We can’t grasp the infinite

venus-of-willendorfI was thinking today about how our image of God (if you have one) colors who we are and how we think. If anthropology tells us correctly the images of God dug up from very old civilizations were mostly feminine. Women with bulbous breasts and often pregnant. The idea that women created life brought about ideas of their sacredness.

I don’t know that I have ever read any study that gives a step by step progression of how and why that image changed. Might be fun to look that up but I suspect it had to do with the shift from a hunter-gatherer society to a less mobile farming one. As civilization progressed roles continued to be defined and somehow the God as woman shifted. In many cultures there were multiple Gods connected with the perception that Gods controlled the vagaries of the earth and could be appealed to to bring good outcomes.

As God, melded into a single entity in several cultures that entity was primarily male. Our Christian beginnings, linked to the Jewish culture, were firmly entrenched in a male image.

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All this being said how does this affect how we think? If we see a male, patriarchal God we will expect a male dominated society. Our society has had this aspect for quite a long time. If we believe in a God we have to learn to see God as more. God as feminine, God as neutral, God as gay, transgender or whatever allows us to feel connected with the divine. This idea can be offensive to some but the point is we connect with a God who is like us for right or wrong. That is why some people have had a difficult time with images of god. The image we have definitely colors our thinking. It is time we espouse a very broad image. After all, we can’t possibly grasp the infinite. Don’t put God in a box.

Stupid words

words can hurtThis is a re-blog of something I wrote a while ago. It came up recently and so I thought it needed to be said again.

 

People can say stupid things. It is amazing to me that they don’t really think about what they are saying. When I ran a grief support group I heard some goodies.

 

You can have another baby (to someone who just had a miscarriage)

God needed another angel in heaven ( to someone who lost a child)

 Your husband wouldn’t want you to be sad (to a new widow)

I’m sure things are better now (to someone whose wife died a few months ago)

God never gives us more than we can handle (to someone who lost two teenagers in an accident)

Everything will be alright (to someone diagnosed with a fatal illness)

Sometimes when we don’t know what to say we can fall into the trap of saying something stupid or offensive. We may not mean it that way but that is how it comes out. When people are going through tough times they don’t need to hear these kind of answers. They need to hear

Can I bring dinner by tomorrow?

I’m going to a movie tomorrow can I pick you up?

I am so sorry

I will call you soon (only if you really will)

Give a hug

Cry with them

Solid concrete help is what is needed. Only say what you mean. If you can help try to do something specific. Don’t just say “how can I help?” Instead ask if you can pick up children, run an errand, offer a day out. Each individual needs different things. You have to gauge what will help.

compassion-is-a-verbMost importantly offer compassion and love. Nothing is more needed. If you have suffered a similar loss you may understand better what they are going through but don’t assume it will be exactly the same. Just being there is critical. Don’t just say something…..do something!

 

In the midst of life we are in death.

In the midst of life we are in death. This phrase is often heard at funerals. What does this mean? It is a reminder that life and death are linked. From the moment we are born we are dying. That is not morbid it is just the truth. In fact, from the moment we are conceived we are dying. We are set into motion like the winding of a clock. At some point it will wear down and stop. In our world it can be snuffed out by an illness, accident or crime but nevertheless we each have an expiration date.

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Some cultures accept this fact easier than those of us in the western world. We worry about death. We can feel fear and panic just thinking about it.

Before I was a nurse I had ideas about death. I never wanted to think about it or be with someone at their death.  After being at many deaths I have changed my feelings. I have seen people in so much distress that death is a friend.

Most of the people I have been with just slipped quietly away. No anxiety, no visible fear. Some spoke to relatives on the other side. Whether they really saw them I don’t know but I would like to think they did. Some expressed peace.

A long time ago I complained to a minister friend that I was upset about the death of a child in an accident. I fumed that her life had been cut short. He said he had a different perspective. He viewed each person’s life as a candle that burned until it went out. That could be when the candle is completely burned or just after it is lit. Each person has a life span that is different. This view was a comfort to me and still is.

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Death is not something to fear. When we remove that from our minds life becomes brighter. It is not easy to do and we may waver from time to time. It is difficult to imagine not being alive and can produce sadness when we wish we would still be around to see grandchildren or great grandchildren marry and have children of their own.

 

No matter our age and the length of life no one wants to be gone. Life is beautiful in spite of any trials we face. The important thing is to treasure each moment and when we come to the end say “I have lived!”

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We’ve always done it this way

done itYesterday I wrote about”status quo.” Today I have been thinking about it from a different perspective. The culture that most of us live in likes to maintain itself just as it is. In the US the congress and senate do not want to make changes. I know they realize that they are in a wonderful place and certainly don’t want to change. How I would love to make laws that I don’t have to follow, raise my own pay, decide on my own retirement and have health insurance that is better than anyone else in the country. This is a very negative sort of “status quo.” It is unfortunate that there is probably no way to change any of this short of revolution and that is not an acceptable option.

Lawmakers are not the only ones who like the “status quo.” There are many churches, synagogues, mosques etc. who also have a vested interest in no change. A religious facility is one place where your focus must be on what your faith requires of you and not on spending lots of money on buildings and taking care of yourself. For most faiths the emphasis is on others. It is important to put focus on the poor, the disenfranchised, the homeless and all those in any need. Just perpetuating yourself is not an option.

I understand where religion is concerned I am guilty of being a part of maintaining the “status quo.” It is so easy to slip into that mode. We convince ourselves that drawing people in requires beautiful buildings and that may be a factor. It is where the percentage of money goes that we miss.

There are, of course, many other institutions who maintain the “status quo” to the detriment of our culture but that may be another blog.

positive changeAll in all, just staying the way we “have always been” is not always the right path. Change can be positive even though hard.  Change is inevitable. Helping to make it good starts with us. Every change has a chain reaction. Do something and let’s make it good.

Don’t tell me

life fragile

Life is so fragile. One minute everything can be fine and the next someone can be gone. Our bodies survive so much but there are limits. We tend to live as if nothing will ever be wrong and maybe this is how it should be. If we spend each day worrying about what will happen next we will drive ourselves crazy. The truth is there is not much we can do about the future except to hope we have one.

 

AHEAD

what is to come

we can’t know

it’s not here yet

I can’t see

 

Do I want to know

no and no

for knowing

can break me

 

I may see joy

or fear

or pain

who knows

 

to see ahead

no and no and no

please don’t tell me

it can’t be borne

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©Suzanne Boyd 2019

Are we too clean?

It is interesting where our search for complete cleanliness has led us. We have gone too far. Doctors are now recommending that we stop using antibacterial soap except in places where it is really needed. We have created a society of people who are actually to clean.

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I grew up with a grandmother who was born in the 19th century. One of her adages was “You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die.” Turns our she was on target. A recent article by a British physician who has studied childhood leukemia for the last 30 years has come to the conclusion that our immune system has to be kick started by, you guessed it, infection. He has found that lack of push to the immune system linked with several other factors is what is increasing the number of children diagnosed with this disease.

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This is no fly by night physician but a newly knighted doctor named Mel Greaves.  If you would like to read the article you can find it at

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/dec/30/children-leukaemia-mel-greaves-microbes-protection-against-disease?CMP=share_btn_link

It is an eye opener. I suppose that my great grandson, who is in day care and exposed to everything, may be safe from this dread childhood disease. At least I hope that there is some benefit from being exposed at an early age.

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God willing, this physician and those who work with him will continue to explore this lead and find a way to stop the increase in this disease.

 

I can’t hear but I don’t care

What-I-Cant-Hear-You-Jude-Samson-Culture-Transgender-UniverseIt is sad to watch people whose hearing in declining and who won’t do anything about it. When with friends you can see them sitting without joining in on the conversation. They can’t hear others but they are unwilling to get hearing aids. Unfortunately, I can see this in my group of friends. I am not sure why hearing aids are an anathema to them. They don’t realize that not hearing well isolates them from others.

I know that the cost of hearing aids has been a factor but recently tech companies have realized that the cost was being controlled by those in the business. Technology has grown to the point that it is possible to create decent hearing aids that work for most people. Before the cost was exorbitant but now it is possible to get help for a reasonable price.

help want toThe most recent studies have shown that not hearing well leads to a decline in mental acuity, withdrawal from social activities, and a decline in overall health. I still don’t understand why some seem to find using this simple tool as unimaginable. I don’t know what would be the trigger to undo this thinking but I wish I knew what it is. Discussing the impact with them (as a nurse) doesn’t seem to get through.

 

Why this kind of thinking?

What can be done?

Any ideas?