Thursday, August 30, 2018

Guns are at least *part* of the problem

The article below is worth the read. Even if you are a gun owner. Especially if you are a gun owner. Not because you should be convinced to give up your guns. But because as a gun owner you should be open to promoting and demanding responsible gun ownership. My dad, a true gun enthusiast, throws this one out whenever the subject comes up, "There's a loaded shotgun on my front porch. It's been there all week. And it hasn't gotten up and killed a single person." I've been listening to that sort of rhetoric for years. But the truth is, it's dangerous rhetoric. It's flippant. It's not even true! My dad would never leave a gun out in the elements! But if it were true, some idiot who heard him say it could go swipe it and use it to commit a crime.

Attitudes about guns are changing. People are using them to win (get the last word in, so to speak) arguments. To "express themselves," as it were, in mass shootings in schools and places intended for recreation! And those who don't use them that way, those who own them and don't use them in bad ways, are starting to use these types of flippant responses that show just as much lack of respect for the guns they claim are so important in their lives. These attitudes are promoting and perpetuating the misconceptions about what guns should and should not represent, and how they should be used.

Here is the reblog I want to share: Guns Are the Problem, Guns Are the Problem, Guns Are the Problem … | Erin Wathen

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Day on the Floor

This post was written two days ago...I just saw it when getting ready to upload a new post. But apparently I was feeling so bad that day that I didn't trust myself to be able to live with the shame of this honesty. Yesterday I started feeling my spirits lift slowly out of the pit, and today is a little better than that.  

If you suffer depression at any level, work (or wait) your way through to the next part of the cycle. Even if you don't believe it's coming! If you are considering suicide PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR HELP. If you are familiar with the feelings I describe below, realize that I don't feel the same way two days later. 



It could be anything. PMS. Peri-menopausal symptoms. The oppressively hot air outside. The amount of things to do just to be caught up, not to mention get ahead. Also, it's not like there's been a shortage of pain or trauma in my life over the last year. And it seems like when necessary I can muster up just enough energy and determination to do anything, and to be enthusiastic enough that I believe I'm becoming the person I want to be. The person who can answer yes to every, "Does anybody happen to have any _____?" Safety pins. Aspirin. Bandaids. Super powers.

It lasts enough to feel really good. And then inevitably I sink into a pit of stagnant self-loathing, self-pity, and insecurity. I spend a lot of time chastising myself. Like, it's because I drank too much last night (which always means 1 drink above my 2-drink limit) and alcohol is a depressant so I'm just living a well-deserved day of depression and misery. Trouble is, I find other reasons to explain it if I didn't drink last night.

I usually try to work my way back into my own good graces, then feel overwhelmed and go back to sleep for (hopefully) a good dream and a reboot.

There's also L-theanine, which if I don't feel TOO terrible might help a me enough energy to lift my eyes above the quicksand of poo and see a butterfly off in the distance. But have you ever felt so bad you can't bring yourself to take the cure? Like -- it's right there on top of the fridge, and all you have to do is take it down and chew up two of the minty, TUMS-like tablets and most likely feel at least some relief from the oppressive weight. But you (I) walk right past. Because I can't believe I will ever feel better again and why take a stupid mint-flavored, chewable supplement?

So that's today. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Sermon Me Not

This past week I attended the funeral of my uncle, who could easily have vied for "most gentle man ever." I remember him from a very young age, when he was dating my aunt and then right after they married and lived in a house on the street behind ours. I never saw him express ugliness, never heard him bark at his kids, never felt afraid of him. Everything he was was right there, worn like his clothes, deep all the way to his heart. As a young mother and wife, my husband (now ex) and I spent a lot of time with my aunt and uncle, as she helped me navigate breastfeeding and he encouraged my kids' dad to get his HAM radio license and then we all played with then-burgeoning technology. He taught me to write batch files and to download games from bulletin boards, and we would play a particular game over our computers while he and my kids' dad talked over their radios. He was there when my kids were born. In one instance, he used his HAM radio to tell my kids' dad to hurry back to the hospital because I was about to deliver (I had sent him out on a fool's errand because he was driving me crazy).

My uncle was born in Nigeria to missionary parents, and he and my aunt met in Campus Crusade for Christ when both in college in Austin. He did many different jobs in his lifetime, and in each of these positions made friendships with people who were drawn to his gentleness, and in most of these cases people were led to believe in Christ, very much a case of "What you have I want!" That's who he was.

Last year he was diagnosed with, treated for, and conquered leukemia. Then a couple of weeks ago he collapsed, his system having been attacked by an unknown virus. By the time they identified it and began treating it, he was in near-total organ failure, and though every day there was some spark of hope, in the end he was removed from life support and slipped away; even after life support was removed he was alert and went on for many more hours than expected, surrounded by family and, I believe, being a comfort to them before he left. He was that kind of man, husband, father, grandfather...uncle.

Now, I'm not the right-wing conservative Christian I was raised to be, and my uncle and his family for the most part toe that line. Actually a little over half my family stays in that range. So it should have been no surprise that his funeral would be a somber Baptist-esque service with a sermon-come-alter-call, complete with fire and brimstone. Actually this one was about stillborn babies rubbed with bloody sheepskins, but it's all the same. It's the grace of Jesus with the threat of horror, trotted out before a room full of grieving grandchildren who should not be hearing this shit.

I know, if you're a Christian that's part and parcel. I won't get in to why I object and how I came to my belief against church services and sermons in general. I have come to feel confident as I study the Bible and other religious texts myself, and seek out conversations and traditions outside what I was taught as a child and through my young adulthood. There is absolutely no reason on earth that I should sit still for an hour and be threatened by an angry man from behind a pulpit.


(See, the gentleness isn't as strong in uncle married into our family and shared his with us, but it's all nurture, not nature!)

My uncle's life was a sermon, an offering of grace to everyone who was blessed enough to be in his sphere of contact. During his funeral, voice after voice told stories of how they met him, how his nature touched them, and how he eventually led them to Jesus. There was NO ONE in that room that needed to be exposed to the grotesque and gory pictures "just in case" they weren't saved yet.

I think I was a little mouthy afterward and although I believe I kept my voice silent to all except the person(s) I was talking to, I visibly objected, and I was angry! The truth is, the man who delivered the sermon has been on my poo poo list for many years because of his perspectives and the manner in which he delivers them. But that's another story altogether. I may tell it one day.

Don't get me wrong...there is a time and place for teaching about what life would be without grace. But when people come together to comfort, to be comforted, to say goodbye and be held in loving tenderness while they grieve...that's not right. I have instructed my children that in NO WAY should there ever be a sermon of any kind during my funeral or at my grave or wherever they decide to dump the body. If anyone scares or threatens my precious grandbabies or great-grands ( non-gentleness will probably see me through another generation) I will come down and stomp their ass. I will be watching!!!!

Our lives should be the only sermon others ever need. Our funerals should not be a "captive audience" opportunity.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Coming Out: The Magic Edition

So here's the thing. I believe in magic. I believe that most everything around us is magic. Magic not as an illusion that one learns to fool and delight others. Magic not as a cloak of evil one wears to accomplish selfish means. Magic as an energy that moves around in the air unseen. Perhaps it is the air itself.   Perhaps air obscures our ability to recognize the magic around us. Magic as moving with that energy to accomplish good in the world we are called to minister to.

In II Kings 6:17, "...Elisha prayed and said, 'Lord, I pray Thee open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw: and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."

In a non-Biblical reference, you might consider the movie "The Sixth Sense," where at the end you realize a thing that had been obvious the entire time but you were not aware of, that even the main character was not aware of, is at the core of the story. IS the actual story. I myself have rewatched the movies many times with that new information in mind and seen more each time. The truth of the story is not changed, only the perception or the interpretation of events.

I know that the word magic has all sorts of meanings to people, ranging from fun and harmless trickery to powered-by-evil sorcery. But I want to reframe the word to explain my perspective to others. What if we replaced instances of "miracles" in the Bible with "magic," if not in actual word, in implication. Miracles are things attributed to our Creator that defied "natural" explanation. At the time, anyway....once a thing is explained and defined by scientific method, it moves from under the heading of miraculous (magic) to natural.

But I ask you...does the explanation, the moving from not being understood to being understood actually change the magical properties involved? I just don't think so. I think God made this universe so massive and so dense with mystery and wonder that a thing doesn't need humans to define it. It simply is. It is, without being understood, and it is after being understood.

Trees and plants were believed to have magical properties for millennia. One thing explained by modern science is that plant life creates oxygen. I gotta tell you, that's magic. I breathe out carbon dioxide and trees and my ivy and my rosemary convert it back into breathable, a breathable, life-sustaining substance. So eventually the process was figured out, written down and explained to children in elementary school. The gooey gel inside aloe vera cactus is great for burns. In times past, people turning to a plant for its healing properties in this way could lead to punishment for witchcraft. Now it's sold in bottles in the first aid department. Chewing on the bark of certain trees relieved pain. Now it's sold in little tablets as aspirin, and is also used to combat heart disease. I don't think these things are any less magical before they were put through studies and approved for marketing. God imbued his creations with all sorts of gifts and uses and yes, even powers. "Not verified by the FDA" does not mean a damn thing in the grand scheme of what is and is not true. 

So, I believe in magic. I believe it is God's power and energy (and I believe that power and energy are God) and that it flows in and through wherever it is welcomed. I believe God is bigger, more expansive, just more, than what is contained in the Bible. God is not confined to the records therein. Exploring the presence of God in other places and times is not evil.

Jeremiah 29:13 and you will seek Me and you will find Me when you search for me with all your heart.

Matthew 7:7-11 ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What man is there among you, if his son asks for bread will give him a stone? Or if he asks for fish will give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more then will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

I always thought (and was taught) that that was about things, but what if it's about truth? I mean, Jesus said HE was truth, and the things he talked about always seemed to defy the personal or societal norm. I am seeking with all my heart to learn what is beyond what I've been taught. I am not looking beyond God for what is true, but I am exploring beyond what is recorded in the Bible for what else is true about God and His creation and His purposes.

This is causing a LOT of flak in my personal relationships. I understand that when I stray from what is solidly known about me, it's scary for others. But just as the truths about God are not affected by our beliefs and practices (or abstinence from certain beliefs or practices), the truth about me is the same no matter who thinks what about me.

And the truth about me includes the fact that I believe in magic. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Turning Points

Yesterday was my 50th birthday. I wasn't feeling quite up to par, evidenced by just an overlay of exhaustion. We got up and Paul made me this delicious breakfast, complete with fried quick-bread donuts made with duck eggs (he called them duck nuts.... thank God they tasted good enough to get past that image). Then we basically slept again, made an obligatory effort at fun in the guise of shopping and going out to eat, and finally came home and called it an early night.

A gift from my daughter-in-law....who truly gets me.
Truth be told, I'm not that enthused today either. Paul left for work about 6 am, and when I got up at 8-something to go release the ducks and gather eggs, it was a cold and windy MF outdoors! So it will take some real effort to make anything at all of this day! Right now I'm thinking through what's absolutely necessary and watching one of the Ma and Pa Kettle movies.

It's been a hellacious year. It's been a hellacious couple of years. The whole presidential campaign, awful enough on its own but for me following sequential losses of 3 of my dogs, then losing what I had thought of as real connection with parts of my family over POLITICS of all things.... I watched the TV and Facebook just explode with hatred and condescension where once there was love and tenderness. I felt the losses keenly, one after another, until I was just so near the bottom emotionally that I THOUGHT it was the bottom.

Then my uncle died. Killed his wife and then himself. The lowest place I've ever been, and that's no lie. I've been divorced 3 times, had a couple of break-ups that were greater losses than even the divorces. Been in wrecks, had kids rebel and separate themselves from me. But losing Brann Alan completely wiped off the last speck of dust between me and the bottom and made me ONE with the bottom. Opened cans of worms that have been wriggling around in the background for all the years I've been alive, and a few before that. An old family wound ripped open, a new rift trying to sort memorials and funerals and all that business between our family and that of my uncle's wife. Allies and enemies, and old hurts reopened while new ones bled. There were pieces of me everywhere. There still are.

Doesn't that seem just too damn depressing for a birthday post? I say it all to determine that this will be a year of rebuilding. I've realized I cannot rebuild what exists on the shaky ground of insecurity and pretense, even with those whose approval I crave. So I am and will be only me. I have no desire to pick any fight, and I don't rise to too many invitations offered as taunts. I will only be me. Effy Wild says, "My vibe attracts my tribe." So me putting out safe, shallow vibes was just surrounding me with shallow relationships that couldn't withstand the testing of hard times. 

Well I'm 50 now....and fuck that! God made me me. And that's who'll be climbing out of the well of despair I found myself in.

Many people I know well, including family, are very disturbed by the changes in me, feel betrayed by my rejection of almost all things church-approved, GOP-based, conservative-minded. It has been very painful to accept, that those who could know me now see me as such a stranger. Maybe even the enemy. At the beginning my son said I seemed "deeply conflicted" as if that were a thing I needed to fix or resolve, like an illness...but it described me so truthfully that I treasure the words. Another time he said I sounded like I was going off the deep end. I looked up the idiom and it may be used to imply crazy, but it really just refers to the deep end of a swimming pool, and I decided that going off the deep end just means I am willing to move into more treacherous waters, in my effort to seek and find the truth of everything. I hope that my stubbornness isn't the only thing I passed on to him, but my realization of how much more there always is to learn.

I feel like there are deep shifts and rifts happening all around, for the better AND for the worse. Guns are becoming a factor in disagreements and expression of unhappiness. Women are reclaiming their power in a way that isn't at all about castrating men. The religions and spirituality of the world are able to see each other more for what they are (thanks to the internet and more broad-minded television programming) and less for what our "church" or preacher or even parents tell us they are. We can see each other striving to find truth even while we can clearly see others trying to suppress it. The earth is moving and shaking and those loose, ungrounded beliefs that we built upon are falling into the cracks, leaving visible what really holds us together or tears us apart.

I'm a little bummed not to be in my 40's anymore. But hello 50. Are you ready for me?