For the love of guns and flooding

The typical thing would be to say, “I’m not looking for a debate” when posting about a touchy subject. The reason we’d state that is because we just want to speak our minds without being challenged. We want to believe what we already believe and nothing more, nothing less. It’s our right, I suppose, to our opinion where things like this are concerned.

The river is flooding the town here.

I look at this flooding, around the issue of mass shootings, gun violence in general and the specter of “gun control” in this country and I think, This is the river and the river is flooding the town.

We are drowning, one by one. The fields are marshy. The cars cannot move. The water has risen to the point where we forget where it ends and where we begin. The water is cold, but we’ve been in it so long that we have forgotten the cold. It’s tempting, perhaps, to speculate that it is the water that’s warmed to our skin, rather than to recognize the truth of it. We’re losing touch. Our skin is numb. We cannot feel our feet or hands. Extremities have no more information to give us.

We cannot leave it all to the civil engineers. This is our town, after all. It’s important for us to keep moving, to support the work of the people who are meant to help us understand what’s happening. When they look at the river, we want to know that they see the river bed, the water, the boundaries, the tributaries, the ocean that feeds it. We want to be sure they see the weather patterns, the global implications, the wheat fields and strip mining. We want to support the clean-up efforts, the burial rites, the grief process, the replanting along the riverbank.

We are drowning here.

Come up to the high ground. It’s a sacrifice to leave the trenches dug out to protect long-held beliefs, property, fears that have been inlaid since we were young, injured, fortified. It’s not enough to dig the trenches. The water is too much. The river is too swollen. The factors are too many and too powerful.

And we are drowning here.

It’s time to come up to high ground. We all want to live.

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The myth of the interrupted life

I spent all day at the Apple Genius Bar because my phone sputtered a bit then died last night just before bed. I cradled it against my heart for a moment before shuffling to my laptop to make the appointment I hoped would cure it of its ills. I rearranged my schedule. I shifted my focus. This was the day I was meant to really get stuff done, you know. I’m certain that if it were not for this wicked thing that happened to my phone I’d have kicked the butt of the universe of paperwork and house upkeep I’ve let pile up around this joint.

The first 20 minutes or so I was just waiting. The next 30 I was trying to explain what happened and waiting while the tech did everything I had done at home. After that it was kind of a blur as I tried to figure out how to contact my lunch date to tell her I was stuck in what was either the waiting room to Heaven or to Hell.

“I have no phone” I kept thinking. I tried to see it as a gift of some sort. I tried to be all Zen about that and breathe the moment as it were. I went over to Starbucks and got me a latte while I was waiting for the angels (or demons) at Apple to fix my little beauty. Everyone had bent necks, looking down at their devices, laughing and maybe grimacing from time to time. I felt the way I had the day that Dave and I took a trip to Alcatraz on a tour boat. We all wore headsets at first to hear the recorded tour guide give tidbits of information. We took our headphones off, Dave and I, just to allow ourselves to watch what was in front of us. At various prescribed times the entire load of passengers would turn to the left or to the right. Heads nodded all together. Smiling at the same time. Gasping when appropriate. It was mesmerizing.

So I sat in that Starbucks and I watched everyone, fascinated and yet still lacking something. This lacking was not so much the constant entertainment my phone offers but rather, the connection, the ability to check my parking meter before it expired, the ability to text my kid at school to say I couldn’t pick him up, the ability to shift more things around that afternoon so that I could sit and wait patiently for the tech to finish up.

When I did finally retrieve my phone I treated it with great care and concern, not checking too many things, not asking too much of it. I kept it charging and comfortable and then I sat and lamented the interruption of my life. I wasted that whole day in the Apple store. By the time i sat down to write I felt overwhelmed. I felt blurry and dizzy. I felt as though I just needed a nap. I did everything I could to avoid doing much of anything, doing laundry, finishing up paperwork, gathering tax forms, working on the essays that have deadlines approaching…I felt had no words, save for these.

What’s interesting to me though as I sit here and lament 1)my addiction to my phone and 2)the interruption of my life today with getting it fixed, is that believing that my life was interrupted today is a myth. Life isn’t interrupted. It’s just life. This is it. The texts and the appointments and the cuddles with kids after school, those are all life. The broken ceiling fan and the furnace or iPhone that died this week, those are also life. This is all a varied and glittering assortment of life I got going on here. It’s all my life, all of it. To steal a phrase from Richard Rohr, “everything belongs.”

So, I’m resting in that and in this humble reach at getting words on the page today. It’s all life.

the common denominator…

He sat at the kitchen table, head in hands, moaning. Even as a very young child, Chet always reacted to stressful moments of “I have no idea” in this same way. From across the room I called out cautiously, “Everything ok? You need help?” He lifted his head, his big almond eyes cresting with tears but his voice angry, “Yes. I hate this. I don’t know how to do this.”

Chet’s only been in a “real” school for a couple of months and inevitably he’s encountering concepts we had not covered in homeschooling or concepts we covered and he didn’t really imbibe. In any case, his frustration was clear. I admit, I was reluctant to jump in too quickly. Math was never something I was able to imbibe with any consistency. My brain just didn’t drink it in, oil and water…I wasn’t sure I’d be of much help.

When I looked at his paper I saw that he had completed a good portion of the problems but the “puzzle” he was meant to solve with the answers made no sense. His approach was off. He had to erase it all and start again. This news was greeted with renewed moaning, his head returning to his hands.

“You have to start with the greatest common denominator,” I said, “you have to figure out where these two guys meet, where they intersect, what they have in common. It’s like right now they don’t speak the same language.” I pointed to the fractions, stunned, frankly, that I even remembered how to add them at all. “They’re Republicans and Democrats trying to have a conversation about policy or freedom or social programming. They can’t even come together to figure out what they have together until they know what they have in common. See?”

I’d like to say at this point that perhaps he looked up at me with a wide, innocent 12 year old gaze of admiration, a moment of recognition, of “getting it” on several deep levels all at once but that’d be overstating it. What really happened is that he nodded, picked up his eraser and began the messy process of beginning again. “I think I remember this a little” he said with some reluctant resilience. I leaned over his shoulder and watched for a minute or two while he worked, blowing away the random bits of graphite and rubber eraser from his page, noticing the traces left on the page of past mistakes, making room for new attempts, for the pursuit of the common denominator.

Missives: This is your life…

Dear one,

This is your life-

the trials,

the joys,

the late night worry,

the best chocolate dessert you ever tried,

the vacation,

the work day,

the school friends,

the people you hold close when the storm comes,

the losses,

the big wins,

the tears in the dark,

the laughing til you ache,

the sudden realization that you’ll never be this age again,

the sudden realization that when you die the world will continue,

and that you may never know what kind a impact you will have left.

We don’t get to know that.

So today remember that everything you do or  say leaves an imprint, every action speaks into the wide unknown universe, every word leaves a trail of crumbs to the divine. Today, make the smallest effort the breathe that in and be thankful, because this is your life.

Don’t forget.

-mrs m.

New

I will say today, Happy New Year and I will mean it with all sincerity.  I think the reason I look to the New Year with such hope and anticipation may be most simply put, because it involves the word “New.”

I’m thinking that I will introduce a new concept this year….  Happy New Month, Happy New Week and Happy New Day.  Now that I think upon it, every moment is new to me.  Perhaps I will begin Happy New Moment…thus taking the time to realize that what HAS been may not be again.  
In this way it might be possible for me to be in that moment; to offer thanks, to lament loss, to christen joy, to breathe deep knowing that another breath comes directly and it is mine as well.    

So I wish a Happy New Year to all of us…this moment, this breath…it is yours whether happy or not…it is yours.
 peace today
Mrs M 

Cold Comfort

The other night my three year old woke up from a nightmare AND was experiencing leg cramps to boot. He was inconsolable. It was the middle of the night. He would not take ANY comfort measures from me; soft words, cuddling, kisses, gatorate, tylenol nothing. It was the worst feeling seeing him in pain and not being allowed to comfort him at all.

He just kept wailing and kicking at me each time I tried to pick him up. He looked at me and said, “I don’t want you…I don’t like you!” I knew that he didn’t really mean that….at least I knew that in my heart, my 2am brain was not so sure. It was hard to even imagine what to do next. All I could think was that he was still somewhat asleep and did not grasp the fact that I was there and that I was designed specifically to come to his aid at this point in his life.

I turned on the lights in the room nearly blinding us both. He continued to cry for a moment and then blinked up at me. Then his cry changed. He wasn’t angry anymore. He rubbed his calf and moaned “Oh, my poor, poor, leg.” At this point I sat next to him and asked softly if he would let me help him and he nodded yes. He was still in pain but he knew now from where his help would come.

That is where we begin. We cry out in pain, in anger, in desperation and in the dark. Sometimes comfort cannot happen while we are still a little asleep. Sometimes we need to really awaken and let the light nearly blind us before we can see that someone we love and trust is standing close, ready to love us. Sometimes it takes that awareness to move us from fear into comfort.