Thursday, August 29, 2013
Almost thirty years ago I experienced my adult conversion to Christianity. I grew up in the Baptist Church and always felt I was a Christian at heart, but in my late 30s I felt the call to be a Christian inside and out. Telling my women’s support group that I was giving my life to God was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life. I was afraid, you see, that I’d become that person standing on a street corner forcing Bible tracts on passersby, stopping strangers to ask, “Do you know Jesus?” I was afraid that by giving my life to God I might end up being one of them. It was a relief to realize sometime later that God called me to be myself, and I did not have to hand out tracts. My renewed faith was at home in the Episcopal Church. I especially loved the Book of Common Prayer. I suppose it makes sense that a writer would join a church because its prayer book was well written. For years I began my day by reading the morning daily devotions in the Book of Common Prayer, and praying. It centered me at the start of my hectic day. I’ve returned to that practice recently. I did not evangelize my kids with a lot of specific teaching. I had this idea that who I was in my interactions with them (or anyone) was my evangelizing. If the way I lived was bogus, I figured nothing I said would make much difference. I didn’t realize that hypocrisy is part of being a parent. You can’t help it. Live and learn. I did tell the boys some things. I told them that the word “God” was a tiny little box which we used as a symbol when we were talking about something that was much too big and complex for a human to comprehend. I told them that every human being has a spirit, and that it is as much a part of you and integral to your being as your beating heart. You may not have a religion, but you definitely have a spirit. I told them that God is reality. God is the point where truth, light, life, death, mystery, enlightenment, etc.(!) all come together. I was thinking about those things this morning as I was sitting out on the ravine porch with my Book of Common Prayer, listening to the creek and praying for the people on my prayer list. It’s a long list. You might be on it. I was thinking how those things I thought and said years ago have proven to be true, and the longer you live in faith, the deeper you go into the layers of reality. Faith allows you to live in some kind of peace in this crazy, broken, world. God doesn’t fix everything for us, but does weep with us, hold us through all trials, and rejoice with us. Going beyond that, there are things in heaven and earth that we do not understand, and for which there is no empirical evidence. I cannot give you a rational explanation that would make miracles and visions comfortable for you. I’m not telling you to become an Episcopalian, or any other brand of religion. I am telling you that if you hear your call to be yourself, and you answer that call, that life will be hard, but if you don’t answer that call, life will be harder, and you’ll have missed the mark. I’m glad I answered that call years ago. Have I become me? In my halting, sporadic, human fashion, I’ve done the best I could. I believe that faith has served to make me better than I would have been otherwise, and looking back at all the times I screwed up, I know that I was usually following one of my own bright ideas and things got better when I let God steer me. It’s God for me, but for you who object to the nomenclature “God,” fine. You think about what you want to call your tiny little box that symbolizes everything that is real and true and incomprehensible, and nurtures and enlivens your spirit, and makes your life better than it might be if you do things “your way.” The walk of faith is so worth it. Good luck, pilgrims.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
This has been the most beautiful summer I remember in years. Day after sunny day dawns, and we put on our shorts and tank tops and sandals, those of us not restricted by bothersome things like jobs (“Bwa-ha-ha-ha,” says my retired husband), and go out to meet the delirious, delicious summer day. We water our gardens, we admire the blooms of our flowers, we revel in the sweet juiciness of our homegrown fruits and vegetables. I myself have five tomatoes on my single tomato plant, and if the weather holds, they may have time to turn red. Meanwhile I love to touch the leaves and smell the tart muskiness of tomato plant, a scent that says, “summer” to me. The sun discourages, but does not stop, the slugs. I got some of that “safe” slug bait and while it may kill slugs, and I’m not saying I have any proof of that, it is apparently a tasty treat for mice. Our son said that every time he went out on the kitchen porch, he heard the scurrying of little feet and saw mice bailing out of the slug bait container and running away. I never saw these mice, but a quick check of the slug bait stash revealed a liberal sprinkling of mouse turds among the few remaining pellets. Rather than trying to trap and kill the mice, I figured that when the slug bait was gone, the mice would forage elsewhere. Let the problem resolve itself, I thought. NOTE: this method may work with mice, but I have been informed it does not work with raising children. Little tip for you young parents, although nothing you do or do not do will forestall the day 10 or 20 years from now when your adult children will tell you the mistakes you made as a parent. Be of good heart – being blamed for our mistakes is a little service that parents provide for their adult children. Another feature of this long hot summer is that the spiders are spinning early. Usually I don’t run into spider webs until August, but this morning I had to clear a web before I could walk out the kitchen door. I can only imagine the size and extent of the webs we’ll have in September. The mosquitoes have been numerous and hungry this year. Eh, that’s usual here on the edge of the woods. We had one branch of tent caterpillars in the apple tree, and my non-identical twin Becky happened to drop by and cut the branch off so I could dispose of the caterpillars. An hour or so later we looked out in the yard and there was a large deer eating the leaves off the non-caterpillar part of the branch. We chased the deer away, but it came back later and finished the job, plus stripping my rose bushes of leaves and roses. Lastly I mention earwigs. Earwigs comprise the insect order Dermaptera, according to Wikipedia, which also says, “Many orders of insect have been theorized to be closely related to earwigs, though the icebugs of Grylloblattaria are most likely.” The icebugs of Grylloblattaria!* Isn’t that glorious? Doesn’t that sound like a science fiction novel? But I digress. Earwigs like to inhabit crevices. We all know this from experience. Quite often earwigs will inhabit crevices in flowers I bring in from the garden and a few hours or days later I find earwigs crawling across the kitchen table, or the kitchen counter, or the living room rug. I have an irrational dislike of earwigs, and will usually crush them without hesitation or compunction. They give me the creeps. So it was extremely creepy when I opened up my bedside CPAP machine the other night and found an earwig inside. Ugh. I walked it into the bathroom and sent it for a quick swim in the bathroom sink. Beats me how or why it got into my machine. The darn thing simply showed up. I guess that’s why I don’t like them – they’re always sneaking up on me. Give me the oogly-wooglies. Even the most wonderful summer is bound to have some down sides, but all these critters aren’t stopping me from enjoying this summer. Hope you are enjoying your summer, critters and all. *”Grylloblattidae is a family of extremophile and wingless insects that live in the cold on top of mountains.” – Wikipedia. Now you know.