Tuesday, May 27, 2008

what I do to Steve

I forgot. Well, not totally forgot. I knew it was coming up somewhere here. But tonight 15 or so people are coming to our home to stage a murder dinner. And I forgot. Forgot to tell Steve it was today.

He knows. He knows we have it coming up sometime. I think this makes him crazy, how I can handle things on such last minute notice. It is how I like things, really. They (whoever they are) call it "just in time" information. In my perfect world a lovely person would stand by my side handing me the information I need just before the moment I need it.

Like tonight. We are having a rather large event - tonight. Got that Steve? Be a good sport. Play your part. Oh, and go home early to make the bed.
There may be a murder on Juniper Dr tonight and not at the dinner. sigh

on sustainability

The notion of sustainability is moving the 'green movement' and embedding it into business and cultural values. Social entrepreneurship - taking into account social/environmental needs and building businesses to contribute to solutions - is a growing wave. We've come a long way from the eighties, thank God.

The last retreat I participated in was held in Georgia at Epworth by the Sea. Camping there at the same time we retreated in the center was a group of 5th and 6th grade kids - maybe 50 or so. They were doing environmental studies - collecting samples of life from surrounding rivers and streams. Clearly, from the grins on their muddied faces, it was a great week for them.

One afternoon I was sitting on a rocking chair on a porch when the group met to discuss their evening meal. Apparently they were weighing the waste food from each team. They gave each team a goal weight somewhat below the last night's dinner waste. Awards were promised, enthusiasm raised. Impressive.

These kinds of sensitivities give me hope. The waste generated in America is appalling. We cannot sustain this lifestyle of excess. As I've grown in awareness it is amazing where I see examples that trouble me.

But maybe we are starting to 'get it.' Care of our world is surely part of a healthy spirituality, a sustainable ethos of life. No less but no more than care of each other.

Friday, May 23, 2008

on beauty

I was raised in an atmosphere suspicious of beauty. To be beautiful is to be shallow. To pursue beauty is to be vain. To create beauty is to divert serious attention to frivolous gains. To spend money on beauty is to waste and rob the poor. You are getting it, I am sure...

In spite of that, much of my life I have been compelled to create beauty: stuffing pop bottles with weed blossoms, painting little girl's toenails, arranging art on a mantle, planting flowers, replanting flowers and weeding flower beds, feeding birds, presenting food palatably, and so on. On more than one occasion I have wondered if it is, indeed, foolishness.

Particular to my angst about beauty is the fact that 'serious' women here at the seminary do not seem to be much in mind of it. So to be serious, I wonder, must I cease the pursuit of beauty?

Until Ruth. Ruth is an older woman, fine thinker, wise and spiritual and she once told me that she suffers when she has no beauty around her. Her actual words are, "I need beauty." And until I read about the violinist who sets a chair in the rubble of a war devastated city center in eastern Europe and plays fine classical music to encourage his fellow inhabitants. Not to mention those who build life giving gardens between inner city ghetto buildings, or plow their crop rows straight for the sake of joyful pride, or tie tiny cornrows with beads on the tops of little smiling heads.

Beauty is hope, as I see it. Far from practical, the presence of beauty speaks of the potential of the irrational lavish generosity of life. Attention to beauty happens in the fragile margins of life and can be stolen in a moment. My husband used to ask why I prefer cut flowers to a plant that would continue to grow. I tell him that to have something in my home whose only purpose is to be beautiful, and which, when having accomplished that will simply die, is a measure of richness. Just beauty for beauty's sake alone.

I remember becoming disoriented in a drive through Detroit one Christmas season and finding myself in a sad neighborhood. What struck me was the absolute lack of any decorations, lights, wreaths or bows. No margin - no extras. One house stood out. Cared for in a painstaking way, a simple wreath hung on the front door. I slowed down and looked hard. The neighborhood sadness was eased in that spot.

Beauty is, for me, an essential. Wealth is not essential. Elegance is not essential. Perfection is not essential. But beauty - ah, found in so small a thing as a tiny flower or an old man's twinkling eye - without that, how much poverty we would feel.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

wild thing

My son, the youngest and fullest of bizarre, random information, much of it true, told me today that it only takes six weeks in the 'wild' for a domesticated pig to begin to "go feral."

fe'ral (fir'al) adj wild, untamed; hence savage.

Think of that. What can happen in six weeks. Hair growing long on the back, skin becoming dark, a proclivity to running wild. Sounds like normal summer vacation to me.

on men who do not support the dream

Sitting on the couch with Steve this morning, coffee in hand (which, granted, he made for me and brought to me), and feet up, I lamented, "I have really big feet for a woman." (photo not really my feet ... just serving as example)

To which my husband answered, "MARILYN! You are 52. Your feet will never be any smaller than they are. And your ankles will never be thinner than they are. And frankly, I have very little faith that you will ever be willowy."
I thought it was the reasonable task of a husband of long standing, one to whom a woman has given the best years of her life, one on whom service and sacrifice have not been spared, one who knows his wife's secret dream of being a willowy old lady, to support the dream.

Men and women are fundamentally different in how they think about their bodies. My husband can gain some weight, look pale and flabby and still mow the lawn without a shirt. This for me would be the equivalent of gardening in 'hot pants'. For those of you who don't know what hot pants are, I have attached a modest example ... And can I say that in the 70's I had a pair or two ... and I was a hottie, although you will have to take that by faith. But not now. I would definitely NOT be a hottie bent over in my garden with these things on.

Men wore hot pants too, which made for some embarassing moments. There are some things that need to be kept from the public eye.

So ... bottom line (no pun intended) I'LL SHOW HIM! HE'LL BE SORRY WHEN I'M WILLOWY AND HE ISN'T. or not. whatever. sigh

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

on belly dancing

So, I turned 52 this past week. Very much okay with that.
But also feeling a little old ... not the kind of old that means frail, just tired and a bit defeated about being a physical person.
One gift of being the birthday girl is hearing from friends ... and a friend I knew in Calgary wrote me. Her name is Marion. She is now 81. Her husband is 80. She married her husband when she was 69. We were there at her wedding. She wrote me this ...

Then I felt so young at heart, but I never knew that my job description would change so fast, I now have become pill dispenser (but I don't mind) because the rewards - I get to cuddle my patient every night ( in bed naked). My days, when I am not Nurse Nancy are very busy, I swim three times a week, and once a week I go BELLY DANCING. I have so much fun at those classes. I practice the hip while ushering people in church, and I practice the arm movements, while showing the people to their pews. The best part is the laughing when I tell people that I take Belly Dancing classes, their eyes seem to get brighter and they just laugh and laugh.

Okay. I now dub Marion my guru of getting older. I see the possibilities through her. I will stop complaining about feeling old. And get into some belly dancing lessons. It really IS all in the mind. Maybe I will be svelt and willowy yet!
Hmmm.... wonder who offers belly dancing lessons in Kentucky?