Sunday, June 21, 2015

Aliens and Westerns in my Home

I went to the library the other day and after walking past the "westerns" isle without a glance (as usual) a realization struck me and I stopped in my tracks. Wait. I'm reading a western novel right now! 

How did this happen? At the recommendation of Oliver DeMille, I guess. And I am underlining something almost every five pages. Astounding! I'd always been programmed to belittle the category "western." That wasn't something I could read, right? I was a cultured musician or some nonsense like that. (Or maybe it was to avoid that painful subject of horses--those amazing animals I am deathly allergic to, but have some unexplainable--and therefore painful--affinity for.)

In any case, the trip to the library reminded me that our culture categorizing books and movies etc. into genres like "western" has been a wall keeping me from great books; books like Bendigo Shafter! I had already learned this lesson with the category of "fantasy" and "sci-fi," so it really must be the horse thing. Anyway, now I'm on the hunt. Down with categories! 

I think my quest is even more passionate because of my experience last week. 

See, you have to know: the category I like least of all? Alien movies/books etc. 
The only alien anything to ever sneak past my category wall was the movie Signs--sneaky M. Night Shyamalan--but that's it. So when I heard of the movie, Home, I planned to miss and was relieved my kids didn't seem interested (the trailer was annoying, right?) 

But last week, the night begged for a date with my two youngest Daysies as everyone else was gone to camps, and Home was the only movie at the dollar theater that was kid-friendly. Dang it. I was going to have to stretch WAY outside my favorite categories zone if I was going to pay three bucks to be super mom. Fine. I'd endure. 

Surprise: by the end of the movie, I had cried nearly three times. I walked out of the theater holding my two little girl's hands tightly in mine, kissing their heads and thinking of my other loved ones off at camps, or away living their lives in other states. I was grateful for the many loving relationships that had been cultivated in my lifetime; grateful for the divine love that bound me to so many cherished humans on this planet and how they each blessed my life. I wanted to bless theirs more abundantly. 

When AD and my other two children returned in the following days, we all went together again for a family night. I thought perhaps I'd be a little annoyed by the humor or something this time, but no, now Adam and I both left the theater in tears, wanting to kiss and cuddled all our Daysies. (Oh, and another category wall broken down: R&B music. They actually found a way to use that style of music to uplift people. Wow.)

"How have we not heard about this movie until now?!" Adam asked as we walked out of the theater. umm...I'd tried hiding it from any of you because it was an alien movie. After reading some of the critics reviews online and seeing the low Rotten Tomatoes rating, I realized that many people don't like it because... well, either the alien thing or they can't relate I guess. A happy home. Loving relationships. Such things are becoming more rare. So rare, critics find movies that portray happy homes and loving relationships "annoying." That's all I can come up with. Or, maybe I deserve to be categorized?: Woman Who Likes Alien Kids Flicks.

Okay. So be it. But this Woman Who Likes Alien Kids Flicks is determined to learn from just such a flick the following: 

If I start to find my home isn't a happy one, if the relationships in my world make me want to leave the planet, then I am going to stop and reflect on the lessons of Home. I am going to stop running away from the reality. I will open my eyes to my own part--to the Truth (not the more or less than true facts I rehearse in my head). I will stop accusing. I will not make those I could love into "Gorgs." If they let me, I will spend time with them. If they fly off to alien worlds and don't come to the party for now, I will give them time, but I will not let their scary armor fool me. I will remember and see always the real them hidden inside. 

They are a child of God. I am a child of God. God's children are here to learn to create and build together, to strengthen each other, to nurture and shape each other and this world. We are here to experience Real love; Divine Love. And it starts in the home. 
Create a wholesome atmosphere in your home. Let seeking minds find adequate family support for growth and development... Face the fact that true fatherhood and true motherhood are fast disappearing. The failure of fathers and mothers to assume their rightful responsibilities actually creates the disturbed conditions we face... we must resist the thrust of the world against our homes. Repentance is in order for many of us. We must put our values in proper perspective. Put time and attention and means on the things that matter most. Few, in their more sober moments of reflection, do not know where true values rest. It takes a reminder, however, to keep them properly in focus. 
 ~A Theodore Tuttle, "The Things that Matter Most," Oct, 1971.

I am learning that I hate categories. They hide things. They make you feel stuck.

This is what I mean by 'feeling stuck': experiencing other people or circumstances as having more power over our own happiness than we do. We believe they have the ability to cause troubling feelings in us that we cannot do anything about, no matter how we try. We wonder how we can ever be genuinely happy, inwardly peaceful, and fulfilled. Obviously we can't as long as we continue feeling offended or provoked or hurt, but we cannot stop feeling that way because we can't see how to stop. 
Can we ever get out of this box once we find ourselves in it? ... On no subject has more diverse advice been given. Every profound ethical or spiritual teaching speaks of it under some label or other. So do many of the more superficial teachings that focus on success. Some of these offer strategies for cultivating tranquillity amidst affliction or adversity. Some show us a path of love they claim will lead us away from fear and frustration. Some, with a much different approach, encourage us to assert ourselves and defend our rights in order to keep others from aggravating and taking advantage of us. Some supply negotiation techniques for winning the respect, deference, or cooperation of others. Some recommend suspicion, pessimism, or resignation as tactics to make us less vulnerable to offense.  
Generally speaking, such prescriptions for happiness don't work very well. They don't work because they fail to show how our hearts can be changed, and with "hearts" I include the troubled emotions and attitudes that keep us "stuck." That failure is fatal, because without a change of heart whatever we do will carry the smell of our manipulative, selfish, or fearful intent, and other people will readily discern it... when we are "stuck," we think, falsely, the problem lies with other people, when the truth is that the problem lies within ourselves. We develop strategies for relieving ourselves of our unwanted feelings without retracing the path that got us into them in the first place... with emotions and relationships, the truth is the cure... Until we get hold of the truth about our condition, our continuing self-misunderstanding will guide us to do things that only make matters worse. 
~ Terry Warner, Bonds that Make us Free, excerpts from chapter one. 

I see so much "mad sad" in this world. All around me. Friends hurting. Family suffering from feeling stuck. Maybe even the word "home" is a category that is making things worse? Is it a category that makes us sometimes want to run away (like the Boov)? Run away because our home is a bad home, or not a good home, not a loving home, a broken home, or not a big enough home, or happy enough home, or perfect home etc? Well, down with that wall! No more feeling stuck. We must find the truth:

Home is just people bonded together by webs of inexplicable spiritual connective tissue (genetically related or not). Walls have nothing to do with it!

Either that tissue that connects us to others is diseased with accusing feelings, lies and self-justifications, or flowing with nourishing love and truth (or somewhere in-between). Sometimes surgery is needed to remove the bond, yes. But isn't it Truth that love must still stitch the wound, or it will fester?  Whatever the state of the bond, I am reminded again (by stepping out of my categories this week) that running away from the problem is not the answer--thank you alien kids flick! We are not stuck. That is a lie. 

Let us go and build like Bendigo Shafter. Let us act. Let us break down walls that make us feel stuck and build homes and heal homes; let us build bonds of Divine Love that make us free.  

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Connect the Dots...

Confession to my husband: I bought a bunch of digital books today. It's your birthday tomorrow, but you won't be home. You're even out of cell phone range. I'll spoil you when you return. Today, out of loneliness, with you and half the children gone--and to avoid what I should write, but don't feel ready to--I splurged on...

1. A collection of modern religious poetry in support of a blogger I recently discovered. It was only $3. And so far these parts have that hum to them I keep looking for. Maybe they'll help me get my writing to hum again?

from "Christmas Eve" by James Goldberg

...But Mary's brain has been flooded, washed
clean out, by the work of tending
her inside:
a secret place,
where her son can rest his head--
immersed in her water,
nourished by her blood.

If she can carry him
another mile
another hour
past just one more closed inn door,
then tonight
That great and terrible moment will come 
when he bursts forth into this world

to teach us all 
how to be born.

Midwives I've been reviewing come to mind. 

Parts like this wink at me, so I underline...


... Faith was the beam I removed--and went blind
You had to wash the clearness out with mud so I could see again. 

"Nephi's Vision" 

(as sung by Johnny Cash)

... Yes, I've felt the white-hot heat that forged 

this iron rod I hold.

Oh, I've seen plates of fire God made 

to refine these plates of gold.

Went and asked God for a vision--

and an angel said, Behold:

The future's filled with a fire, son, 

to refine your plates of gold.

Plates of gold. What of mine? Still in the fire...

2. Then I turned to the monthly Mentoring in the Classics audios and study guides that have been building up in my files ready to catch up on when a nudge comes like today. Nathan started reading Louis L'Amour. This month the classic pic is L'Amour's Bendigo Shafter. So I downloaded it on my kindle app. Makes me miss my Naynay who is away, helping you. I read a review that said the main character is "one of the best male role models in literature. He's the type of man you want to raise your son to be... he's not perfect... just a man responding to his life course and making adjustments as events necessitate." I thought of you. Made me miss you more. 

Here's what I highlighted today:

Ruth Macken had a way of making a man feel large in his tracks, so what could I do but better than my best? (p.6)

To destroy is easy, to build is hard. To scoff is also easy, but to go on in the face of scoffing and to do what is right is the way of a man. (p.7)

        The westward way had a different effect on folks, and many of them grew in size and gathered in spirit. John Sampson was such a man. Back home in the States he had been the village handyman, and nobody paid much mind to what he thought about anything. He did his work and he took his pay, and that was the sum of it. Folks turned to teachers, ministers, storekeepers, and bankers for opinions. But once you got out away from home on a wagon train, a minister or a banker wasn't much help; a handyman could keep your wagon rolling...
       ...When we crossed the Mississippi and rolled out over the grass lands some folks were scared of the size of it all. Miles of grass stretched on all sides, the vast bowl of the sky was overhead, and there were a few who turned around and ran for home, their tails between their legs. There were others, like John Sampson, who began to grow and to take big steps in the land. Webb grew, too, but in another way. There had always been a streak of violence in him, but fear of public opinion and fear of the law had toned it down. Now a body could see the restraint falling away...
      ...We accepted danger but took no unnecessary risk. It is a fool who invites trouble, a child who is reckless, for life holds risks enough without reaching out for more. (p.12)

What would we do on a wagon train if we left it all and started anew, AD? Maybe it would be like it is now: 

You'd play on one of your good violins, 

I'd steal it to practice on, pretending I can play, 

Then you'd steal it back and sell it to someone,

Then bring out a better one,

Before leaving for the week to sell the good ones,

While I practice on the better one,

Thinking of you.

3. Lastly, I bought a book we already have: Bonds that make us FreeDigital this time. Don't worry. It was only $6 since I had points to redeem. I Couldn't find our hardcover. Must have lent it out. (Anyone out there have mine?) I suggested to a friend we read it together and discuss. I promised it was all about her life right now. I secretly hope it will do what it has for so many: bring freedom. And maybe a Bendigo Shafter? But first, I hope it teaches her how to be free. Free of anxiety. Free of fear. Free of walls. Free of pain. I haven't started reading it yet (since the first time years ago). So I scan quickly to find something that hums, winks, or nudges me. Ah... 

Freedom: older, very concerned woman raised an issue about forgiveness... "If you forgive somebody, you more or less say, 'There's something that person needs to be blamed for, something he's done wrong to me, but I'm a big enough person to overlook it.' You have to keep in mind what they've done wrong or else you don't have anything to overlook. So you can't forgive and forget, can you? You have to remember the wrong they've done. That doesn't seem to be very charitable. So I don't understand forgiveness. I've always been suspicious when people say they forgive... 
This woman was right to say that we do not, we cannot, accuse someone in our heart and at the same time forget about the wrong we're accusing them of doing. The best we can do, as long as we continue to accuse, is to counterfeit a pardon for them and try our best not to think about what they have done. But overlooking or "letting pass" a grievance or an offense does not qualify as forgiveness. Forgiveness is something else entirely.  
First, forgiveness responds to the real issue, the real reason... [it] is not any wrong that others have done to us, but the wrong we are doing to them. Forgiveness concerns our wrongdoing, not theirs. And our wrongdoing includes our failure to treat them as we ought, or finding them at fault for this failure, and our refusal to forgive them for this supposed fault.  
Second, our act of forgiving consists of repenting of this wrongdoing of ours, or in other words, ceasing to accuse those we have been accusing. 
Third, when we cease to accuse them, we cease to feel there's anything on their part that needs to be forgiven! We no longer find them offensive. We see that from their point of view they are struggling against perceived offenses and threats just as we have been.  
Thus forgiveness involves opening ourselves to the truth, letting our former offenders become real to us, and no longer believing there is anything for us to forgive. As they undergo a transformation in our forgiving eyes, we undergo a transformation ourselves. 
This must be so. As long as we see others as needing our forgiveness, we will continue regarding ourselves as their victim and will remain accusing still. We live free of the bondage of accusing, afflicted feelings only by ceasing to find and take offense...  
Of all the initiatives people can take who feel a devastating wrong has made them miserable, one stands above all others in effectiveness. It is actually seeking forgiveness for having refused to forgive.
I begin to think, dearest, that the rabbit trails of the day had some order to them. 

I like to see the bigger picture. Not just dots. 

So I begin to connect the dots. I put them down on "paper" and look for the invisible lines in-between. 

And I see some connections. I feel the bigger picture coming. I needed this. I had been trying to draw the picture without the dots. That's fine when you know what the bigger picture is suppose to become. But I don't yet. 

So I get dots. 
I need more dots. 
And I need to write them down. 

How does anyone see those greater things--the macro things--without recording the dots? I'll never know. Maybe they won't either.