Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Still Small Hearing

Why does God seem so often silent?
Because he's listening to us.

Friday, January 17, 2014

After the Blizzard

There is a difference in living to avoid guilt and living to participate in joy.  

While both paths may find us embracing similar principles to achieve the desired end, the first leads to estrangement and asceticism, the second to sociality and abundance.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cooking with Ingredients

When my husband and I were first married and both pursuing graduate studies, I adopted his eating style that he charmed me with during our engagement:  hamburger, cheese, instant rice and Ramen noodles were the key ingredients.  It was good food, but when we were invited to dine at the home of a professor for whom I was a TA, I remember remarking that the food at the gathering was “food with ingredients.”  I think by that I meant food from “scratch”? Somehow that was the real type of food and while what we ate wasn’t.

Now we have children, and I suspect there is still something less than “real” about our food, but at least now I am cooking with ingredients, and as few as possible it seems.  Though the processes, pans and power tools angst me, and the mess and time and dreary mechanical methods madden me, I would be even less happy in the paradigm of bagged bread, cake mix, and condensed soup.  

Oh yes, we do eat boxed macaroni and cheese, and saltines make my 11-year- old son ecstatic.   I guess for me those ingredients include more nutrients than fine-print additives and chemicals (sodium hexametaphosphate  is my favorite incantation), maybe love (although it’s a “Those Winter Sundays” type of love), but certainly soul force.

Sunday, January 05, 2014


When people have differences of opinion or competing interests and argue against each other’s positions by contending that “It doesn’t matter!” or “I don’t see why you’re making such a big deal of this” or “You need to be more flexible,” the paradox becomes quickly apparent.

“Teaching” flexibility to children requires altruism; true flexibility goes in every reasonable direction, not in always enforcing a bowing to the (seemingly) more powerful figure.

A few days ago little Mr. GSM wanted his drink in a particular sippy cup.  His mum said no on the thought that she didn’t want to wash that cup for him.  She hoped (i.e., demanded) he would be flexible.  Then she realized she could be flexible, too.  She washed the cup.

But, you may object, kids need to learn that they can’t always have their way; they can’t make too many demands.  Ah, but they will learn that all too soon and in too many ways. Must parents be the first to “teach” disappointment mostly for their own convenience?

Teaching flexibility must require a peaceful paradox of a generous denial or a giving that is not giving in. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Panis Angelicus (for Madelyn Francis, who bakes it)

We are grateful that the divine influence is promised in our hardest times (“peace I leave with you”).  We acknowledge that the divine makes extreme joy possible and sustainable (“in thy presence is  fulness of joy”). 

Between these two is a spectrum (sometimes specter) of chronic chronic-ness.   So much is said—and rightly so—of divine involvement in extreme states that the everyday experience may lead us to ask if we are watched over and loved even if we are not in abjection or ecstasy.  In other words, just what are the ninety nine sheep doing, grazing days away?

The resolution of the everyday experience perhaps lies partly in the invitation to ask—no, demand (?)—Give us this day our daily bread.   The injunction in the middle of time looks back to a miracle of earlier sacred history:  Manna,  a magic bread that was so consistent that the miracle became an irritation.

 The fact that amazing phenomena are repeated so regularly and abundantly—from sun rises to human births—is more cause for awe, not less.  And as our Father gives us this day our daily bread, his hand is on every loaf—and every life.

Vocatus atque non vocatus Deus aderit.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

If change were easy, no one would need to--they would have already

Team pull-up asssitance with Hadassah, 15. Her three-year-old brother is overdue for this change and seems less than willing to keep still.  Then, my monologue about how in a better world . . .  what?  I would be a faster diaper changer?  He would already be potty-trained?  Hadassah responds to the tension:  We don't know about these better worlds.  This is the world we live in.  We make our better worlds.

A conscientious and thoughtful believer, Hadassah later tweaks her statement, starting to talk about the better world of the afterlife in the divine presence.  She's right.  On all points.  Her first three statements make the last possible.

Do we know about these better worlds?  They can be infinitely regressive.  Fast diaper changes. Completed potty training.  No need to ever potty train at all. And then, what else do we not want to be inconvenienced by?  What if this were all eliminated?  Would that be a better world?  And how do we know that there are no diaper changes in future worlds?

This is the world we live in.  I accept this without comment, although it is easier to state the obvious than it is to accept it.

We make our better worlds.  Ah, yes.  Have we ever wished to call in someone to replace us?  Nicer, more altruistic and compassionate versions of ourselves so we could go on a long vacation? We have to be our own replacements.  Nothing else would serve the other or ourselves as satisfyingly.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Listen Carefully, As Menu Options Have Changed

The following is an incomplete menu of choices.  If you want to talk to a live person, your call will be redirected to someone who has a template screen in front of her to help you navigate your problem. 

Press 1 to have me ask how you are doing.
Press 2 to ask me how I am doing.
                Press 1 for the polite answer. 
                Press 2 for an ambiguous answer.
                Press 3 for an angry answer that blames you for asking.
Press 3 for comments about the weather.
                Press 1 for a complaint.
                Press 2 for an obvious response.
                Press 3 for a comment on someone else’s weather tragedy.
Press 4 for my opinions on trending news stories.
                Press 1 for gun violence.
                Press 2 for bullying.
                Press 3 for auto wrecks.
Press 5 for my political thoughts.
                Press 1 for affordable health care act.
                Press 2 for complaints about congress.
                Press 3 for debt and deficit.
Press 6 for sports.
                Press 1 for local sports. 
                Press 2 for NFL.
                Press 3 for performance enhancement violations.
Press 7 if you have a request.
                Press 1 if you need help.
                                Press 1 if you can wait.
                                Press 2 if I can delegate your request.
                                Press 3 to be told to figure it out for yourself.
                Press 2 if you need money.
                                Press 1 for fundraisers.
                                Press 2 for school expenses.
                                Press 3 for personal luxuries.
                Press 3 if I’m not listening to you.
                                Press 1 for an explanation.
                                Press 2 to ask me to stop texting while you are talking to me.
                                Press 3 to ask when we can talk.
Press 8 to review these options.

Can we free ourselves of automatic thoughts and automated responses?  Can we commit that when someone talks to us she gets a live person the first time every time who really does value her and her call?  Authenticity comes easier to some than others, maybe, but if we desire it, we will be more likely to have it than if we don’t.

Hi!  Here I am.  How can I help you?