Stress, Resolve, and Hope: A Marathon

As I look with uncertainty at what is playing out in our world I need an occasional reminder of what I can do, how I can shift my perspective, and to reach for positive change through these trying times. Adam’s message, here, gives me that perspective. Thank you, Adam.

Closet of Holding

I really enjoy digging into my Closet of Holding and pulling out clothes that fit now that didn’t fit the last time I went in.

I’ve delved in about three times in the last year as the clothes I was wearing — mostly pants — became too large for me. I seem to find new, er, gently used things each time I go in.

It seems I am reaching the end, though. I’m in the smallest pants size and almost the smallest shirt size. Who knows, though! Maybe I’ll check it out on a couple months and I’ll find something I missed today!

This “closet” is actually a set of plastic crates and it now mostly holds pants and shirts that are too large for me. I’ll easily let go of the pants and most of the shirts but I’m too attached to tie-dyed shirts I made myself.

Rugged Individualism is the Problem and Collective Action is the Solution

From “When the Hero is the Problem” by Rebecca Solnit on Literary Hub

Leaders beget followers, and followers are people who’ve surrendered some of their capacities to think and to act. Unfortunate the land whose citizens pass the buck to a hero.

As much as I like this quote, pulling just one bit out to elevate it is probably similar to making it “the hero” of the article. I’m going to have to read it again (and again?) because it’s full of bits like that.

I think I will start using this idea as a lens for critically analyzing all sorts of media; social, news, entertainment, etc. For instance, even while enjoying some superhero, action hero, and detective movies and stories, I’ve noticed in myself a growing unease or discomfort about them because the one “great man” (and, with notable exceptions it usually is a man) defeats the villain, saves the city, and/or solves the mystery. Maybe there’s a sidekick but he’s often just a foil to make it easier for the hero to explain how he’s going to save the day without an expository lump. The “team of superheroes” isn’t significantly different because few normal people (NPCs) are involved except as hapless victims.

When observing and contemplating the ills of the world, I often end up looking for “the one person” or “the one action” that will cure a problem for forever and ever, amen. Similarly, I look for “the one bad guy” or “the single root of the problem” instead of the complexity that is both harder to understand and harder to resolve. How many actual, real-life, non-fictional problems are actually simple?

It also occurs to me that journalism — or, at least, the no-doubt over-simplified version I have in my head — has to look for the human-interest hook of a story to make it palatable.

Poem: String Theory

String Theory

-+-+-+ Latch-hook knots -+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+- of Space/Time -+-+-+-
-+-+-+ The warp and weft +-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+- of the Universe -+-+-
-+-+-+ Weaver and woven -+-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-+-+- of God-Stuff +-+-+-+-


I posted this on the prior version of this blog on November 28, 2010. It brings Mom to mind for me. Back when I was in college, she and I designed a latch-hook wall hanging based on an image of the Andromeda galaxy from a slide Dad got at the Palomar Observatory. We projected the slide on the latch-hook substrate and I outlined the structure of the galaxy in pencil. Mom (mostly) and I used the latch-hook tool and filled it in with a gazillion (I counted) two-inch snips of yarn – mostly black but with blue, purple, and yellow for the swirling galactic arms. She also made one of her early quilts with the same color scheme, the large blocks were stylized galaxies. The hanging and the quilt were the inspiration for the image evoked by the poem.

In Memoriam, Ten Years On

Mom died ten years ago this week. I posted the following on March 7, 2009 in the Blogger version of this site. A lot has happened since then and my grief, when I recognize it, is not strong or overwhelming. Mostly, I remember the good times and what she modeled for me. I know I’m a better person and parent because she was my mom.

The photo was taken on or around that day from the back patio of my childhood home. I’ve always loved the sunsets from there.

In Memoriam

In memory of Loretta Smith
Wife, mother, grandmother and more
We will no longer feel the touch of her hand
We will no longer hear the sound of her voiceHer knowledge, wisdom, and love live on in us
As we who were the beneficiaries of her generous life
Incorporate her gifts into our lives
And carry forward our versions of it
To those whose lives we touch

In this way she bequeaths to each of us
A strand in an unbroken web
Stronger for her care and our connections through her

In wonder we’re born
In beauty we live
In mystery we die

Heading Gently Into That Long Good Night

“Beyond the Politics of Hope” | Andy Batcher

Andy Batcher’s post Beyond the Politics of Hope strikes a chord with me. He writes, in part, “The problem is congregations will often speak about, and subtly give themselves credit for, work that is more transformative than what they actually do.

If I apply this to me, personally, it tells me that I feel entitled to apply the credit for things I’ve already done to current and future (and different) work. Somehow, I might feel that this absolves me from having to pitch in now. If I am obnoxious about it I might be smug and self-righteous. Worse, I might become indignant if someone calls me in (or calls me out) on my bullshit.

To be clear, the work I’ve done on, say, youth issues does not mean that I’ve done my work on feminism, white supremacy, LGBT+, immigration, poverty, etc. Not even close.

If the shoe fits…

Note: I am open to receiving feedback on ways that my choice of words could be improved to be more welcoming and less offensive. No, I’m not trying to be “politically correct”, just less of a jerk.

Grief Requires Care

The response to grief (one’s own or another’s) requires care – care of self and care of others. The essay Everyone Around You is Grieving. Go Easy. by John Pavlovitz speaks to me. I want to move through the world being sensitive to those around me. I’m not sure that I can do it continuously – that could be exhausting! – but I think that my tendency toward introversion may be based in part on my ability to observe the emotional states of others.

I was at the store one evening earlier this week. I was in a backed-up checkout line and noticed a woman who seemed on the verge of tears. I almost asked if she was okay but ended up not because I thought that if I did it might break her apparent determination not to cry. Of course, I was also weighing what it could cost me (in emotion and attention) if she did break down. I weighed that against the chance that she would appreciate – or not appreciate – being seen in that state.

The tenth anniversary of my mom’s death is less than two weeks away. For whatever reason my grieving doesn’t go the “blubbering” route but I do get the “gaping chasm” part, the “why am I buying bananas” part. After ten years I am much less encumbered by that grief.

Yet, I see much more grief in the world these days. In the essay, he lists a number of reasons that people may be stumbling through the world in pain and grief. It is assuredly a partial list but, as someone who is trying to see the world with an additional focus on racism and oppression, I notice that his list does not include the grief of people who live in the shadows of our culture of bigotry:

  • Those fearing summary deportation without (adequate) due process
  • Those worrying about extrajudicial killings targeting black, brown, native, and mentally ill people.
  • Those caught in grinding, multigenerational poverty.

…and more. I am working toward seeing the world with open eyes, open mind, open heart, and open hands.

Note: I am open to receiving feedback on ways that my choice of words could be improved to be more welcoming and less offensive. No, I’m not trying to be “politically correct”, just less of a jerk.