jeudi, juin 15, 2006

Adventures in weedtrimming

This morning, in spite of the promise of late spring heat, I dressed as though I was gearing up for a walk through a snakepit. Long pants covered my sturdy socks down to the ankle. My feet were protected by a pair of old running shoes, and my eyes covered with a huge pair of sunglasses. Then I stepped outside, ready for combat with the...weedwhacker. Next year a lot of the surprises I face will seem relatively tame (I hope). The bats that wheel through the breezeway won't scare me as much. I'll find a way to do something about controlling the moles that dig holes in my backyard. Maybe I'll find a way to stay on top of the weeds that sprout in my vegetable garden and the clover that leaps up overnight in the front lawn. Or maybe I won't care as much. But the weed trimmer was especially intimidating. The booklet that came with it brimmed with warnings and suggestions for how to dress and behave around it. And I had a reputation to live down with certain friends. As a child of New York intellectuals, I had as much experience with power tools as I had with diving for pearls in the Caribbean. Walking into the garage, I eyed it in a measuring way and read the instructions printed below the engine. Prime the engine. Ok. Grip the throttle. hmm...sounds like fun. Turn to half choke. Then pull on the starter cord. This was where I got stuck. Instead of coming out smoothly, the cord jerked painfully out of the trimmer. Clearly I should have spent more time at the Y this past winter developing muscles for the tasks I would face out here in pioneer country. After a number of tries, I slipped back into the house, hoping that none of the neighbors had seen me make a total fool of myself. Writing profiles seemed almost tame by comparison with the ruggedness of the task at hand. A confident frontier woman, I walked bravely up to the trimmer, primed the pump, and began tugging. For a few intoxicating minutes, it actually demolished a couple of weeds...tommorow I hope that my weed whacker and I can rid ourselves of at least five or six more before the string that slices the weeds disappears again. That is, if I can find a way not to sleep on my sore arm. In the meantime, where is that darned manual? By the way, is anyone else out there a mechanical moron?

mardi, juin 13, 2006

Rend your hearts

I wish my daughter a good night as she lies in her canopy bed while the birds quiet and the night stills in our peaceful neighborhood. "I love you, Sian" I say as I head over to my bedroom, already projecting ahead to the rest of the night and the chores I have. "I love you, too, Mom, she tells me with a predictability I never take for granted. Sitting down lat the computer, I idly bring up the NY Times website. I find an obscenity: on the front page are two blanket wrapped corpses. One can be identified as a man. The other, smaller body, looks like that of a child. The Israelis were going atger militants with rocks in Gaza. One rocket hit the militants. The other killed a family, including two children. The article is describes Palestinian grief and fury as well as the usual justifications and denials from militants on both side. As I take dirty dishes and put them in the dishwasher, tears of rage and disgust spill down my cheeks. Why is it still acceptable to kill civilians, particularly children? How can the deaths of a seven year old boy or a ten year old girl be justified under any calculus? I wonder at the barbaric men and women who accept the death of children as collateral damage. I want to curse the Israeli politicians and the Palestinian militants who cooperate in creating a climate in which the deaths of these little ones can be anything but unthinkable. For a moment, I hate them with the cold anger with which they probably hate one another. But then the words of the prophet Joel come to my mind: 'Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments.' Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, and relenting of evil." (JOEL 2:12-13). Only love can disarm cruelty and hatred. Only the simplicity of a child like faith can bring men of war to their knees. God's time is not mine. His view extends well beyond our earthly lives. I will pray tonight for the dead children of Gaza. And I will try, I will really try, to pray for their enemies that their hearts may be torn asunder and opened to one another.

lundi, juin 12, 2006

Watch out, clergy!

Tonight I attended a meeting of a charitable non-profit board. Our token guy was absent. Honestly I have no idea if thats why it quickly became a very merry meeting,with lots of sidebar whispers and laughter. On the other hand, we got a lot done. Afterwards we sat around and...the only word I can find for what we did was gossip. No one was immune. Clergy came in for their share of criticism. Some hair-raising stories were told. As a member of the white around the collar club myself, it is always salutary to hear what folks in the congregation think about our foibles. I was reminded of several recent chats I had with Catholic friends. One family, who has young children, deliberately chose a church in the next town because they had heard their local priest wasn't easy to get along with. Another woman tried the local parish about fifteen years ago, but ended up back at the church she had attended before they moved. I don't, in principle approve of choosing a pastor on the basis of his or her personality. But I do think it's healthy that parishioners are now much freer to say what they think about the clergy when chatting with one another. It's even healthier when they can say it to that clergyman or clergywoman's face. The women who hung out with me tonight included a high ranking consultant, a banker, a nurse, a librarian, someone in the financial services industry and a gifted volunteer with a disciples call to serve the poor. Why the heck shouldn't they have, not only an opinion, but a voice? I left thinking...thank God we have such tolerant, loving, and bright laypeople in the church. It gives us clergy a standard of excellence to which we can aspire.