Sunday, December 16, 2012

If we own it, we can change it.


The word “normal” is such a subjective word. It holds a cloud of meaning for individuals, subcultures and cultures. Yet within the meanings, it speaks volumes as to what it is not.  For every normal, there is often an assumed abnormal.

It is normal to be a baby-boomer in this day and age, at least in all cultures that fought in World War II. It is normal for old people to die. It is normal to be heterosexual. It is normal to be male and white. It is normal to be middle-class. There is a normal range for intelligence.  It is normal for children to be rosy-cheeked and full of love and laughter. It is normal that people be allowed to purchase guns for their own use. All of these normal are, of course, determined by those within the categories but can be often defined by some statistic.
It goes without saying (but I will) that there are many status quos that need to change…dramatically. Some of these are in the process of happening – just as we see with gay marriage. What once was abnormal is being now more accepted with each voting cycle.

Yet there are some norms that are way past being acceptable.

I hear and read people ranting about their constitutional rights of being able to “bear arms”. If a person doesn’t think it is ok for a Palestinian family to have weapons in their own homes to protect themselves when the Israeli tanks come rumbling down their streets to crush their houses, how is it right for United States citizens to own automatic and semi-automatic weapons of war when we are at peace? Isn’t that what the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights was all about? Protecting one’s self and family within one’s own home?

As I understand it, the original amendment gave the people the right to protect themselves against the government. Of course, opinions are subject to speculation as there appears to be no legal consensus on the original meaning of the Second Amendment. Regardless, I do not think that it should mean that a person has a right to buy semi-automatic or automatic weapons for any reason. Consider the fact that in 1791 flintlock and black powder were the norm.

I have no qualms about people owning weapons to hunt. However, it seems rather cowardly to me that a deer hunter or even an elephant hunter would need a high powered weapon, long-range, semi, or automatic weapon to kill an animal but hey, there are a lot of cowards running around this world. If hunting is a sport, what sport is there in killing an animal from a very long range or with rapid-fire shots?

Whatever.

I don’t care what arguments people use to own weapons…and do NOT tell me that a knife is just as much of a weapon as a gun.

What I care about are the people who have died in the senseless killings. I care about the boys and men who have deemed life so hopeless and helpless that they turn to violent acts that change lives forever. What I care about is a society that cares more for their damned guns than they do about innocent people going about their NORMAL lives. I care about the mommas and the daddies, the grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, godparents…all who now only have memories of the faces of their loved ones.

Our society gets off on acts of violence. It is an adrenaline rush, I think.It has to be, otherwise, why wouldn't we change it? People respond with OMG for the event and hate for the offender, with love and outpourings of compassion and support for the families of the victims for a given time. I would think it quite normal to think “thank God it didn’t happen to me”. It is fairly easy after the press dies down to return to normal lives that have nothing to do with twenty-six people, 12 girls, 8 boys, and six adult women killed at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, CT.

It seems especially heinous that this violence was inflicted upon children. How it is worse to lose a 6 or 10 year old than it is to lose an 18 or 21 year old to violence, I am not sure. But from the reactions of the press, it is a conclusion that I have assumed. I suppose one might ask the parents of those young people who died in Iraq as a result of our military being there…4800 between 2003 – 2011. Or the families of those killed in Afghanistan…2000 and still dying. But I digress. War is normal. Death in War is normal. Forget the fact that it is an opinion as to whether we have a right to be killing people or being killed in a foreign country…

I suppose we could call this a gender based act of violence since it seems a part of the norm for an elementary school to be populated by more women than by men. One could assume when one heads into an elementary school that the majority of people within the school will either be women or children…because that is a statistic.

 Or perhaps the young man killer was a victim himself? Abused? Neglected? Perhaps his mother loved the little children of the school more than him? Maybe he went off his meds. And then, there is the question as to why the mother would have purchased these weapons if she knew her son was mentally ill.

Regardless of the unanswered questions, had the young man walked into the school with three knives or a sword or a bat or merely his hands, it is highly doubtful that he could have come in close enough contact with the victims to kill twenty-six people in such a short time irrespective of their ages. It is just not logically possible. So, stuff the arguments that guns don’t kill people…people kill people.

Whether that inane statement is true or not, people cannot logically kill as many people without guns/rifles as they can with them. People cannot kill as many people with single shot weapons as they can with rapid fire weapons. Truth.

With the grief that continues to rule over me in the death of my mom, my heart cannot even begin to comprehend the exacting toll the grief will take on the families of these little ones or of the women who died with them. My mom was older (not yet old) and had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. We knew she was going to die sooner rather than later. To have had five months when we had been told two months was a gift. Still, there is a deep and abiding anger with the loss…an anger against all the things in our lives which create illnesses like cancer. But these deaths were abnormally violent, an intrusion into the very essence of a normal day, caused by what we can only assume was a hate-filled rage hell bent on consuming everything in its path. What future tragedies have been set in place by this one particular event?

Yet, the killer was not the evil one. He was as much of a victim by way of his own demons. The evil comes from a society that would rather protect the normalcy of the individual rights of the killer’s dead mother to be a “gun enthusiast” who bought killing weapons than it has to protect the lives of innocent victims – whether mentally ill geniuses or normal children and teachers. That is EVIL.

And pardon me, please, as I once again digress…what the heck does it mean to be a gun enthusiast? What part of a weapon that kills is one enthusiastic about? If it were an antique…maybe…but seriously…

Own this, all of those who want to claim the right to buy and own a semi-automatic weapon or automatic weapon. Own this all who have allowed the gun Lobbyists to ride shotgun over the Congress of this land. Claim this tragedy as one brought on by personal actions of the silent and the noisy ones. Claim this tragedy, all who have allowed this gun control conversation to die.

Keep your damned rifles and shotguns for hunting. Keep your crossbows and such. Just get rid of the handguns, rapid fire weapons and the sniper rifles. None of these is for anything but killing people. And we already have enough weapons of mass destruction to do that job.

The cause of these deaths belongs to each one of us. When we own it, we can change it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Changed Forever


My mom, my friend, my first love, my mentor, my shero died. Memories are all that is left. I cannot call her; I cannot hear her voice. I cannot call her to tell her something funny or something sad; something great or something bad. And who…who will IM me during Cardinal baseball games or tell me when TCU is playing? I am not sure how someone so ALIVE could pass from this life. She was not old. She was ok with dying; she was just not tired of living.

Even while recognizing the smallness of my imagination, I am overwhelmed by the death of life as I understand it. Even in my understanding that death is a natural part of life and belief that she is “in a better place” my heart is broken, feeling almost beyond repair.

Yet I know it will mend. The anger will lose its edge and eventually subside. While the missing her will never go away, I do know that it will become less urgent. Even now in the midst of all the raw emotions, I feel the change. I am altered forever. A vital piece of me is gone, evaporated, poof, leaving behind a gaping hole that demands to be filled. That hole…and what fills it…will be a legacy to my momma.

God is good all the time even when I have a few harsh words to say about it all. And I am thankful.

I look around at so many surrounding me and I know the ones who have what I had…and I recognize the ones who don’t. The empathy that comes from those who have experienced the same tearing pain is palpable and acts as a balm.

That gaping hole demands attention. It must be filled.

It was with that understanding that I read Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s Advent message:

What is it you wait for this year? Is it an opportunity to meet the surprising around you? Is it an opportunity to reflect on what is most needed in your heart and in the world around you? How are you going to wait for that gift? Are you going to wait actively? Engaged? Honing your desire? Stoking the passion within you for that dream? Are you going to wait for a dream that will bless the whole world?
I want to meet the surprising. I know it is all around me. I don’t want to get caught up in the tedious minutia that controls the few moments left to me. I want to actively wait to be engaged in those things most needed by my heart and in the world around me. I want my desire honed and my passion stoked.

I want to be a part of something that blesses the whole world.

I cannot lose this sharp edge of pain. I do not want to once again accept complacency as a norm. My heart burns with the fire of change and my head has to be aware of all the precious moments lost.

My precious son, my beloved Deb, the bonds that were made between myself, my sister and my daughter as our hearts wept bitter tears…my knowing that even as I turned into the pain rather than to God that God was with me always and only stroked my turned back….these are the world around me.

My discernment, my future in the church, my writing – these are my passions and a vital part of my dream.
These things I turn toward. These things will be my legacy to my momma, my friend, my first love, my mentor, my shero.


http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2012/11/28/presiding-bishop-on-advent-what-is-it-that-you-are-most-waiting-for/ 

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Fear the Girl for the Woman She Will Be

I work each day with girls -- 5 - 15 or so...400+ at this particular time. If someone had told me even 6 months ago that I would be working in the midst of a bunch of noisy females, I would have actively denied the idea and laughed in their faces. Yet, here I am...in love, in combat, in active engagement with a bunch of girls, only one third of whom I know their names.

I pray that I am able to live into the motto to “inspire girls to be strong, smart and bold.” I can only hope to be a model of these basic ideas.

Girls are a challenge. If they are strong, they are labeled with ugly epithets. If they are smart, they are called awkward or nerdy. if they are bold, they are considered problematic or unmanageable, or “uppity”. God forbid.

I am constantly amazed by their love and willingness to share that love. I am amazed at the tenacity of their character. I am absolutely defied by their deliberate and contrived aloofness.

They are full of love, hate, trust, distrust, faith, fear. They are a mixture of such strength and weakness, stamina and apathy, and all the things that contradict these things.

They are noisy...and yet, at times so quiet as to defy sound. There is no room so quiet as one full of girls listening.

How can they be such riddles?

They are amazing and funny; heart wrenchingly beautiful and tragic; profound and simple; pure and complex all at the same time. At any given age, they are a chemical nightmare and miracle. They are a future and an end. They are a promise, a fulfillment; too often they are thought of as a curse.

They have the weight of the world upon their shoulders. And we expect them to live into it.

We rail at their rebellion. We attempt to subdue them into submission. We try to break them down so that we can rebuild them into our own idea of what they should be.

We expect them to be strong but feed them McDonald’s, candy and sodas thinking that this gives them joy....or keeps them quiet.

We think they are adorable when they mimic TV/ movie stars/pop stars, Princess Barbie dolls. We applaud them and laugh when they purse their lips and sway their hips and look so adult....until they begin to look adult. Then we tell them to stop acting like a slut or worse; we tell them that if they don’t stop, they will get what they “ask” for.

Girls. So much potential. So much power. So many gifts.

No wonder they scare the world into trying to keep them ‘in their place’.

If you want to support a group who is “inspiring girls to be Strong, Smart and Bold, support Girls Incorporated. http://www.girlsinc.org/index.html or check out Girls Incorporated of St. Louis at http://www.girlsincstl.org/modules/content/index.php?id=32 of “like” us at https://www.facebook.com/girlsincstl.

Mark October 11, 2012 as the International Day of the Girl. Remember our girls on that day. Think of the women leaders that they will grow to be...if we continue to live into the motto of inspiring them to be Strong, Smart and Bold.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rhythms

I am like the tide. My emotions come in and go out, in and out...like a pulse...like a breath...like all God-things...in  rhythmic order.

Just like the tide, sometimes the waves are soft, lapping, comforting. Other times, the tide of emotion crashes in on me, threatening my existence. But the sea always calms, always...always.

I think of lullabies and the rhythmic tones that lull a baby into calm. I hear the music of TaizĂ© that allows me to find that center point. I count all the blessings in my life until I run out of numbers or time. 


I am a part of all that has been, all that is, and all that will be. Death was conquered by Jesus. Thoughts of Death will not stop any of the rhythms of life. Life will go on...like a pulse...like a breath...like all God-things...in rhythmic order. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

All things are relative

Frio River Canyon
I am afraid sometimes. I am afraid I will never again swim in the Blanco river...or the Frio. Or see the Carribean or Paris...France, that is, not Texas. I am afraid that I will never snow ski again.

And then I get a call that tells me that Mom wants to talk to us all in the evening...together...at the same time.

Then I am afraid for real. Terrified even.

And the reason for fear is very real. Mom was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. It was not what the doctor expected. The markers indicated Myelodysplastic Syndrome or Lupus. Neither of these were good but the other sounded far scarier.

Now, a day and a half later, I have gone from extreme sorrow to expecting miracles of healing.

Crazier things have happened.

RIght now, I am praying...even though it might look like I am typing. But really, for sure, I am praying. My sister and mom are at the doctor’s office. They just met with her regular medical doctor. Now they are waiting to consult with the oncologist who wants to rush her to the hospital and begin aggressive treatment on her right now.

I am praying that Mom will feel the arms of the Holy Spirit wrapping around her, giving her hope, filling her up with love. I am praying that her blood is being renewed, restored right now as I pray and type.

I am praying that all the powerful prayers will continue.

And I am giving thanks to God for all the precious people in my life who live in love and walk in hope.

I am less afraid of not being able to see places and things that I have loved in my life. I am hopeful that all things, regardless of how difficult things might seem, will be well.



Janet McKenzie's Jesus of the People

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

"the inside like the outside"


When you are able to make two become one, the inside like the outside, and the outside like the inside, the higher like the lower, so that a man is no longer male, and a woman, female, but male and female become a single whole. When you are able to fashion an eye to replace an eye, and form a hand in place of a hand, or a foot for foot, making one image supercede another - then you will enter in [the kingdom]. 
Jesus
Gospel of Thomas (Legion 22) 


I am not sure why I am still a lurker on the House of Bishops & Deputies listserv. Possibly, it is because the level of conversation, while often uninteresting, has not been offensive in any way. Maybe I stay because of those occasional gems that are placed out there for all to view. Maybe I stay to be in the know. 

But as it begins to near General Convention, the level of rhetoric has ramped up several notches. The discourse over the Anglican Covenant is the subject of a good deal of conversation. Some of it is irritated; some angry; some of it disturbed. 

I vacillate on whether to be done with the listserv. I remain unsure as to what I will do.

Meanwhile, I wish we could all just read and pray over the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas...without discussing the idea of canonical status...just read the words. What if Jesus meant exactly this?





Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sooner rather than later


It’s been so long since I blogged that I am not sure how to begin. It’s not writer’s block…it’s just that there is so much, so many things. It is all smushed up in my head – I think my brain is constipated.

For one, I have a new job that is very demanding time-wise. Not only time intense but taxing. It wears me out so that I am just numb when I get home. Plus, I write better in the morning and I like to use that early morning for reading...when I can get my lazy butt up out of the bed in time.

In addition, a teenager in the house. Good God…help us. Have I said before that I am too old for this? Well, I am too old for this. Too damn old.

I could write about birth control, unjust war, taxes, self-indulgent misogynistic politicians and others but, good grief, I am so tired of having to hear them all much less invite them into my head. They make my stomach hurt and my eyes bulge. I am even tired of all the funny people who ridicule them. To laugh at something so hateful is, I am sure, cathartic, but it is terribly sick and pathetic. I suppose that we laugh so as not to cry…or scream…or something far worse.

I admire the work that has been done and is being done for LGBT people everywhere. I especially admire the Growing American Youth group here in St. Louis. But Lord have mercy…when will people stop worrying about this stuff? And if the answer is never…well, I am already a little down so please tell me soon rather than never.

And then there is the CHURCH. I use all capitals rather than one or none because…well, just because I want to. That is what it is to me right now…CHURCH. It is a big deal but not necessarily a good big deal. I suppose I am just trying to find a place for me within it. And I am kind of tired of trying to do that also. I have not been rejected but it is certainly difficult to get off of the damn sidelines. And I have to say, I am VERY tired of that.

I think Lindy may have the right idea. Do something good far away from what and who you know. It's harder now, though...that teenager is no longer home-schoolable...at least not by me.

And all of this is miniscule when compared to the wondering of why I left it all– family, home, grandkids – especially grandkids who are entering into adolescence and have great need of grandma love and hugs and grandbaby I haven't even yet seen – to come to this, this unknown, this unknowing, this pretense.

See? This is why I have not written. It all sounds like a Whine Blog – I would much rather be blogging about an awesome wine we drank the other evening – a Chevalier de Bayard – oh my gosh – it was so beautiful. What a luxury to taste something like that. What a privilege.

Ok, so maybe I need to blog to just let all this crap out. A brain cleansing, if I may.

So this is a new beginning. Perhaps it will loosen the crammed in, held tight anxieties that have kept me from the written word.

We will see.

Meanwhile, Mark…this one’s for you. J