Frantic to Peaceful Sleep

“It is but lost labour that we haste to rise up early, and so late take rest, and eat the bread of anxiety. For those beloved of God are given gifts even while they sleep.”

This is a quote from the beginning prayers of Night Prayer from”A New Zealand Prayer Book.” 

franticNow with Christmas on the way we will begin our mad dash to get everything ready. Presents to be bought, baking to do, parties to attend. There is so much we think we have to do. As the quote says we rise early and go to bed late. In between we obsess about the things we haven’t done yet. We are the creators of the pressure we are under. We can’t turn loose of our control. We won’t let ourselves fall down on the job.

As the time draws closer we become more and more anxious. Anxiety becomes an even more part of life. We Christians are not the only ones who are frantic. Hanukkah is coming also and events for others. Even many agnostics and atheists can get caught up in the commercial part of the season. It leaves very few untouched.

For those of us who grew up with the Christmas traditions it can seem magical. People seem nicer. Charities receive donations and people help each other more. The sad part is that we do all this in one short season. Then we seem to go to sleep until the following year. Showing kindness, helping others, and sharing what we have should go on all year. Somehow we need to learn to carry it forward. Think what a wonderful world it would be if we did.

sleep

Maybe then we would not be frantic for a month and take the gifts that God gives us even when we sleep.

Infinite intimate God

moses chI have been pondering images of God. How do we see God? If asked I am sure many people would see Charlton Heston (too old for most of you) coming down the mountain with the ten commandments. Some might say the softer image of Jesus in the garden. Our image as children usually changes as we become adults.

There have been interesting books written about this in recent times. In the past I read Models of God by Sallie McFague a theologian who was at Vanderbilt University. She offers some different images than what we normally think about: God as friend; God as lover; God as mother. She says that if we can’t move away from the masculine patriarchal God as our ONLY image that we will never have peace in the world.

Today I read some thoughts from Richard Rohr, A Franciscan  who writes many thought provoking meditations. He wanted us also to think of God as mother. He quoted Marcus Borg, a controversial theologian who died just recently.

“Marcus Borg points out many other good reasons to identify and honor the female (as well as non-gendered) images of God throughout the Bible:

  • Male images for God are often associated with power, authority, and judgment. When used exclusively, they most often create an image of a punitive God. God must be appeased or else.
  • Male images for God most often go with patriarchy—with male primacy and domination in society and the family.
  • Male images of God most often go with domination over nature. Nature is often imaged as female (“mother earth”) and domination over women extends to a rapacious use of nature.

Female images of God suggest something different. God is the one who gave birth to us and all that is. God wills our well-being, as a mother wills the well-being of the children of her womb. God is attached to us with a love that is tender and that will not let us go. And like a mother who sees the children of her womb threatened and oppressed, God can become fierce.”

infinite-GodI think Borg has some thought provoking ideas about embracing more than one image of God. We have to expand our thinking and stop putting God in the “masculine” box. God is so much more than that. God is much more than we can ever understand

Work, Love, Dance

Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching. Satchel Paige

bubblesAre we really living life? What does it mean to do this? I really don’t know the answer but have been thinking about it. The thoughts in the quote above do give some answers. Without work life can have little meaning. I think some kind of work is essential to humanity. I see the results of no work in people who have lived their whole lives as welfare dependents. No matter how complete they seem there is something missing. It is as if a puzzle piece has been left out. There is something enriching about work. It gives life purpose and can bring a sense of accomplishment even if we only put a cog in a wheel.

I can’t imagine life without love. I’m not talking about the romantic emotion that draws us to another but the deeper connection that reflects unconditional love. It can come to us in many forms: parent-child, friend-friend, lover- lover. If we are blessed we will have many kinds of love in our lives. Knowing that we are loved gives us a sense of self worth. Love adds such meaning to life.

step outNow we come to dance. There is so much meaning behind this statement. He doesn’t just mean dance but live! Live without fear of what others think. Follow your dreams. Explore ideas. Learn all you can. Dance.

These are some thoughts on living life. Am I doing it? Are you?

Mistakes lead to

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. Will Rogers

mistakesI saw this quote and have been thinking about it. Learning does come from making mistakes. My father used to say “do what I say, not what I did.” What he said was from his experiences. His education in the world of hard knocks taught him much.

mistakes 2We have all made mistakes. Some of the small some of the whoppers. Mistakes teach us more than our successes. I think that is because we remember them better. My youngest child was good at learning from her brother and sister’s mistakes. They fussed at her for not getting into trouble. She told them she watched what they did and didn’t make the same mistakes. Most of us don’t learn that well from the mistakes of others.

This is the 500th year anniversary of Martin Luther posting the theses on the church door. Luther was concerned about how the church at the time handled sins. From his reading of the Bible (in Latin) Luther realized that the church was wrong to sell indulgences. People paid money to have their sins forgiven and a free pass into heaven. The church officials got rich on the proceeds. Luther’s understanding of the Bible led him to believe that we are all given God’s grace. God is aware that we are imperfect and we make mistakes. That’s what forgiveness is all about. We can’t earn our way into heaven. We will never be good enough.

imageA lot of our stress and anxiety comes from what other people think of us and how we see ourselves. God is aware that we make mistakes. We have to strive to see ourselves as God sees us: forgiven. God didn’t make junk and we are his creation. Live into that idea.

Can I choose?

opinionThis blog contains opinions that are mine. If you disagree with me that is fine.

Recently the in the US the state of Texas has set about removing the choices that women have in regard to their lives. The state has made it almost impossible for someone to receive an abortion for any reason whatever. Whether or not you agree with abortion the fact that a group, mostly men, are making decisions about the health of women is abhorrent to me. It feels as if Margaret Atwood’s book is coming true and before long we will be living out The Handmaids Tale (title?).

As a woman, I cannot accept that medical issues of female health are being legislated. I don’t see men’s health issues being handled the same way. What if someone wanted to legislate who could take Viagra? The outcry would be heard round the world.

choiceThis is another one of those ethical issues that I touched on in another blog. It is so difficult for us human beings to parse the complexity of abortion. We have the same difficulty with euthanasia. The whole thing seems to rest on whether we control our own lives or not. Our freedom will necessarily be tied to whether or not we harm others and both of these problems are linked to that. As a nurse I certainly adhere to do no harm but each individual case may have a different answer. Does the government get to decide without knowing the circumstances?

I don’t claim to know the answers. Where does our freedom to choose stop? If you have an answer let me know.

What is right?

moralThere are so many ethical issues that we have today. Some of them almost seem insoluble. Advancements in gene studies have given us major things to wrestle with. Where do we draw the line.

When I was working in Neonatal Intensive Care ( many moons ago) there already was the issue of which babies should be saved and which ones to let go. King Solomon wouldn’t know what to do. Now it is even worse. We do invitro  fertilization and have eggs left over. Scientists want to use eggs that will be discarded tto get stem cells which can be used to help many diseases. Are they “potential” babies or not?

Medicine has challenged many ethical and moral ideas over the centuries. We can do so many things that were not done before. We are living a lot longer and there is a question about prolonging life beyond what is reasonable and moral. Are we using up resources that could better be used for others?

pathThe Bible does help us with its basic moral ground but these things were not issues when the Bible was written. We have to learn to ask questions and spend time understanding the answers in order to make judgments.  Even then there may not be any clear path. Sometimes there are two good choices….sometimes two bad. Who is to decide? It seems that it is up to each of us to understand and make a decision based on our own beliefs. This means that there will be differing opinions and we will have to learn to accept that others may not agree with us. It is important for us to view their decision with tolerance even if they can’t see ours.

God, as always, will be present and knows that we will try to make the best decisions with prayer and compassion.

What did you say?

Recently, my granddaughter, who is taking linguistic anthropology said that she realizes that people seldom understand each other. Language can mean so many different things. If we grew up in different places our usage of words can be very different from others. This can lead to some pretty interesting mistakes.

understandA friend of mine from Britain once said that her downstairs neighbor knocked her up each morning. When I asked for clarity she said he took a broom and knocked on the ceiling of his flat to make sure she was awake.

 

Language is a vague and nebulous way to communicate. Too often we think we have been clear when that is far from reality. My college roommate used to say she was going to red up the room. I had no idea what that meant but found out she was going to clean up. She and I are both from the same country.

quiltLanguage is tricky. Expressing ourselves and opening ourselves to others can have unwanted results. We don’t know how someone is going to react. I know that some blogs have received hate mail in response to something that was posted. It is very easy to misunderstand when someone is sharing thoughts and feelings. We need to be generous in our response to others and know that we may be misunderstanding. It is also possible that we may not agree but it is fine to disagree. Just know that someone is entitled to think differently. We are not all alike!