Ready to fight back? Or Scared? Or don’t know what to do? (I’m all three)

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!
– Amen

 

 

 

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.

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First: Do What You Know, Even If You Don’t Believe in Angels

If someone were to ask you, “Quick! Recite something from a Psalm,” you’d likely go to “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.” (Psalm 23)
Or if they asked you to (quick as you can!) recite a prayer that’s not a table grace, you might start off, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallow/ed be thy name…” (Mtt. 6:9-13)
This week was another one of those “Quick!!…DO something!” kind of weeks, and I’m sure you’ve already had your fill of what happened and why, election this-and-that. I choose not to write about that part, but rather… the fear, the mourning, the healing we pray for.  It is the time to be galvanized, connected, and ready to continue creating the change we need in the world.
I do not agree with the prognosticators saying, “Don’t curl up in a ball.” “Don’t run away.” If you need to do that for however long it takes, go ahead! I certainly did, and I loathed the idea that someone should tell me to “just cheer up” when my body and my spirit wasn’t ready to do that.
Take as long as you need.
Your friends, your supporters, your caregivers, your prayer chain and assembled group of “we are thinking of you and remembering your grief,” we are here, and we are ready to proceed when you are. What’s the rush in getting it all back in order?
I’ll get more into shock reactions and the darkness I felt later on, as the memory of all that becomes less raw. I will keep politics out of the mix, and I will not preach any particular sort of salvation.
Ours is – after all – just a pause.
My first go to, when I was able to have prayerful thoughts again, was to turn to the Order of Compline in the Episcopal prayer book. It’s my favorite of all the services in the book. Not because it’s so short (you can get through it reading aloud in under 20 minutes) but because it is concise with extremely lyrical prayers about how we ask for God’s protection during the over-night, until the next day arrives.
One of the prayers speaks of angels, and that one sounds out to me today, because my first prayer I could say out loud was
“Protect me.”
I didn’t feel my safety was at risk even though I fear that for others around me. I prayed that because of what another Compline prayer describes as the changes and chances of this life. That is kind-of what’s going on right now. The prayer goes on to remind us of the eternal changelessness of God. Whatever awful, stupid crap happens around us, this one part of our experience with the universe never changes.
The prayer that popped to my Quick! reaction is this one:
Visit this place, O LORD, and drive far from it all the snares of the enemy; let your holy angels dwell with us to preserve us in peace; and let your blessings be upon us always; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
 – Amen
Protect me. Protect us all. Guide us away from wrong choices if that’s possible and if not, help us to learn quickly from our missteps.  If angels aren’t your thing nor this whole Christian gig, think of that phrase as: show us all our better angels. Show us that there is life beyond today, and that it is our vocation to live it.
If I can go to sleep and rest in that great changelessness (faith), then tomorrow, just maybe, the day will be a tiny bit brighter than today (hope.) 
Be good to each other and be there for each other. Give folks time to step into sunlight at their own pace. What’s the hurry? Healing comes as it comes and will not be rushed.
Keep the faith!
 – Amen
A little song from my Sunday School days that I didn’t even realize had verses. I have certainly sang the refrain all my life.

Angels Watching Over Me.

All Night, All Day,
The Angels, Keep A Watching Over Me (My Lord)
All Night, All Day,
The Angels, Keep A Watching, Over Me
You Can Accuse Me,
You Can Even Abuse Me,
You Can Drive Me From The Cold
(The Angels, Keep Watching, Over Me)
You, You Can Crucify This Old Body,
Oh, But You Can Not, You Can’t Touch
My Soul…
(Yes, The Angels Keep Watching… Over Me.)
I Haven’t … Been To Heaven
But… I’m Surely, I’m Surely
On My Way… Oh, (Background)
I Am Walking… With My Jesus
Every Night… And Every Day..
(Yes, The Angels, Keep Watching… Over Me.)
In The Midnight, When I Get In Trouble
When I Lay, Me Down To Sleep, Oh….
(The Angels, Keep Watching,… Over Me)
I Don’t Wonder, And I Don’t Have To Worry, For I Know The Lord, My Soul He’ll Keep.
(The Angels, Keep Watching… Over Me)
,
,
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Alone in the Dark – a meditation on fear

There is much to be afraid of. Yet even so, there is more that we need not be afraid of, even when it’s scary. Some times other folk lead us to believe that we should fear some thing or some act. Some times we convince ourselves. Think of it like the grown-up version of a child afraid of darkness and night. We are afraid in the darkness because that is when the monsters are all around.

Eventually – with no small amount of practice – we learn to move away from that fear, however large or small. We have the added strength of our friends all around us. Or we live in a safer place than we did before. Or we learned that what we thought was so scary before was just … wrong. We grew up.

In your darkest night,
walk always by faith, not sight.

The prophet Isiah wrote:

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you.
And though they are rivers,
They will not overflow you.

When you walk through the fire,
you shall not be burned.
Neither shall the flame kindle upon you.

For the Lord said, “I am your God, and
I will help you in your time of trouble.”.

That last line doesn’t say that “I will bring you out and put your feet on dry land,” or “I will fix everything that is wrong in your life.” The author says “I will help you,” and sometimes it is up to us to discern what that help is.

No faith system promises a free ride. They all require a bit of 2-sided work. In this case, at the time you are so afraid, the help will be there. It is up to you to discern the manner in which the help will arrive.

And so it is also up to you to not hold some sort of grudge against God if every item on your blessings shopping list isn’t granted exactly as you wanted.

Don’t be afraid of the great darkness in your life that you needn’t fear. Sometimes the help won’t some in the way of an open door to walk out, but rather as the candle to see the door on your own.

Keep watch in the dark moments and dark corners of your life. Keep the faith!

 – Amen

 

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