Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I wish I weren't so sensitive to what people say. Actions speak so much louder than words. "Pay attention to what a person does, not what he says," is advice I've given to others, so why is it so hard for me to follow my own advice? I don't know, but it is. And, of course, some days I'm more sensitive than others. Aren't we all? I just wish I hadn't let this get under my skin like it did.

We were talking about the shooting on Sunday in the Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville. "What exactly is the spiritual significance of the musical Annie?" they demanded. "Why would any church have that on a Sunday morning instead of a worship service?"

My mind went immediately to our Gospel lesson of the past Sunday, which came from Matthew 13 and all its "the kingdom of heaven is like..." How many were there, a mustard seed, yeast in bread, treasure hidden in a field, a merchant in search of fine pearls, a net thrown into the sea...

So I said, "The kingdom of heaven is like an orphan named Annie, who was adopted by Daddy Warbucks, when all the sinister forces around her tried to prevent her good fortune." I might as well have been speaking Swahili.

"That's not in the Bible," my friend said, "and it shouldn't take the place of reading the Bible."

And then it hit me - they were trying to blame the victims for what happened. The victims were, after all, liberals. And according to the hateful rhetoric of Limbaugh and Coulter and O'Reilly and their ilk, anyone who shoots, decapitates or defames a liberal should be rewarded, right?

So a mental patient sees that show or hears that junk or reads their books and he takes it literally. Rather than sharing some moral culpability with the shooter, they remind us, "Hey, this man had problems long before he saw/heard/read me. There's no connection." Ri-i-i-ght! And putting the snowball in the microwave had nothing to do with its melting either. It was gonna melt anyway.

The impact of hearing just the few words my friend spoke was chilling, and those words came nowhere near the hate speech of some. Words can wound, or words can heal. To paraphrase something Scott Peck wrote in one of his books, we can unleash demons or encourage angels by the things we do and say. Shouldn't we be encouraging angels every chance we get, especially we Christians?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I put the sign up in the yard at Madison and it's resulted in a few more calls, but not nearly like it's been in the past. I did say I was going to take my time about getting another renter, didn't I? I may not have any other choice.

I've got a trip planned to Tampa next week and will be gone for a week. I'll probably just let Mike field the calls while I'm gone. I haven't decided when I'll tell him I'm leaving, but it probably will not be until the day before, maybe two days before. I'm trying to arrange for help with the dogs while I'm gone with a neighbor who does dog-sitting for a living. Art said he will do the morning duty, but she will need to do a late morning, mid-afternoon, and early evening walk.

Jean's breathing tube was removed today and she came out of sedation. It didn't take long for her to start talking and laughing with everyone. I was afraid she would be disappointed that she woke up still on earth and not in heaven. She tells the story about going to bed one night fully prepared to die. This was a couple of years ago when she was still suffering with shingles. She put on her black negligee, fixed her hair, made up her face, determined to be beautiful when Pam found her. She went to sleep that night after praying that God would let her wake up in heaven, convinced that her time had come. When she woke up still in her bed in Rankin Co, Ms, she said she was totally pissed. So I half-way expected the same reaction when she found herself in the hospital.

Evidently, Heaven just ain’t ready for Jean yet.

Monday, July 28, 2008

My friend Jean had a heart attack last night. She's recovering in the CCU at Baptist Hospital with a couple of stents in her heart valves. I had lunch with her and Pam yesterday and got no indication whatsoever that anything was wrong. She was at the top of her game, regaling everyone with her hilarious account of the squirrel who came down her chimney last week and how she had blamed her cats for the damage the squirrel did, then had to apologize to her cats for falsely accusing them after she saw the real culprit. She will have hospital personnel in stitches.

I know we were all distressed about the shooting that occurred in Knoxville yesterday. The poor man hated liberals. Please, those of you who get frustrated with liberals from time to time, get a grip and leave the guns alone. Two people lost their lives defending the rest of their congregation. If that isn't love. . .

The water in our swimming pool has been almost bathwater warm lately. These sizzling temps in the high 90's with lows in the high 70's just don't let it cool down much. Nonetheless, I'm headed to our "heated pool" for a workout. It's 7 PM so it won't be too bad maybe.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Have you seen "Mama Mia" yet? If not, let me tell you, I dare you to go and try not to sing and laugh all the way through it. Can't be done! It's infectious! I saw it last night with my friend Yvonne and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd forgotten Meryl Streep could belt out a song like she does, but when did I hear her sing in a movie last? "Postcards from the Edge," maybe? Pierce Brosnan could use a few more singing lessons, but who cares when he's such delicious eye candy.

After the movie, Yvonne and I ate dinner at Margarita's. She moved here recently from Texas and is a Democrat! So you know I enjoyed our conversation over dinner. Since moving here, she's decided that Mississippi has a serious PR problem.

As if on cue, Benji sent this today, so I had to share it. It was written by Robert St. John, executive chef and owner of the Purple Parrot Cafe, Crescent City Grill and Mahogany Bar of Hattiesburg , MS.

Thirty years ago I visited my first cousin in Virginia . While hanging out with his friends, the discussion turned to popular movies of the day. When I offered my two-cents on the authenticity and social relevance of the movie Billy Jack, one of the boys asked, in all seriousness, 'Do you guys have movie theaters down there?'

To which I replied, 'Yep. We wear shoes too.'

Just three years ago, my wife and I were attending a food and wine seminar in Aspen , Colo. We were seated with two couples from LasVegas . One of the Glitter Gulch gals was amused and downright rude when I described our restaurant as a fine-dining restaurant. "Mississippi doesn't have fine-dining restaurants!" she insisted and nudged her companion.

I fought back the strong desire to mention that she lived in the land that invented the 99-cent breakfast buffet. I wanted badly to defend my state, my region, and my restaurant with a 15-minute soliloquy and public relations rant that would surely change her mind. It was at that precise moment that I was hit with a blinding jolt of enlightenment, and in a moment of complete and absolute clarity it dawned on me -- my South is the best-kept secret in the country.Why would I try to win this woman over? She might move down here.

I am always amused by Hollywood 's interpretation of the South. We are still, on occasion, depicted as a collective group of sweaty, stupid, backwards-minded, racist rednecks. The South of movies and TV, the Hollywood South, is not my South.

This is my South:

My South is full of honest, hardworking people.

My South is the birthplace of blues and jazz, and rock n' roll. It has banjo pickers and fiddle players, but it also has BB King, Muddy Waters, the Allman Brothers, Emmylou Harris and Elvis - and Leontyne Price.

My South is hot.

My South smells of newly mowed grass. My South was kick the can, creek swimming, cane-pole fishing and bird hunting.

In my South, football is king, and the Southeastern Conference is the kingdom.

My South is home to the most beautiful women on the planet.

In my South, soul food and country cooking are the same thing. My South is full of fig preserves, cornbread, butter beans, fried chicken, grits and catfish. In my South we eat foie gras, caviar and truffles.

In my South, our transistor radios introduced us to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones at the same time they were introduced to the rest of the country.

In my South, grandmothers cook a big lunch every Sunday, so big that we call it dinner (supper comes later).

In my South, family matters, deeply. My South is boiled shrimp, blackberry cobbler, peach ice cream, banana pudding and oatmeal cream pies. In my South people put peanuts in bottles of Coca-Cola and hot sauce on almost everything. In my South the tea is iced and almost as sweet as the women.

My South has air-conditioning.

My South is camellias, azaleas, wisteria and hydrangeas.

In my South, the only person that has to sit on the back of the bus is the last person that got on the bus.

In my South, people still say 'Yes, ma'am,' 'No ma'am,' 'Please' and 'Thank you.'

In my South, we all wear shoes....most of the time.

My South is the best-kept secret in the country. Please continue to keep the keeps the idiots away.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Skip sent this picture today of Mildred, Paul and Silas, taken around 1912. He sees a resemblance between this Silas and the one I posted on Weds., his great grandson. Pip does remind me of somebody, but it's usually his great grandmother Jack. This picture of Daddy reminds me more of me at that age.

Daddy was 12 and his brother Paul was 14 when Paul was killed on Christmas Day in New Orleans. They were playing with new roller skates out in the street and Paul was run over (by a drunk driver?) while his younger brother Silas watched the whole thing happen. Six years later this sister drowned while trying to rescue her husband who also drowned. So the third born child became "Big Brother" to his two younger siblings, Margaret, who is Skip's mom, and Charles.

Is there any wonder that Dad suffered from regular bouts of depression? He had an unusual amount of sadness and grief in his life before I came along. His father abandoned their family during the depression, then his parents divorced. His first wife Amy died of pneumonia. Then during WWII he was a Protestant Chaplain assigned to a medical unit in England and France. One of his duties was to sit by the bedside of wounded and dying soldiers, writing the letters they dictated to their loved ones back home. He also had to read to some of them the letters they received. I've heard him tell how a "Dear John" letter could take away a man's will to live, knowing the sweetheart back home was no longer waiting for his return.

All these things helped to make him the deeply compassionate person he was. He loved and cared for all. And he's still loving and caring for all, but now he isn't bothered with the immobilizing blue moods he used to have. Don't you know that was one happy family reunion in heaven?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Getting back in the pool this morning really helped my feelings. I hadn't been in 6 days. I really don't need to go that long without exercising. The stress being what it's been, I should have been out there every day. This morning's session netted some good information from our friendly neighborhood attorney, who advised me on who to call about this ridiculous gas bill I've got. He agreed with me that it is criminal fraud and not a civil matter. He's a former prosecutor, so he should know.

The Water Lilies ate at Majestic Burgers today, where they had some fairly fancy burger fare on the menu. I had a salad with grilled chicken instead, just was not in the mood for a hamburger. We had 10 ladies show up including the one who was missing last week. As a result of that scare, I'm compiling a list of names, telephone numbers, email addresses, etc. but we're adding emergency contact numbers to the list. It might come in handy some day, and save our amateur detectives from getting arrested. I wish I could have seen that brave pair snooping around Emily's house trying to find a way to get inside. Lucy and Ethel would have been proud.

Benji had this cute picture of his biking buddy on his Flickr site, and I had to grab it to show everybody. Is he not the cutest! Benji also had a clip from his debut movie on there, too. I didn't realize he could look like such a total geek. Congratulations, Son! and kiss that precious Pip for me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

More unpleasantries discovered at the Madison place today. The gas company turned the gas back on for the renters in my name. I had ordered temporary service in January while we cleaned and showed it to prospective renters. Then I asked for a disconnect and final bill.

A woman identifying herself as Mrs. Garrett called and asked for it to be reconnected. As long as they had the account number, the gas company thought it was legitimate. That bill should never have gone to the Madison address. I asked for it to be sent to my Brandon address. So they are as much at fault as the crooks who were living there, seems to me. In the five months they were there, they ran up a $915 bill! There is either a serious leak in the line or these folks had a meth lab cooking all night and all day.

I went to the police department to file fraud charges, but they said it's a civil matter. I cannot believe the gas company would do this. Why did they leave it on so long with no payment being made? She must have been giving them all the same hard luck stories she was giving me about having cancer and having asthma and having a pregnant daughter, etc. etc.

Tonight I have a major headache. Anybody out there been through something like this? I don't know what to do next. I'm too mad to think straight. Any suggestions?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Seems I mentioned a couple of months ago how very time consuming dream work can be. Blogs may be sparse for awhile 'til I get the hang of this. The dream I had this morning has kept me busy most of the day.

I am in a large gray concrete structure; it may be a prison, but there are no cells with locked barred doors. In fact, there seems to be nothing in this building but a maze of corridors. I am trying to find the “tyrant in charge” and he is in the “control room.” I walk in and find a man I do not recognize. He is standing over a panel of levers, switches and knobs, similar to a mixer console used in recording studios. I know he is capable of hurting me, but I am determined to tell him what I have to say. I know he has a taser and can stun me, but I am not afraid.

“If you think you can keep me here you are delusional, DEE-LOOZ-JHAN-UL!” I tell him emphatically, stressing each syllable of the word “delusional” when I repeat it. Then I turn and walk out, going through the same maze of corridors I went through to find him. I leave the cold gray building and walk out into the light of warm sunshine.

And once you start paying attention to these things, they come more frequently and are easier to recall. I just wish I understood all the symbols and their meanings. Practice helps, and I'm getting in plenty of practice these days.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Our Water Lilies group ate at Western Sizzlin' on Weds and enjoyed lively conversation on a number of topics including how to get irresponsible parents, especially those on public assistance, to take responsibility for their children and their reproductive systems. Should parenting classes be required? Sex education? Drug tests? Some sort of licensing to qualify for public funding? Our big round table was much more conducive to conversation than the long rectangular ones we usually have, and we were in a restaurant where we didn't have to scream to be heard. We all agreed that we should patronize places like that more often.

One of our group members did not show up who the night before had told me and a couple of other people she would definitely be there. The mystery of the missing Emily was solved after several hours of detective work by two of the group's members. This lady had actually spent the morning in the ER, so there was legitimate cause for concern. It's nice to know someone would come looking for me if I said I would be there and didn't show up. I like these people more every week that I meet with them.

Today I've been at Madison cleaning house and yard. I haven't done that much yard work in ages. It was cathartic to sweat like I did. My back aches and I have blisters on my hands, but that's okay. The woman who was helping me said she recognized the signs of a drug house. Their power had been turned off and they were using candles, so there was candle wax everywhere. The garbage disposal was full of it (and cigarette butts), so was the bathtub drain; it was on kitchen countertops, window sills, no telling how long they had had no power. Tomorrow I have to get plumbing done.

And would you believe my renter had been approved by the state to keep children? I'm turning her in first thing in the morning. Don't they do drug tests on these people? Maybe I should require a drug test of the next renter.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

There wasn't much to our hearing in Justice Court this morning. I spent the two hours waiting for our case to be called spelling as many words as I could from "Justice Court" and "Delinquent Renters." I filled up two pages with words. The renter didn't show up, so simply by default we were awarded what we asked for - eviction and past due rent.

I stopped by the Madison house on our way home and they were moving the last of their stuff out. She said I would have gotten all my money if I'd just been patient. Letting them stay without paying any rent for two and a half months is pretty darn patient, if you ask me. I was relieved that the house was vacated without my having to hire someone to do it.

I'll never see a penny of the money they owe unless I turn it over to a collection agency. Even then, it's doubtful. The house was dirty, but not vandalized, so I guess I should be grateful for that, too. There is junk in the yard that has to be hauled off and the grass needs to be cut. Another day in the house renting business.

The other case involving my friends turned out in their favor, too. Seems the judge didn't take too kindly to the idea of somebody making allegations without evidence. Life sure would be simpler if delusional people could all be moved to the Funny Farm so they couldn't muck up the lives of the non-delusional ones.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I've spent several hours in the last couple of days working on the dream I posted on Sunday which I've entitled "Eucharist in the Green." The guide I used was by Tallulah Lyons and can be found through the site by scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking on Download Dreams: A Guidebook for the Pilgrim's Journey by Tallulah Lyons. It's a 14 page PDF, which I printed. It covers basic concepts, tips for remembering dreams, and the third topic "Beginning to Work with a Dream" is the guide I used, taking each question and writing out everything that came to mind. Lots of journaling is involved, and plenty of uninterrupted quiet time for prayer and meditation is required.

I was encouraged by what the dream told me about the condition of my soul, and have once again made my peace with patriarchy. It will be with us for decades to come, but will eventually give way to more egalitarian systems of society, government and religion. The Episcopal Church is a pioneering force in this movement, and "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Hallelujah!

Tomorrow we go to court in Canton with our delinquent renters. After that, I'm going to another hearing in Brandon with friends who are being maliciously accused by an emotionally and mentally disturbed neighbor. Each case, if handled judiciously, will be resolved quickly and easily. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Yesterday I awoke at 8:42 with much alarm since I was due at the church at 9:00 for a dream group meeting. I literally jumped into my clothes and shoes, hurriedly washed my face, combed my hair, and ran out the door to my car explaining to Mike on the way out that I was late for a meeting at the church. Oh, and I did take time to grab a Diet Dr. Pepper and cereal bar to take with me. I was only 5 minutes late for the meeting.

On the way, I tried to find a number on my cell phone to call to let them know I was on my way. The only church member's number that survived the swimming pool dunking and SIM card transfer was that of our choirmaster David. He has a reputation for being grouchy first thing in the morning (I can relate), but I called him anyway to see if he had numbers for a couple of the group's members. He gave me one, but by the time I got it, I was only a block away from the church, so I really didn't need it after all. The meeting was held outside on the lawn in the shade and was very productive.
I talked about the dreams I posted on Friday and identified some of the messes that I need to clean up and some messes that don't belong to me and are not my responsibility. There are deeper meanings to those dreams, but this is a start.
Later in the day, I read some more in Sue Monk Kidd's book Dance of the Dissident Daughter, in which she struggles to free herself from a patriarchal religious system and to claim the parts of herself that had been lost due to lifelong veneration of the male Father, Son and Holy Ghost, something else with which I easily identified. She made a move early in her awakening from the Baptist Church to the Episcopal Church, but was still bothered by the predominantly male authority system in that denomination, too. (It was written before our current Presiding Bishop was elected, The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori.)
It was really no surprise, given the influences of the day, that I recalled the following dream so clearly.

I’m in a rural outdoor setting, standing in line with several Episcopalians for communion. The altar is only big enough for two to kneel at a time; it resembles the kneeler used in weddings for the bride and groom. David O. and an anonymous woman are kneeling and receiving. The priest serving communion is merely a nameless, faceless, genderless presence.

Next in line are the retired Bishop Gray and Mrs. Gray. Then me. A long line of people stretch behind me. I do not have a “partner,” so whoever is in line behind me would, I presume, kneel with me, another anonymous presence.

Seated to the right of the altar is Pope Benedict, but it‘s to my left since I‘m facing the altar. We are expected to kneel in front of him and receive a blessing after we have received the bread and wine. He is dressed in a simple white robe, none of the ornate ceremonial vestments, and he's seated in a simple chair, no throne.

I’m wondering how I might receive communion then go in the opposite direction from the Pope without insulting the man. I really do not want to bow to him and the oppressive system of patriarchy that he represents. I’m watching David O. to see what he does, but before he gets up from the altar, I wake up.

This is a significant dream, and deserves all the attention I can give it. I would really like to talk to an expert about this one. Maybe I should call for an appointment with the woman who led our workshop.

Friday, July 11, 2008

With all the reading I did on Universalism yesterday, I obviously unsettled a lot of stuff in my psyche. When I awoke this morning, I recalled this dream, or maybe it was 4 separate dreams, but it's very unusual for me to recall so much so clearly. My friend LaRue told me one time that she has known me on more than one occasion to stir up controversy in a group and rather than stick around until the mess is cleaned up, I walk off and leave that unpleasant task to others. Maybe those chickens came home to roost last night. There are a lot of messes here to clean up. Here is the 4 part dream:

I’m babysitting several children. They are all about 3 years old and younger. Parents are in and out of the house picking up these kids and leaving. One little boy has soiled his clothes with his dinner and I need to change him into clean clothes before his mom arrives, but he’s sleepy, so I let him crawl up on the sofa and go to sleep in his dirty clothes.
I’m trying to get a very messy kitchen cleaned up. Several older women are sitting around the kitchen table visiting and I’m wondering why they aren’t helping me with the children or cleaning the kitchen. It’s hard for me to walk around and work because of the way the table is turned, so I ask them to stand while I turn it in a horizontal direction with the length of the kitchen instead of the vertical direction it was in which interrupted the flow of traffic.
Different setting. I’m talking to some people about my dogs, telling them the story of how Jay-Jay came to live with us. We all seem to have dog stories. I walk away from the group to a table where a couple, a man and a woman are seated. They tell me they want Jay-Jay. I immediately start talking to them about Gus, trying to distract them from the subject of Jay-Jay because I’m not letting anyone have him and I don’t want to argue about it.
I’m in another crowded kitchen, this one even more restrictive than the first. A meal has been prepared, not by me, but I’m supposed to clean up the mess. There is barely room to walk between the sink counter and the stove, which is an industrial size gas range, black, with six burners. I’m wondering why these people have taken up all their floor space with this huge stove. There are dirty pots and pans and dishes everywhere. I walk through this narrow passageway in the kitchen to a dining room where more dirty dishes cover the table. “This is too much!” I’m thinking. An impossible task to get all this cleaned. I escape by waking up.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I've spent several hours reading but this was all online, not books. I mentioned this subject back on 8/13/06 and got reprimanded by a couple of my fundamentalist friends for delving into heresy, so I put it on the back burner and haven't pursued it since then. But the subject has been in the news lately, so naturally my interest was once again piqued. It started with the dust-up between Dr. James Dobson and Barack Obama. Then Amy Sullivan of Time reported:

A new Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey of 35,000 Americans reports that 70% agree with the statement "Many religions can lead to eternal life," including 57% of Evangelicals. No less a figure than George W. Bush responded "no" when asked in 1999 if he believed heaven is open only to Christians.

"Is Barack Obama a Universalist?" my Republican neighbor demanded. Not really knowing a lot about Universalism, I skirted that discussion for as long as I could, but he wouldn't leave it alone. Finally, I realized I had to get more informed about the subject if I were going to discuss it. So that's what I've been reading today. And there are lots of sites with lots of articles to read, and some very compelling arguments, I must admit. No wonder the Calvinists have their knickers in knots.

I'm no theologian, so I'm really not qualified to say who is a Universalist and who isn't. I did read that the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention the Rev. Johnny Hunt has been accused of being one. In a sermon to the SBC Pastor's Conference in 2005 he said: By the way, aren’t you grateful, that there’s hope? Listen to me carefully, its important we understand this, Convention. There’s hope for everyone in Jesus. Everyone. Everyone. Not a select group. Everyone. Someone says, ‘Pastor you believe that you’re the elect?’ I sure am. Everybody that gets in is the elect; and he’s elected all of us. I believe everyone can be saved. Anyone can come to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Someone said, “I don’t think you ought to preach like that.” Well, I just hope no one gets saved that’s not supposed to. I’m serious. We better get away from that and get back to the book and invite everyone to come to Christ! Just preach it! Invite everybody! Tell everyone!

If that is Universalism, I guess I've been one for a long time. He's not saying anything there that I haven't heard my own father preach from his pulpit many times. This sketch was on one of the discussion boards I visited today.

Dr. John MacArthur fell out with Billy Graham saying he was one, too, and the late Pope John Paul. By the way, I'm not a fan of MacArthur but he did preach a sermon about moralism that I liked. I agreed with about 95% of it, in fact. Those who know me will have no trouble picking out the part I didn't agree with.

Karl Barth was accused of being universalist when he taught that restrictive ideas about salvation reflected a rejection of the sovereignty of God. He said things like, Man can certainly flee from God... but he cannot escape him. He can certainly hate God and be hateful to God, but he cannot change into its opposite the eternal love of God which triumphs even in his hate.

And William Barclay, whose commentaries I used as a Baptist Sunday School teacher, was unequivocal on the subject. He made radical statements like this: It is claimed that it takes the iron out of Christianity because it removes the threat. No longer can the sinner be dangled over the pit of hell. No longer can what Burns called the “hangman’s whip” of the fear of Hell be threateningly cracked over the sinner. But the kind of universalism in which I believe has not simply obliterated hell and said that everything will be all right for everyone; it has stated grimly that, if you will have it so, you can go to Heaven via Hell.

If this is a subject that interests you, too, I've found enough resources on these two sites to keep any spiritual seeker busy, Tentmaker Ministries and The Christian Universalist Association. Something else that won't surprise some of you is that today's study reminded me of a favorite old hymn, "There's a Wideness in God's Mercy."

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice,
Which is more than liberty.

There is no place where earth’s sorrows
Are more felt than up in Heaven;
There is no place where earth’s failings
Have such kindly judgment given.

There is welcome for the sinner,
And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Savior;
There is healing in His blood.

There is grace enough for thousands
Of new worlds as great as this;
There is room for fresh creations
In that upper home of bliss.

For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of our mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.

There is plentiful redemption
In the blood that has been shed;
There is joy for all the members
In the sorrows of the Head.

’Tis not all we owe to Jesus;
It is something more than all;
Greater good because of evil,
Larger mercy through the fall.

If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord.

Souls of men! why will ye scatter
Like a crowd of frightened sheep?
Foolish hearts! why will ye wander
From a love so true and deep?

It is God: His love looks mighty,
But is mightier than it seems;
’Tis our Father: and His fondness
Goes far out beyond our dreams.

But we make His love too narrow
By false limits of our own;
And we magnify His strictness
With a zeal He will not own.

Was there ever kinder shepherd
Half so gentle, half so sweet,
As the Savior who would have us
Come and gather at His feet?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Lunch at Sweet Peppers Deli was delicious, but have you known me to complain about restaurant food? Ever? I ordered the Waldorf Salad - mixed baby greens with grilled and chilled chicken breast, seedless grapes, Granny Smith apples, candied pecans, celery and Gorgonzola cheese tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette. Yummy! And I ate every bite! No sharing off my plate today.

The restaurant was too noisy to suit me. Conversation was challenging. I did have a couple of serendipitous occurrences - a parking place right in front of the restaurant and then after lunch, I strolled and shopped for a little while and got back to my car just as rain began to fall. I love it when luck is a lady. Nine of us showed up to eat.

I finally finished the book I've been reading for two weeks, Dreams, God's Forgotten Language by John Sanford. I think the Adderall is helping with reading, also turning off the TV and the telephones. The books I bought at Barnes and Nobles were Obama's Dreams of My Father and Sue Monk Kidd's Dance of the Dissident Daughter.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I've taken several hours of the last three days listening to lectures that were given at the Kanuga Summer Dream Conferences for the past five years. They're online and free, so if you're interested or just curious about what we do in our Dream Groups, give it a listen. Rick sent me a Dream Movie this morning. It's only 3 minutes long, so watch it! You'll be glad you did.

It was so hot outside when I walked my dogs about 3:30 I came back in with a headache. With the heat index it's 98*, I just heard.

I volunteered to call the Water Lilies this month. ME! The phonephobic! No, it's probably not a phobia, since that's caused by irrational fear. It's more like a dread, an apprehension, a pet peeve. I just don't like talking on the phone. And yes, being tethered to one for 30 years at the phone company had a lot to do with it. If somebody calls and ties me up with idle chatter, I sometimes have palpitations. Whether it's caused by anxiety or emotional stress or too much caffeine, I don't know. I just know I avoid talking on the phone if at all possible. As an exercise in personal growth and stretching, I'm trying to get over some of this.

Introverts are not energized by socializing like extroverts are. Socializing actually drains energy from introverts. Some of you may remember when I was more extroverted. Something happened after I divorced Don, went through menopause, and moved to Jackson. I changed, I turned inward. I battled depression. I isolated.

I've made an effort in the last year to be more interested in the people around me, to get involved with new groups, make new friends. Having spent the first forty years of my life with my energy and attention directed to the people and activities around me does give me experience from which to draw, and it's not as draining now as it has been. I've made some good friends through these efforts, but changes are happening with those friends and once again, I feel myself withdrawing, turning inward.

And of course, this all reminds me of a song. Bible scholars will recognize it as an adaptation of Ecclesiastes 3. It did not originate with the Byrds and Pete Seeger, even though they did help to popularize it.

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven
A time to build up,a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven
A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time to love, a time to hate
A time for peace, I swear its not too late

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Our Gospel reading today was from Matthew 11: 16-19; 25-30, and it includes some of my favorite verses. This song came to mind as I was listening to it being read, so when I got home I had to look for it. We don't use it very often (and we didn't use it today), but every time I hear it, I'm more enamored with the whole concept of Jesus as the Lord of the Dance. Maybe it's the Baptist in me who grew up hearing that dancing is a sin, and somehow I knew all along that it really wasn't.
The picture I've included is Stephen Sawyer's "Divine Dignity." I've looked at lots of religious art this week-end since LaRue's pictures inspired me, but this particular picture portrays the strength and youthful vitality of a dancer, to me anyway. I hope I don't get in trouble for using copyrighted song lyrics and copyrighted artwork without permission, so if it's here today and gone tomorrow, you'll know what happened.
The Lord of the Dance

I danced in the morning when the world was begun,
And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun,
And I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth,
At Bethlehem I had my birth.

Dance, then, wherever you may be;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.
And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be,
And I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he.

I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee,
But they would not dance and they would not follow me;
I danced for the fishermen, for James and John;
They came to me and the dance went on.


I danced on the Sabbath when I cured the lame,
The holy people said it was a shame;
They whipped and they stripped and they hung me high;
And they left me there on a cross to die.


I danced on a Friday and the sky turned black;
It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back;
They buried my body and they thought I’d gone,
But I am the dance and I still go on.


They cut me down and I leapt up high,
I am the life that’ll never, never die;
I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.
By Sydney B. Carter

Saturday, July 05, 2008

I've spent most of today on the computer. I got inspired by the picture on LaRue's Xanga site of her granddaughter with Jesus, and fully intended to try to do something similar with a couple of my pictures, but I got sidetracked. I had a couple of dreams to work on so I did that instead.

In looking for the dream sites that were referenced in our workshop, I came across this website - The Psychology of Dreams, Myths, Dreams, Symbols, a Jungian Perspective. Several videos of Joseph Campbell are included, so I watched those, also the documentary about Carl Jung.

For anyone interested in learning more about dream interpretation, I would recommend the material on this site, but be warned, the Joseph Campbell videos have more about Buddhism than Christianity. He approaches dreams with a universal understanding of mythology. The Hero's Journey is my favorite series and if Campbell is new to you, I suggest you start there. You will recognize the Star Wars theme throughout.

Friday, July 04, 2008

It's been a very uneventful 4th of July around here. I spent most of it on the back porch painting. Mike and I went to Ryan's for lunch and ate BBQ. Then we went by Auto Zone and bought a new battery for my car. My neighbor Rob installed it for me. This evening I walked down to Pam's and watched a few fireworks and ate watermelon. The wind coming off the lake was unseasonably cool, so I didn't stay for what sounds like now was the main event. My dogs hate fireworks and they're going off everywhere around us as I'm typing this. It sounds like a war zone out there.

I've been getting hits this week from the United Kingdom - Liverpool, Motherwell, St. Helen's - and they all are entering through the Nov. 13, 2006 post I wrote about our denomination's controversy. Seems someone emailed that post to several people and they're reading to see what this strange woman in Mississippi, USA thinks about it. With the Lambeth Conference coming up next week in Canterbury, I'm curious to know if there is a connection.
I do think it was tacky for the Archbishop to invite all the USA bishops except for one. Gayness is not going back in the closet, so the sooner we all accept that, the sooner we can make progress in the larger mission. I read something recently by John Larson of Chicago that I thought made a lot of sense. I wish more people would think this logically:

There are some lessons in logic here.

If God created all humanity including persons with a homosexual orientation then it is illogical that God would declare persons with a homosexual orientation to be evil because God said that "It is Good" to the creation of man.
For your position to be true you must believe that sexual orientation is a choice. When did you decide to make the moral choice to be a heterosexual person? Science is very clear that sexual orientation is not a choice. It appears to run the gamut from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual with variations in between. Culture does play a role in individuals choosing to be one or the other for those in the middle, but forthose at the extremes there is no choice. We have conflicting evidence on the numbers at the homosexual extreme, but discrimination based on numbers is wrong.
So I contend that my statement that sexual orientation is morally neutral stands. Morality should be based on what a person does, not who they are. This is why it is wrong to discriminate based on things that a person does not control.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

My first day on Adderall and I finished a project! I painted for six straight hours, then went to my 2:00 appointment with the psychologist. I haven't felt much differently. I've had plenty of energy, but got kinda light-headed around 3:30. That's normally when I'm hungry for a snack, but today I wasn't so I didn't eat anything, so it was probably my blood sugar, but it didn't last long. I did have a slight headache for about 30 minutes, but I drank a Diet Dr. Pepper and it went away.

My car battery is dead. We tried the jumper cables, but it still didn't start. We borrowed a battery charger and hooked it up, so maybe by in the morning it will be charged. When my car is out of commission, I get a little anxious, but we do have Mike's, and then my neighbor has a couple of extra cars I could use 'til mine is fixed.

I went to Walmart this afternoon and had more fun buying baby clothes for Art's new grandbaby Olivia. Not having many girl babies to buy for anymore, it was fun looking through all the frills and lace. One of the onesies I bought said, "Does this diaper make my butt look too big?" I thought that was just too cute to pass up.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Today's lunch was at the new Pan Asia Restaurant on the new street Harbour Pointe, which opened just a couple of weeks ago. I like the new place, it's beautiful, but it's noisier than I like, and it was cold. We sat on the patio . . . warmer, quieter. The Water Lilies didn't meet this week so it was just Pam, Jean and me. I had the Firecracker Shrimp Wrap (shrimp and sesame seeds with Pan-Asia seasoning, Fuji apple slaw and avocado in spinach flat bread) with Cucumber Salad, a very satisfying meal.

With my hearing impairment, I have trouble carrying on a conversation in a noisy place. It's usually the huge, cavernous spaces where every sound is reverberated and amplified that I find the most challenging. Most of the newer restaurants I've been in are like this - hard surfaces, metal furniture, nothing to absorb sound so every voice, every sliding chair, every tinkling ice tea glass echoes a thousand times and my ears get muddled with the dissonant din. I'd much rather be able to hear my dinner companions when they talk.
The architectural detail I liked the most about this new place is the water wall. It's a high structure and runs the length of the main dining room dividing it from the bar with the water pouring down each side of it - very pleasing to the eye, but more noise to add to the confusion my ears hear.

After lunch I had an appointment with my doctor who gave me a prescription for Adderall XR. I start it tomorrow. When I got home, I saw my neighbor who had just come in from work and when I told him what I was taking, he started singing that old Rolling Stones song, "Mother's Little Helper."

What a drag it is getting old!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The water was so cold at the pool this morning. It got down to 62 last night, so I wasn't surprised, but the children who were there didn't seem to be bothered, so I got in and stayed for an hour. Pam and Jean came by and talked to me, but didn't get in.

We've had trouble at the pool this summer with trespassers. Actually, every summer we've had trouble with folks who show up on our private property and walk in like they belong. Gates with combination locks were added a couple of summers ago, but somehow the combinations always got passed out and we had strangers using our facilities who weren't even acquainted with a resident, much less a relative or guest of a resident.

This summer we launched the Rugrat Defense. We've encouraged everyone with children and grandchildren to use the pool often and to let the children have a noisy, messy good time. Nothing discourages interlopers who want to lounge around, listen to music, talk on their cell phones and invite their friends over as much as squealing, splashing kids armed with water guns and flying frisbees. It seems to have cut down on the gatecrashing.