Grave-keys

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There is something magical about this picture.  I found it online, and I don’t yet know where this photo was taken.  Where is this garden?  When I find out, I’ll change this post to reflect that.

Keys from a computer keyboard, and they look like gravestones.

This reminds me of the scene in “Iris” when the aging writer Iris Murdoch is on a beach in England with far more stones than sand.

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She wants to write, but she can’t remember the words anymore. Or perhaps she can’t remember the letters.  So she takes pages from her notebook and puts them on the rocks, holding them down with other rocks.  She points joyfully to them and says that is her writing.  Her caregiver is distraught at how lost she is.

Yet she wasn’t lost.  I understand this completely.  This is writing.  Trying to hold down thoughts.  Trying to capture the uncapture-able.  Pinning down butterflies kills them, after all.  They are no longer butterflies when you try to define them, to draw them.  Ideas are the same.

This image above speaks to that.  What is writing, but memorializing what was?  The thought has changed now, evolved.

Docility through culture

We’ve slowly developed a culture that tells women that they deserve to drink – that it is a sign of being a mature woman. This is simply another way of getting us to be submissive and docile. A drunk woman doesn’t stand up when she’s being pushed around. She just goes and refills her glass.

Just because alcohol is legal doesn’t make it safe. It may be culturally acceptable to have a drink but that doesn’t mean that regularly doing so is good for our well-being.

When I finally decided to stop smoking pot, I learned I was a very angry person. I had a lot of learning to do – learning that I stopped doing when I started smoking to “enjoy” life. I had to learn how to stand up for myself and set boundaries and decide how I wanted to live my life on my terms. I’d been covering up my pain with pot all those years.

Now that drinking is something that our culture says adult women do, we need to step back and examine the repercussions. If more women drink, then more women will accept that the way things are is the way things should be. We will become numb to our own pain, rather than working to change it.

Now more than ever is a time to be awake. Being conscious and involved in life isn’t easy, but sleeping through it is wasteful and sad.

A Scot’s Farewell (memorial service reading)

When I come to the end of the road,
and the sun has set for me,
I want no tears in a gloom-filled room.
Why cry for a soul set free?

Miss me a little but not too long,
and not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love that we once shared.
Miss me – but let me go.

For this is a journey that we all must take
and each must go alone
It’s all part of the Master’s plan,
a step on the road to home.

When you are lonely and sick of heart
go to the friends we know
and bury your sorrows in doing good deeds.
Miss me – but let me go.

– source unknown

Carrying burdens

There is a Buddhist story about a woman whose child had died. She carried him around the village in her arms, asking everyone she saw if they had medicine to help heal her child. Everyone who saw her was horrified and a little concerned about her but didn’t know how to help. One person finally suggested that she go to the teacher at the center of the village. The teacher was Buddha.

He looked at her with compassion, noticing her grief. She was carrying her dead child with her everywhere she went, desperate for help. He said “Go to every house in this village and ask every person if they’ve ever suffered from grief. If no one who lives in the house has ever experienced a death, then take a mustard seed from them, and I will make a medicine for you from those seeds.”

She did just that and discovered very quickly that every single person in the village had experienced grief in one way or another through someone they know dying or a difficult situation happening to them. All had suffered loss of some sort. She was unable to obtain any mustard seeds but she was able to obtain the medicine she needed through this exercise. She was able to accept her loss, and understand that it was no greater than anyone else’s.

We are like this when we continuously carry our burdens and we present them to others all the time.

We are like this when
we identify with our wounds.
When we describe ourselves as chronically ill
or that our parents died when we were young
or we are exiles from our homeland
or we are victims of any sort
having suffered from trauma, abuse, addiction.

When we do this, we are expecting others
to heal our wounds
forgetting that they have
similar ones,
ones that cut just as deep
and hurt just as much.

We have all suffered loss
and we all have brokenness.
Recognizing that is the medicine.

The Narrow Way

The Way itself is narrow.  Walking along a narrow path is the Way.  The Way isn’t a destination.  It is a practice, a method, a way of life.

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There are many different kinds of paths on the Way.  What makes the path is the fact that you are on it.

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Sometimes it can get confusing, trying to figure out where to go next.  Slow down, and ask God to show you the Way that is right.

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Sometimes people leave bits of kindness along the Way to cheer you on.  They make an otherwise bland experience exceptional with their thoughtfulness.

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Sometimes you must walk at difficult times, in unusual places.  The Way is not always easy.

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You may be alone for some of it.  This may be unusual for you.  Do you know how to “be” with yourself, when you have none of the usual distractions?

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It is so easy to get sidetracked.  How do you stay focused and on the path?  Is it OK to stop for a little while?  Or will a little while become forever?

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Don’t forget to look up.  Too much looking down at the path draws our attention inwards, where everything is immediate, personal.  Take time to look around you and connect with the world that you are journeying through.

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Savor the journey – you may never pass this way again.

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What do you bring with you?  The more you carry, the harder the journey will be.   Your baggage isn’t just physical – what worries, assumptions, expectations do you bring?  They can slow you down just the same as a pack that is too heavy.  Travel light.

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Trust that all will be provided to you if and when you need it.

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People are generally good, but we don’t hear about it because good news doesn’t sell papers.  Seek them out.  Cherish them.  Start a collection of goodness.  If you don’t find enough of it, start with yourself and be extra kind to whoever is nearest you.

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Good is contagious, and costs nothing to share.

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It lightens our hearts, and ultimately, isn’t that the purpose of this Way?  To learn to live and love with less, with all we are, and with all we meet along our journey?

 

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Surely this is what Jesus meant when he talked about the Kingdom of Heaven being here on earth with us, right now.  We don’t have to wait for it to come to us.  We can bring it here among us by our actions.

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And perhaps, at the end, we will come right round to the beginning again.  Do not fear the darkening path if there is light at the end.  We all must go through darkness to get to the light.  It is how we appreciate it – by experiencing the contrast and the challenge.

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Tutoring pictures

I’ve tutored ESL and special-needs kindergarteners for about five years.  When I first started, I wondered how I would do it.  Thankfully, the teacher has a lot of tools to use.  They seem like games to the kids, but in the meantime they learn their letters and then how to put them together to make words.

Here is an example.  Here is a brown paper bag with small toys inside.

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In this case, a pig, a bat, and an egg.

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There are cards with a picture of each image and the letters that spell it out.  The child then finds the letters that match and puts them on top of the ones on the card.  This way they associate these letters with that item.  This is a good time to notice if a child has dyslexia, as b, p, d, and q are all very similar.  I notice if they reverse the letters and report it to the teacher so she can refer them for extra help.

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Here are some other things we play with to teach children how to read and write.

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The teacher gives me a list of what children I need to work with, as well as what tools to use with them.

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I like that there are different sized chairs for us to use.  Everybody needs a chair that fits them.

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The entire school collected bottle caps throughout the year and did various things with them – counted, sorted by color, and made art projects.  It was a free way to get items that could be used to teach in various ways. Here is a snowman that was created with caps.

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Here are some outside scenes.  The HVAC unit is impressive.

I’m not sure what this is but I like the patina and the graffiti.

 

The brick walls have interesting textures.

A radiator?

Mud and straw from a hiking boot on a rainy day.

And finally, a picture of one year’s class.  They had made “glasses” to wear.

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Boat

The disciples were fishermen, and Jesus traveled with them in a boat all the time. Their journeys are the same as ours.

They didn’t just drift along, ending up wherever the wind blew them. They used the power of the wind to help them get where they were going, but sometimes they had to row. We have to lend our effort to the task at hand.

There is only one captain of the ship. Only one person gets to make the final decision where they are headed. If more than one person tries to decide, then the boat is going nowhere. For them, that captain was Jesus. Who is the captain of your boat? Who is the captain of the “boat” that is your place of worship? Are they headed in the right direction? Is everybody rowing together?

Sometimes storms came up, but Jesus was either with them or came to them. They were always safe as long as they traveled with him. Know that you are safe no matter what happens. Remember Peter, who was able to walk on water as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus.

No matter where they landed, large crowds soon came to see them and be healed. God can use you no matter where you are.