Monday, December 28, 2015

Tree of Light

The Mystery within...
Before Christmas I stopped at the Care Center and brought a small nativity ornament made out of olive wood from a tree in Bethlehem to my wheelchair bound ninety plus year old friend, Ginny.  She truly loved the little ornament, which made me happy.  While I was there she wondered if the Christmas tree at her parish would now be decorated because she really would like to see it lit up and said she is planning to call a taxi to come and take her some morning to see it.  I called the church office and confirmed the tree was up and offered to come the next morning to take her to an 8:00 a.m. communion service.  She was as excited as a little child.   

There is much more than a Christmas tree that draws Ginny back to her home parish.  The house she reluctantly left is next door to the church and she wanted to see if the statue of St. Anne was still in the backyard.  We could see St. Anne standing watch over her house from a side door behind the altar; a door Ginny would open every morning to set up for the many different priests saying mass.      

Sitting at the communion service with her my thoughts went back to my relationship with my former parish--daily attendance at mass, a place where I once found solace from deep grief, and sometimes direction when I doubted my path.  But I was also keenly aware of the patriarchy that I left.  I heard it in the deacon's readings; saw it in the restricted altar; and felt freedom from it in my mind, heart and soul.  As the deacon exited I told him Ginny would like to see the Christmas tree lit and asked if he could make that happen.  He walked around the tree and then disappeared into the office.

We waited--walked around the tree, visited the manger, commented on models of the two prior church buildings that once served members now long gone, lit a candle to St. Anne and waited some more.  I then went into the office and started to tell a woman behind a desk, "I am on a mission to…" when my voice cracked and my eyes clouded with tears.  My emotion surprised me but eventually I got the rest of the sentence out, "…get the tree lights on for Ginny." I was told no one knows where the remote is to turn on the lights; they thought we left so they stopped looking for it.  I felt so let down, not just because Ginny wouldn't see the tree lit, but for all the abuse patriarchy had perpetrated in my life and the lives of countless others.

I walked back to the darkened vestibule where Ginny waited and told her I wasn't sure we would see the tree lit and I am going to go to the washroom.  I took my time, slowly and methodically washing my hands hoping she wouldn't be disappointed.  When I came out there she was aglow in a thousand tiny white lights glinting off the gold trimmings on the tree.  A teacher had found the remote for she wanted to bring her young students over to see the tree.

Though I have no doubt leaving church was the right decision for me, letting patriarchy be would not be good for the children. 

What if we all questioned our relationship with patriarchy and what we can do for the children?

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Closer Walk

The Mystery within...
The day following writing my post, Befriending Time, I took some time to walk to the beach with Oliver (my current yellow lab) who replaced Ben, who followed my original beach buddy Bear (shepherd husky mix). This past May, the day before my knee replacement surgery, along with my son, daughter and a granddaughter, we took Ben and Bear's ashes into the valley that opens to Lake Michigan.  Oliver and I now made our first return to the beach since my knee surgery.  It was a mild December afternoon--mostly cloudy inland but I could see blue sky and sunshine hugging the shoreline in the east.  The prospect of sun on my face and earth beneath my feet over road my concern for a safe trek.  I took my snowshoe poles to steady me on the uneven, and in some places, muddied and puddled path.

Worry for secure footing disappeared with each step.  I was so very grateful for coming, as was Oliver.  But I definitely felt something missing and soon identified it as a sense of very deep personal connection with my natural surroundings.  When I regularly walked here with Bear, I frequently experienced a transforming energy coming from the nature surrounding me.  It was an energy that gradually grew me and overcame my fear, opened my eyes to injustice, and led me to trust my inmost self, my feminine wisdom--God's slow work in me.  It was a very dark time in my life that shed much light.  I was reminded it was the reason I wrote "God Never Hurries" for I always wanted to remember the uniqueness of those closer walks with Light.

What if we always knew a closer walk with Light waits for us in darkness?   

Monday, December 14, 2015

Befriending Time

I have been feeling pressed for time by the wants or needs for my attention.  Now added to everything else are holiday expectations.  Didn’t we just have Christmas?  The older I get the faster time flies.  When I was a child a year dragged on for a very long time.  Now, twelve short months tick off at break neck speed.  I long to befriend time and have been pondering how to do that.

I recalled a paragraph I wrote in “God Never Hurries:”

On public radio that morning two sociologists spoke of different cultures’ concept of time and its effect.  Cultures that related more with past time lived with more guilt (example, Italy), while future oriented cultures lived more with anxiety (example, United States).  The present moment was said to be the aim, for it puts us in touch with God.  There must not have been an example of a more present moment culture for surely I would have written it down.  But I am thinking indigenous people were more present living—more in touch with everything that is—more in touch with God.  The guest also gave a definition of eternity.  It is the present moment with no past or future.  Yes, I thought, it just is—like God.

Learning to live more in the present moment is most likely key to befriending time.  Being grateful for what has gotten done, and accepting what hasn’t, would also help curb my current anxiety.  More time for myself, without guilt, also seems like a positive move.  What else would leave me more at peace with time?

What if we all periodically questioned our relationship with time?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Embracing Diversity

The Mystery within...
Howard Zinn’s brutal detailing of the horrific cruelty to native people, and later to imported black slaves, in “A Peoples History of the United States 1492 to Present,” has made me set the book aside for a while to recover. Learning of this deep darkness can grow empathy and compassion for the wronged that is needed to end derogatory thoughts and assigning inferior status to the other.   Awareness of our country’s shadowy beginnings sheds light on the lingering racism of today.  According to Carl Jung, knowing our own shadow can be pure gold for enacting positive change.  Hopefully, understanding our country’s shadow can grow us all to embrace diversity.

Can we all work on discovering and befriending the unique gifts within different cultures? Can we ask for forgiveness from the wronged?  Can we turn contempt into respect?  Can pity become admiration? Can we learn to replace hatred with love?

We are all connected to everyone and everything.  The healthiest ecosystems in the natural world are the most diverse with symbiotic relationships.  Embracing cultural diversity would improve both humanity and the natural world.

What if we all became gardeners growing diversity?