Monday, November 24, 2014

Immigration Thoughts

The Mystery within...

Garrison Keillor’s November 22, 2014 Prairie Home Companion featured a few thoughts on immigration in a plaintiff song titled, “Tired Old World.”  His voice, the guitar, the melody, the words, all captured the melancholy sadness of the current standoff between some and our president.  I felt encouraged when Keillor’s New York City audience’s heartfelt applause came during and after Keillor’s singing the following words:

“If my heart fails to break at the sight of incredible pain,
Then this tired old world, this crazy time, is having its way.
If my mind understands every ruthless and poisonous act,
Then this tired old world, this crazy time, is having its way.

There’s some people fighting their way through this world all alone.
To care for their families they made our country their own.
If I punish the farm hand, the maid who cleans the hotel,
I’ve lost my compassion and mercy as well as myself.

If my eyes turn away just because I’ve got mine so okay,
Then this tired old world, this crazy time, is having its way.
If my life, on from here, is a life lived and driven by fear,
Then this tired old world, this crazy time, is having its way.

If I ever get to a time when it don’t bother me
to see innocent people degraded like dogs in the street,
who pick our vegetables, now our policemen expel.
Then I’ve lost my compassion and mercy as well as myself.

Men sit in Washington, adamant blocking the way,
while people are suffering, families with nothing to say.
Good people, good workers who want the good things we’ve got.
Have we lost our compassion and mercy?  I trust we have not.

If my heart fails to break at the sight of incredible pain,
Then this tired old world, this crazy time, is having its way.
Tired old world, crazy time, is having its way.

Be moved and encouraged.  Listen to Keillor sing and hear the audience applaud on November 22, 2014.  Click on Listen to the show in individual segments,” and then select “Tired Old World.”

What if we show compassion and mercy and let our voice be heard? 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dying to Live Better

The Mystery within...

The theme of this past Sunday’s service was dying teaches us how to live.  I felt a somber, yet hopeful energy, in the living room of our small gathering of mostly older adults who have lost loved ones and have grown.  But the focus was on our own inevitable end that imparts clarity for what is important in living a more meaningful life.  And while driving to this ecumenical service I had National Public Radio’s, “A Way with Words,” on in my car.  The radio show host commented how using less words are often more powerful.  When the pastor’s wife came and sat beside me after she helped her ailing husband deliver the sermon, I whispered, “Wow!”  She understood, in that one word, a genuine compliment for a job well done, and I understood in my core how less could let me live better.

What do I need less and more of in my life?  Less work, food, and hanging onto things; more play, exercise, listening, patience, acceptance, and letting go.  Learning to say “Yes” and “No” gracefully to others and myself would do the trick.
Parker Palmer’s October 15, 2014 On-Being reflection, “The Modern Violence of Over-Work,” tells how he learned to ask: “What do I want to let go of and what do I want to give myself to?”  Since we all have differing challenges, interests and talents, his words seem to be a good query for us all. 

What if we all learned to ask ourselves the right questions for a more balanced life?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mourning Politics

The Mystery within . . .
I wished a Native American friend a “Happy Thanksgiving” last week.  She smiled kindly and said, “Thanksgiving is a day of mourning for us.  We give thanks the following Friday.”  And then she invited me to come and join their feast.  My heart, mind and body received her words with grateful clarity and my voice responded, “Oh, I understand.”  The brutal politics of how the United States of America came to be is encapsulated in Native peoples day of mourning.

After the mid-term election results were announced on November 4, I was unable to turn on my television for two days.  I was in mourning and quietly fearful on where our country is heading.  Does not the past brutal formation of this country, and then the decimation of another culture through enslavement, now require remedies?  I am afraid that a powerful political majority will disregard the overwhelming evidence that early childhood programs and quality education for everyone forms the basis for a civil society.  Will the incarcerated know compassion and a chance to start over?  Will the right to vote become more cumbersome, and will more arbitrary lines be drawn to favor one ideology?  Can we justify the ever-growing gap between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of us under the veil of hard work?  Can collective bargaining ever be restored, and will the minimum wage ever be fair?  Will every human being eventually know the right to good medical care?  Is the environment, and the food we eat, in greater jeopardy of more contamination?  And will women, who hold up half the sky, be treated more fairly?  These are some of the things that make me quietly fearful.

The interviewed guest On-Being this week, Joanna Macy – A Wild Love for the World spoke to my distress.  She suggested we be present and fearless with our pain for it eventually reveals our connectedness and love for the world.  I felt common ground with Macy when she told of her growth through the tyranny of her father and subsequently leaving the dogmatic, patriarchal church in which she was raised.  My journey and healing from tyranny is similar to hers and really began in earnest when I was told to “Be not afraid.”  Through Presence, I encountered the grace of multiple Synchronicities on my everyday path.  I gradually learned how to be true to myself and began to understand how profoundly interconnected we are to everyone and all things. 

A Path Appears:  Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunities” is a new book by the same authors of “Half the Sky:  Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” (Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn).  They suggest if we become truly aware of the pain and dysfunction in our world, a path will appear showing how we can be a part of the healing.  I recently listened with keen interest to the audio version of their latest book and their telling of the effectiveness of corporations who take on a humanitarian need as a part of their overall mission.  Corporations have highly skilled people, including effective marketing staff, and can be very successful in promoting and producing needed change in the lives of many.  What would it take to get all of corporate America to take on a humanitarian need as a part of their mission?

What if we all took on a humanitarian need as part of our mission?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Slow Healing

The Mystery within...

Just like slow food cooking is better for you than fast food, I am coming to appreciate the same is true with the slow healing of my knee that I sprained a week ago.  Each day brings a little more mobility, and lessening of pain.  My slower pace allows for more keen observation and reflection.  Even though I really miss being more active, especially outdoors, I have noticed I am less anxious about what isn’t getting done.  I’ve also gotten some help with yard work from my daughter for which I am grateful.  Some ingredients for hanging on to my calm appear to be acceptance for what is, a lowering of expectations for what needs to get done, and becoming more comfortable with needing help. 
The On-Being guest Krista Tippett interviewed this past week was timely for me.  He was Dr. Bessel van der Kolk – Restoring the Body:  Yoga, EMDR, and Treating Trauma.  He is also author of “The Body Keeps the Score.”  He spoke of the importance of the social context in how trauma occurs as being very important because the body holds the memory of those sensate experiences.  My initial knee injury and subsequent surgery was the result of a cross-country skiing accident during a January thaw when I went out to work off some significant frustration.  My left ski caught a patch of mud and I did a 180-degree turn on that knee well over twenty-five years ago.  Could my knee need a talking to about its time to forget?  Or is this just a continuing learning benefit from an initial trauma?  This needs further thought and investigation.

My memoir, “God Never Hurries,” is like a cookbook on slow healing from abuse and the significant challenges in caring for parents.  My troubles have been my greatest teachers because they caused me to search for my truth, which I then found in everyday experiences and the natural world.  I learned it’s a lot easier to stay miserable than to make changes in my life.  I came to see everything as a both/and thing, got a grip on my complicity in my troubles, was infused with courage, and came to know true freedom from forgiveness.  And I am now becoming aware of a growing compassion for the other that knows no bounds.  There may be no end to trauma benefits.  Just going deeper. 

What if we saw our traumas as potentially rich training opportunities?  

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Gift in Everything

The Mystery within...

“There’s a gift in everything.”  I heard that this past weekend and I am 99.9% sure it was from Krista Tippett’s On-Being interview with Nadia Bolz-Weber, “Seeing the Underside and Seeing God: Tattoos, Tradition, and Grace.”  I didn’t take notes during the broadcast because I was just laughing a lot and enjoying the fast moving, sometimes hilarious, conversation.  If you ever want to lighten up about religion, it is certainly worth a listen.  I heard the broadcast early Sunday morning, before I sprained my knee in the late afternoon, when grandchildren and their parents were coming for a light supper and then trick or treating in my neighborhood.  As I hobbled around my kitchen in significant pain getting food together, and later resorted to my old crutches, I wondered where’s the gift in my injury?  Just anticipating that there will be one helped me be more accepting of the pain.        

I think there is more than just one gift coming my way.  To start with I am aware of a deeper sense of gratitude for all that I can still do.  First, it is my left knee that is affected which allows me to still be able to drive my car.  Second, I already had an acupuncture appointment for today and have gotten some relief and homeopathic remedies.  Third, I was on two crutches last night and today, just one.  Fourth, cars and people stop for an old lady on a crutch.  Fifth, the staining and varnishing I had to do before my front window replacement could be installed is behind me, and the remaining interior grillwork can wait.  Six, some leaves are already raked and maybe I’ll be well enough to do it again before the last leaf pick-up and final mowing.  Seven, I have plenty of food in the house.  Eight, it is a reminder that I can’t slack off on biking, outside or inside, if I am to keep my knees strong.  Nine, if I don’t heal sufficiently, this could be the final push I need to go for a knee replacement OR maybe I broke sufficient old scar tissue to eventually give me more mobility.  Ten, I could sit and put my feet up and laugh more reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s book “Pastrix: the cranky, beautiful, faith of a sinner and saint” with an opening line that was said to be unfit for public radio.   

This isn’t the first time I sprained this knee.  In “God Never Hurries” I recount a previous injury when I questioned God, “Why now?  At this most inconvenient time!  Days later several answers came…”

Now I just wish I could find some blessings for my yellow lab, Oliver, who can’t understand why were not going for our daily walk. 

What if we all really looked for the gift in everything?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Please Vote

The Mystery within...

I voted this morning, two weeks ahead of Election Day.  When I turned the corner to the village hall and saw the big American flag gently moving on a slight breeze, I felt a bit of relief in knowing that so far everyone’s right to vote is still protected, and that soon the totally tiresome campaign messages will end.  As I left my early voting ballot with the election workers I ask, “If I should get hit by a bus before November 4, will my vote still be counted?  They assured me it would.  I walked out feeling lighter and more hopeful than when I walked in.  Please vote.

When I got home I looked up the word politics in my Roget’s International Thesaurus and was further encouraged by the first definition:  “politics, polity, the art of the possible, “economics in action” [Robert La Follette].”  The big question today seems to be economics in action for whom?  Is it for some of the people or all of the people?  I much prefer a government of the people, for the people, and by the people.  Please vote.

Parker J. Palmer links politics to our humanity in his book, “Healing the Heart of Democracy:  The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit.”  Following are some excerpted words of Palmer’s thoughts that will give you a better idea of what makes real democracy possible and what it requires of us all:  “…we are all in this together…profoundly interconnected…accountable to one another; …practice deep hospitality…invite ‘otherness’; …hold tension creatively…to expand our hearts…to generate insight, energy and new life; …speak our truth checking and correcting it against the truth of others; …steady companionship of two or three kindred spirits can help us find the courage we need to speak and act as citizens.”  Please vote. 

It is so easy to get totally discouraged with the messiness in our politics.  We the people can help create a politics worthy of the human spirit.  Please vote.

What if we all worked on healing the heart of our democracy?  

Monday, October 13, 2014

A "None" Connection!

The Mystery within...

I was thrilled to come across a pertinent post on Krista Tippett’s On-Being website titled “They Call Us the “Nones,” But We’re So Much More” by Coutney E. Matin.  I began my weekly blog posts on April 1, 2013 with the first post titled “Nun, None or None of the Above.”  It was the beginning of a promise to reflect and write for three years on what I found significant for me in each week.  Though Coutney’s and my path differ significantly in age and life experiences (I left the church of my birth eleven years ago at age 60) we do, however, share a common goal, which in her words is, “looking at the burden and joy of trying to understand how to be a good human.”

Prior to starting my blog there was a period in my life when I reflected and wrote daily for three years as I struggled with a lifetime of dysfunction and my aging parents’ care needs.  I ached for truth and was desperate for answers to heart wrenching problems.  What I needed to know came from the everyday stuff of life.  I learned I could question everything and became aware of the havoc that inappropriate silence wreaks.  I came to know my complicity in my troubles, and that I was worthy of good self care.  I also became keenly aware of the subtle, systemic oppression of women, through religion. My reflecting taught me how to recycle pain and let darkness illumine the light.  Eventually those years of daily reflection and writing turned into my memoir, “God Never Hurries.”  Now this blog, “What if… God Never Hurries,” continues to grow me through reflection and connection adding depth to my life.

What if we all reflected on the everyday stuff of life to grow?