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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Love notes

The last trip I made to my mom's house, I read a book she had lying on her kitchen table called Heaven is for Real.  It was about a little boy's near death experience, and in that he said he saw heaven.  The book had some fantastic descriptions about what heaven looks like and people who are there (from the great Bible  characters to family members), but the message that sticks with me the most is LOVE.  The four year old's vocabulary didn't have Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic words to explain the type of love that God has for us, but I got the impression that it was vast, all-encompassing, and more than we could possibly imagine while we're here in this human experience.  Unconditional love is something that is difficult to give or receive here and now.  Families get caught up in feuds and in politics about things that don't really matter.  Many people have friends that they love dearly, but time and life have taken the friends in different directions.  At work, we have our own agendas and get caught up in the flurry of activity there and forget to show love.  When all else fails, there remains faith, hope, and love. Faith and hope have been my constant companions, but, to quote the Bible, "the greatest of these is love."

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Life's Teachers

In reflecting on my last post, it is more apparent to me than ever that sometimes our best teachers in life are those that seem to be the most unlikely.  Some of the most beloved characters from my childhood are my uncles that are still "hippies."  From them, I learned not to do drugs.  They were worried about their potential bad influence on me when I was a child, and they talked to me about not doing drugs.  That conversation is still memorable to me, but it was in the power of observation that I learned that drugs were bad for me.

Also, from my family, I learned the value of education.  Again, it isn't that I come from a long line of PhDs, but growing up with a household income below the poverty level, I knew that the way to helping myself along a different path was in education. Education gave me skills to earn more than I could have otherwise earned, and it increased my powers of observation and my ability to think for myself.  

The same two "hippie" uncles also taught me to be true to myself.  For better or for worse, the path I walk needs to be an honest one, and it needs to be my path rather than one someone else wants me to walk.  I am a person always seeking to change and improve myself, but I have also learned that any change needs to come from within myself, not another person's good idea to change the things they don't like about me.  To the great teachers, I love you both (and also to all the "band of brothers.").

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Good Grief

The past 15 months, our family has had to say goodbye to three beloved members.  First,  Aunt Vicki, passed away after a lengthy illness. Next, after not such a lengthy illness, Uncle Roy passed away from lung cancer. Most recently, Uncle Ron passed away suddenly.  He hurt his back, fell, and then died of a heart attack.  All of these people were marvelous characters who left their distinct imprints on my life. It is just starting to catch up with me that the people who have always been part of my life won't always be there.  It is different than just being far away and just keeping in touch through other family members.  With these people gone, there are three distinctly individual holes in this family.  Sometimes it takes some soul searching to realize the amount of loss.  The loss of three family members, a trip to Europe that didn't work out as hoped, and some more basic hopes that remain unrealized sometimes seems too much to bear.  It is easier to laugh than to allow myself to cry over MY problems (Never mind how many sappy but happy ending blogs I read that have brought me to tears). To process and recognize my own losses seems really to be a journey all its own.  I read today a blog where someone quoted Psalm 13.  It seemed appropriate for how I was feeling today:  
                    O LORD, how long will you forget me?  Forever?
                    How long will you look the other way?  
                    How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul? 
                    With sorrow in my heart every day?...
Also, I found a website that talks about the topic of grief.  It is a bit dry and clinical, but nonetheless, helpful. .

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thoughts about Art

"...Martin Heidegger’s view: art discloses truth.  Art cuts through our socialized, lazy, comfortable, distracted ways of seeing the world, and shows us truths that we often forget or want to forget or perhaps have never known before.
 "  The blog author from whom I borrowed the previous idea, also purports that while enjoyment of art is now seen as a secular pursuit, historically, it is the church who has commissioned the most sculpture, painting, and music (My photos from Europe also appear to bear this out).  If art discloses truth, why do we then not believe what is true?  If art challenges us, why are we still complacent?  For me, art is a source of inspiration, and when there is a lack of art, beauty, and nature where I am, it feels like "something" is missing.  (something= inspiration, purpose, passion for).  

As humans, we all have the same need for purpose, inspiration, and passion for things in our lives, but somehow, in hard economic times, art is shoved to the back corner as if it isn't important to our existence at all.  Art nurtures our spirits. It helps us find purpose as well and helps us to find inspiration for our daily lives.  Sometimes the ethereal is actually essential and practical.  As for believing truth and overcoming complacency, it seems to be a work in progress for all who care to live better, more honest lives.