Monday, April 30, 2007

What do I believe

Yesterday morning I was listening to the mass from Notre Dame and in the homily I heard this: “We want belong somewhere. We want to make sense of our lives; we want to draw closer to God.”

It occurred to me that I have been on this little “journey” of questioning for a while here, trying to find that sense of belonging.

If such a thing can be said, I am a religion mutt. Let me explain what I mean by that. When I was a child, my parents didn’t go to church. My dad had been raised by a very “my way or no way” Baptist minister father and my mother’s parents were faithful church going people. Perhaps in rebellion, my parents never went, someday I would love to know what kind of conversation went on between them about this subject, because I know they met in church, but by the time I came around, they had quit going.

I used to spend a lot of my weekends with my mother’s parents (actually a lot of my young childhood was spent with them, I don’t really remember my folks except in a couple of painful incidents until after I was 5).

My grandmother took me to the Baptist Church with her. I learned scripture verses (whole chapters sometimes, like I Corinthians 13 – and I still like the beauty of the King James version), I like the singing part of church too, both of my grandparents sang in the choir. Baptists don’t have an arbitrary time when children are baptized, you have to “feel the call” of the Lord and “go forward”, thus making a public declaration that you want to become part of the body of the church. I did that when I was about 10, and a few weeks later on a Sunday evening I was baptized and became a member of the church – my parents didn’t show up for the occasion. One of the strongest memories I have of that event was getting to choose the hymn that was used, and the feeling of the power of the music and the lyric to speak my feelings about it.

The problem with the situation was that I was only part of the church on weekends….we lived clear across town, and I certainly wasn’t getting any encouragement at home for this activity.

A kid can only fight the tide so long, so by the time I hit high school, I was deemed old enough to be home alone (and take care of my little sister too), so there were no more weekends with grandma, and I just quit thinking about the church pretty much.

Sometime in my teens, I had a long conversation with a Catholic friend (I was intrigued by the rituals), and she gave me a pearl rosary that had been her grandmother’s (it is still a treasured possession).

And so it was until I was in my thirties. Along the way I read about reincarnation and Rosicrucians and Edgar Cayce. I took classes in college in comparative religions.

In my early thirties I met a couple of Mormon missionaries. I was at a particularly vulnerable point in my life, and I desperately needed to belong to something that gave me some sense of having a safety net. So, I joined them. But eventually, I drifted away.

And most recently, I became a member of the Catholic church, but at this point I can’t really say I’m a practicing Catholic either.

Part of this reluctance is that actually going to a church service is full of land mines that I just would rather not deal with.

So, having said all that, I have begun to think about actually stating what it is I believe in.

1. I believe in a loving Father God. I believe that He created the earth and all that is on it, but I have no issue with science’s theories about how He did that – He is God and can do these things in any way He sees fit.

2. I believe that Jesus is the Christ. I believe that he was born to The Virgin Mary and that he died on Calvary to save the world. I believe that His act of salvation extends to every person that ever has or ever will walk on this earth.

3. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the third part of the Trinity, the messenger “voice” of God that can speak to and guide every one that will listen. I believe in these three as separate “bodies” of the same mind, that they act in concert for the betterment of every individual.

4. I believe in grace. Every person that ever walked on this earth, except Jesus Christ has sinned. I believe that is part of our nature. I believe that we are all sinners, and that sin can not enter Heaven. I believe that we are each responsible for our own sin, but I do not believe that we are responsible for any one else’s. We can not “save” ourselves. We are expected to do the best that we can and we are “saved” by the grace of God through Christ’s sacrifice for us after all that we can do.

5. I believe that beauty is one of the things that lead us to God. I see the creation of art, especially art on a spiritual theme, as prayer.

6. I believe that we were allowed to be here so we could learn new things. I do not believe we are meant to spend our whole lives suffering. I do not believe that a loving Father God wants us to always be miserable any more than I as a parent want my child to always be unhappy. I believe that through our own bad choices we will sometimes suffer. I also believe that sometimes bad things happen to us with out our doing something wrong. It is at those times that I personally have the most trouble accepting and dealing with them, and it is then that I have the biggest problem not blaming myself for them.

So there is a beginning. Now the question is “where do I belong”?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Its a love/hate relationship.....

I love going to Nevada City for our annual bear show.

Even when its not a good show financially, I love seeing the people there that I only get to see once a year.

I love the wonderful old (over 100 years!) building the show is in.

I love getting to have some time after the show to visit with my artist friend in San Jose.

I love walking down the street in the town I lived in and eating lunch at the little restaurant, sitting outdoors (in April!) at the quaint little metal tables, actually having a friendly conversation with strangers.

Thing is, it also means I hate to come home. After all these years, it finally dawned on me (ok, I'm SLOOOOOOWWWWW!) why have seem to have this "funk" that sets in for a few days when I return.

Aside from the "I've traveled for 2 days and I'm tired" thing, I come home to the ordinary, mundane things that eat up our lives....laundry and grocery shopping and paperwork (ie: paying the bills).

That walking down the street for coffee and talking to people and writing at the table and sharing art with friends is the life I want to live. Unfortunately, it seems I'm sort of stuck with laundry and snow (yes, its snowing here AGAIN!) and isolation.

Yes folks, it reminds me of a lyric from a Broadway show that only ran one night: "...another life, I want another life.....and every where I ever go, I'm someone who they want to know..."

Monday, April 09, 2007

on "classic" education.....and not being intimidated

I've been reading a book titled Starting from Scratch by Rita Mae Brown. She has some very strong ideas about what you need to do to be a writer. Last night I decided that she's entitled to her opinion, but not everything she says is required.

She is a strong proponent of the idea that you need to have a college degree (preferably 2 or 3) and be able to read in Latin (required) and a couple of "modern" languages (French, Spanish) to be able to write anything worth while.

Here’s what I have to say to Ms. Brown: ”Pfffffffsssssst!”

I went to public schools. In fact, I attended what was at the time the largest elementary school in the state. This was in the 1950s in the suburbs. We were “taught” to read with “See Jane Run”. I’m convinced it was good my grandmother had already taught me to read—I was bored out of my mind by the end of the first week.

My husband, on the other hand, attended Catholic school (ok, he’s 13 years older too, and a lot can go down hill in that long) – and he got a “Classic” education. He’s read philosophy and classic literature. (He and my daughter discuss Dunne and Kant---she has a college degree)

So, as I was saying, I went to public schools, I never had the opportunity to go to a 4 year college….there’s a huge gap in my “classical” reading, but I can recite from memory parts of Robert Lewis Stevenson and Longfellow’s Hiawatha. My grandmother was an educated woman (a woman born in the 1890s who went to college!), she loved poetry, she recited it to me.

I much prefer Julia Cameron’s idea …. We have the RIGHT to WRITE. We live in this language (and help it to grow).

Again I say ”Pfffffffsssssst!” I’m going to keep on writing!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Christ is Risen!

Happy Easter!

While the weather here looks more like Christmas than Easter, we are thankful for the promise of spring and of new life that come with Easter.

Christ is Risen!

He is Risen indeed!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

thinking about endings and beginnings.....

As I write this, we're not sure if we will be leaving for California earlier than originally scheduled next week.

We will be doing a show there next weekend, but I've gotten word that my uncle (who is 96 years old!) probably will be gone by Easter.

I have some wonderful memories of this man, and I was pleased to actually get to spend some time with him after I was an adult and learned to appreciate him as a person, not just a relative. I feel especially glad that when we did our show last year at this time we got to spend a day with he and my aunt and enjoy their company.

My aunt (who is my dad's sister) is 13 years younger than he, and has talked to me several times about the idea that she fully expected at some time to be alone. Even so, I know it will be hard for her, and a big adjustment. I feel a sort of special connection to this woman for reasons other than that she is my aunt.

So, my uncle has lived a good life. And now he's going home. What an interesting time of the year for the ending of his life here, but of course it is just the beginning.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

feeding the obsession

This lovely arrived in my mail box yesterday afternoon....a birthday gift from my daughter.....its so nice to have a daughter that is your friend!

This book contains 366 off the wall, whacky creative exercises to flex the brain, especially a brain that is stuck in writer's block!

Such a great gift!!

I've been spending my writing time each morning in a sort of brain dump exercise, (babbling about memories, places, odd people at the store) this week. I'm still having a hard time creating the bio for the Civil War era character, its difficult making a real sounding character when your fact sheet is just a list of dates and places. I think I'll get it eventually!

....back to work!