Saturday, April 11, 2020

This Easter

This Easter

Being an April baby, Easter has occasionally coincided with my birthday.  This was delightfully confusing when I was a little girl.  Bunny rabbits and fancy dresses, birthday cakes and sunrise services, gardenia corsages and presents.  All too much to take in properly when I was really small.  I soon learned, however, that, in order of priority, my birthday was quite a ways down the ladder of importance from Easter Sunday.

I suppose I've been pondering the significance of Easter for the whole of my life.  It is the crux of the Christian faith, after all.  If Jesus didn't really rise from the dead, the whole thing is pretty much rubbish.  As a person of faith, I believe that he did, and this tells me death is something that can ultimately be conquered; that we will live again, just as he did.  Even though it's far outside my understanding, that's still where I place my hope.

These days, it's hard to find Jesus in religion.  When one reads the Beatitudes, the values of Christ stand in razor-sharp contrast
to what we often see represented as American Christianity.  Those he called Blessed - the meek, the merciful, the poor in spirit, the peacemakers, those who mourn, those who hunger for righteousness - seem to have been cast aside, mocked and deemed weak, and in their place we find the arrogant, ignorant, and mendacious being praised and exalted as never before.  At a time when we so dearly need the comfort of faith, the church can seem like the last place in which it can be found.

But the words of Jesus cannot be drowned out by a louder voice, nor do they fade under a liar's glare.  We are seeing them come soaring to life right before our eyes.  As he told us in Matthew, "the last shall be first, and the first shall be last".  This pandemic is proving that truth in ways we couldn't have imagined.  For it is not the celebrated, the over-paid, or the powerful who are holding us  together at present.  It is the ones so often overlooked, undervalued, and discounted.  The grocery worker, the nurse, the sanitation worker, the delivery person, the ambulance driver, the hospital janitor.  Those whom many in this country would deem unworthy for a paltry increase in the minimum wage, the ones who don't deserve health care, education, or an affordable place to live, the ones who have to fight for their right to vote are, we see now, worth just as much, or more, than any corporate head.  Today, without them, our country would collapse.  It is divine truth, uncovered, and set out into the light.  The last are first.

This year Easter falls straight down into a grieving, frightened, insecure world.  One where we have been forced into silence and solitude.  The wonderful writer Arundhati Roy recently called this pandemic "a portal, a gateway between this world and the next".  In this time of quiet separation we have the time to ponder what we want to carry with us into this next world.  What will we set down? What will we hold tighter?  We have a lot of decisions to make. 

 Perhaps we've all been given a second chance to get it right.
  I have to believe that.  
After all Easter is synonymous with hope.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Black Swans

Black Swans

Long before any of us were walking around, people were sure about many things.  The earth was flat.  The surest way to cure a migraine was to drill a hole into your head.  Evil spirits lived inside brussels sprouts.  Women could become infertile if they did too much thinking.  And black swans did not exist.

That last surety was disproven in 1697 when a group of Dutch explorers spied black swans floating along a river in Western Australia.  Minds were blown.  Certainties were questioned. Knowledge was gained.

Some are calling this moment in time our very own black swan experience.  Many things that were so sure and so safe only weeks ago now seem as fragile as dust.  Much of what we thought we knew is only a memory now, and we struggle to make sense of this new reality, knowing, even as our brains fight to reject the idea, that things will never be quite the same again.

The Songwriter and I are two of the fortunate ones; we already work from home.  Our three dogs are simply delighted with all the walks they're getting every single day now.  But as my head hits the pillow every night, my thoughts swiftly travel to those wonderful people who own the tiny Mexican restaurant we've been frequenting for decades, the charming couple who own the gem of an inn in the Highlands of Scotland, the tiny bookshop on the tiny street, the dog groomer, the favorite waitress, the bakery owner.  There's no getting around it; so many lives are being affected in so many life-altering ways.

Deep in my soul, I have known for awhile that we were heading for change - abrupt and irrevocable change.  There was simply too much greed, too much contempt, too much focus on the things that have never mattered.  Science was ignored, faith distorted, selfishness applauded, divisiveness engineered.  We were due for a reckoning, I suppose.  And what we're left with when this all ends - and it will end - will depend on the decency and humanity of every citizen of the world.

Tribalism is as ancient an idea as some of those insane ones up in that first paragraph.  This crisis has revealed that insanity by showing us - in technicolor, in real time - that we live and breathe, suffer and die, together.  The videos of Italians singing out from their windows, the doctors dancing together in Iran, the shopkeepers in Georgia opening their stores early so the elderly can shop safely.  No one is separate; no one is immune.  Our planet is tiny.  Perhaps we know that now.

One of the sweet people I follow on Instagram posted this yesterday and I thought it bore repeating here. 

"And the people stayed home.  And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.  And listened more deeply.  Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.  Some met their shadows.  And the people began to think differently.  And the people healed.  And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.  And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed."
Kitty O'Meara

Help your neighbors. 
Stay safe, stay inside, and stay hopeful.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Puppies and Patriots

Puppies and Patriots

Say hello to George!
I know, I know, three dogs is excessive.  But we'd been keeping an eye out for a playmate for our gentle giant, Andrew.  Then, without fanfare, an email landed in my inbox last Wednesday with a photograph of this wee chap and the dye was set.  Despite many applications for him, we were the lucky ones chosen and now, a mere ten days later, it seems George was always part of the family.  Apple finds him amusing, but Andrew plays with him constantly, and the sight of an 103 lb dog playing with a 10.5 lb puppy is entertaining beyond measure.  No one knows exactly which breed is dominant is this little fellow, though the vet believes he's primarily a wheaten terrier.  He does have pretty big feet, and he's seriously fluffy.  More photos of him can be found on my Instagram page. 

Also, work has begun at Random House on the cover of my novel, 
I'll share a photo when I have it.  The release will be January 2021 and it's all very exciting.  I am now hard at work on my second book.  Three big dogs sleeping under my desk can only help this all-consuming process.

And finally, yesterday was a brutal day, both for lovers of the US Constitution and an united Europe.  The faux impeachment trial of our president and the official onset of Brexit in the UK converged on the same day, a dark alignment of stars that will change the course of both our countries for generations.  Unlike US citizens, who have a chance to redirect their disastrous direction at the ballot box in November, those in Britain will have a rougher road.  This editorial gracefully expresses the truth and consequences of Brexit.

And, while I could write my feelings on the events of the week here in my own country, I'll instead turn to two of our founding fathers for their thoughts.  There is a reason our constitution has stood strong for 200 years.  These men anticipated our current predicament.  

From Alexander Hamilton....

"The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion...
When a man unprincipled in private life, desperate is his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits - despotic in his ordinary demeanor - known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty - when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity - to join in the cry of danger to liberty - to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government, bringing it under suspicion - to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day - It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may 'ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.'"

And, from Thomas Paine, whose words express my feelings so succinctly:

"I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance
 to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man."

Love and Grace to you all.