Random Observations

If we are lucky – and realistic – we come to the conclusion that the way we are right now is not such a bad thing. We come to a kind of comfortable place with that person in the mirror.

I no longer worry if my butt “looks big in these jeans”; it has become completely irrelevant to me whether I have big boobs or members of the ‘itty bitty titty committee’; that a ‘bad hair day’ is going to ruin someone’s opinion of me; my very short fingernails are just fine without rainbows and glitter and junk embellishments pasted on; that I needn’t worry about how I look because nobody looks at a woman my age anyway (although I do have to admit, I try to look presentable whenever I go out – I strive to not be a Walmart shopper video). It’s a process. When we were babies, we had to learn to sit up (and stay up!), learn to eat, learn to talk, learn to walk. At the other end of that, we have to learn to edit what we eat, sitting up can sometimes be exercise, we need to stand for a moment to make sure everything is lined up properly before we take a step, we sometimes need to search for a word. It’s a process.

By and large, it ain’t all that bad. And neither am I. And neither are you. We’re still shakin’ it the best we can. What I used to do on a dance floor, I now do in a desk chair to certain music videos. I think a little more before I do anything so I don’t wind up looking ridiculous or hurting myself and thinking more is always a good thing. I have found more forgiveness – for myself and others. I have reached the conclusion that ‘they’ were right all along – material things don’t make you happy; they may make you more comfortable but not necessarily happier. ‘Happy’ is within you when you come to that point of realization that it wasn’t all about you after all. Who needs that kind of pressure? My work, it turns out, didn’t define me, it was simply what I did. What defines me is my kids and how they turned out; my siblings and the fact that we still all love and enjoy each other. That I have been able to share my faith journey and help others on theirs. That the best Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t the one that turned out perfectly but the one where I ruined the gravy – they still talk about that. I created the only gravy known to man that could be spread on bread. The simple joys are the best ones and it’s exactly because they are simple.

I find that I am content. That’s quite a statement to make. There’s a lot to be said of contentment; it’s kind, warm, comfortable, and reassuring. I think it’s a reward for having made it this far. If it is, I’m all for it.

 

You Can’t Go Home Again

That’s what Thomas Wolf told us. I get it; ‘home’ doesn’t change but we do. Home, which was big and comfortable and familiar becomes small, less conducive to comfort, and shabby around the edges because we’ve been places since home, seen a thing or two, changed within ourselves.

I was going to wait until after the Republican National Convention concluded but I can’t wait. I am so enthused, so excited, so humbled and joyful I just have to share.

Brilliant idea behind this convention. Talk to the ‘little people’, talk to the Americans who never have a microphone in front of their faces. Talk to those folks who have lived an American life, whether it is rural or urban, big business or small family farms, and factories, whether they are Ph. Ds or high school diploma’d. Talk to the Americans across the country, whether they were born here or are naturalized. But talk to real Americans if you want to know what America is like. They’ll tell you. They’ll stop what they’re doing to tell you. And that’s exactly what this convention has done – and is doing the rest of the convention (tonight and tomorrow night, in case you forgot).

But here’s the thing and this is what’s going to kill the Biden/Harris ticket – throughout this convention, we have seen (and will continue to see), the America I grew up in. Folks who are proud of America and of being American. Folks who are grateful for the life America has afforded them. Folks who have never had a silver spoon in their mouths and never had a platform from which to share their thoughts on the America they know and love. Proud people, humble people, the workaday American Joe Public on the street. They love this country and they love the way President Trump has completely changed the trajectory of this country. They appreciate – deeply – that he’s managed against staggering odds against him, he’s managed to right the ship. The course has been corrected and the winds are in our favor – no matter what the Left would have us believe!

Tears ran down my face when I watched those five people from five different countries take their oath of naturalization. The pride that shone on their faces is something now emblazoned on my heart. Can you imagine having the President of the United States of America present at that most extraordinary time of your life? What stories they have to tell their families both near and far.

I love Mr. Maximo Alvarez. Dignity. Assurance. And a deep, deep love for this country. He knows first hand what the Left is peddling; he’s ‘been there, done that’. He carries in his heart the words his father told him, “If freedom isn’t in America, where is there to go?” His birth family and his own family found the freedom here that they sought. He’s proud to be American. So am I.

Say what you will about President Trump, brash, braggart, coarse – he’s all us. He’s all in. He remembers the America we grew up in and he’s bringing it back.

Turns out Thomas Wolf was wrong – we can go home again. And we can thank President Trump for that.

 

Random Observations

When I get depressed and anxious because the news is 24/7/365 bad, and I can’t look at the world anymore and I can’t concentrate on a book or a movie, I have found a ‘pill’ to relieve all of that tension and chaos. We don’t need a prescription for the pill and you cannot possibly overdose on it no matter how many.

The ‘pill’ is trail cam videos. For those who aren’t familiar, hunters, farmers, landowners, all sorts of folks, strap photo/video cameras on the trunks or limbs of trees. These cameras have night sight capability, some have sound, most are motion-activated – really quite a dandy little piece of technology and to the best of my knowledge, they aren’t expensive to buy. What they do is record what happens in front of that tree for whatever length of time they’ve been set for. We watch what happens when it’s dark and we’re asleep in our houses. Out in the wild, night is as busy as day. I love the cameras that have sound – the sound of the breeze through the trees, the different step-sounds the various animals have, the sound of buzzing things and hooting things, and snorting things. We can see how the animal world goes about its business when no one is watching; hunting, searching for water, walking by quite leisurely or hopping or galloping, or sauntering. Scratching at the ground, sniffing at the air, going in one direction, and then coming back to where it started. Bears (in bear country States), deer, elk, rabbits, animals I don’t know the proper names for.

The ‘pill’ effect is this – we unwind, slowly the muscles relax, the shoulders go back to the normal position, our breathing becomes more regular. The brows lose the creases, the teeth unclench, the temperature regulates and we relax. Really relax. We are transported to a world where things make sense, where the natural order of things is maintained, where we see the natural glory of God’s creation in all its wonderful assortment. And the sound of the breeze. The only thing missing is the smell of the air and trees but you’ll notice it doesn’t distract you. Well, maybe you’ll notice; I suspect, like me, you will become so relaxed your eyes slowly close and your head slowly meets your chest. (whispering …) and you have found peace.

 

Love and Vengeance

Yesterday, Audre wrote a very good article on Love as an act of will. I highly recommend it. In it she comments:

How does love cover sin? Hatred, for example, damages the object of our hatred but it also damages us. Love isn’t an emotional, touchy-feely thing (except on Valentine’s Day); it’s an act of the will. Our will. God’s will.

Anger is a secondary result; hurt is the event that causes the anger. Search your memory for anger you’ve felt against others or the anger someone may have felt toward you. Under that anger, we’ll find the core of the matter – someone has been hurt, in whatever manifestation (physically, emotionally, psychologically, to name a few).

This is true, although it is important to realize that hatred is a destructive variant of love, not it’s opposite. The opposite of love is indifference when one simply does not care at all.

She also says, “That’s how love covers sins. It’s wrong to hate people – it damages them and it damages us.” And that is invariably true, for us as individuals, but also for groups, from a nuclear family to the nations.

For hatred for a perceived wrong leads almost invariably to vengeance, and thus we enter the circle of wrong begetting wrong, begetting further wrong ad nauseum. A never ending circle of destruction. Only one thing can stop this inevitable cycle, forgiveness, which comes from love. We, as Christians and Jews have been told this from Leviticus to Romans. But we tend to be stiff-necked people who try to act without God. But God has always told us that we should love our neighbor and to remember that vengeance is His to deal.

In the family context (if we don’t have plenty of examples in our own experience) in the musical Hamilton, where (from Jordan J. Ballor at Law and Liberty). “Rather than retribution and revenge, this narrower path is opened up by a novel phenomenon: forgiveness. We see this new dynamic at work toward the conclusion of the musical, when Eliza Schuyler Hamilton somehow finds a way forward with her husband Alexander after betrayal and grief.”

The author also comments on Hamiton’s musing about the course the Revolution will take, saying

Near the opening of the show, a young Alexander Hamilton reflects on the prospects for the movement for independence. War, it seems, is a necessity; the revolution is coming and Hamilton is committed to fighting for it. But, he wonders, “If we win our independence, is that a guarantee of freedom for our descendants? Or will the blood we shed begin an endless cycle of vengeance and death with no defendants?” […]

The dominant image called to mind by the word “revolution” is that of a wheel (from revolvere, “to revolve”) so that as the wheel turns, the cycle progresses. Those who were on the bottom end up on top and those who were on top are laid low—until the next turning of the wheel.

The problem with revolutions is that those who were on the bottom and are newly in charge very quickly use that power to tyrannize those who are now on the bottom. Using a complementary image, the Puritan Roger Williams was among those who observed that those who have been liberated from tyranny rapidly become tyrants themselves. Such hypocrites “persecute when they sit at the helm, and yet cry out against persecution when they are under the hatches” of the ship of state.

This is, of course, the normal course of revolutions, from the successors of Alexander to the French revolution to the Russian and beyond. Yet it didn’t happen in America. Somebody, I believe it was Hannah Arendt but cannot find the quote, said that revolutions are plays in three acts, but the one in America stopped after the second act. We may be witnessing the end of the intermission, now as our home-grown Jacobins attempt to destroy the settlement of 1789.

But the point remains, vengeance in any form is a reaction which leads to another reaction as things increasingly circle the drain. But forgiveness is an action on its own, a grace inspired by God’s grace to us, it has the power to reconcile, as it did in the US after the civil war. There is a reason why Paul wrote to the Romans that:

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Walking …

Holy smokes. I’m just sitting here, shaking my head. What an odd morning this has been. Woke up way early, in the ‘o dark thirties’, left a funny/annoying email for a friend, scanned the headlines on the news feeds, had champion breakfast of wafers and Dew and went to the channel of a young man who does reaction videos to music he’s never heard before. And it was that video that sent me walking.

I was 17 years old then – the whole world ahead of me. But we don’t ever see that, at 17 years old. We think we’re always going to be 17 and anything beyond that seems like myth or science fiction or outright craziness. Who knew? And if someone had told me so, I would have nodded and then laughed it away. 17 is forever. It just is. I distinctly remember turning 17 – the breakfast conversation with my mom. Every year she would ask the same thing and the only time the answer changed was when I turned 17. She asked me, “Feel any older?” and I looked up at her and said yes. Because I really did feel older – like some amazing thing had happened overnight and I was suddenly this 17-year-old person – who was this new person? I remember it so clearly.

It was 1969. I don’t care what anybody says, there was only one event of import that year and that was Woodstock. Did you ever give a party and have 500,000 people show up? Woodstock did. No – I didn’t go. My dad was a cop; there was NO WAY one of his daughters was going to do something like that. It’s ok though – the documentaries are enough. The good ones, anyway. If you don’t mind the rental fee, you can view the documentary on YT (probably $3.99). I saw it free on PBS the following year. It was as good (but cleaner, lol!) as being there. The music acts – good gracious, Ignatius. Sly and the Family Stone (I wanna take you HIGHER, BOOM SHAKA LAKA), Joe Cocker – A Little Help from My Friends (I thought he had a physical impairment – turned out be the effects of drugs and alcohol), Joan Baez (I Dreamed About Joe Hill Last Night – organizer song), Jimi Hendrix – The National Anthem; Country Joe and the Fish – Whoopie, We’re All Gunna Die and the ‘F’ song, lol!, Lovin’ Spoonful (so lame against all that mega-talent). The list goes on. The music was something else. I don’t have sufficient adjectives. You either get it or you don’t.

So … yeah, it was a long walk this morning. A walk I seem to be taking a lot lately. Walking … down memory lane.

 

Hilarious!

Girl and computer

I was in my early (is there such a thing?) forties when a neighbor taught me how to sew. I was so excited; I’d always wanted to sew and I was finally getting the chance. She showed me how to cut out a pattern, how to match up the markings, explained seam allowance, and all those things that help to make your sewing successful. We had the cut material, all pinned against accidental movement, and she told me to sit down. It was as exciting as sitting behind the wheel of a car for the first time when you are learning to drive. We take a folded piece of material for me to practice on, drop the presser foot on it, and she tells me to press the foot pedal to make the machine sew. A miracle! I sat there, tense as all get out, concentrating as hard as I could. And then I started laughing. I mean, laughing my behind off! I was so intent on this brand new thing I was doing, rather than watching the material against the line edge, my head was going up and down with the needle! Go ahead; it’s alright; she laughed, too.

I should probably never tell that story but it’s so innocently sweet, I can’t help myself. And now you won’t be surprised when I tell this …

I’ve watched all of Netflix I care to, a lot of the movies I’d like to see again aren’t on Amazon Prime, I’m bored like a kid during spring break so I needed to find something to capture my attention. I like to play mahjong solitaire but it’s basically a sight game, like a ‘collapse two’ game, matching tiles to remove them from the board. What’s fun, and why it never gets boring, is the puzzles are always in different patterns – sometimes flowers, sometimes letters or numbers, sometimes animal shapes. It has no sound so it doesn’t drive me – or anyone around me – crazy. I enjoy it very much but that much quiet can get to you. What to do? I had binged my favorite series on Netflix so often that I didn’t need to watch them, I could listen to the dialog and follow the stories and only look at them if there was an episode I especially liked, but I’d play mahjong and listen and I was a happy camper. And then, I watched the last episode of the last favorite series and now had nothing to keep me company while I played.

YouTube! Home of the sublime and the ridiculous! I rummaged around for a while and decided on the videos of Alexander Scourby reading the books of the Bible! Brilliant! I can waste time AND improve my soul and spirit at the same time! My day slows down (if that’s possible) around three and so I picked the Book of Matthew to finish today and then started Mark to keep me company when Matthew was finished. I am so grateful no one is around.

Grateful because here I sit, in a room all alone, nodding and agreeing with what Jesus is saying! Disciples ask a question and I answer it. Or, I give editorial comment, such as when the disciples say they can take the baptism that Jesus has (meaning the Cross) and I say, with attitude and head/neck movement, “Right; you THINK you can!”

See? I don’t need a party. I AM a party! I think I’m hilarious!

 

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