. A further venture is to say that when those who choose to follow older-world views are so now maligned with the "expired" date of their thinking, what do we become guilty of?

Pushback. We are pushing back, not (most of us) cramming anything down anyone's throat. But yes, it is conceded--pushing back this hard was not nearly as needed before--when we were in our "time" and element, when we were the undeniable majority--an easy place to be. Sure, we always promoted our views, a required prerequisite of, for example, our following of Christianity.

But have you lived long enough to notice that in prior decades (and certainly without social media involved) people just didn't push that hard their beliefs? Here too is a concession: disbelievers in "our" time did not feel they dared to have a "bright" place in the light, THEIR light. People stayed quieter, until their inner voices raged outward, in the company of like minds, toward modern-day issues across many stratums.

And so here we are, one (or more, let us not assume two "categories" fit all mindsets) pushing with force across boundaries that we know well and good should be respected.

Even the Bible tells us this. Humankind was not given free will so that others in humankind could damn anyone to hell. It's not our place!! We are only to lead toward the possibilities of eternal life, through God's Word, provided clearly, with very few misinterpretations abided.

This for me means I need to follow a mellow light, a golden glow of the "essentials" in daily living. God, home, its comforts and labors, family, love, sustenance as needed and in ways needed, until kingdom comes.
I love that. I love that I'm okay with a literal "less is plenty" in my experiential times on this earth. I believe it was what was originally intended!! AND, I'm going to camp with the grandkids, perhaps in a remote corner of our property (a friend just told me this is the very best place) and maybe, POSSIBLY, somewhere more exotic!!

And so, if "light" extends itself to us, I think too of people on a farm-place like ours, who lived in a time of no literal light, of the magnitude we know today. I picture the young men who traversed the distance between our house and a barn in the dark of the evening, only by the guide of a dim oil lamp. I think of the woman in the kitchen, who flicked a switch in amazement one day, after the rural electrical cooperative came in and wired for a "brilliant" bulb to light her workspace.

I think of God, who in the first place (my belief) allowed man to develop electricity, giving us greater light. The sky has seemed the limit since then, for the light we enjoy and in other modern advances--which seem to have (in time) "advanced" our general thinking and ways.

But I conclude this: in our very current times, no amount of man-made light seems to be advancing the peace and harmony of the original "glow" intended for our lives. Our Lord Jesus, sent by the Father, remains the giver of light! And while we have become accustomed to much more than the sun and the moon, His promise of being the light of the world remains.

Happy Resurrection Day to all; Jesus was and IS the Son of God--He
alone gives light to our days!!