Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Family Update

We have been the house of illness and sorrow. When I got to Chicago, on the 6th, I called home and found out that Zed was sick (Zed and Carmac stayed at my parent's house Wed-Fri). Hammy took him to the DR on that Saturday: Zed had the flu. I got home late on Sunday to find Carmac was coming down with it. Within a day, Hammy got it and then, the next day, I got it. We all were on anti-biotics, so we had the accompanying stomach misery.

I think it was the day I started coming down with it that I went to the pharmacy to pick up meds and on the way, took our dogs out but apparently forgot to latch the gate on the fence. Both of the dogs were gone when I returned. Our mutt, Argus, returned a few hours later but our lab, Lucy has not been heard from since. We were feeling too sick to drive around looking for her, or really, truth be told, to care much for several days (we're all very sad now).

The only one of us to avoid getting the flu was Declan. He had his wisdom teeth removed though, on Valentine's day, so he was also out of it. It took almost 3 days for his gums to stop bleeding. They finally stopped just when we were thinking we'd need to take him to the emergency room to have sutures put in.
Yesterday, Declan came home with a bad sore throat. I took him to the DR today and found that he has strep throat. He is now on anti-biotics.

Zed turned 13 on the 17th. We were on the mend but still too out of it to do much to celebrate. I did make a cake but we didn't get to do any of the normal things we do to celebrate a birthday. Next weekend, he's going to invite a friend to do something.

It's still sinking in that I've got two teenagers, now. My sweet Zed has entered that treacherous place known as adolescence. Over the last couple of months, I've noticed that he's increasingly moody and temperamental. He'll be sweet and affectionate one moment and then something will prickle him and he'll get angry or really mouthy. Sigh...

The good news is, although he's still definitely a teenager, Declan seems to be outgrowing the stage of having to rebel all the time against everything I say, do or am. Lately, he's been a lot nicer to his brothers and he and I have actually been having some decent, thoughtful conversations.

Anyway, our family is all better (except Dec, who will be within 24 hours). I've been working on my new work project, which is going well. Yesterday was sunny and in the 50s so I rode my scooter all over town contacting my cases. I had terrible helmet-hair by the end of the day, but a great lotta fun working! I used about 2/3 of a gallon of gas and went 62 miles!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine

This is the song I awoke with this morning. I must say that I have to interpret "salvation" and "washed in His blood" as metaphors for transcendence or "living in the cross" or being searched by the Light. The song, though, is old and powerful and beautiful. It will be my mantra today as I go to Monthly Meeting and attend Worship for the Conduct of Business.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight!
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest!
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with his goodness, lost in His love.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Last night, I bumped into someone who I used to be very close to twenty years ago. He is a writer and some of his essays are available on-line. After we stopped hanging out, he kind of became a pot-head. A few years later, he became a born-again Christian. Now he writes reviews for a mainline Protestant publication. I read a few of them yesterday.

I don't understand the presumption of people who are convinced that they have the only true path to salvation. This old friend writes about the spiritual aspects of the music he reviews. Leave, for a moment, the arbitrary nature of any kind of review and just think about how rediculous it would be to attempt to review pop music based on it's SPIRITUAL merits. I love music and I use music as part of my spiritual practice but I couldn't say music is Good or Bad based on the overt spiritual tone of it's creator, or lack thereof.

How could I say that this is the Right Answer? The world is full of people and most of those people believe something entirely differently from me, even those who's beliefs are similar. How do people believe that their interpretation of things is the only correct one? Even within mainline Protestantism, many people believe that their denomination, or even their church, is the one with the real truth. It seems so arrogant. And selfish. And divisive.

I would imagine that there must be a great comfort in KNOWING but then what does one do with doubt? I don't think life is good/bad, right/wrong, black/white. I don't believe there are many hard truths. I think there are many truths and my job is to find the one that God is leading me to. As I grow and change, my truth may change. My truth may change because God is forcing me to grow. How in the world could I presume to tell another what to believe; what is true?

God Does Not Equal The Authority

Yesterday, I finished reading the third in the "His Dark Materials" series by Philip Pullman, which includes The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. I found them to be wonderful, compelling stories.

Philip Pullman is a self-avowed atheist. There was a big, silly brouhaha when the movie version of The Golden Compass came out, all kinds of people saying that Christians shouldn't go see it because it is anti-God. I doubt that more than a handful of people made it through the series to the last one and had any inkling about the true nature of the books. The first one just barely touches on religion; it's just a little bit anti Church but not really anti God. The second one is more anti Church but, again, doesn't say much about God. The third one, though, is very surely a rant against God. But you know the funny thing? It's very against God the Authority but it is very Quakerly in it's beliefs, anyway. This is from the last page of the book (**Warning-Spoiler**):

(Lyra is speaking with her daemon, Pan)

"I remember. He meant the Kingdom was over, the Kingdom of Heaven, it was all finished. We shouldn't live as if it mattered more than this life in this world, because where we are is always the most important place."

"He said we had to build something..."

"Thay's why we needed our full life, Pan. We would have gone with Will and Kirjava, wouldn't we?"

"Yes. Of course! And they would have come with us. But-"

"But then we wouldn't have been able to build it. No one could if they put themselves first. We have to be all those difficult things like cheerful and kind and curious and patient, and we've got to study and think and work hard, all of us, in all our different worlds, and then we'll build..."

Her hand were resting on his glossy fur. Somewhere in the garden a nightingale was singing, and a little breeze touched her hair and stirred the leaves overhead. All the different bells of the city chimed, once each, this one high, that one low, some close by, others farther off, one cracked and peevish, another grave and sonorous, but agreeing in all their different voices on what the time was, even if some of them got to it a little more slowly than others. In that other Oxford where she and Will had kissed good-bye, the bells would be chiming, too, and a nightingale would be singing, and a little breeze would be stirring the leaves in the Botanic Garden.

"And then what?" said her daemon sleepily. "Build what?"

"The Republic of Heaven, " said Lyra.

(Oh, I'm all verklempt again over the ending. It's so sad and sweet and hopeful.)

Many people seem to confuse The Authority with God. The Authority is The Church. God is Spirit, Life, Love, Truth. I understand the confusion. The Church speaks with authority saying it speaks for God, saying it knows the will of God. But it doesn't. The Church speaks for it's own power. God speaks quietly to the hearts of us all, letting us listen and hear in our own time, when we are ready. God is best represented in these books as the daemons which each character has, the spirit of each person. The Authority is no more God than mulefa can fly.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Here's why riding a scooter is so much fun:

When you drive in a car, you basically only use your eyes and your ears (and you don't even use your ears if you're listening to the radio too intently). When you scoot, you use all your senses(well, maybe not your sense of taste so much), sight, hearing smell, and touch. And then there's the balance/kinesthesia thing. Good riding is riding from the hips. I'd forgotten how it feels to be one with a ride; how it seems that the scoot just goes where I want it to go based on slight movements of my hips. I used to have a good friend who rode a Harley. He said that good passengers make good lovers (and bad=really bad). I understand why. It's about movement and flow and responding to your partner as in horseback riding; in this instance, my partner is my People. There's a groove centered in the root chakra that happens when one rides that makes it good. Yes, it's a sensuous experience.

Riding a two-wheeled vehicle requires all of your focus. At least for me, at least thus far, my entire concentration is taken by riding, nothing can be taken for granted. I'm sure that as I get more comfortable and more experienced I will relax and not pay as close attention but I will still be using so much more of my awareness than I ever do while driving a car. I love the feel of the air and the smells of whatever I'm near. I understand why bikers call car drivers "cagers"; there is a freedom in riding a scooter that you can't know in a car, even with the windows all rolled down and the sunroof open.

I'm sure I could use this experience as a metaphor for spiritual awakenings but I'm not going to: Sometimes a scooter ride is just a scooter ride.

The painting is from this website of artwork by David George Marshall: http://www.marshallimage.com/index.htm

Chicago, Chicago...

I'm leaving early tomorrow morning for work training in Chicago (a Department of Energy project). My plane leaves at 7:15. My best friend, Pookers, will be picking me up at Midway and we'll hang out together. It's so nice that my job takes me to where she lives once or twice a year. I love her and we don't see each other nearly often enough.

Yesterday, the temp was in the low 60s and I got to ride my scooter and let me tell you, it is so much fun to ride in decent weather! I went to the store and bank in the afternoon and then rode to the meetinghouse and home in the evening (after dark!). It was great!!! Fun!!! And funny. People pull up next to me and beep and give me the "thumbs up". Everywhere I go, people ask me about my People. I tell them I get 84 mpg and they say they're gonna look at scooting more closely.

Today is primary voting day. I'm gonna go check the box for Barak Obama.

I'll be in Chicago until Sunday. On Monday, my supplies should arrive and on Tuesday I'll begin working this project. I probably will not have a lot of time to write for the next couple of weeks. I'll check in here when I can.

GIL February

We had our small Growing In the Light group meeting last night. It was wonderful. It was my turn to facilitate. I have been struggling with "what is God", so that was what I asked us to contemplate and share about. Nothing like a light, easy topic (or maybe Light, not so easy). I asked that we allow a lot of silence between speaking. We took turns talking about our perceptions, and to a small extent, our experiences of God. My dear friends were accepting of the question, although there was some amount of frustration in trying to communicate about Something Indescribable. The only way to attempt is through metaphor or allegory and even then there is so much unspoken, unknown.

I feel (yes, I'm gonna say it) blessed to have this group. I can ask a question that is so huge as to be overwhelming and I am held with love and answered from each person's heart with utmost sincerity. Each of us has concerns, problems, frustrations and we are all LISTENED to and truly cared for. If we don't understand, we wait and keep listening until at least one of us says, "yes!"

The first hour, we spoke out of silence about God. The second hour we talked more freely about where we are in our spiritual development. I talked a little but listened more. It was good. God (whatever, whoever, however God is) was with us, uniting us, guiding us. I am touched to be with a group of people who desire to know, to feel, to experience Spirit in each moment.

Before we went into the warm room that we call the grotto, we talked a bit about Meeting for Worship for the Conduct of Business. Sylvia has been reading "Beyond Consensus" and said that we should do a class for everyone using it and also hand it to newcomers when they come for worship on business day. I told Sylvia that what Barry Morley describes in that pamplet is what I'd been trying to express to her months ago: That I want my every action to be a prayer, and that it can be if my intentions are to glorify God. Before, she couldn't quite get what I was trying to say, but now understands. Kit said that just coming and sitting in silent worship, holding our meeting in the Light is a gift for everyone. Geoffrey explained how he had been very opposed to combining the business with worship but his attitude has been transformed by his experience. Andy, who has avoided MfWftCoB, said he is willing to give it another shot.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My Prayer for Today

Dear God,
Dear Father, Mother, Creator,
oh, Holy One.
Let me be a channel for your love today.
Keep me and hold me and guide me to do your work. Use me. Let my mouth be your mouth. Let my hands be your hands. Show me how to let go of my attachments to my self so that I may use what you have given me in your service. Most of all, let me see You in all* whom I encounter today and help me to open myself so that your light and love shine through.
Mary Linda
(*including my father-in-law)