Tuesday, November 17, 2020

How do you reconcile?

 I am not sure why Americans are so set on individualism and being right. Perhaps its our founding fathers, or the pioneers that were imperialists that saw those there before them as uncivilized instead of different. That somehow its still so highly prevalent in society to have non-collectivist thoughts. That we say we want to protect the most vulnerable and the supposed truly religious will fight every election for the rights of the unborn, but then absolutely turn their back on every other hurting most vulnerable group because it doesn't line up with their ideals. That somehow because they have lost their innocence in the world, somehow that makes them less vulnerable. Perhaps its that they are harder to deal with, scars and bumps and bruises and all. But how did they get those scars, from our own want to be right, to be in power, to be comfortable in what we know. It's absolutely difficult to truly want to get outside of one's comfort zone. We instead a lot of times will do the bare minimum to feel better about ourselves. And if someone does go above and beyond we think we could never do that or that they are crazy or just a Saint for doing so. Are we then actually trying to be Saints for Jesus, or are we just trying to get by in our comfy homes without distress?

I read the book Kristin Lavaransdatter about two years ago, and it still sticks with me. She was someone that struggled internally and externally with her choices and still felt it her duty to help the helpless and in the end she actually died from giving dignity to another. It's difficult for some of us to see our own sacrifices as something that is saint making, but instead we see them as maddening, and perhaps its because we are absolutely terrible at boundary setting. Yes, people are suffering other than with the actual disease of Covid-19 but is there some way we could actually see our discomfort as something that is life giving to another. That in some ways its an absolutely visible bit of redemptive suffering. I remember contemplating redemptive suffering for a while and trying to figure out why us as humans struggle with it so very much. I concluded that within it being doctrine, only Buddhists and Catholics attack the subject at all. Unfortunately, in America, we are absolutely very Protestant in our understanding of life, that even Buddhism and Catholicism take a cultural aspect Protestant of throwing out redemptive suffering. So we bicker and we argue that we are suffering too, and yes, yes we are so very are, but can we do something with that suffering, or does it just sit there?

I don't know what is going to reconcile us as a nation to heal all the wounds we have uncovered or highlighted this year. So much has been spewed at us that our brains are barely keeping up and for many, there is no longer the ability to discern what is truth. Perhaps we can start by setting those healthy boundaries of saying no to what is necessary to understand who God wants us to be and then to offer our own suffering for those more vulnerable than us. 

There is another part of this reconciliation that is way more vulnerable to me, but perhaps its for another day. This is what I can offer today. 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

It's November

 I don't normally like November. It makes me sad with less daylight and cold rainy weather. And then there was a due date of a baby that was never born alive and a death of a grandmother in the mix. It is usually just a hard month. 

Is this November different? I think through all of what 2020 entails one thing is that I feel more aware of things this year. Like how when each tree changes color and how for a while it was all the oranges and the browns from the oaks with the purples mixed in there and then it was the yellows and then the reds. And there are still a few trees hanging on to their leaves, but most are done. We have enjoyed the leaf piles as most are more attentive to what's happening in their own yard. I think at one point an entire car was buried in leaves because there were so many collected in one spot. 

This November came with an election, and its been fascinatingly scary to see how the current administration refuses to acknowledge a loss. But then how many people are mobilizing for a coop. I think yesterday, there was super spreading coronavirus event with thousands of people marching together sans a mask and this was all to support the current president and deny the election results. 

It's fascinating to go back and look at how this amount of insanity has come about, perhaps in a crazy sad way. Many people back in 2008 thought that Obama was just a terrible person and they would spread these falsities about him. Then, when it came time to speak with their candidate they voiced them, Sen McCain debunked them every time. Somehow with Trump this hasn't happened and he has spread more nonsense, so the rumors have catalyzed into not understanding what is reality anymore. I've read many pieces trying to understand how this actually all happened. Why it's possible that someone who is of terrible character can still be the best person ever, and its just very sad. Somehow, we have forgotten what truth is and then we have forgotten about the dignity of the other. That black lives do matter and that immigrants at the border and in our communities do have value. And it is also so very hard to see the dignity of the other when they are spewing vitriol words at you or justifying killing someone because they weren't an honor student of life. 

It feels like for some reason because our country was founded on non-compliance, its just become a shouting match as we move further away from ties with other societies. We refuse to acknowledge that even if our intention wasn't to hurt another that we truly have hurt them. And even if we did intend to hurt them that we don't want to lose power or the sense of what we know to be because that's unraveling.  But as hard as it is to see the mistake in the sweater and know that it's not fixable without undoing all those stitches, those stitches need to be unraveled. The mistake needs to be acknowledged and corrected to move forward with a functioning sweater without holes. If the hole is there or the forgotten wrong, there is always chance for unraveling when you least expect it. At the very least, you need to go and sew in that loose stitch, secure it and make it feel acknowledged and cared about even if you cannot make up for the trauma it is experienced. 

No one wants to suffer willingly usually unless they are a willing martyr. We all try to run as far from it as possible, and we would rather be cushy in our homes and lives than acknowledge that the person two towns away can't feed her family because her job just doesn't pay enough to do it and to get government assistance, well that doesn't work either because she can't find the time among her responsibilities to be able to take the days off to fill out the paper work and sit in the lines for it. I was thinking the other day how the local hospital that is more accessible to those of less wealth and people of color on our side of town runs its psych department, that you have to show up for hours just to be evaluated to be paired with a counselor and it might not even happen that day, so you have to come back the next day. A struggling person doesn't have all that time, and yet that's the person that could use that person to gain perspective. 

I am sure I don't have the answers on how to solve all the things, but I will keep praying, trying to learn and see a person as a person and not a statistic. So, maybe this November is simply a take stock November for me and maybe for you too. It's certainly got a different feeling to it than the last one did. 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Three is so much better this time around

I will start off by saying that not everyone needs many children. There is no one right family size. In this, I am simply going to give my own experience.

I have now had four 3 year olds. While there are times when we definitely bash heads and I genuinely enjoy this 3 year old so much more than I did the first couple of times around.  I think for me because everything was brand new the first time and each stage came one after another for a while, I never had time to process well, just react. I have no idea how my kids will turn out with their own free will being very present and I will try to guide them into adulthood, but somehow with each kid past the first while there are things that are way different with each kid, and loops are thrown, there are also moments that are that much sweeter. Those moments that I can actually recognize because I learned to pay attention. Perhaps I should have payed attention sooner, but it didn't happen.

Yesterday we did our half mile walk to our neighbor's coffee shop to get our weekly treat and sit outside in the glorious fall weather. It has been so glorious this week. I am a get outside in all weather type of person, but not having 40's and rain make it much easier to sit outside, and for that I am thankful. So S my current 3year old walked the whole way to and from the shop, I am proud of her because this doesn't happen all the time, many times we take the stroller because she will be tired and say her legs don't work being 3 and all. 

When we went to sit down, we pulled off our masks and S noticed my bloody nose, and well, I get a lot of bloody noses right now due to increased blood flow and changing weather. So S being S, she said "Mama, your nose has a little bit of blood on it. But that's okay, its okay to have a little bit of blood."  And she will say this in many different ways and gosh do I ever revel in the external assurance that I am doing okay. She can see me break something, and I am usually calm in a crisis, its just me, but she will again say, "It's okay. Sometimes things break. You are still a good Mama." It's amazing how God can use those little voices to keep you keeping on and know you are still that beloved child of God.

She will be very three at times, and one of the older siblings will get upset with her, and she will be so upset with it because in her mind its denying that she is a "Good Stella." And isn't this what we all struggle with at times. Or at least me, I struggle with this internally. I will mess up and think I am terrible and not worthy of love. We have been able to have multiple chats about sometimes we can do mean things or make bad choices and still be good. I am not sure how much a 3 year old really gets it, I think they are very black and white at this stage, but I love who she is. That she sees the goodness in everyone, even in their flaws. 

There are definitely those 3 year old moments though, times of misunderstanding. Times where I frustrate her so much because I have "done it wrong" and she will declare that I did it wrong. And honestly I love that too, because she knows what she wants and just isn't able to process it through and declare it perfectly and we have to be patient with each other. She can get ragey a bit in those times and we give a moment and then we can restart and understand a bit better. 

So 3 is still 3, but somehow it is so much better this time around. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Voting Day

 We already voted. Today feels a bit anti-climatic because of that. However, there are no results in so I think more than ever many of us are on edge about the results. Perhaps we have become such skeptics, due to unfolding events in this last year, about how everything is run. Especially for millennials, that people actually care about us and have our best interest in mind, when the things we see just don't add up. It feels like more and more that the grownups running this country have no freaking clue what they are doing and really more so if they do they are comfortable yet in their places where the rest of us see people hurting and all those Sunday school lessons, homilies and sermons sunk in and we want to help the suffering. 

We wonder how the generation before became complacent in its position with big houses separated from their neighbors just enough that they don't have to actually know them, and to be colorblind was the thing, but really we have seen that no one in this world is actually colorblind. So we are riding on that for this election to at the very least get some relief for the hurting populations in our Covid ridden, sadly racist societies. 

Ultimately, we know that one election isn't the end all be all, and that our actual actions mean something, but perhaps it raises our awareness that we can actually do something. That all of our protesting and learning and writing and praying and amplifying BIPOC voices to be heard actually did something. I hope at the end of the day if we get the narcissist out, that we don't just sit back but continue the work. Because there is a lot of work to be done. 

Even if we don't get that result, we need to do more work, it will just be harder to do it with the national guard on our backs and tear gassing in our neighborhoods. I think at one point I wanted out of this country because it made me so incredibly sad that so many people that I thought were Christ following people were actually swept up into this unrest is not okay and we are afraid and so police go take care of the scoundrels. But they are not scoundrels and there is no going back because ultimately it was us, white people, that did it to our Black neighbors, and we need to stop. We need to want the same things we want for our own selves and our own children. I am leaning into the my own trauma because I understand a bit how it is to calmly try to say that this isn't working, or this isn't kind, or you are hurting me and get no where. That after 20,000 times of saying those things in many different ways, sometimes you just have to do something to get attention, and even then you will be ignored because its outside the comfort zone of the other. Its so maddening, and to know that BIPOC and other disadvantaged groups get that from any angle at anytime, that's even harder. We need to step up with our privilege. We need to vote. So go and vote now!