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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Christmas Carol?

Peg and I just spent a wonderful weekend with long-time friends, some whom we haven't seen in many years and others with whom we've maintained long distance relationships with occasional visits. We reminisced, told old stories, shared new ones, broke bread together, and were reminded of why and how we are friends.

There will be and is already a lot of this kind of re-connecting going on during these days we call the Holiday Season as families and friends gather around menorahs, creches, lighted trees, town squares, and dinner tables for religious and cultural traditions.   

These gatherings and encounters are not all merry, happy, or joyful. Sometimes they bring up painful memories, exacerbate strained relationships, and isolate people for whom the holidays are not so cheerful. Many people endure and survive the holidays rather than celebrate them. A lot of people do both.

Regardless of how or why we observe (or not) this season it is a time that reminds us as humans we are connected in countless ways and on many levels. Even when we feel isolated and alone there are others who share our feelings. We all share the fullness of this human experience we call "life."

Whether we say, "Merry Christmas!" “Hanukkah Sameach!” "Happy Holidays!" or "How do you do?" as the old song (or dare I say "Carol") at this link says, "...we're simply saying "I love you!" 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Give Christmas Day A Break

One of the best and worst things about Christmas Day is our anticipation of it.  To a child the weeks and days before Christmas are the longest of the year. To adults rushing about decorating and shopping there seems to never be enough time to get it all done. Whether the days are long or short, one thing is for sure, Christmas Day always arrives to our delight or dismay. All of our anticipation and expectation gets wrapped around one day.

Then the day itself is filled with expectations of just the right gift, a meal with all of the expected accoutrements, a particular kind of weather, the right music, being with particular people, wearing a traditional outfit - the list goes on.  That's a lot to expect of one day.

So, why not give Christmas Day a rest this year. Let's do what the traditional Christian liturgical calendar invites us to do - stretch it out into a "season" of Advent-Christmas-Epiphany.  Christians aren't unique in this approach. Most religions have seasons or days associated with major holy days / holidays.

Experiencing Christmas as a season of days (depending on the year, up to 37) rather than one day allows us to have good days and bad days, met and unmet expectations, reflection and celebration, good meals and bad ones, or exchange the not so perfect gift.

Pacing ourselves through the Season not only allows us to experience its fullness, it also invites us to know and experience the One Eternal Presence in our lives everyday - not just some or one. After all isn't this what Christmas is all about - God's Presence among us? 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Conflicted and Troubled

Let me begin by saying this is where I am personally at the moment within dynamics of our wider culture. I speak for myself and have no way of knowing another's experiences.  I have no answers, mostly questions that lead to even more questions, but am trying to be vulnerable enough to ask.  

I'm deeply conflicted and troubled. 

On the one hand it is about time that women in our world are telling stories, too long in the shadows, of abuse, harassment, indignity, and oppression at the hands of men in their lives. Men are being held accountable for centuries of unacceptable behavior that has been accepted and tolerated.  Men are being forced to examine and re-examine our relationships and interactions with women at home, work, and the wider community. In light of such scrutiny, we are discovering that words and deeds that we once thought innocent, or even playful, and socially acceptable are actually harmful and destructive. Men need to be held accountable. 

What troubles me is how do we find our way through centuries of oppression, pain, and inequality experienced by women that can't even be imagined by most men? How do men begin to relate to women with equity and true respect and shed age old mantles of dominance?  How do we find our way through the quagmire of accusation, denial, and humiliation in which we find ourselves. How do we find paths that allow women the freedom to continue to speak out without fear and shame? How can men own up to our actions and not victim blame and rationalize?

We desperately need to find paths of confrontation and listening that allow full expression of fear, anger, and loss, as well as reparation, restitution, repentance, forgiveness - and yes, punishment when necessary. 

Human experience tells us conflict and trouble are necessary in order to find new ways of living together with equality, dignity, respect, integrity and love. 

We are living in such times. May we have the courage, humility, grace, and compassion to find our way. 


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Day to Remember - And Dream

Today is Peg's and my wedding anniversary.  Each year on our anniversary we spend time remembering and dreaming.  We talk about times past and dream of what may be ahead for us. As the years add up the remembering gets longer and the dreaming seems shorter, but one thing remains constant, whether looking back or ahead it all comes together in the time we have right now. Of course the same it true of every day, but some are more special than others and are naturally days to remember and dream.