Monday, November 29, 2004

What a Weekend -- Sunday

Something that really does make worship more fun is gospel music.

On Sunday, I attended church with my husband and Larry and his family for the baptism of Larry's grandson. The service was at an Catholic African-American church and featured gospel music. I'd never been to an African-American service of any kind before and it was such a treat. Besides being enjoyable and entertaining, I found it exciting and spiritually meaningful as well. I've attended many Catholic Masses and maybe only one Catholic baptism and this service followed in the same manner with the addition of gospel music and a vitality that I'd never before experienced in any church.

I was probably most affected by the liturgy of the Word. The Catholic service is nearly identical to the Episcopal service in this regard. I'm a lay reader at my church, so I get to read the lessons at my church sometimes. I love the Bible, so the liturgy of the Word is one of my favorite parts of the service. While I love reading the Bible, sometimes, the reading of the Psalm sounds much like a funeral dirge, even when the refrain is something along the lines of 'rejoice in the Lord who saves us.' Always seems so funny to me to hear such an idea sort of mumbled. Not in this church -- the psalm was song by a man with such a strong, deep voice and a woman, joined by the congregation, sang the refrain. Powerful. Can't say I took much notice of the Epistle. But, the Gospel reading. Wow -- the prelude was singing 'alleluia' to gospel music. Just that one word, alleluia, over and over, louder and stronger with this sense of anticipation as the deacon held up the Gospel book and climbed up into the pulpit. It was amazing to me, I could only think, wow, we are going to hear the Gospel lesson now, the Word of the Lord, announced the way it should be, with excitement and thanksgiving and awe. I was already well familiar with the Gospel reading because the Catholic and Episcopal lectionaries choose the same passage and I had been preparing to lead a Bible study at my church before I was invited to the baptism [Many thanks to Rob the llamabutcher for leading in my absence].

The baptism was beautiful, as all baptisms are. This was amazing again, because the baptismal font is in the back of the church, attached to a baptismal pool which I imagine is used for immersion adult baptisms (at least it looks as if it could be). As the baptismal candidates, their parents, godparents, the priest and deacon headed to the font in the back of the church, the choir and congregation sang 'take me to the river to be baptised.' It was wonderful.

I think the final part of note was the Lord's Prayer -- whoops, sorry, Catholic church, the 'Our Father.' The congregation joined hands across the center aisle of the church. Larry was beside me, chose not to join hands, but assisted me in joining hands with the woman to his right, someone we did not know. The congregation prayed the Our Father, which ends with 'deliver us from evil.' Luckily I'd been to enough Catholic services to know that the priest says something and then the congregation finishes off the prayer (or at least I'd call it finishing it off since we Protestants use a longer version). The priest said his part and the congregation, still joined by hand, raised their hands in the air to pray 'for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever' [I don't think they include 'and ever']. At that point, with my hand joined to the woman's hand, Larry put his hand over both our hands.

After the baptism, my husband and I joined Larry and his family back at his son's house. We had met the other set of grandparents on the way to the church. At the house we met many more friends and relatives and neighbors and ate lots and lots of wonderful food. I am not mentioning Larry's son's name nor his wife's only out of respect for their privacy [not everyone wants to be on someone's blog], but they were absolutely wonderful hosts. Open and welcoming and kind and interesting. Many thanks to them for inviting us to share their special day -- remember, I was just some wacko Larry met in cyberspace and had never met any of them in person, not even Larry (there was a small link with Larry's son -- he and I went to the same school for one year a decade ago, though I'm not sure we ever met).

I mentioned in my last post that I'm not impressed with anyone, we are all equally deserving of love and respect. I guess I'd amend that to say I'm very impressed with people like Larry's son and daughter-in-law who are so gracious in their hospitality. I've met many other gracious hosts and I am impressed with their ability to open their homes and welcome people. I know hospitality is valued and encouraged in many religions and cultures. To me it is the essence of Christianity, it says, 'come, I have more than enough, let us enjoy God's grace together.'

What a weekend.

What a Weekend

Wow, we had a busy weekend. We are not busy people, so compared to most, our weeked was probably pretty tame.

Saturday night, we went to a very nice dinner party for one of husband's supervisors. Many of my husband's co-workers were at this party. My husband is currently on a detail with higher management and it was intriguing to hear his co-workers from his prior office commenting on the buzz surrounding his career. Especially interesting for an unclimber. Word has it he's on the way 'up.' Rumor is he's 'being groomed' for management. Interesting. I've never been impressed with my husband, I'm not impressed with anyone and I don't expect them to be impressed with me. We are all humans in our own right, deserving of love and respect. There is no hierarchy -- no one is better than anyone else, especially by dint of title, rank, or money. Yes, I know I sound communist, but I think Jesus was sort of thinking along these lines as well.

Anyway, not impressed with my husband. He is one of the most wonderful human beings I've ever met, handsome, smart, kind, fun. Thats why I married him. And you know what I learned? He's also an excellent husband and a devoted father who does more than his fair share of work. In love? Yes. Impressed? No. Appreciative? Always, even though I don't show it. Admiring? Most definitely. Does that mean I'm impressed? Maybe, but I always think of the word meaning something not really deserved, something superficial. Expensive car? Impressive. Big house? Impressive. Designer clothes? You get my point or you don't.

How to be a supportive wife without becoming tainted by worldly ambitions? I don't know -- so far my brand of support is mostly to bring him back to earth -- not that he was ever leaving it. Maybe thats not the role I'm to play. How to be a supportive wife without ruining his career? I think the key to that may be my silence, not an easy task for me.

Whats my point? Why am I feeling so ruffled by all this? Because, at bottom, it doesn't seem right. My husband has noted that there are some people who are paying attention to him now that weren't before and its not just that he wasn't visible to them previously. I guess its just smacking of a lectionary reading from a few weeks back, how we are not to prefer anyone over another.

I didn't see too many people thanking the servers who were placing food in front of them and taking away dirty dishes. Whenever I'm feeling righteously indignant I get this feeling that I am probably wallowing in hypocrisy.

Perhaps I'm still disturbed from our viewing of Dogville.

Enough for now, my next post will be about our outing on Sunday, about which I have a completely different attitude.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Book of Ruth

Despite my earlier rant about house-hunting, I was feeling rather peaceful this morning.

I was feeling peaceful this morning and I credit it to reading the Book of Ruth. I read chapter 1 a few days ago and read chapters 2 through 4 this morning. Its a beautiful story about how caring for others and doing what is right brings forth the Kingdom of God. Naomi's husband and sons, one of whom was Ruth's husband, die. Naomi urges her two daughters-in-law to go home and return to their families of origin. One does, Ruth does not. Her answer to Naomi is a well-known verse (...whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be my people and thy God my God...1:16, KJV). I read that aloud in church as part of the lectionary a few weeks ago. It is sweet and beautiful and I think its sometimes used in wedding ceremonies.

I knew the story of Ruth from reading Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner more than a year ago. Lauren grew up a Reformed Jew, converted to Orthodox Judaism in college and a few years later, felt called to Christianity and became an Episcopalian. Because of her heritage and love of Judaism, Lauren spends a chapter of her book discussing the Book of Ruth. Ruth eventually remarries and bears a son. The Book of Ruth says that this is Naomi's son and ends with a genealogy which includes Ruth and her new husband, Boaz, the father of the child who later becomes the father of Jesse, who becomes the father of David. Jesus is born from the line of David, through Joseph. Its no surprise that this aspect of the book is of interest to Lauren as she finds it significant in laying the groundwork for how Jesus can be descended. Its beyond me to explain it here unless I was to lift several paragraphs from her book and then it probably still would't be clear. Read her book, its the spiritual journey of a young woman and its especially fascinating because of her love of Judaism and Christianity. Its also a bit racy in parts, the girl is not free from sin (who is?)

Back to my take on Ruth. From the studies I've done on the Old Testament, I'm aware that there were many regulations for the Israelites regarding all aspects of life, including the redemption of property for families and the provisions for the care of widows. I won't get into details because I'd probably get it wrong, but suffice it to say that family members are to make sure that a widow who has not borne a child finds another man in the family to fulfill the duty. Like all regulations, some are followed and some are ignored. In this case, as far as I can tell, everyone did what they were supposed to do and acted nobly. Ruth could have returned to her family of origin and looked for a new husband. She was a Moabite, so she did not share the God of the Israelites. When she chose to go with Naomi, she still could have chased for a husband, but she did as Naomi told her. Boaz also did what was expected of him in marrying Ruth, because he was kin of Naomi's deceased husband.

The end result was the birth of a child who took his place in the lineage of Jesus. Because they did what was right and within the commands of God, Jesus was born. When you do what is right and honorable and in accord with God's will (as evidenced in the laws), we will see the Kingdom of God on earth.

I realize that this is an oversimplification and perhaps I've made factual errors and misinterpretations. The interruptions I've endured while writing this are as numerous as the stars in the sky. My point is that in reading the Bible, I sometimes am able to find those little kernels that give me peace and move me forward.

Greed is Good..., no, it isn't. Its inherently destructive -- it turns one from being a feeling, caring human being into a gobbling, dissatisfied consumer.

I feel like house-hunting is walking in temptation -- the call to want more, more, more and to spend more, more, more. We want a slightly bigger house with a more traditional layout. But if you're going to all that trouble, paying closing costs and moving, why not get more? You don't want to move now and then feel squeezed in a few years and have to buy another, bigger house? I also don't want to be house poor. I like ordering take-out once a week. Besides, a bigger house will only call for furniture that I don't have. Though we could fill it with toys and books[my material weakness].

We have too much stuff. We have so much stuff that I can't find the stuff I want to find because there is other stuff in the way. I don't scrapbook because I can't get to my materials because there is stuff in the way. I have to go out and buy stuff I already own because I can't find what I own. Thats just sick.

Okay, deep breaths. As I begin the process of de-cluttering, I realize we have all we need, if only I could find it. Would I be able to find it in a bigger house? Probably for a few months, then again, maybe not even that long because it would take longer to unpack, so that would become the new obstacle for finding things.

Meredith suggested I read Pema Chodron. I got one of her books from the library, Start Where You Are. I will post about that later. It definitely emphasizes awareness and satisfaction, ideas that at times seem at odds with house hunting.

Some of the realtors get to me. We live on the less prestigious side of a prestigious neighborhood. When we look at houses on 'the other side of the tracks' the realtors seem to always ask if we want to move 'up' for the schools. Ha ha. No thank you, I went to worse schools and turned out just fine, thank you. Sometimes it all seems so fake.

Then again, there are plenty of real people out there with real values and I keep finding them. God continues to be gracious to me though I am unworthy.

Do my posts seem like really bad Faulkner (okay, I've only read Sound and the Fury)? I've got to go back to journaling them first.

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Spiritual Aspect of House-hunting

We're looking for a new house, a bigger house. Our house is great, but its an odd split-level. The entrance is into our living room, upstairs is the bedroom level, but downstairs takes you through a rather large dining room. We have a nice kitchen and about a quarter of a finished off basement. We have plenty of room, but its getting tight and I'm sick of having an over-sized, pass through dining room that doubles as a playroom. I'm ranting about my house-hunt on my other blog and realize I may be a bit dis-integrated, but I want to talk about the spiritual implications of the house-hunt on this blog.

Contentedness. A big part of enjoying the life God intended you to live seems to be being contended with what you have. Our materialistic society fights the notion of contentedness -- advertising is all about finding or creating discontent and then pitching a product that will purportedly alleviate this discontent. Advertising is the main reason I don't watch TV anymore, there are plenty of good shows that I wouldn't mind watching, but I don't feel like trying to follow them while they are constantly interrupted by loud, obnoxious, frequently sexualized adverstisments.

Where am I with being content with my house while searching for another? Deep down, I can't help but feel I'm being materialistic and unappreciative. I have a nice house -- a bedroom for each of us (well, I have to share one with my husband) and one to use as an office. We have all we need. We have more than many people have. But I want more. Most of the time I don't want much more -- a roomier kitchen for homeschooling reasons (it doubles as the science lab), a finished basement for some of the toys. A few rooms that aren't cluttered with kid stuff. Is it too much to ask? Probably not, but why do I have this gnawing feeling?

I'll go with the pat answer for now, that its okay to want a little more so long as I appreciate what I have and I keep it in perspective. Despite what a realtor might tell you, a house will not make you happy, not even the 'right' house. Its just a thing. I am happy and that should be enough. So why do I want a bigger house?

Lets Try this Again...

I've finally roped by dear husband into blogging with me -- we've started by discussing our movie rentals but will probably be branching off into all sorts of domestic minutae (we're currently house-hunting, so that brings up lots of topics).

[Updated March 2010: After we shut down the blog, someone else took the name to start their own blog - it consists of a single post from 2008. Must be the blog addy of the damned.]

Friday, November 19, 2004

I Made it to Purgatory!

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to Purgatory!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very High
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Moderate
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Low
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Divine Comedy Inferno Test

Thanks again to beppeblog for linking to another interesting quiz.

By the way, don't take this quiz in front of your spouse. Tom was pretty upset when I answered one question asking whether I'd ever cheated on a boyfriend or spouse. Then again, they didn't define 'cheat,' but I'm guessing that a little kissy here or there qualifies, so I answered yes. But they were only boyfriends (yeah, it might have happened more than once...) and not my husband when he was mine. Jeesh. Don't take a Catholic test if you aren't ready for confession.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

I'm a Seven

You Are the Enthusiast


You are outgoing and playful - always seeing the happy side to life.

You're enthusiastic and excitable. You love anything new.

Multi-talented, you do many things well... and find success easy.

You prefer to keep things light with others. Opening up is hard for you.

Oh yeah, opening up is REALLY hard for me. Have you read my blog?

Many thanks to Rob the Llamabutcher for the link to this quiz. He's certainly an easy to love and care for conservative.

The Dull Ache of Good-bye

Its a gray day out, a good day to move to Maui...

I'm feeling down -- I'm getting tired of watching friends move away, both my friends and my daughter's friends. Today, Anna is moving to Maui and Kyle and Andy are moving to California.

In the past year, many of our friends have moved. Gus and his family, Ella and her family, Emily and her family, Akshay and his family, and now Anna and Kyle and Andy. I'm weary of it.

When I say prayers with Suzanne at bedtime, after the usual opening (ever the Episcopalian am I), we pray for family members and friends by name. Lately, naming our friends who have moved has become too sad for me, so I use the blanket 'and our friends who have moved.' I stopped naming Kyle and Andy about a week ago. So why haven't I moved Anna yet?

I'm used to people moving away, this is a very transient area and I've lived here nearly all my life. In elementary school, I had a new best friend almost every year because my friends were constantly moving away. I was even able to get my ears pierced at age 13 rather than at 16 which was my mother's rule because my best friend moved away at the end of sixth grade. I wasn't even asking to get my ears pierced at the time. My mom just came into my room and out of nowhere told me I could get my ears pierced. I feel like my heart's been pierced.

It doesn't make much sense. We haven't seen much of Anna's family recently, they are busy. Kyle and Andy were off at preschool and kindergarten, so we no longer saw them during the week. But now they've all moved, so the possibility of seeing them is gone.

Oh well. Its the nature of things, you make friends, you lose friends. Life goes on. I just wanted to take a moment to say that even though I generally don't say good-bye -- I miss you all. But I think 4 1/2 is too young to get Suzanne's ears pierced.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

An Interesting Site

Check this out. I thought the picture of the dog on this page was especially amusing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

An Old Testament Kind of Day

Not a bad day, just lots of ups and downs...

We had a playdate cancelled because Suzanne's friend was sick. As we pondered what to do with this found time, I spent too much time on the computer while the girls watched TV. At one point, Suzanne came up to me with a video from the library that she wanted to watch, it must have slipped in her hand and crashed onto the hardwood floor. The top part that flips back broke -- hopefully, they can repair it. Why couldn't it have been Bear in the Big Blue House?

We took a walk around the block -- its a long block and a beautiful day. It was pretty nice. The girls played in our yard when we got home and had a nice time. They came indoors and I went out to unlock our fence and to lock up the playhouse in our backyard. I returned to my home and was overwhelmed by the permeating stench of dog poop. I deal with a lot of poop in my life, but dog poop is not something I deal with well. It was on the bottom of Suzanne's shoe (Gabrielle's had just a bit on the tip). Of course, while I was tidying up the yard, Suzanne used the bathroom and walked around the house a bit. I lost it -- I keep a messy house, I'm not proud of that fact but a clean house is not a priority for me, but must it smell like dog sh*t? It was too much for me. Children were stripped of their clothes (I think it only got on Suzanne's socks and maybe her pants, but I wasn't chancing it), there was crying and taking the Lord's name in vain. It was a bad scene. I really didn't take all that long to clean up, luckily, it was so fresh and fragrant, it was easy to zero in on the contaminated areas.

While I had been on hazmat duty, my daughters were playing upstairs. The 2 year-old got into her diaper wipes and had pulled most of them out of the box. That was so easy to fix, but it was another pain. Shortly after, it was time for Gabrielle's nap.

Suzanne and I played cards for awhile, but I was really tired. I always get an allergy attack when the leaves are falling in full force and my throat hurts and I'm losing my voice (screaming about the dog poop didn't help matters). I went to lie on the couch and invited Suzanne to join me. She cuddled up next to me and the next hour was spent going in and out of sleep. Ah, the Promised Land.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Removing the Mask of Sparky

I originally chose to use the name Sparky because I wanted to be completely anonymous. I thought I might post witty social commentary skewering everything I thought was wrong in my little corner of the world. I decided long ago I couldn't do that and didn't want to. I like the name Sparky, I like being Sparky, but I'm not Sparky. My name is Marjorie and I'll be switching the name on my blog.

In the interest of further disclosure, my daughters are named after angels. My eldest, who is now 4 1/2 years old, is Suzanne, who is named for my mother. My mother is one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me and she is a constant source of blessing to me. I hope to be that for my little Suzanne. My 2 year old daughter is named Gabrielle (the Archangel Gabriel being her namesake). The name was chosen because it means God is My Strength.

Oh and if that wasn't mushy enough -- I was told after Sunday School last Sunday that when asked to name a Saint, Suzanne said "my mommy." I asked her why she said me and she said, in a very exasperated tone "Mama, EVERYONE is a saint." Well, she got the lesson right, and its nice that she chose my name. Its humbling, too, makes me want to be a saint for her.

I'd reveal DH's name, but I'll check with him first!

Its nice to meet you all!

UPDATE: blogger is very interesting...I was reading some of my favorite blogs and looking to see if there have been any new comments. On one blog, comments I made days ago were changed to Marjorie. On another, it still said Sparky.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Learning Log -- November 5, 2004

Nothing too exciting -- my 4 year-old has been asking me to read to her in the afternoons, so we've been doing more of that. One book she asked me to read had card games in it, so we've played War, Crazy 8s, and Go Fish several times this week -- I figure that covers math with all the numbers involved. She figures out which number is greater much more quickly than she did months ago. I wonder how well she'd do with cards that didn't have the corresponding number of 'dots' on them -- it might be too abstract for her -- I can test it because we have some playing cards with pictures in the center, so there is nothing to count.

Spiritual Retreat On-Line

I just wanted to call attention to Crystal's Blog, she's doing an on-line spiritual retreat and blogging on it. I look forward to following it.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Creativity Log -- November 2, 2004

Today we went for a walk around the block. My 4 year-old collected fallen dried-out pine needles and leaves. When we got home, she told me she wanted to make a stage (she's very interested in ballet). I wanted to check my e-mail. I asked her what she'd need and she said a top from a shoebox, crayons, and tape. I was at the computer when she came up, instead of waving her off and being annoyed at the interruption (as is my wont), I asked her what she needed. She asked for scissors, I got them for her and she was off again. When I finished on the computer and came downstairs, I saw quite a creation. Golden leaves with stems taped down, leaves leaning against the sides of the box top, an empty paper towel tube taped upright with pine needles taped all around the top edge. The leaves, which looked like scenery, were actually there to provide cover for the ballerinas from their teachers, so Suzanne told me. The upright tube, which looked like a tree to me, was a dancing pole, the pine needles were there for the dancers to grab ahold of when they leap into the air (I think this may have its genesis in the idea of a May pole which she and I discussed before). She asked for construction paper which she cut into a few pieces and taped down for ballerinas.

I was so pleased to see her creation and all the thought and work that went into it. This helps assuage my guilt for not providing prepared art projects for her to copy. I think its laziness on my part for not having projects for her to do -- I read plenty of books with projects and activities, I just don't set them up for her. While its partially laziness on my part, its also partly because I want her to have the freedom to do what she wants and allow her to use her creativity for herself and not to copy what someone has told her to do.

Beautiful Words

[Warning: this post is from notes I wrote a week and a half ago, it is likely to be incoherent]

I'd like to be spiritual and mystical but I need the concrete and I need applications. I recently encountered Meredith through a comment on one of my posts [How Do You Explain Suffering?]. As is evident from reading my response, I was frustrated by her comment and wondered if she was some young collegiate who hadn't lived much life nor suffered much pain. I was wrong -- you can see for yourself reading through our dialogue. I'm thankful that she is so gracious and forgiving because I value her comments on my blog and on others.

I'm often frustrated by the constant, unrelenting demands of my children and my desire to escape. I know this creates conflict. I haven't beat myself up about this much because I believe I'm a very good mother, not perfect, but certainly the best one they have. I'd like to improve and there is lots of room for it as I try to deal with feelings of patience, anger and frustration.

I need the concrete, I need applications. Perhaps this is just a crutch, perhaps its a barrier to faith.

Reading Agnes Sanford's Behold Your God, Meredith's comments, Larry's blog and comments, I'm finding an application for selfless love. I need to think of my children's needs first, sounds trite. On a psychic/spiritual level, I need to attend to them. Perhaps its part of attentiveness. I must value their feelings over expressing my own. I must sublimate (or transcend?) my desires for what is best for them. So they may grow up to be spiritually healthy, so that they may grow up to heal others -- perhaps they are beginning by healing me. They only require all of me and this is what will keep me on the path I want to tread.

I need to work on humility. So much is beyond me, but this is what I have, and this is what I know. This is what I can practice and be content with and have faith that it will move me forward.

Confessions of a Narcissist

Joe G. over at beppeblog had a recent post with a link to a quiz to determine your personality disorder. I thought that sounded like fun, so I took it. Now, I think I'm pretty healthy and even had that view confirmed, unsolicited, by a friend who is a social worker. But we can all use improvement, so I thought I'd find out where my problem areas are. I can't recall all the results, but my highest score was for narcissism and the next highest score was for being antisocial (which is not avoiding people, its more of a lack of empathy). I can't recall the rest, though I'm really low for obsessive-compulsive, which you'd know if you've seen my house -- it is not neat.

My initial reaction was wondering how high the percentage had to be for the disorder to be an actual problem -- I was in denial. I think its a good idea for me to sit with and reflect on the idea that I'm a narcissist because it will point the way to improvement. John Sanford in The Kingdom Within talks of how Jesus was the perfect personality from a Jungian--Myers-Briggs perspective. With that in mind, I'm not at all concerned about not having the optimal personality -- the goal is to become as perfect as possible and to work towards this, one must know where they fall short.

The description of narcissism is in keeping with some insights I've been having (you see, I'm so narcissitic that I knew it and I know how to stop being that way ;0). Seriously, I know I'm narcissistic in my mothering because I yell at my children out of frustration and annoyance rather than seeking a kinder response to them, being aware that they are just little growing, developing people, following childish instincts and learning all the time. This post is too long and is about to morph into a different subject, so I'll post on that next....

Caregiving in a Different Way

I've had a nice day today, I got the opportunity to spend some time with my 90 year-old grandmother. Here's how it happened. I went to my mother's house with the kids, as I do once a week. She had a painter over doing some work on her house, so she was a home-bound. She watched my children while I went to the store. While I was at the store, Mom called me on my cell phone (I'm grateful to have a cell phone), her mother, who lives in her own home, has recently broken a rib and took a pain pill. She took it on an empty stomach along with other medications and felt extremely dizzy and called my mother. My mother was trapped at home with my kids and the painter, so she asked me to look in on my grandmother. I did this with a glad heart -- I note that because sometimes I feel a bit put out by interruptions like this when I have time to myself (I know I'm selfish). I didn't feel put out this time, I felt peaceful and happy that I was able to help my Mom (I wasn't worried about my Grandma, these situations happen with frequency).

I really enjoyed the time with my Grandma. It was nice to take care of someone older after spending so much time caring for a 4 year-old and a 2 year-old. Of course, by the time I got there, she felt much better. I made sure she had something to eat (which she had already prepared herself), moved her laundry along (I think she overextended herself in doing it in the first place), and talked with her. Its hard for her because, at 90, she can't do the simple things she used to do (like laundry) and would like to do (like unload the dishwasher). She is dependent on others (she usually has daytime help but he was away today). She felt bad that she was being a burden. I told her that we care for small children and we don't consider that a burden, why should it be a burden to help others? Its hard not to be able to do the things we want -- but we all face this in one way or another -- perhaps its most obvious for the elderly and the disabled and the very young, but we are all limited. I can't just up and go where I want to go because I have small children that limit me. My husband can't up and go where he wants because he has to go to work to support us. The hard part is making peace with our limitations. Mine is easy, my children will grow. It must be very difficult to make peace with a limitation that will not change, that will only get worse. I could only urge her to try to think of the things she can do and do those, rather than think of those things she cannot do. Easier said than done.

All we can really do for each other is try to ease the way. I felt like I had the chance to do that today for my Mom (by caring for her mother) and maybe for my Grandma, if I said anything that brought her comfort, and maybe just in my being there and helping her get settled.

My way is so easy, why do I ever complain?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Learning Log -- October 27, 2004

[I keep a handwritten journal, which is why some of my posts are a bit dated]

We received a book order in the mail today which included the Scholastic Atlas of the United States. My 4 year-old was flipping through that and was inspired to work on her U.S. map puzzle.

Suzanne seems more interested in reading again -- she's been asking me to read aloud to her as well as reading a lot on her own (she's still at the developmental stage where she reads out loud to herself. If I don't hear her, I assume she's just looking at the books). We've been reading Nate the Great and Magic School Bus readers, which are simpler than the usual MSB books. She really likes Even Firefighters Hug Their Moms by Christine Cole MacLean about a boy and his sister engaged in all sorts of imaginative play.

My 2 year-old gets short shrift in this blog. Her favorite books include Goodnight Moon (I can hear her saying 'moon' now), Corduroy's Party, Wibbly Pig's Presents, Baby Bop's ABCs, and Spot Looks at Colors. She says lots of words but isn't really talking in sentences yet, so she's a bit behind where her sister was at this age. However, Gabrielle has very good fine motor control, almost as good as her sister's at age 4 1/2. Its interesting to see the differences and appreciate that we are all unique.


The topic of last Sunday's adult education lecture at my church was the Daily Prayers in the Book of Common Prayer. The Catechism states that prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words. I've been thinking about prayer a lot recently, probably because I haven't been praying all that much. Funny enough, earlier on the same day as the aforementioned lecture, I led the prayers for the Morning Prayer Service at my church. I accidently left out the Lord's Prayer -- several parishioners mentioned this, I hadn't even noticed.
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Prayer is an interesting thing. When I was taking my Bible study, I prayed, well, religiously -- we're talking on my knees, using the Lord's Prayer and then a free form prayer with penitence followed by thanksgiving and oblation and intercession and petition. I was pretty happy with that. I felt like it was a good discipline and usually felt peaceful afterwards. These days, I really haven't felt like praying that way and I haven't. I pray all the time, sort of an internal monologue in my head -- while driving, especially, its a semi-quiet time when my kids aren't interrupting me.

Prayer forms -- good or bad? I tend to avoid them because they seem coldly formal to me. They are something someone else has written. However, my own personal prayers tend to become formulaic pretty quickly, so I'm not so certain they are the better choice than a prepared prayer.

I'm currently reading (at an incredibly slow pace) Agnes Sanford's Behold Your God. From an early chapter on prayer, she proposes a method very new to me. First of all, it doesn't involve kneeling but relaxing the body so the mind and spirit can focus. I've always wondered if we're supposed to kneel -- I think C.S. Lewis once indicated that kneeling was an important reminder of our animal form (am I way off on this?) as a reverance to God. So, do I kneel or not? I don't like kneeling, it hurts my knees, I don't even kneel in church, I sit on the edge of the pew and lean forward onto the rail (am I going to hell for this? Just kidding, I really don't seen it as a damning offense).

Agnes also directs that in prayer we are seek to contact God, so we are to keep a clear mind, at least at first (she says to hold off on the intercessions until we've made contact). I probably haven't read enough of the book to understand what she's saying, but its a departure from the way I've looked at prayer. The idea of being silent (meditating, really) rather than babbling at God the way I do, is intriguing. Speaking of babbling, thats what I'm doing at this point, so I'll stop.