Passiondeathresurrection: Inseparable

I once heard a priest say, “Passion(suffering), death, and resurrection should all be one word.”
Somehow most of us in America have bought into the delusion that life is just for fun. And any discomfort, never-the-less suffering, starts us looking desperately for escapes.
Unfortunately, escapes can’t protect us from suffering forever, they just make us miss the meaning that can be found by embracing the whole of life.
I have always been a devout coward and have used many escapes over the years.
But finally, I began to realize that the greatest suffering would be to get to the end of my life and realize that I had missed the point.

Spring

Eileen:

Celebrating our human potential for transformation, for resurrection.

Originally posted on Laughter: Carbonated Grace:

Spring

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Autism Awareness: An Ode to our Hadley

An Ode to Hadley…….Who makes life shine for me even on my worst days.

This is Autism awareness month. It helps me remember how far my granddaughter Hadley has come and how much of that is because of her parents. They got her cognitive therapy very early, helped her communicate with sign language and build verbal language on that, and they have given her every chance they could, even now at sixteen driving her across town to a peer Social Group. Her journey has involved all types of therapy, tutoring, meds, hard decisions, time, money, courage, perseverance and love. And every bit of it is visible now in her competence and kindness.
She and I talked today about Autism making language skills take longer to learn, but that she is persevering and getting better and better at reading and speaking and understanding language. We talked about how competent she is at visual learning. She watches people do mechanical and electronic things and seems to be able to do them immediately with confidence. She knows that I am not good at that sort of thing, and she often steps in to save me the struggle. We have a road sign Bingo game she played on the hour trip to my house as part of preparing her to learn to drive. She picks up on the visual signs and their meaning very quickly. She simply doesn’t give up.

Two days this week with Hadley:

Several days this week, I felt really good and managed to get a lot done toward getting our house ready to put on the market. Saturday was not one of my best days, but when my Tylenol kicked in, Hadley and I got the carport and entrance area blown off, hosed off, and spots scrubbed!! I just directed and helped
move stuff and unwind the hung-up hose. Hadley was awesome. I had blown and vacuumed the porch and washed furniture and toys on Friday, so I just poured soapy water on the porch floors and Hadley scrubbed with a push broom. Finally everything dried and we put the furniture back in place. What a difference her help makes! She loves clipping shrubs and I had planned to let her do some today. but I did a little a day or so ago and I’ve got what looks like some spots of poison ivy in among my psoriasis and heat rash!! So we will skip that! Later after dinner, Hadley, energized by tacos, was determined to earn more money. She went back outside to work on something for granddad for another hour. I headed to a hot bath. Couldn’t eat tacos, because I broke one whole side off my upper back tooth, the tooth that anchors my upper front teeth. Oh happy day!!

This morning, Sunday, I was paying for Friday and Saturday with aching muscles, allergies, sinus headache, inner ear dizziness and nausea, the cracked molar, poison ivy on my right inner arm, and a pinky nail torn to the quick…..just some of the joys of being seventy-six.
But in spite of all that, I was amazingly happy, because my heart rejoices in Hadley. She is so kind and helpful, extremely patient, and very self sufficient. She even accepted graciously that I couldn’t take her to the mall like I had promised. How many teenagers with hard earned money in their pocket would be gracious about delaying the gratification of shopping? Never-the-less a teenager who struggles with Autism. She has come so far, fixing her own meals, being careful to put down a mat when eating at my desk, and cleaning up after herself, often even spontaneously hugging me and telling me she loves me.

Thank you God and Tommy and Heather for the gift of Hadley.

An Ordinary Day

clinging to sleep
refusing to rise
to the early beat
of the roofers
eyes half mast
relinquishing
night dreams
reluctantly
while I grab
some coffee
grateful for
the quick brew
computer mouse
finding friends
early risers
on facebook
lots of likes
some laughs
to jump start
the morning
Upper Room’s
new insights
infusing grace
into routines
deep cleaning
muscle work
pain excuses
taking breaks
to cull photos
from our albums
choosing among
our memories
stopping to
gather laundry
and start
today’s wash
more bending
and scrubbing
the bathrooms
finally shine
physical action
frees the mind
triggering
new insights
back to the
computer
long enough
to blog them
fixing lunch
husband fed
dishes done
call a friend
whose surgery
keeps her home
get her list
of groceries
take a break
to sort more
family photos
years of smiles
write some bills
freshen up
fix my hair
get the car
mail the bills
buy groceries
and deliver
homeward bound
with a treat
to celebrate
fifty-five
years together.

The Self-Destruction of Christianity

Martin Luther didn’t plan to start a new religion. He hoped to renew the heart of Christianity. But from the time when the Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion, the church had appropriated the power structure of empires and monarchies, claiming the God given right to rule, complete with the assumption of a monopoly on truth. The shepherd’s role was transformed into that of a tyrant with absolute power and no accountability. Christianity’s history quickly became one of violence against dissenters.

Even now, when violence is rejected, the lack of dialogue and openness to growth in our understanding of the gospel has become the root of the ongoing splintering of Christianity, So we continue to waste our time and energy fighting among ourselves.

Few institutional religions have adopted a democratic structure, so they become stagnant through lack of diversity and through power structures devoted to preserving the status quo. As chaotic as democracy is, it gives even the least of its members a voice and the hope of change, so that diverse people with extremely divergent views can remain united without the violence that tyranny provokes.

If humanity is evolving, so will our understanding of our relationship with God and one another. Jesus listened to diverse voices, not only responding to the needs of the outcaste and foreigner, but even allowing them to challenge his assumptions about his mission.

Unfortunately, the power structures with vested interests in institutional religion generally have kept Christianity as the rear-guard of the status quo, rather than as leaders in social change and spiritual growth in unconditional love. We still throw stones at the prophets in the name of God.

The tension between the value and rights of the individual and the good of the community calls for on-going dialogue. We witness the break-down of Christianity over and over as each new call for inclusion of those different from the majority occurs. Institutional Christianity has become about power and preserving the status quo. It is no longer the answer to our human search for meaning. Secularism isn’t destroying Christianity. Christianity is self-destructing.

Fifteen Things Mentally Strong People Do

1. They know when to move on.
2. They use their fear to motivate action.
3. They know failure is part of success.
4. They train their brains to see the good in everything.
5. They’re tenacious with their goals.
6. They start before they’re ready or confident.
7. They don’t take anything personally.
8. They believe in themselves.
9. They don’t try to fit in.
10. They allow themselves to be a beginner.
11. They don’t do things they don’t want to do.
12. They celebrate the success and happiness of others.
13. They don’t need a reason to help people.
14. They are unapologetic about their unique selves.
15. They accept what they can’t change.
…..Shannon Kaiser
from the Blog: Make Believe Boutique

adolescent

Originally posted on Sirena Tales:

squirming

within my own foreign

erupting and awkward skin

yearning

to be seen

but as another

or better

as myself

(silently)

this time could I be loved?

disheveling

my guise

on the inside

bleeding out

the shifting gaze

the quick tics

distracting haze

me from me

you from me,

I might be

a gazelle

a hawk

a stallion

of my dreams

a champion

I hope I live

to tell

This is for the wonderful students I volunteer to tutor in writing, and all adolescents.  Shine on….

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Employment Strategy: Flash the Chaplain?

I used to think I had some sort of jinx about clothes, but I finally figured out that God just created me for comic relief.

I’ve already told about slipping and bumping down the stairs on my rear when attempting to make a grand entrance wearing a new sexy and sophisticated black cocktail dress for a college date.

Another time I was wearing a much bustier cousin’s hand me down debutant evening gown. It was strapless with a flowing soft chiffon skirt with a slight train. I felt like a princess. As I stepped forward to meet my date’s parents in the receiving line, he accidentally stood on the train. I almost made my own debut when I went forward and the dress did not.

In high school I was dating a very nice boy pretty steadily, but out of the blue, he asked another girl to a party at my best friend’s house. I was crushed. Particularly, since the other girl looked so much like me, we could have been sisters. Another boy invited me to the party, but he was a bit of a dork. So, mother took pity on me and let me spend more that we could afford on a wonderful dress for the party. I arrived at the party confident that my new dress would make me look prettier than the other girl.
I don’t know which of us was more stunned when we saw each other…….both of us wearing the exact same dress. It struck me as funny. I think I made some comment like, “Which twin has the Toni?” But she not only didn’t laugh, she struggled all evening to always be in a different room. Humor won however. My boyfriend asked me to officially go steady the next week.

The clothes jinx tradition continued into my early forties. My husband had started a new business in what turned out to be a recession, so money was tight. I was applying for a much needed civil service job as an Associate Director of Religious Education for the Chaplains’ Division on a nearby Army Post. I had recently been given several very smart hand me down dresses by my wealthy sister-in-law. I chose a tailored A-Line dark blue dress with a high neck and a zipper down the front. I combined it with a camel colored jacket and matching neck scarf. I felt very chic.
I had to go through several interviews, first with the civilian Post Director of Religious Education, then the head Chaplain for the post, and finally the head Chaplain of my denomination. I made it through the first two feeling pretty comfortable. I could tell that the last Chaplain had some reservations about laity having the kind of credentials required for the job. I would be working directly for him, but in a secure Civil Service position. I did my best Southern Lady imitation trying to come over as non-threatening. It seemed to go well and I was told to go get some lunch and come back in an hour after all three of my potential bosses had conferred. As I went out the office door into the January cold, I felt a freezing blast on my chest that took my breath away. I looked down and realized that the zipper that ran from my neck to my waist had pulled apart totally exposing my bra and upper torso. I hastily pulled my jacket closed and ran for my car. In the nearest McDonald’s, I scrounged in my purse and found one safety pin. My jacket had only two low buttons, so I used my safety pin at bra level and arranged my scarf to cover the rest of the gap. By the time I managed to get decent, it was time to return and learn my fate. Nervous and self-conscious, sneaking peeks at my chest, I struggled to sound delighted that I had been accepted for the job and restrain the overwhelming urge to bolt out the door.

I never knew when the zipper had come apart or whether anyone else had noticed, but later when I got to know the very Italian Chaplain, I always wondered if flashing him got me the job.

Well, according to Paul, everything works for good for those that love the Lord. :)

to visualize the sensual world

Eileen:

Gorgeous photo and several challenging quotes. Particularly like the Ganga White reflection.

Originally posted on Make Believe Boutique:

1-IMG_1946

We usually try to explain the mysterious.

It would be better to cultivate wonder and reflection.

….Thomas Moore

within this mesmerizing trance of cold and color and hope, we reconsider our roots, our rainbows, our risks….this sensory convergence measures our unified knowing, our dynamic visions, our open hearts….

When I was fifteen years old I wrote: ‘I want to live so that my life reflects the God I know.’ How we live our lives is the story we choose to tell for our children’s children to remember, reflects what we know of the Beloved, the Mystery, of that which is sacred. How you do what you do offers stories of hope or despair, of compassion or judgement, of presence or absence……Oriah Mountain Dreamer

awake in the dark

What If?
What if our religion was each other?
If our practice was our life?
If prayer was our words?
What if the…

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To Dye or Not to Dye, That is the Question

She’s bone thin
middle-aged
with an edge of her slip
hanging below her skirt.
Wearing white socks
and sandals,
she’s not exactly
a fashion statement.
She seems frozen,
overwhelmed by
the plethora
of choices
for washed out
blondes
going gray.
Choosing at last,
she reads carefully,
looks at the photo
and sadly puts it back.
With a soft sigh
she seems to collapse
inward with her
arms crossed tightly,
holding herself together.
She stands dejected
oblivious
to her surroundings,
blinking away a tear.
She takes a deep breath
and begins again,
spends thirty minutes
with all the blondes
and once nervously,
almost furtively,
eyeing a red-head.
I bite my lip
and resist shouting,
“YES! Go for it!”
Then, running a hand
through her faded hair
she turns and slowly
walks away.

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