John carved us some awesome pumpkins a few days ago. They are now even scarier than this, as they’ve got green mildew growing out of their eye sockets..
On Monday when I voted, I was ebullient. I Love Voting. Just love it. Although it probably sounds really corny to say this, I felt the spirit of folks like Martin and Alice and Harvey right there alongside me there in that uber hi-tech voting booth. I was also surrounded by dozens of undergrads who were exercising their right for the very first time. The thrill was palpable.
People who are voting next Tuesday: bring a lawnchair and some leftover Halloween candy to share. Those lines are going to be long, but don’t let that deter you. Just do it.
For October at Quaker Meeting the topic for the queries was “personal relationships.” Some of the questions that were offered as a catalyst for meditation:
Do I make my home a place of friendliness, joy, and peace, where residents and visitors feel God’s presence?
Are my sexual practices consistent with my spiritual beliefs and free of manipulation and exploitation?
What barriers keep me from responding openly and lovingly to each person?
For the Meeting community:
Do we open our thoughts, beliefs, and deep understandings to our children and others who share our lives and our hospitality?
Do we provide our children and young adults with a framework for active, ongoing participation in the Meeting?
With the polarization of the political factions in our country the past few weeks, I’ve found myself cynically responding to those who believe differently than I do. However a few times I was able to step away from my own dogmatism and have a conversation about the issues with another person who believed differently than me. I found that when I did this I could find a space of common ground and that it fostered tolerance and kindness between us, rather than a feeling of hostility. I am grateful for those bridge-building moments. They’ve buoyed me through the morass of negativity that’s coming from the media right now.
I had the interesting experience of clerking a Quaker committee meeting on Sunday, where we learned about and debated the merits of the various California ballot Propositions. By happenstance the attendees of the meeting were all men who were about 20 years older than me. We had a vigorous and enjoyable discussion. I felt that everyone’s opinions were valued even if we completely disagreed on many of the measures. What the attendees of that meeting probably didn’t realize, was that I was totally reeling with the experience–because in a Mormon context I would never have had the opportunity or the responsibility to conduct a meeting of older men. Nor would I have asserted my opinion as one of equal weight as those of men (because all LDS men who are over the age of 12 hold the priesthood and are therefore given the role of mouthpiece for God–I’m simplifying it a bit, but my teenage son could say prayers and administer rituals that no Mormon woman ever could, at any age).
When I consider the last query above about how the Meeting offers opportunities for everyone to participate…and I think about my having led a church meeting in a manner that so clearly emphasized the equality of gender and age, I feel happy that I worship with Friends. Because equality is important to me.
While riding the train through Los Angeles I get views of neighborhoods not seen from the freeway. The numbers of abandoned buildings are shocking to me–it’s hard for me to understand why, in a town with such exorbitantly high real estate prices, there are these large abandoned structures.
It’s what I thought about as a I read through this photo essay at Sweet Juniper about an abandoned historic school in Detroit. It opened my eyes to a major challenge facing anyone who aims to rehabilitate urban buildings–I had no idea that scrapping was so rampant and so destructive. And I wonder why urban blight isn’t being addressed by any of the political candidates (at least not that I’ve heard)?
When I was at my sickest with my cancer treatments, I spent a lot of time just sitting on the couch watching my Mom do her daily work. It was the first time in my life that I realized how many hours she invested in keeping our home running smoothly. Specifically, I was shocked at how many times each day I watched her load and unload the dishwasher. What a singularly boring and repetitive task. I realized that she had no fondness for washing dishes but yet I saw her doing this same task constantly, with other family members rarely joining in.
After awhile I remember wishing that I could help her. It became a goal of mine to someday become strong enough that I could help my Mom with those awful dishes.
Of course, by the time I felt well again, I was preoccupied with my own dramas and I didn’t lend a hand with the dishes nearly as often as I should have. But now when I have tasks in front of me–like dishwashing or other mundanities at work, school, etc., I often think of those many times that I watched Mom loading and unloading those dishes. And sometimes that helps me to remember that life is a lot about washing the dishes–those tasks that one doesn’t particularly like, but that need to be done on a regular basis anyways. And hopefully the dishwashing is sometimes made just a bit easier by the great dinner parties that come beforehand. Or by having some friends join in the work.
Yesterday I rode the trains to Pasadena (metrolink and metro goldline). Also caught a cab for the last 2 miles of the journey into the land where busses don’t run (silly San Marino and Huntington Library).
I heart trains with tables and outlets for my laptop so I can get lotsa work done during my commute!
I do not heart cabs full of “interesting smells” (why oh why do cabs smell so terrible?), although I am very enamored of jolly cab drivers who don’t mind stopping mid-way to pick up a friend.
PS: Two new things I’ve recently learned: Ellycat likes beef jerky. Bobette-kitty likes deli ham (even begging irresistibly with her round paws in the air).
I’ve been wanting to read the writings of Pico Ayer for quite some time–I have friends who gush about his travel writing. And I am now a fan, too, since I’ve read and re-read his “Room with a View” article from the Nov/Dec “Yoga + Joyful Living” magazine. In this piece he speaks of the joy of silent meditation during his regular pilgrimages to a California monastery, but as he says, “I wouldn’t call this a pilgrimage because I’m not off to find myself, only to lose myself.” He continues:
…here in the monastery I’m committing a deeper infidelity, against the life I know and the values by which we are supposed to live. I am being disloyal in the deepest way to the assumptions of the daily round, and daring to lay claim to a mystery at the heart of me…this is who I am when nobody is looking. This is who I’m not, because the petty, struggling, ambitious “I” is gone. I am as still, as timeless as the plate of sea below me.
…everyone knows moments she has a deeper, purer self within, something that belongs to what stands out of time and space, and…the very beauty of it, is that it admits us into the realm of what cannot be said.”
In the past few years I have been schooling myself in the beauty of silence. I cherish those moments when I can connect to the deep core of Truth that’s inside of me through removing myself from the complications of language. I know others find this Truth in myriad ways, but it’s nice to hear a fellow pilgrim express the thoughts of my heart so very well.
I’ve been following the “Path to Freedom” urban homesteading blog for quite some time. I admire these folks’ gardening skills and their determination to live lightly on the land (and the grid).
So when I had a chance to stop by their property today (kudos to K!), I was eager to see it for myself. Of course I didn’t have any intention of knocking on their door or bothering them. Just thought I’d peek over the fence.
Well, the best of intentions went awry when they were all out in their yard chatting with someone and there I was, standing like a big dork at their gate, ogling their spectacular garden. Embarrassing.
I tried to act nonchalant as I snapped this pic, but really I felt like a big heel trespassing in their private space.