Monday, October 30, 2006

For some reason, in this season of strong natural outdoor pungency, I'm finally appreciating the old time sacrificial system. For instance, a young bull, or a baked bread, or an undefective animal, or a ram, or a tenth of an ephap of fine flour all are outlined for the honor in the chapter of Leviticus.

It's all rather strange still. We like our animals. We hold high the standard we gently call "caretaker" of created life. And, we follow a substitutiary system in the modern faith. However, I find comfort now in knowing that a strong elemental force of spiritual determination involved such sensory activities as burning grain, dipping fingers into blood, and, mostly, laying hands on the animals head in gratitude, honor, and obedience before asking of them the sacrifice.

I think if I lived back then I would cry for the animal, for the warmth of life under the fur, and for the serious commitment that its death would mean. The critter would be unaware in its innocence; the death, for it, would be unjustified. For some reason, I think perhaps this would make me feel even more obligation to attach myself to the meaning behind the symbolic act. It died, therefore, I would live in greater gratitude for what its death meant. Of course, for some, the loss of life itself would mean horror and sorrow and resentment towards the meaning/force behind the act. I've been there myself. Certainly, many wrongful acts of sacrifice have been committed, as we tend to sully things here on earth.

For some reason, though, in this pungent season, I can read this today and appreciate these ways of yielding to the supremacy of Spirit and the methods we've been given to speak to Him. Tangible things of smell and taste and sight, from tangible things like grain, mean, and horns, were the touchstones upon which we demonstrated our desire of communion.

Markers still remain, although different now with the ordained sacrificial act of Christ. I feel elated, at times, to be a part of the intricate, yet simply presented, touchstones of communion which ties back to the earliest records of our faith.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

How pleasant must be the mind of the absolutist, I thought while punishing myself on the treadmill this morning. She/he knows the way to cut through the tangle of thorns I often find myself snagged upon. And, they cut through with such assurance, with a bit of swagger at times, with humble obedience to something in mind perhaps, with their directional compass rarely backtracking or moving to the right or left. They march down the trail, confident of their views, or the views of their advisors.

Perhaps I move also, yet my mind must absorb the particulars within the process, the individual thorns, the patch of light that breaks through. Advisors present their views of where to travel, but ultimately, I must sift it and view the other side of it, and then move on. It's not simply an intellectual process, but also one of an emotive nature. Perhaps it's caution or distrust or need for knowledge and wisdom before assertion. Perhaps it's indecisive foolishness.

All of these swirling thoughts come as a result of the constant croaking of politics that's going on right now. It's a croak which contains loud dissenting toad-views on multiple issues. On one side of the pond, the frogs croak loudly about morality issues, yet many individual frogs have been jabbed in acts of behavioral impropriety; these toads have also bombed the pond next to them which is now red with blood and horrible civil strife. The sanctity of toad life laughed at by the aggression of its neighbors. They also capture others and do not give them a right to a fair trial, as habeus corpus, an old golden rule of treatment, was taken away by their chief. It's quite a morally disappointing time for the frogs on this side. Yet, absolutists who believe in their ideals, and ideals which come from a higher spiritual source, march on for them, despite any deed done. Any damaging reports of these are disregarded with two highly powerful words: liberal press.

The other side seems a safer place to be at the moment. These toads are in the minority and do not have the power to change certain bedrocks of the civilization. They also wave the flag of compassion for the underrepresented on both sides. Supposedly. Yet these toads have no visible leader who can rally; they don't have the token blessing of language on their side which helps them to shape any beliefs into a palpable form which can be delivered to even small toads and be understandable. They don't stand on a rock, like the other toads across from them, as old prophet toad Moses did, in order to gain stature as a spiritual nature. Furthermore, they seem morally bereft, as one of their former chiefs indiscretely caused ripples of shame and guilt due to his horns, a perfect scapegoat toad. They often take the sides of liberty, despite the implications of it. They're in a bit of ruin right now, barely hopping, barely making splashes for any change.

Then there are issues such as stem cell research in the society at large there. Issues such as diplomacy standards. Other wars causing suffering among fellow frogs. Securing value of life to the born and unborn frogs (in war and in peace). Budget deficits and balancings (a budget is a moral document as well as a law perhaps?). Equal opportunity for all toads. Pond security. Pond natural disaster response. The list goes on.

I prayed this morning for an opening within the thorns for me to walk confidently down. Perhaps this will be granted; perhaps it comes from the hard work of truly peering into the limitations of frog government and into the thorns on each side; and into patches of clearing. I'm going to work at clearing a path; I know in what direction I lean, yet I've got to figure out if this is still good, despite the sights of those enviably tromping by me, so full of confidence in their direction.

I need to also pray and process upon why I use the anology of toads/frogs for my reflection this morning. Toads and frogs and thorny paths ... how about swans and gazelles and flower gardens!? I think I'm predisposed to 1) mix lots of bad metaphors! 2) see the political landscape as cold, squirmy, ugly, horny, and, um, disturbing. With all the soundbites of muck going on, it's the best I can muster!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

What one feels when their teenage daughter is gone:

1) peace in the immediate air

2) unfashionably put together

3) failure

4) fear of headlines and doorbells

5) need of remaining family members

6) desire to scour garage sales for used nursery items

7) hope

8) eyeliner security ( no longer "borrowed"))

9) more fiscally responsible Saturdays

10) utter dependence upon God mixed with undulating faith

Friday, October 20, 2006

Our mother Kitty understands that her duty is to go for the jugular in case a robber breaks in during the middle of the night and interrupts her peaceful sleeping boy (who always finds his way to the couch around 3 a.m., grabbing his watchcat and preparing her bed as he goes). It's a good arrangement for both.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Some days, in the fall, when the sun becomes frayed by the clouds, wet leaves outside, on the ground, in the gutter, against the curb, seem quite sad and lonely. What I project on them boomerangs into my own presence against the glass, looking out, wondering where society and warmth are, wondering if I'll experience fullness again. I wonder where the Presence of life is, if it ever Is, if I ever knew it As. Hollowness haunts.

It has been an interestingly lonely type of day in this way. I had an old friend over to play music and for soup, but still something persisted and kept a sense of aloneness alive. As soon as the friend left, the feeling crescendoed into even more plaintive inward murmurings as if I had not seen a soul outside the cabin in a long time. As if a fuller emptiness had settled to stay. I looked out, and even in the cul-de-sac, it was only me and the gray sky and the geese and the wretched leaves, once living and green and hopeful, but now fallen, pasted, cold. One might could see this as the beautiful angst of the autumn season, the pulsations of the dying cycle, the final cries of end. We've been given the opportunity to participate in its own overt symbols and meaning, the reminder of earthly mortality. Still, the opportunity of this feels like a forced lesson, one we'd rather turn our eyes from.

Simply put ... it's just late October on a gray day with the sense of absence permeating the air.

I'm grateful for it's seasonal song, though. I feel lonely, but known as one with the hope of green growth in another season of good remembrance.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

When I walked into her house, she had her instrument strapped over her neck, and she was plucking, picking golden sounds. It made me smile and think of houses that are full of music. I grew up with the constant clucking of a banjo, mandolin, or guitar coming from my dad who almost always had an instrument in his hand. I can still see him now staring out the window, practicing runs in an absent-minded dreamy way, as if somewhere there was a higher plane where everyone's fingers pressed forth to produce forth harmony. He taught all three of his children the rhythm guitar to accompany his runs. During special weekends, we had music parties, where men would show up with their instruments, and wives, and kids, and we would all become drenched together in the pouring forth of the full flow of hill music. I can still hear the three part harmonies and the instruments vying for leads.

Now, I'm trying to recreate that. My fingertips are buzzing even now from some obsessive practice, during television shows, when I have time between family and home duties. I feel as if somewhere there is a higher plane where music reigns.

I wonder if in other parts of the world (or perhaps in the States), a house full of music is perhaps in full swing right now? Surely this does not happen just in the developed parts of the world? Is music a luxury? Bluegrass developed really from the impoverished moutain areas in the 1930's, compliments of folks like Bill Monroe. The banjo even originated from Africa.

Did you grow up with a house full of music? Partially full? A little bit? What was that like? If you haven't, do you try to have a "house of music" now for yourself or for family? Please comment and let me know.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

If life gives you an open mandolin case, by all means crawl in and purr like a princess. Tomorrow, you may find yourself begging at the back door only to find that your family has gone away for the weekend. Therefore, you should leave lots of variagated hairs wherever you like which helps the family remember who they may have left behind.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

My husband is a rocker. Yes, in his day, he dug Chicago, Boston, and John Cougar Mellencamp whom he listened to in his blue, white vinyl topped 1973 Chevy Malibu. But what has transcended the charts and time is his affinity for the rocking chair. Any will do. He sits, reads, rocks, does his work, tells me his woes, eats, rocks, yells at Mizzou offensive coaches, holds a baby, rocks, brainstorms our problems, watches Andy Griffith and Little House on the Prairie (favorites) and rocks. If there was a rocking competition, his toes would be taunt, tenacious, triumphant!. We have many different rocking chairs all with different squeaks, thumps, glides throughout the home. I think he needs a shawl and an aphagan and a knit cap. He'll make a natural grandpa one day.

Friday, October 13, 2006

During our parting prayer, Miz Verna thanked God for helping me let my daughter go this week. Some of the circled, standing, hand-holding women murmured, "Yayus" and "Amen". The expressions were mixed up, wrong, but right at the same time. A peace had settled in, a rightness to a prickly situation, and, for me, the women were affirmation markers, like breathing altars upon which similar sacrifices of raw blood had been spilt.

She's gone, observing her needs of defiance and independence. God granted me a parting gift, though: a hug and a mutual expression of love. A long time coming. It was an affirmation that my little one will remember my care and hope and desire for her. An affirmation that she's still able to receive love. May she be safe and a speedy learner, and open to God's murmurings.

May the Lord know that the state of my heart requires His constant presence.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

When not asleep and worshipping the older cat, Jeremy is jumping on her head. Savoring (snapping) the peaceful moments around here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

We are in a bit of an upheaval right now family wise. There may be an exchange with my mother in a couple of hours. I love the verse that says that God will grant us wisdom if we ask for it. Aiich to trust myself in knowing what to do ... I'd rather trust him and just go forward the best I can, with the consultants I can, with the prayers and pleas we have. The day isn't over, so we're hunkering incapable of doing much but tossing it upwards in trust.

Last night, a friend and I attended a bluegrass class together. The teacher is a lovely sweet man who conducts we random mandolin, banjoes, guitars for two hours while he smiles, hops around, demonstrates pick hold.

He finally arrived at a point where we were entrusted with a tune. The classical guitarist in the corner, the old man grandpa-jones on the banjo beside me, the frightened young woman with her G runs, myself, a bit oversure on the mandolin, and the other six permeated the room with our cacophony. Our teacher got a quizzical scientist look on his face, and said, "Yes, we'll work on that one over time."

The song was highly familiar to me, and it made me grin with its reference to hoe-cakes, cabbage, possom in a 'simmon tree, ole coon dog ... Made me swallowed up all over again by the memories of the Ozarks. Pickin' and grinnin' during hard times shore does make them easier.

Bile them cabbbage down, onwards and upwards.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The LORD is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds.
The LORD upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to thee, and thou givest them their food in due season.
Thou openest thy hand, thou satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
The LORD is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.
LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.
He fulfils the desire of all who fear him, he also hears their cry, and saves them.
The LORD preserves all who love him; but all the wicked he will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

from Psalm 145

Water, truth, for confused thoughts during troubled times. Joy and comfort stretched forth!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Epaphroditus, a regular guy, who cared and made a difference, famously in Paul's life. I'm supposed to be memorizing the script for teaching the 200 or so kindergarteners through second grade this weekend at church. We're learning about how if we care for others, we can make a difference.

I'm needing the message this extraordinarily difficult parenting week. Plodding on with the Asperger situations, plodding on with teen girl who needs lessons, caring, God, home.

I keep thinking of the women in the circle on Thursday night. Verna's son was in prison, roomed with his dad. Her daughter, an unwed mother of two. The other three, creating heartbreak of one sort or another. But, there she was glistening still with hope and confidence in the Lord. Dee as well. Nina too. Judy has been there. Mothers with punctures in their full hearts.

I become deceived in thinking that I'm unique in my troubles.That there was some breakdown somewhere that was my fault. Yet as I pour over the memories, I see myself with my beautiful little girl, and we are close (as she'll permit in her individuality), and we are an example of relational family. And, I made all sorts of sacrifices for the good of her and my son. And, I turned over things to God as best as I humanly could. Yet somewhere there was a breakdown and I want to blame myself. How could I help my son's condition? Yet, now I need to superhuman help him the best I can. That is crazy. Yet it feels as if there was a breakdown somewhere.

I keep hearing the women say things like, "Don't worry. God will have buffers to protect your daughter wherever she is. There are people He wants her to meet still that can help her." I pray for buffers. However, don't mothers truly know that there can come a point where there are no buffers at all? That young stupid girls can become lost within bondages? That people can become victims of cruelty, which the Amish schoolhouse newly symbolizes in the line of a multitude of other buffer-free icons? Buffers are often a matter of circumstance, not divine intervention. This, I clearly acknowledge in the face of fact.

Faith versus reality is difficult at times like these. Yet, given the world we live in, I know that I need the good news and the good hope and the ultimate reality of Reconciliation more than ever. Please, Lord, help my unbelief. Grant me second by second hope. Allow me the peace and acceptance of whatever happens upon this Earth with the knowledge that You care and exist and will redeem all of it one, fine, healing day.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Last night, I went to an interracial Christian support circle, began last night by a woman in a difficult neighborhood. It was truly interracial, not just a token here or there of white or black, we were mixed up because we are all Mixed UP. It was wonderful. I received motherly support backed by claims of victory. Have I claimed "victory" lately or does it still sound archaic? These women brought back the modernity of it for me, the timelessness of faith in Jesus and the hope that we do have victory in Him. We all cried for our kids. I was advised again and again to let my daughter go, as she did yesterday, and God will bring her back. There will be buffers. I can hope for the faithful application of the Father himself in her life. I have to release all my pain disappointment fear and let him replace it with certainty of faithfulness and care and hope. We all prayed for our similiar painful situations and to be warriors through it. Okay, I was a little stiff in the circle, yet the Spirit was fluid all around. I definitely needed a church like this in my life.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Blackberry cobbler
Chocolate cheesecake brownies with chips
Gooseberry cobbler
Iced chocolate brownies
Chocolate chip cookies

Ah I wanted them all. My uncle spooned his blackberry cobbler out lovingly from his stained styrofoam cup and said, "She makes the best cobbler." About 15 minutes later, his brother, my dad, forked up the sweet goo of his gooseberry cobbler and commented, "Mmmmm, she makes the best cobbler ever." I belong to this family, at this reunion; all my kinfolk were slurping up sugary substances and were transported into the angel's band due to yes, white, heavenly sucrose. I stared and asked them to describe in detail the taste. Since August 14th, I have crazily not partaken of my favorite, genetically-imbued taste: sugary sweetness. The weekend was difficult, but I think what's worse is that the sight of those delectables have caused a craving for these last three or four days that I haven't experienced yet. Too, in October, I become poised for sugary flow due to Halloween candy, apple pie baking, late night brownie mixin'. Oh, geez, I need to stop; for sure, I'll dream tonigh about pouring an unbaked cake mix down my throat.

The positive side of this is that I did not once feel bloated and overfull this weekend. My extra "five" are gone; the tire around the waist has been deflated; my mind feels less glazed than ever.

Oh darn. This has been a totally good thing! Ploddin' on, ploddin' on.....


Sunday, October 01, 2006