A smattering of poetry, some flash fiction, a little bit of memoir, maybe an occasional rant.

Changing times

Sometimes I forget how much things have changed during my lifetime.  Wednesday, while I was visiting my granddaughter and her family in Richmond, we passed a small two-seater sports car.  I’ve wanted one for most of my life.  It just wasn’t practical when my own children were growing up and I couldn’t really afford one later.  I voiced our standing joke, “He stole my car.”  My daughter and granddaughter said I have too many great grandchildren to buy one now.  As we discussed it, I realized my longing has been compromised.   

My thirty year love affair with convertibles has been contaminated by maturity.  The only way I would own one now would be if it had a roll bar.  I’m not sure when the possibility of a rollover began to outweigh the wind in my hair.  It must have been a gradual thing because I don’t even remember when it started.  Perhaps its a side effect of too many movie crashes or maybe it is part of my recently acquired inability to feel secure in a moving vehicle without a seat belt.  Now, I find myself reaching for one when I sit down in a theater.

I know where that one comes from.  In 1996, I was driving to work one rainy morning.  As I approached the section of road where the parkway becomes a surface street the car hydroplaned.  Luckily there was still a concrete divider between the lanes, at that point, that kept me from sliding into oncoming traffic.  However, that same barrier created a feeling of panic when the left front wheel began to climb it.  I was desperately trying to steer the car back toward the edge of the road so, as soon as the wheel gained traction on the vertical surface, it turned and sent me back across two lanes to jump the guardrail and wind up on the grassy bank beside the highway.  The vehicle landed right side up, but for an eternal moment, I had thought it was going to roll.   It was months before I could drive or even ride in the left lane without flinching. Read more »

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Categories: Memoirs, Random Thoughts | Leave a comment

40 Days of Meditation

ascensionI had never thought of the day of Jesus’ Ascension as a holiday until this year.  I’m not all that familiar with Catholic holidays, but I don’t think very many Protestant churches in the United States celebrate the Ascension.  Oh, the minister preaches about it.  We know it happened between Easter and Pentecost, and we don’t deny its importance, but it just kind of gets lost somehow.

This year, probably because of my Religious Studies courses, I feel the need to spend some time meditating on our Christian rituals and holidays.  Several people of my acquaintance have annoyed me with their attitudes about Easter.  They have suddenly discovered that most major Christian holidays match up time wise with pagan festivals and also share many rituals.   Because of this fact, they think the Christian worship is being degraded.  They are re-enforced by the reaction of many conservative Christians who are horrified by this “news.”

Christians who delve more deeply into their faith than childhood Sunday School lessons already know this, have always known this and see it for the irrelevancy that it is.  We know that Easter has nothing to do with any pagan god or goddess anymore.  The word may have come from there originally, but that “god” died with its last believer.

As pagan people were converted to Christianity, they brought their traditional ways of celebration with them.  The people and the new focus of their worship were the important feature, not the origin of the activities.  Christians today, know they are not worshiping Ishtar and the timing of Easter is tied to the Jewish Passover season, not some pagan fertility rite.

As I dug into research to prove my thoughts on this, it occurred to me that we seem to be missing a very important day in our holiday lineup.  The day that Jesus ascended into heaven should be more important to us.  We should be paying more attention to it.  What it represents is a major part of our faith.  Without his Ascension, our hope of an afterlife would be a very different proposition.

There is no way for us to know for sure, at this point, what the actual date is, but tradition tells us it was 40 days after Resurrection Day.  So our Easter season should extend from Ash Wednesday, through the 40 days of Lent, to Easter and then another 40 days to Ascension Day, which is supposed to be on a Thursday.  This year that will be May the 29th.  Like Easter, it will move every year along with Passover.

During the 40 days between Resurrection and Ascension, Jesus did not go into the city or countryside to make new converts.  He spent his time in meetings with his Disciples instructing them on how they were to carry out His teachings.  On the 40th day, they watched Him ascend into Heaven.  Ten days later the Holy Spirit descended on them at Pentecost.

So, I am making a new commitment.  A promise to spend this time studying and meditating on my religion and what it means.  I recently bought a book by Bishop Spong titled The Sins of Scripture.  It seems like a good place to start.  I also have many other religious books that I and my mother before me have collected over the years.  I am sure I will have no problem finding material.  I’ll keep you posted.

 

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Plotting a Path

This is my oldest website.  I say website instead of blog because it wasn’t a blog in the beginning.  It was a place for our family to post photos and keep in touch with far-flung members.  As time passed, we all grew more busy and the grandchildren grew up.  Posting here became sporadic.  Then it became nonexistent.  In the meantime, we had set up a company website for the part-time business my brother Jim and I engage in.  I finished my Creative Writing/Journalism degree and set up a writing blog.  Jim set up a website for his photography and, finally, we started a travel blog to allow family and friends to follow us on our journeys.   I had pretty much forgotten about this one.

Then something called me back to it.  At first, it made me sad.  It seemed that our family had drifted apart.  But, I realized that wasn’t true.  We were just using other methods of communication.  Hardly a day passes without texts being sent from one state to another.  Cell phone calls for support, instruction, or planning purposes are common.  Facebook pulls us all into its starving maw.  It warms my soul when I find something shared by one of my loved ones and my comment leads to someone else joining in.  We frequently engage in multi-state conversations that may include friends as well as family members.

So, it seemed time to re-purpose Mamaw’s Homeplace.  Instead of a family visiting center, that “something” urged me to make it a personal thing.  It began as a kind of memoir effort.  Talking about my life past and present.  As time passed, Something said it should have a more focused purpose.  That it should be inspirational.  The posts should be essays.  A place to publish non-fiction writing.  I argued that I already had Reading to Write for that.  That inner voice said, “But that’s mostly fiction.  This one should be about your faith journey.”  My immediate response was, “No, that’s too personal.”  The second excuse was, “I’m not qualified to discuss religion in a public forum.”

38.0201_449That “Something” then led me to the Religious Studies program at Western Kentucky University.   So, it’s been more than a year now.  I feel as though I have barely scratched the surface of what I need to know.  Still, Something is telling me it is time to begin.  I still feel that it is too personal and I am not qualified to tell anyone else what to think about religion.  So, I am trying to figure out where to begin and what direction to go in.  It feels like the most dangerous endeavor I have ever embarked upon.  I am not ready.   I may never be ready.

As I am re-visioning my school plans and trying to jump-start my stalled writing engine, I have filled out my editorial calendar once again.  I have scheduled a post on each of my four blogs once a week.  I have even chosen topics for the remainder of the month.  Mondays are for this one.  This week’s topic is supposed to be Disciples beliefs.  I was raised in the Disciples church, specifically the First Christian Church of Madisonville, KY.  I specify because Disciples churches are eclectic.  Our basic tenet is “Where the Bible speaks, we speak.  Where the Bible is silent, we are silent.”  The problem starts when we try to define what the Bible says and what it means for today’s world.  So, I must first state that my opinions, my view of things, do not, necessarily, represent the Disciples Church Per Se.

It’s kind of like the disclaimer we are familiar with on TV.  The opinions of this speaker do not represent the station that she comes from.  Because our church professes to be “a servant church welcoming all persons to the journey of knowing and experiencing God’s love and grace” it does not tell us what we must believe, but expects us to study the Bible, pray for guidance, and explore the writings of a variety of religious leaders from all corners of the world.  My church gave me my foundation.    I have used that foundation to build my own inner place of worship and prayer.  It may not always be comfortable for my fellow travelers.  It’s not always comfortable for me either.  Still, I hope to be part of the “movement for wholeness in a fragmented world,” that most Disciples churches endeavor to create.

Some weeks, this may still be more about memoir than religion.  Sometimes it may descend into a rant against things in our  society that frustrate, irritate, or infuriate me.  If so, please have patience and I promise to recover my self control.  But, woven into the mix, there will be a thread of Faith.  I may not succeed.  I don’t promise to please.  I can’t swear to always be correct or even consistent.  I do swear to try and be as honest as I can.  This is as much a journey for me as for anyone else.  I still feel uncomfortable when I consider exposing my inner thoughts about my faith to a world that can be cruel and judgmental.

In spite of that trepidation, I plead for your comments.  Because I come from a Christian background, my attitude and opinions will be colored by that.  However, as I study all forms of religion, I am interested in other viewpoints and discussions as well.  I promise to listen to any reasonable disagreements and respond in a like manner.  I am still learning.  I hope to learn from others as I attempt to impart my own thoughts and meditations.  I am looking to engage in conversation, not preach sermons.  Let us seek a peaceful way of coming together.

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A Spiritual Journey

Path2We all grow up with a cultural background.  Some will include a heavy religious influence while others will be noticeably lacking in that area. Whether or not it is included in the beginning, sooner or later, religion will touch our lives.  Even the most rabid of atheists have been touched by religion.  Humans in all corners of the world throughout recorded history have searched for a higher power and tried to find ways to explain or connect to it.  Our search for spiritual enlightenment has been equaled only by the expansion of our scientific knowledge and could, at times, be just as destructive.

I was raised with religion.  My family did not just go to church on Sunday; we had devotionals with bible readings and prayers at dinner every night.  It wasn’t a matter of listening as my parents read, spoke and prayed.  As we became old enough to read, we were assigned parts to play.  Mostly these came from the Upper Room or Secret Place booklets that my mother subscribed to, but she would also offer inspirational pieces from other sources when she felt it important.  She believed firmly in “train up a child in the way….” and she practiced it.

My brothers and I grew up with God as a personal entity with whom we interacted daily.   There was no time when we were suddenly “saved.”  We knew Jesus as a “personal savior” long before we understood what that meant.   Like most children, we assumed that our lifestyle was normal for everyone.  It wasn’t until long after I was grown, that I came to realize there were people in the world who followed a different path or who didn’t even Believe at all.

As a young adult, with three children and 6 years of marriage behind me, I questioned my parents’ teachings.  I wondered if the human race was outgrowing the need to believe.  Had science answered the mysteries that we used to attribute to God?  There had certainly been no new prophets for a very long time.  Were the cynics who proclaimed “God is dead!” correct?   Quite frankly, the idea terrorized me.  To me, that meant that there would be no order in creation.  The whole of human existence would be chaotic, random, with no “meaning.”  I rejected the concept of no “higher power” and went happily back to church.  Path1

A few years later, as my first marriage was breaking up, I sat in my kitchen and experienced that chaos inside myself.  It felt as though my mind was spinning apart.  I feared for my sanity and prayed fervently for help.  With the very next breath, calm descended.  I was filled with the most joyous peace I had ever known.  Needless to say, I considered it an answer to my prayer.  Others might explain it psychologically, but to me the science of it didn’t matter.  I had cried out and gotten an answer.  The methodology of it was not important.  I felt that I had been “Born Again” and I accepted it gratefully.

In the intervening years, there have been times when I have drifted away from the church, but never from my faith.  Even at the lowest points in my life, I have always felt the Presence and known I could call on it.   I am not perfect, only trying to do the best I can within the circumstances.  Sometimes I fall short, but I always get back up and try again.  My mantra is “You haven’t failed until you stop trying.”

Lately, I have been bothered by the fact that people seem to think everyone with different traditions or names for God is worshiping someone different.  I know this is not true of Jews, Christians and Muslims.  Whatever we call Him: YHWH, I am, Allah, Lord, Father….She is still the same powerful being that loves us and wants to be loved in return.

If I subscribe to the theory that there is only one God and we are all talking about the same Supreme Being, then I need to go further than the three core religions.  I need to be able to include Hindus, Buddhists, Native Americans, Taoists…everyone who searches for the Mysteries.  Not the ones that can be proved with Science, but the inner ones that govern the growth of the soul and the possibilities of an afterlife.  I realize there are too many to count.  I can’t possibly learn about all of them.  I can only research the primary ones that are accepted by large numbers of people.

Path3So, this year I embark upon that search.  So far, this semester, one class is covering Judaism, Christianity and Islam, a second one has covered a general overview of Hinduism and begun the study of Buddhism.  Later it will look at Confucianism and Daoism.  Don’t misunderstand.  I do not seek to change my religion or expect to fully understand other traditions and cultures through a couple of classes.

I simply want to synchronize things inside my own head.  When I tell people: “There’s only one God.  We all worship Him/Her in our own way, building our own personal relationship to the Almighty One.  We simply use different names, just as we call our mothers and fathers by different words in different languages or cultures.” I want to have more authority behind my statement than my own small opinion.  So, I am searching.  For parallels, similarities, a way to merge it all together in my soul.

I don’t expect to change the world.  I have never felt the need to spread my beliefs into the world.  I simply want to be able to grasp a greater meaning to the concept of “God” than what I now have.  As I grow close to the day when I will meet Force face to face, I need to know that I have done all I can to prepare myself.

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Categories: Church, Inspiration, Memoirs, Religion | 2 Comments

Small Stones ~ Day 8

Today has been too busy to study details.  My six month old great-grandson woke up at 8am and decided he didn’t need a nap today.  He dozed in spite of himself while we were in the truck on the way to and from the grocery store, a total of 15 minutes in our small town.  He wasn’t demanding attention the whole time, he never does, but the simple fact that he was awake meant my concentration was limited.

IMG_0589I worked on a guest blog post for Lara Britt of Writing Space.  She had asked for a piece on my travels through Nowhere, USA.  Look for it on Tuesday, maybe not this Tuesday, but some Tuesday.  In fact, go by her space every Tuesday, or any other day.  It’s a great blog.

Between the baby and grocery shopping, it took all day to finish writing and find the photos to go with it.  Now, I need to go heat up some barbecue and grilled beans for dinner.  My stones today have been the kind that roll under your foot as you are trekking through the woods and make you grab for the nearest branch to keep from falling.  Some days are just like that.

Tomorrow should be better.  The baby’s mother doesn’t have to work, only go to two classes with an hour break between.  I’ll only have him from 10am or so until about 3pm instead of all day.  Oh, I also need to go to the Social Security office and DMV.  That should give me plenty of time to be contemplative.  Waiting in line is always an exercise in patience.

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