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Women – what a wonderful mix

There are no limits on the number of fabulous women in the world.  In doing the research on my book, I am coming across so many women I wish I could focus more completely on but who don’t fit the parameters in my subject area . . . women who have gone through, traumatic, tragic experiences have become great and are doing great things as a result.

It has three parts. A tragic event occurs.  The person overcomes it or moves through it.  And because of the event (s), achieves greatness and helps others in the process. The thing I am experiencing is there are so many fabulous women in this world, doing remarkable things to help others.  Many are enabled by their status in the world to help whether they be celebrities who can attach their name to bring focus on a situation, or are from privileged or “normal” families and have not experienced the trauma of the magnitude I am looking for. To those, I have much admiration and gratitude for their services.

But I am finding these women who have been subjected to tragedies that would flatten most of us and went ahead to achieve brilliance.  Normal people faced with extraordinary experiences.  Women who have started out with hard lives faced more trauma, and gave their lives to making a better world for women or humankind.  I am humbled.

I look at these women and think of my own life, wishing I could have that extra something to do the things I always wanted to accomplish and never had the where with all or courage to reach out and work toward attainment.  But I am one of the millions who strive to do their best through their days, having ups and downs but walking onward.  Having little accomplishments that build upon each other.

Reading and writing about these women energizes me, fuels me.  Each time I find a new one I am like a parched and weary traveler who has found an oasis.  I drink of their accomplishments, of the terrors they have faced, of their energy and ability to sustain where others can only marvel.

Not to take away from men, but women desperately need leaders of their own sex to spur them onward, give them hope.  There are still too few true female leaders out there for us to latch on. They have to be world-renowned.  They can be becoming.  They can be carving out that nitch that needs exposing.  We can have History books devoted to what Women have achieved – about how History has been changed or impacted by the actions of Women.  Or, dare I say it, History books that equally represent the actions of women and men.

Take, for instance, Shirley Johnson in Tallahassee, Florida.  She began being raped when she was eight years old. At ten she became pregnant. At seventeen, she was the mother of six, married in name only.  By the time she was 27, she had 9 children with two husbands.  The first husband was the church deacon who was one of those raping her, whom she was forced to marry at age eleven.  She had to drop out of school when baby number six came along.  She was shamed and ridiculed within her church, the pastor of which was one of her rapists.  Her mother publicly accused her of lying about her attackers.

At age 56, she has found her voice.  She is fighting hard to make Florida become the first state in the Union to pass a law outlawing marriage, for any reason, before the age of eighteen. She is a caregiver, something she knows well how to do.  Nothing of privilege, she is only now receiving support in her endeavors from organizations for bringing the bill forward through the legislature.  To me, she is great.

It doesn’t take much to make a stand in this world.  You need only have a voice and be willing to use it.  You can be a ripple in the pond, sending other ripples outward.  Or be the butterfly’s wings in the Sahara that creates a hurricane in the Americas.  You can be like Mairead Maguire, who stepped out of her house to join a protest passing by and became a Nobel Peace Prize recipient for her work bringing peace first to Ireland and then to other countries.

It only takes a step . . . .

The Teeming Hordes

They come…the teeming hordes. Four thousand in one day and so many more to follow. Still, the debates go on, politicians spout their rhetoric, systems overflow. The answers? There are many and so few at once.

They are people,the same as you and me. Caught in a world they didn’t create. Chasing dreams or fleeing misery. Trapped at an imaginary line…thou shalt not cross.

In my twenties in New Jersey, I saw one person follow another on he long road to California. They had to go to the Promised Land. Six months later they’d come crawling back home, defeated. They were migrants of a kind.

Now, because of that imaginary line and another language, they are held to a different standard. The World is a much different place than in my twenties. Its gotten larger and smaller in one fell swoop. As we face global crisis’ of prejudice, violence, dominance, and misaligned monies, we are at once all peoples and none of the above.

Our politicians don’t want to let more people in, particularly those who come with hands extended in mute appeal. There are many with fear in their anger, wanting to separate, to hold onto what they have, always grasping for more. Many more who wave the flag with the colors of egoism and dominance – who fear that letting others in will leave them with less, even as we have low unemployment rates.

Our nation once held so much promise. In a land of immigrants, we have become exclusionary. We have so much to give. Yes, there are those who want, who go hungry or lack shelter but these are systemic woes that are to be addressed in every society.

What we are facing is a shift in cultural diversity…a sea change. Another language is more and more dominant. In our diversity, we are more insecure.

But this is a country founded on immigrants.. It is ironic, therefore, that we are such Separatists. We are undergoing a crisis of expectations over what our country is and who is in it. But everywhere in the world, this shift is happening.

Wherever there is wealth in comparison to other countries, immigrants are seeking new homes. Wherever people don’t have a voice, or money, or security, there will be conflict. In our country, those immigrants have reasons just as just as immigrants have always had. In fact, in many cases, they are even more just.

We have to learn to move over a bit…to welcome others in. At the same time we need to assist the countries they are leaving and make them more habitable. It is not a wall that we need but acceptance and political action.

We need to stop looking at this country as a static place. We have entered more fluid times. Unless we address the systemic problems of our southern neighbors, we will continue to face this influx of illegal aliens (a phrase full of exclusions in itself). The world is smaller, we need to look at ours as one continent as well as separate countries.

Until such time, we can be assured of facing more of the problems we are facing now. We have entered a new world order. It is time we stepped up to rationally address it with kindness and consideration.

She is Me and I am her

This is a post from guest writer, Barbara Osborn. I like her way with words.

Somewhere in the deep dark recesses of my being lay a wonder of a woman.  Untouched by humans as it were.  She lives free, dancing and celebrating the glory of aliveness.  She celebrates seasons and planets and earth; the dance of the galaxies in their splendor and the shooting stars. She is neither this nor that.  She just is.  She feels skin, softness, hurt, pain; she fights the unseen forces that dart at her, piercing her soul.  She cannot live that way, she wants only her freedom to create and draw a world that would envelop her in all her complexities and never see them as being wrong.  She is free to explore and indulge; over indulge and nurture herself, others and the world.  She is free to bring peace and heal and lay herself down on all the arrows and cruelness of the world.  She covers them with her body, disintegrating them, pushing them into the ground to be swallowed by the earth, never to be seen again.  She rises with her power to meet the sun whose glory shines all around her.  No one holds her back.  The idea has never been conceived.  She does not know of such things.  She runs in blaze with no clothes to constrict, no arm, no opinion to entangle, she runs.  She remembers the moist grass, the mountains and the sea; their sirens calling, calling.  She does not think of war and all the planes and ships that lay waste at the bottom of all oceans.  She could never approve of such evil.  There is only kindness and peace that lie within and without.  She favors her mother, her daughter; the ones along the way.  She lifts them up, encourages and inspires.  She is the one we want to be, the one that we fly with over the expanse of the universe, never tiring, bringing light and goodness.  She is filled with light, luminous shining wherever she goes and there is no darkness.  May we live in her light, in her freedom and know she is still there, waiting to rejoice when we come home.  She is me and I am her.

Acts of Sin

Sin finally understood,

bowed under the weight

of pervasive

thoughts and acts –

not being as attentive

to the needs of others,

leaving them feeling

undervalued and not appreciated,

Acts of contrition

leading Acts of omission

 

Spinning wheels,

chasing dreams

of saving the church building,

earning money for good works,

instead of strengthening my faith,

always seeking to worship the Creator

through attention to the Physical

 

Sin pervades my life –

spending more than I make,

seeking the ways of this Earth,

attending the festering

of want and desire,

never satisfied with simplicity

and the spareness

of a pure life

 

Am I a Martha

always working,

attending to the minutia,

concerned with the physical

not the esoteric and  spiritual,

instead of being Mary

sitting at the Lord’s feet

drinking in his words?

 

My mind finally open to Sin

I can not evade it

it worms into my consciousness,

pervading my psyche,

filling me with shame,

my skin crawling with remorse

 

What will it take

to enter the Kingdom of God

on this lowly ground I walk?

Now that I know Sin,

understanding that Purity

will never be within reach,

how will I stretch beyond futility

to enter communion

with the Spirit?

Must I ever walk through my days

with this heavy, squirming heart

of remorse, ever failing

to see the Light?

Where is Hope

in this life weighed down

by Sin?

The Dichotomy of Religion

Making my  way through the labyrinth of differing philosophies is never easy in my family. My children are staunch conservatives in Christianity. I, on the other hand, am definitely a progressive liberal. Communication  can get quite tense as a result.

This was definitely apparent in the past couple weeks with the determination by the United  Methodist church to disavow gay priests and open sex marriage. It is so hard to keep your mind open when you are discussing  heated topics that cut so close to your heart.

I have found this subject to be quite painful to me even though I am not gay myself. But those I love our face this issue, at least some of them. And knowing what wonderful people they are makes for a painful reality.  I do not want to see these people in pain.

In talking to my children, where they see homosexuality is a sin, it is particularly difficult to pause my feelings when listening to their’s. Inside, I rage when I hear them speak.  And I wonder how we can ever get to a place of mutuality.

Knowing I am one day going to live with or near my children makes this particularly disturbing. I wonder how I could ever live with conservativism as a way of life. I have always been of a liberal bent . I disagreed with their father, and now I am disagreeing with them.

How we can possibly make peace with each other in the midst of such a wide disparity gives me pause. We get along so well, and our love for each other  is so deep.  I want nothing but the best for them in this world, but I also want what is best for me. Finding our way to each other and peaceful reconciliation seems impossible.

As humans, we are faced with this dichotomy in life. We want to get along, and do everything we can to try to, but still our inherent natures get in the way.  It is a matter that begs resolution, and I pray for it to be so.

At stake are no less than the Bible and Heaven. My children fear they will not see me there. I am not worried about it. I know I am a Christian and have made my way through the eye of the needle. Except for the nagging question of my liberalism.

Is God a conservative?  Does He/She really care?  Isn’t the goodness of a person what is most relevant?  Or is it Dogma that holds the most sway. I pray that isn’t so. God made our diversity.  It is for us to honor that, in the spirit of consilatory celebration.

In this world of manic opinions and rabid dictates, may we listen to John Lennon and give peace a chance, imagining our way to a mutually receptive viewpoint.

What is Sin?

My mind is aswirl

spinning out of control

what is Sin?

Yes, yes, of course,

murder, mayhem

lying, cheating,

everybody knows that –

but more insidious are

misdemeanors of the soul

Was Paul right

in his definitions?

Was he overstepping,

casting aspersions

on incalcitrant congregations?

What were Jesus’ words?

The God of Love and Forgiveness.

On adultery,  sexuality, prostitution,

go and sin no more

but more often critical of women

letting men off the hook

the female prostitute told

to go and sin no more

but what of the men

lined up at her door?

Sin weaves its way

into the fabric of one’s being

but if all Sin is created equal,

all needing absolution,

what is the bottom line?

We are told to forgive ourselves

and to treat others

as we would ourselves,

then why are people on Death Row?

Why is their Sin unforgivable

when Christ forgave them?

Why is homosexuality

considered a sin in the Church?

Two people loving each other,

treating each other with

kindness, acceptance,

purity of the spirit

holds true no matter

where love lies.

So what is Sin?

And if it is all Forgiven

if one just asks

who are we to condemn?

Casting About

Are you listening?

I haven’t heard

your still, soft voice

within for some time.

Aching for answers

I look for justice, peace, meaning,

casting about,  not knowing

where to turn

where do I go from here?

I know you are there.

I just can not hear you

or feel your presence

nestled in my heart.

Calling for you,

yet knowing it is me

who lacks the ability

to comprehend.

I refute the big decisions

they grate on my nerves,

I can not believe

you would support them.

When is it time to give up?

To accept the inevitable

and draw near to new beginnings,

to give up the fight?

Call to me again.

I will try harder to hear.

Your words are

my salvation.

 

 

 

 

Homosexuality and the United Methodist Church

My soul is screaming

what once was now desecrated

the known ripped bare

shackles embrace me

no reason to soothe

the whirling in my brain

yet this isn’t happening to me

this huge event

that ripped asunder

the fabric of the institution

still, it speaks

to prevailing sentiment

beliefs I stand against

politics I abhor…

what is the Church then?

a voice of welcome no more

it casts out those not tolerated

leaving thousands upon thousands

gasping through their pain

their only recourse

to find a new home

if their faith

hasn’t been stilled

by this reckoning

of injustice

 

 

 

United Methodist Church vote on LGTBQ

This week at the annual conference, the United Methodist Church voted to disallow gay ministers and same-sex marriages.  The Church was clearly divided, conservatives versus liberals and the vote was 46% to 54% in favor of the conservatives.

It turns out there was a political agenda in sway.  The African and international Church is growing even as the American Church is aging and dwindling.  The African Church is finding itself in competition with Islam in attracting new members.  As Islam is very conservative, the African Church is finding it needs to be equally so, this in spite of the fact that culturally, in some areas, homosexuality is well established.  And since the international community stands at 36%, the Church voted to stand by them.  This is especially true as the African Church is funded by the Conservative body.

There are so many fine, good, Godly people impacted by this.  What does this say to those gays already married?  And those who were planning to be?  How about the gays who are members?  How can you freely worship in a church that discriminates against you?   What about those people who have studied and prepared for the ministry for many years, only to find their work is for naught?  I know the Bible says homosexuality is forbidden but times have changed.  We now know homosexuality is not a choice but something you are born with in most cases.  It is not a sin.

My heart breaks for the homosexuals within the Church and those homosexuals searching for a church to call home.  They deserve better.  Especially as so much of this is politically motivated. This decision, still waiting Judicial approval (may it not be supported), is not just.

Boxes

AndStillIWonder.net

Boxed in – no fancy ribbons

just cheap imitations

sold at the local dollar store

Boxes tighter

claustrophobic, choking,                                                                  

“for your own good” and yes

we are worried about liabilities

a danger to any who may pass you

and, of course, you yourself.

Meanwhile boxes are continuing

to slip one inside another – seamlessly

gasping for air, understanding

resolution . . .

Yes, yes, there are reasons

whether simple or profound

this brain is rattled, aching, worn . . .

but what of those wild women

who lived on the edge

defying societal norms –

smoked their cigars, wore pantaloons

conducted torrid affairs, never

afraid to break away, defying expectations

Could I be one of these?

ride a horse, a motorcycle, a jet

daring authorities to stop me

Yet, I’m a good little soldier

compliant, scared

angry at them, at me,

for maintaining the status code

gasping to breathe –

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