I wrote a short homily the other day while I was stuck in bed with some kind of cold/flu thing. It was about introducing our Grand Baby into our house that has a pack of fairly attention whore dogs. You know you’re never sure how that’s going to go. It led to a meditation on “How I Came to Love Pit Bulls,” which I might publish soon, if I can get the thing to wind up with a pleasant end.
I’m not afraid of the dog breed (most any dog breed, come to think of it) and I know their reputation as a nursemaid, babysitter, protector. Sometimes there’s a difference between reputation and reality.
That same sort of unknown fear pops up when we get ready to fight back: it’s quite possible we could step forward and begin to speak and the whole thing explode in our face like a rotten tomato on a hot summer day. (Been there. You never forget that smell.) My fear was around my family. I have had this lucky, blessed life all the way up until this year in which universal acceptance is the norm. All those multiple coming-outs (there have been quite a few in the medical part of my life) have sped along as if … nothing.
Yet now, it’s different.
Within my immediate family there’s those of us who are pretty much mortified about current events and we wonder how we, as “the right kind of” Christians are supposed to respond to all that badness that fell into our lives, and which we cannot escape for a very long time.
And then there are those who ecstatic about these changes, who call the protesters “Losers”, and say terrible things like “They will thank us later.” No. I’m afraid I won’t. My choice.
Those people frighten me. After hearing/reading such comments I had a moment of panic because I did not know what to do with these people, now to respond to them, or how to even keep them in my life. I still don’t know the answer to that last one. I did send around news that we won’t be discussing politics (etc) at family gatherings. We see each other as a whole group so infrequently that let’s not waste precious time together focusing on what might bring hurt feelings to someone else at the table. We must love our family because they are our family, and they are – in Christian Speak – our Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
Good God, sometimes that’s tough to do. Especially if you fear their derision.
Find your ministry.
Mostly beyond that fear of emotional hurt, I’m not sure where to start or what to do. The answer to that is completely within you, and it’s not too difficult to dig in and get some ideas. Voting and politics is an example:
That whole milieu of volunteering and helping out and working the polls doesn’t interest me at all. Not that it isn’t a very important action that needs to be built up and maintained, it just isn’t my thing.
If I’m making a charitable contribution to a large/national organization, first I want to know how much of my donation goes to the mission of the organization, and how much goes to salary, fund raising, and fluff. I’m building a static page here that will list the best place to research the usefulness of your donation, along with some ideas on where to donate. Somewhere on that list there must be something that interests me, or that gives me an idea to then go looking for the charity that interests me.
Edit down if you have to.
You can’t do it all. And you can’t finance it all, even at $15-20 a pop. My first step in this process is to look at current charitable donations and see if I need to re-direct that money to something else. What on the list is must do, what is I’d like to do, and what is one of these days I’ll do it?
Learn to say NO.
The bane of my existence is “Oh. You’re retired. You have time to …” No I do not. Or the wasted subtlety of “What do you do with yourself all day?” You’re reading it. I had to learn to say no to what others thought for me that I could do, and focus on what I wanted. I’m a writer, a musician, a contemplative, and then I write some more. Maybe if I look around within my activities I can find something that I can do to help that I enjoy doing, that my body will endure doing (there’s some pretty heavy limitations there.)
Stop being so angry.
Oh, this is the most difficult one! My body and my spirit are filled with so much anger that by the end of my day I don’t want to hear about current events, I don’t want to discuss them. I want to sit in my proverbial prayer closet and have a rest. I want to recap the day. I want to quiet my mind and say, “Thank you for helping me make it through another day.”
Some days that is battle enough: to just make it through the day.
And the take-away from that is simple. I have made it through this day, and used my contemplative mind to consider the possibilities of standing up to fight (whatever “fight” means) and do it in a safe way that doesn’t feed my fears. Tomorrow, I learn a little more, and a little more the day after that.
As the old song says, “Every round goes higher, higher”
Keep the faith!
The illustration above is from “The Siege of Antioch” during the first Crusade. Certainly not Christianity’s bright shining moment. We didn’t thank them later.