Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I can attest that God at times uses unorthodox (a subjective word in itself) means to draw me closer to Him. Just this morning, I am feeling snug within my faith, within my perceived (and actual) relationship to a living, transcended Godhead as described in the Judaic and Christian testaments. I’ve been listening to an audiobook by Karen Armstrong called “A Short History of Myth” which timelines the stories and methods people, since the beginning, have used to stretch their arms upwards in a longing for spiritual meaning. She instructs me on how the Judaic story fits into this historical picture. She instructs me that the word “myth” is used to represent a transformative, transcendent belief system that people within certain circumstances use therapeutically or socially to improve their understanding of life.

She tells me about the age of enlightenment period in which empirical rationalism becomes a lasting force and, at times, disavows the subjective stuff of the heart and emotions. How science also attaches itself to weapons of destruction in today’s world. How adulation of icons from Hollywood do not speak to the epic need for spiritual tending which our history tells us is necessary.

I’ve always been interested in how all of this pieces together. How Baal in Old Testament came to be worshiped and how the Israelites worked (and fought) within this mythological framework. Yes, from this listening, it became important for me to accommodate and sift and draw from it the reason for why I believe and hold on to those subjective (and objective) truths of faith in Jesus Christ as a resurrected reality. Although I can’t speak for the other people who were born in other parts of the world, I know that I’m grateful to have this heritage, even though I probe and pick at it for understanding on how it developed in such a pluralistic world of beliefs. I know that the relationship aspect of it is true which makes it living and viable.

The religious consciousness has always fascinated me, and I hope to learn lots more about how and in what way humanity responds to this need.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

We just had a family meeting; my husband, o conciliatory one, talked while I kept quiet because I've had a disquietude about my daughter all day, worried that she'll be bad attitudinal forever, worried that she won't ever clean her room, worried that she'll spend the entire planet's money in one hour, worried that I will never ever again see her natural hair color again, worried that I'll blow up after all that fretting. The meeting went well; our ten year old son piped up that we need to start again to have those elusive weekly family fun nights, and now he's excited, planning, eagerly anticipating mom, dad, son, sister. Just tonight too our neighbor girl middle school friend came over, and she wanted my opinion on starting a cul-de-sac newsletter, of going caroling with one another, of finding out about each other's basketball and soccer games.
I guess, post Thanksgiving, that community is in the air, and I should just submit and quit hiding out listening to my ipod audiobook (another post):). Life happens all around. Kids really do rule the world. Submit.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

It was like walking in a black and white photograph today on my mother-in-law’s crop farm. The dark river soil announced its somber treasury, like a king on a costly battlefield, under a gray sky, below stark branch outline. Dark birds flew away looking for color in another faraway place. We walked around hunched, cold, picking up brown pecans with black flecked shells. The black and white farm cat (Cahokia) and the black and tan dogs walked around on the dead gray grass, looking up at us for attention. I half expected to see MacBeth go galloping by on a black horse directed towards an evil deed (I only say this for my friend’s Shakespearean benefit:).

I was surrounded by my family, though (hunched though we were – hunched not unhappily I might add), and they kept me adrift from sinking into any type of gloom. One kept teasing me about my burnt pie (may I proclaim that it has been a bad pie year for me!). My mother-in-law giggled something fierce about everything which kept me silly and lighthearted. The men were throwing balls around, hitting people whenever possible. My husband kept grabbing me for a kiss. The children were herding Cahokia’s kitten as if life held nothing more than small paws and purrs.

Yes, Spring emblazons all, but late fall around Thanksgiving forces you to take stock of what you have and don’t have around you. I felt full for what I do have: family members who regularly appear out of the haze to help alleviate the loneliness (and the beauty) of the starkness.

Thank you, thank you, gracious, gracious Giver.

Friday, November 18, 2005

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons,” says the memorable Prufrock whose voice resides in my consciousness and squeaks out at various moments when I am most parceled out and undecided and flotatious. Crazy how fine literature becomes embedded.
Or, perhaps I’m just tired and fear that my forthcoming bed is the most solid position available to me at the moment.
My spiritual life is where? Could it be defined as mature without need of corresponding emotion? Could it be defined as cold and waning? Could it be seen as core comfort? Like many relationships, I’ve always felt the definition of it to be a bit changeable. At one moment, it could be described as thick, uncrackable, ice-skatable. The next, a splintering sound denies any projection of weight, of claim.
“In the room the women come and go talking of Michelangelo.”
I’ve entertained the same activity for several months now. Talking of something for the pleasure of the talk, the mouth, eyes, hair, friend behind the words. Bargaining with boredom for bits of diversion. Allowing the hour to hurry past within which I wander.
Like talking over coffee about Jesus and eyewitness differences.
How faith is not science.
How the afterlife is imaginative.
My preferred company of late is skeptical, material, satisfactorily diverting me to teaspoon talking on such subjects, Gentile to Jew who will refuse to ever believe in subjective signs of a spiritual nature. I’m paddling with our relational current, thinking I know my banks, solid ground, oak. One day, I could possibly be far out, though, left alone, and I will wonder how to get back home to solidity. And will it be worth it to linger in the chambers of the sea as Prufrock ultimately asks? To drown?

The swirl of the stirring by the teaspoon in the porcelain cup may break it. This I know which calls to consciousness his voice once more which says,
“And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.”
T.S. Eliot => quite the genius to spread it all out like that, like a patient needing to be examined.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

While my son was entertaining one of our middle school neighbors, I sat in my room practicing my guitar and singing some songs from the big three ring binder which holds ALL songs which must be preserved. One year, I found an internet site that had lots and lots of bluegrass lyrics, and since my Dad was a master of “na, na, na, na”, I decided to make compiling a project. I printed off the site’s song title list, and he checked off the tunes that he “remembered” knowing at some point or time.I copied and enlarged and enumerated and alphabetized all of these into a songbook, which I had copied into about 15 sets. Now when I go to his house, we pull out the binder and work our way through from A (A Beautiful Life) to U (The Unclouded Day) which wipes me out completely but not him. :)

Since then, I’ve put in some other folk, alternative, rock classics which I use to practice chords (like “American Pie” for one) which aren’t too bluegrassy (E7m, Dm, A7, etc).
Anyway, because I started taking guitar lessons this week to learn how to read guitar music (I play by ear), I decided to practice up.

Soon I heard the middle school girl neighbor in the hallway listening, and she said, “Wow, that sounds really good.” We love this girl who is always welcomed in our home (she’s down in the basement now playing video games – Been here for about three hours!), and I would adopt her if I could. She’s great fun and is about the only person who is able to play with Cody for any prolonged amount of time. She’s the daughter of one of the two black families on our cul-de-sac (I’m glad our cul-de-sac is at least diverse – we have an Asian family two doors down as well.)

Anyway, I invited her to come in and sing with me, and we leafed through my songbook looking for a song that she knew. Hardly anyone under the age of 40 knows traditional bluegrass, so I flipped through these songs very quickly! Then slowly I flipped through the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkle, Lucinda Williams, Hank Williams, Pure Prairie League, John Lennon, Chuck Berry …. She thought she had heard of the Beatles, but she didn’t know for sure. Finally, we came to one we both knew, one we thought we could perform at a cul-de-sac celebration. Happily we sat on the bed together singing the only song we had in common: I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.

Oooooh we were awesome together! We’re going to start a band together now and everything. :)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I know that one should have an opinion on something when one writes a blog. My friend over at In a Strange Land (see side bar) is so excellent at opinions. I could see her with a radio talk show or something, leading her kind of tribe. Opinions have never been one of my fortes. I mean I possess a few, but they are typically subtle and feeling-full. Until they spill over in the form of an affective-style observation or critique or a connection that I have the means to articulate in some form or stutter. Perhaps it’s the musician or poet in me (I compliment my own self! Or insult!), it just comes along differently than my friend – and we’ve talked about how this relates to our individual Myers-Briggs scores (I’m an ENFP).

Anyhow, this has been a crazily social week. My panting extrovert side has conquered any meditative muse within. The Nickel Creek concert was excellent; however, being with thirteen of my friends made me happier. The Creek’s music was disappointingly soft also – I’m used to being encircled by the sound of these instruments – kitchen surround sound, I call it, when the Ozarkian bluegrassers besiege the dining set and use the chairs (for sittin’) and linoleum floor (for tappin’). The contained sounds always swirled so robustly in this musical wind tunnel that filtered out onto the dark yard where the kids played tag, or the living room where the women chatted. So, with Nickel Creek, I didn’t experience that immersion of sound as such that reminds me of bluegrass (although they’re more bluegrass pop). Although when Lucinda Williams played at this club, she immersed me in style, stories, songs. However, I was standing far back at the Nickel Creek concert, with lots of heads, shoulders, swaying bodies instead to see. They are an excellent band, though; we said hello to Sarah afterwards as she made her way to her bus.

Tonight, my book club meets at a friend’s house who has a reputation for making a meal that assaults any lack of appetite and forces one to surrender to a form of hedonistic saturation. I’ll be a willing captive. Mmmmm….. We’ll be discussing “The Secret Life of Bees”, a lovely life, healing affirming story (I can just hear definitive theological opinions, though, being given, about it; thankfully, this isn’t a one believer type group, so we should have a variety of opinions which is something we pride ourselves on.) These meetings have meant much to me over the last six years … and it’s tonight, yeah! I have a couple of apple pies to whip up in a couple of hours still.

If you don’t have a circle of women friends, or a book club, it’s my opinion that you should start one. It’s easy (that's relative, I realize); you pick a few people with whom you want to stay in touch with; they can pick a few people, and so it grows. We women desire such connection, and it’s marvelous when it becomes a haven from the world.

Only four more hours to go until I will be at the table, plunging with the fork and the tongue (or the forked tongue for the night if that's the protocol:) into the feast. Must go peel my apples and do my part!

Monday, November 07, 2005

My son has been practicing his husbandry skills lately. He boiled hot dogs, he set the table, he stirred up some Strawberry Kookaid, he washed himself with water and soap, and he paid the pizza man one night. (Oh, this last sentence is quite telling about our eating habits around here….)

Perhaps this coincides with the square dancing at school which has been making him into victorian gentleman. He’s noticed a change in himself as well because when he returned from P.E. (and square dancing) last week, he said, “Well, at least I haven’t pushed my girl partner down like I did in first grade.”

Some fine woman will be mighty fortunate to wed my well-mannered man some day. :)

Today’s a busy day. I’m running with a friend this morning, Cody has drum lessons at noon, and then we have our coop school in the afternoon. I have two more weeks of teaching creative writing to these awesome kids. We like to have fun. We like to play as we write. I love them! Next semester, I’ll be assisting a friend in her class.

Tomorrow, I coordinated a concert outing to see Nickel Creek. After purchasing their album, I discovered they’re coming to town tomorrow. Ten of my book club friends are going with me. How exciting!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

There is a love like a small lamp, which goes out when the oil is consumed; or like a stream, which dries up when it doesn’t rain. But there is a love that is like a mighty spring gushing up out of the earth; it keeps flowing forever, and is inexhaustible.
Isaac of Nineveh (6th century)