Sunday, November 25, 2012

Who shot J.R.?

Tonight it is difficult getting my mind around a topic for blogging. Ask me about adult development and I might have something to say, it may not be interesting but it will be something. This weekend has been killer with studies and the only news I recall is that Larry Hagman (J.R. from Dallas) died.  Maybe killer is not appropriate when remembering the character he played, when the big season closer one year was, "Who shot J.R.?" Wow, that character was a scoundrel. Suddenly I am devolving into memories and reminiscing about the early 1980s and remembering the song written about the event. There is a new series of Dallas that began this summer and I wonder if it is still running?

Thanksgiving was a great time. My mother came the night before and cooked a nice meal. That morning we had one of the sisters over for breakfast and it was just a nice day of community and family after that. I spent time thinking about Black Friday shopping and while reflecting on how easy it is to spend money. The sales are crazy big as we move into the Christmas season and I wonder how this has become another opportunity for consumerism to take hold. Last year, and the year before, I spent some time walking around with my sister at the mall in my Milwaukee neighborhood. This was an overwhelming experience for a variety of reasons and the fact that shopping is one of my least favorite activities did not help the situation. Lately I have had time to reflect on consumerism and how it impacts my life. I am so easily drawn into purchasing the unnecessary, which runs counter to so much of what I believe. Yet, there are those moments when it feels like must get my "shop-on." Part of this awareness might be coming out of the reading I am doing about radical democracy and the scourge of neoliberalism. Maybe it is not only awareness that I am experiencing, it might be that there are some shifts going on about how I view production and work. This brings me to thoughts about the Catholic Social Teachings and the right to work, which suddenly feels like I heavier topic than I am able to write about this evening.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The God Planner

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you--oracle of the Lord--plans for your welfare and not your woe, so as to give you a future of hope.
--Jeremiah 29:11

My friend Lisa enters a thirty day silent directed retreat in Rome as one of the last preparations for final vows in her community. She will be working with a spiritual director over these days, yet most importantly the time will be negotiated and worked out in a way that is really directed through her relationship with God. The days may get long and as they do,  my hope is that she is able to trust in the calendar she is co-creating with God while steeped in prayer. I recall the wind-up toy she gave me for retreat. Now I regret not saving it and returning it to her for entertainment during this sacred time. I did make her a playlist of special end-of-formation songs that may help...still not the same as something being wound-up and then hopping across a table. As she reflects on her future of hope and what it brings to the world I dedicate the song Mercy by the Dave Matthews Band to accompany her during this special time. Hope is something that can be realized.   Let it be abundant in Lisa's life and drawn-out by all those she comes in contact with.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

An Execution

As one whose husband and mother-in-law have died the victims of murder assassination, I stand firmly and unequivocally opposed to the death penalty for those convicted of capital offenses. An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the taking of a human life. Morality is never upheld by a legalized murder.
       –Coretta Scott King

Last week I heard that the violence in our world is lower ever before in recorded human history. This seems like a reasonable claim, knowing that things seem so bad because we are so tuned in to instant media in our growing global consciousness. A few days after hearing that violence is down i was on facebook and learned of a coming execution for a man I never met. Whenever there is an execution in the U.S. we burn a candle and display the name of the person who will die that day. Tuesday the person being executed is related to a woman I knew from St. Michael, AZ and she is going to be with him when he dies to be a witness of love. The past couple of days my mind keeps returning to the reality of government sanctioned execution and its brutality. I also reflect on the lives of innocent people lost in heinous crimes, in this case the woman  Winda Snipes. The life of the human person is precious and we suffer all of the loss together if we see how connected we are in this human family. And, I recognize that I am not a mother, sister or friend to someone whose life was  robbed from them through a violent crime. Coretta Scott King's quote helps me see the futility of exchanging one life for another and Tuesday my prayers will join with both families and Bret Hatman as he faces the reality of his own death.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Who's Driving?

This has been a difficult week for people affected by Hurricane Sandy and my prayers go out to all who are now dealing with the aftermath. I am not aware of too many personal stories, yet know the loss  is devastating.

Milwaukee's Third Ward (from a different day in traffic)
The other day I was driving to Milwaukee during rush hour and found myself cursing out other drivers as we shared the highway. My guess is I do this often and usually do not notice my frustration being put out onto other people. Who are in the same situation, attempting to get to a destination safely, and likely just as, if not more, frustrated as me. So, as the days have passed I am realizing more the need to do breathing exercises in the car rather than allow my angst to spill onto the lives of people I do not even know. Not sure why I am writing about this when there are so many other things going on, yet it is pertinent to the spiritual life it seems. One of the questions that occurred to me was, "Would I react related in the same manner if I knew the other people driving?" Another was, "Would I respond differently whether I liked them or not?" And, finally (unfortunately not for the first time) I realized that it matters not whether I know the other people in there cars driving, or if I like them. We all are attempting to complete a task as efficiently as we can. This does not mean that we all have the same driving skills, nor do we have the same understanding of efficiency (after all some might be going slower to save gas, while others speed up to save time). My role is to hold the diversity of the road in a thoughtful space and attempt to respond through a stance of compassion. My guess is that recognizing this offers another challenge in how to live a life of love. My next guess is that it is not so easy and it seems I have stumbled upon these insights before. Maybe someday it will stick.

Geez, I was going to write about Dietrich Bonhoeffer this week, I guess the greater inspiration was in the dailiness of life and how to manage conflict. I was going to focus on the social gospel, and in some ways this does fit...just not the avenue I intended to take. Maybe next week Bonhoeffer will arise.