Christmas WishesSilence at nightand Peace on earthJoy to the worldfrom Love incarnateThe warmth of True Communionsweetened with ForgivenessAmazing Grace unmeasureda little holiday Magic
1. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (100%)
2. Baha'i Faith (89%)
3. Liberal Quakers (85%)
4. Unitarian Universalism (78%)
5. Orthodox Quaker (75%)
6. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (74%)
7. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (70%)
8. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (66%)
9. Jehovah's Witness (66%)
10. Neo-Pagan (61%)
11. Mahayana Buddhism (61%)
12. New Age (58%)
13. Sikhism (58%)
14. Seventh Day Adventist (57%)
15. Theravada Buddhism (52%)
16. Hinduism (51%)
17. Reform Judaism (49%)
18. Eastern Orthodox (48%)
19. Roman Catholic (48%)
20. New Thought (46%)
21. Orthodox Judaism (45%)
22. Jainism (41%)
23. Taoism (41%)
24. Secular Humanism (39%)
25. Islam (35%)
26. Scientology (32%)
27. Nontheist (19%)
solitary and sterile of sickly sweet grape
We each take our piece
the body we’ve bought – tiny crackers, unbroken
“Do this in remembrance of me.”
What have we become –
a communion of cowards?
What’s sacred in this –
a simple scion’s snack?
“Do this in remembrance of me.”
Remember the wine –
bittersweet broken bliss
suffering sanguine sweat
Remember the bread –
bared, battered, bruised, belittled
silent solitary submission
The act of exchange –
My life for your loss
My loss for your love
My love for your life
Will I choose for my brother, my sister, my friend –
Will I choose for my traitor, my betrayer, my foe –
the one-on-one, sacred,
the bidirectional, literal
If I can’t share the wine of your sorrow
and the bread of your pain, your passion, your person
Then who am I to bear burden the name of the ONE
for Whom we do THIS in remembrance?
“Do THIS in remembrance of me.”
I write to remember;
I falter in forgetting
the delicate strength of you:
I run to know I'm worthy;
I hide to know you'll see...
I hurt you.
Strength within the sweetness,
Grace within your gaze,
Passion in your promise...
I hurt you.
Things you strain to tell me,
that somehow I don't hear --
Caught up in my selfishness,
and only you know why...
I hurt you.
There's nowhere else that I can go --
Nowhere left to hide --
I lose myself in you.
I see myself inside your eyes
reflecting only love,
Pure and simple
free of guilt
I've offered you my broken soul
in pieces at your feet;
You pull me close to hear your heart
that softly beats for me.
But if -- or when -- I question this,
'cause we both know I will,
Just bring me to this moment
and pull me closer still.
Today, we packed the kids up, along with our dessert (thank you, Emeril, for the lovely Cranberry-Apple Crisp), and followed my parents up to Arlene and Ken’s for Thanksgiving dinner. As we traveled the two hours north toward the area where I spent my elementary school years, I was marveling at how much and yet how little I recognized on the trip.
It’s been roughly 20-25 years since I’ve lived in northern PA. Times change. Places change. There are Walmarts where there weren’t before and empty shells of broken buildings that used to be McDonald’s. The intersection of Tedd’s Landing has changed over time, but remains basically the same as in my memory.
When we pulled off of the main road and into the little towns between the highway and our destination, I was saddened to see the buildings with cracked windows, fractured like my memories of them. Paint peeling, removing the once-held beauty that still remained in my memory. The little store that the school bus used to stop at for penny candy on the way home from school on Friday’s has, not only changed hands so many times that I’ve lost track of whether it still exists, but isn’t even where I thought it was in my mental map.
Suddenly, as we turned onto entirely unfamiliar roads, I was struck with the realization that I had never been to my aunt and uncle’s house. See, not only had their towns changed over time, but so had their lives. The garage that my uncle had owned, with the soda machine outside for which my little brother and I used to beg quarters, and the little house that I “grew up in” next to it was no longer my aunt and uncle’s home.
So we went to a new house today. An unfamiliar house. A house that wasn’t my “home” as I remembered it. A house with a huge blow-up turkey outside. We thought we had the wrong house, except their name was on the mailbox. We laughed and teased my Mennonite Deacon uncle that the next time we visited we’d see Santa or the Easter Bunny, but he assured us he was merely “turkey sitting” for the out-of-town neighbors who insisted that our children would enjoy it.
It was a cute house, but it wasn’t “home” and I doubt it will ever be the same as visiting them in the old house. It’s a feeling much like I had the first time we visited them after their dog Heidi had passed away, the Australian Sheepdog they’d owned since before I was even born. Something was just missing or out of place. But it was much deeper, far more shattered and unsettling of a feeling, like the year after my cousin, Brenda, their only child had suddenly passed away.
At least some things have stayed the same. The women still belong in the kitchen and the men in the living room prior to the meal (except for me and my hubby – but that would be an entirely different post). My aunt’s stuffing is still the absolute best in the world. There are still leftover cold turkey sandwiches for supper. And there is still the ongoing friendly “rivalry” between me and my cousin’s husband Johnny.
All of this today just makes me wonder how many other things in my life have changed. How static is our past? Does it change based on how we remember it? If enough people believe that something happened in the past, can we assume it to be true? What is the difference between truth and reality and memory?
See what nostalgia does to me? Or maybe it’s just the tryptophan from the turkey.
- My love of music. When I was in high school, I sang all the time. I sang lead on the youth worship team, had solo parts in nearly every musical I was in, and could rarely be seen NOT singing something. When I went to college, tried out for choir and was told that since I couldn't read music, they didn't want me. This was a huge blow to me and my ego. In a last ditch attempt to salvage that part of me, I took a music theory course, was told that since I wasn't a major, it didn't matter whether I "got it or not", and ended the semester with a "C". For the next 10-11 years, the only time I sang (except for extremely rare occasions) was in the shower, or my car... alone!
- My love of writing. I ended up majoring in English in college with a concentration in writing. I was published in several campus magazines, edited the feature section of the school paper, and was introduced by my favorite poetry professor as a "poet" to one of her colleagues at a dinner for the big-wigs. After college, I got a job as a school librarian and taught creative writing for a couple years. Then life happened, I stopped working for the school, and I stopped writing. For the next 6-7 years, the only time I wrote anything was if I was directly asked to do so for job-related responsibilities.
- My love of encouraging others -- the song that God gave me to sing. This happened over time. I don't even know how. When you have a passion for pushing people to stretch beyond themselves to be the person (s)he created them to be, you get a lot of backlash. People don't so much appreciate it. So, over time, I just stopped. And for however long it's been, this passion has been embroiled solely in cynicism, if and when I allow it to come out at all.
- There is the obvious point of Obama being the first black president (and for that matter, the first non-white-male president) in US History.
- A passion for politics has been re-ignited for the younger voters, and renewed hope has been offered to a lot of people who have been (up to this point) disenfranchised and disillusioned with American politics
- Obama has proven that campaigning as it was previously done is no longer fully effective. He ran the first positive ad campaign in recent history and made proper use of the internet as a grass-roots campaigning tool
- Perhaps our status as a country will now switch to one that works WITH the world in which we live instead of AGAINST it. I think we're looking at a new era in politics.
- A weekend away with my hubby. This requires the cooperation of his bosses, extra random money from... somewhere, and someone to agree to keep my kids for the weekend.
- Money for the kid's savings accounts. They need so little now, but the costs of education and other "big ticket" items for their future is climbing steadily.
- Time & attention from people that we love. I'd rather spend an afternoon sitting and chatting with you over a nice cuppa (pick your pleasure) than sending gifts back and forth making the mailmen miserable.
- The ability to give -- and teach our kids the importance of giving sacrificially. Money and time are tight for everyone. Donate volunteer hours or money in our names to someone who truly needs help. Pick an organization that you know we support or a cause that you know we're passionate about. (Need some help: World Wildlife Federation, Bethany Christian Services, Water Street Rescue Mission, Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services... and that's just suggestions)
For My Little Man
He opens his mind and looks right through me,
Sitting with silent tears falling on broken dreams
“Mommy,” he breathes from somewhere beside me
“Why can’t we see kisses?”
Annoyed, I pretend not to hear
His innocent question outside himself
So caught up in myself and my pain
“Mommy…” he persists, “Mommy!”
“Yes, Little One?” I answer wearily.
Then God opens his mouth and he asks me again,
“Why can’t you see my kisses?”
Stunned, I stop and look at my child.
“I don’t know, Love,” I finally answer,
“But I see them when I look at you.”
- That I've written at all
- That I have 50,000 words logged for November -- whether it's all the novel or a combination of "words"
- That I have finished something
- That I learn a few things about myself in the process, and hopefully become a "better" person for it
- Jesus was neither republican nor democrat; He wasn't even American. The chances of Him being WHITE are slim to none. He grew up in the MIDDLE EAST. Furthermore, Jesus was NOT a Christian (as a matter of clarity, He was, in fact, a Jew). Therefore, claiming that you have the market cornered on what Jesus wants either politically or religiously is just plain... ignorant.
- Jesus also said that we would know our brothers and sisters by the fruit they bear. Integrity, compassion, justice for all... they speak volumes.
- Freedom of Religion in our country means freedom of ALL religions, not just Christianity. While I am troubled by the fact that my children can't pray in a public school (and therefore PRACTICE their freedom of religion), I'm not overly bothered by it. Every religion should be treated the same in a country that professes freedom of religion. And (to borrow a phrase from my pastor) "Please hear me": It's my PARENTAL responsibility to teach my children about God and how to talk to Him/Her. It is NO ONE else's, not the school's and not the church's.
- Separation of Church and state is not a constitutional concept. The phrase was (I believe) coined in a personal document (a letter?) that Thomas Jefferson wrote. This means that it is NOT a constitutional right to have a separation... However, we are NOT a CHRISTIAN nation. If we are going to profess to constitutionally provide freedom of religion, we can't have our government aligning with any particular religion -- including our personal favorite.
- Jesus told us to CARE for orphans and widows. He admonished Peter to "feed my sheep." The Acts church shared everything and made sure that not one of them was in need for anything. That sounds like a socialist society to me. Granted it was the church. And when the church steps up and does its job as it should, we won't need the government to do so. In the meantime, however, it IS the government's job to manage the economy, to maintain a balance in its income and its spending budget. It is the government's job to see that the needs of the people it governs are being met. Friends have told me that it's not their responsibility to spend their hard-earned cash to pay for someone else's medical bills. This makes me so sad. I can't imagine those same people saying that to Jesus' face. "Whatever you do to the least of these..."
- The fatal flaw in the "Pro-life" agenda is that the situation is never as black and white as we'd like it to be. Keeping people from killing babies through abortion doesn't take into consideration any of the circumstances, and the LIFE of the mother. I don't wanna see abortions happen either, folks. I cry inside every time I hear about abortions or any abuse to children. HOWEVER, there is so much more to the politics behind the abortion bills (like silly riders that are attached to bills -- which often cause the bills to become multi-layered) and the fact that if there weren't options available to women, in their desperation, many of them would seek unsafe measures. So, let's work on providing them with education and choices and help to guide them to the right choice in LOVE.
"...I'm not letting go of God, I'm just losing my grip..." (Over the Rhine, When I Go)
"'Tis better to have loved and lost/Than never to have loved at all." (Alfred Lord Tennyson)
- I lack in motivation. I think I've mentioned this before. Part of my particular brand of depression manifests in severe procrastination due to lack of motivation.
- I'm a creature of habit. That means if there isn't a routine in my life, then NOTHING will EVER happen.
- I am also a perfectionist. This is a problem for me because if something is going to be done, I want it done RIGHT. This leads to the fact that if I'm not capable of doing something RIGHT, there is no point to doing it at all.
- I set unrealistic expectations frequently. I want to be the best and I expect those around me to be the best. Not that setting standards for oneself is bad, but when you set them as high as I tend to, that's just a recipe for disaster and a guarantee of feeling like a complete and utter failure!
- If I don't accomplish SOMETHING productive in the course of my day, I start to feel guilty and beat myself up about it. This leads to more depression and cycles me through these four problems over and over into a downward spiral...
- I need to set goals for myself DAILY. I set goals every night for the next day (or first thing in the morning when I wake up). This helps me to know exactly what I need to accomplish, helps me sleep at night (because I don't lie awake thinking about whether I'm gonna remember any given obligation before it's too late), and provides a "fair" measure of my productivity each day.
- Because I know that my motivation is not high (less so some days than others) and that my day is filled with pint-sized interruptions, I set my bar low. I gauge it to how I'm feeling that day. Obviously if I'm tired, sick, or incredibly down on any given day, I've learned to cut myself a break and set either "easy" goals or less goals for the day.
- I send my goals to my hubby and mother-in-law. This whole goal thing was my mother-in-law's idea in the first place, trying to help both of us snap out of the motivational slump we've been in of late. Accountability means that I am more motivated to actually accomplish my goals... or at least work toward them.
- When I set my new goals for the day, I review my progress on my goals from the day before. Again... a "fair measurement" of my productivity and the ability to keep myself "in check" as far as my expectations go.
- Self-esteem goal: Smile & Know I'm Loved
- Physical goal: Wii-Fit Workout (20-30 min)
- Household goal: Clean Kitchen
- Emotional goal: Write or Create something (20-30 min)
- Relational goal: Spend time with hubby (20-30 min at least)
- Relational goal: Playing with kids (20-30 min at least)
- Spiritual goal: Relax (20-30 min)
night musicshe stealssilentlyacross the sunless roomsearching her loversleepinghe ishiding his realityin his realm of hallucinationotherwise known asdreamsand she loves him more because of itshe seduces himin his real-less realityand enhances his nature with her ownthey mergeinto a moment of magicwhere all things shimmerand the last glimmerof realityfadesbut morning comes and life awakensleaving his lover alone(28 may 1999)