Asking for Help – Please Share and Help Me Find My Sister

Jason has not seen his sister since he was two. She is still in Korea. Please visit his post and share on your blogs and other social media to see if we can help get the message to her.

Olive’s Vision of God | National Catholic Reporter

Source: Olive’s Vision of God | National Catholic Reporter

I loved this article about Olive and images of God. I’ve been dealing with issues of gendered language in the church for decades and caught flack for setting a text in which God, portrayed as Wisdom, is feminine, even though the text was biblical.

Here, wisdom comes from the mouths – and crayons – of babes.

The Summons

Church yesterday was unexpectedly difficult.

Our younger daughter Trinity was with me, which is a rare occurrence in the last year as she has been away from home for grad school and a summer internship. She pointed out that we were singing some of our favorite hymns, including “The Summons” which we were singing for entrance. (Text is at link; other sources list the author as John Bell.)

I love “The Summons.”  I love its message and its challenge. I love Kelvingrove, the lilting Scottish tune to which it is usually sung. I loved singing it. I loved conducting it during the years that I volunteered as accompanist with our youth and junior choirs.  (I usually accompanied anthems, but conducted hymns.) “The Summons” was an important part of an ordination and first Mass weekend for a member of our parish ten years ago last June.

And that is the problem.

That momentous celebration weekend was also our last with that parish, which had been my church home for over twenty years, where our daughters were baptized and made their first Eucharist, where I volunteered extensively with the music ministry and liturgy committee, where our daughters sang and cantored and rang handbells, where “The Summons” was an important call to mission, where I felt called to serve.

And it all fell apart.

The gospel reading yesterday spoke to what had happened. Someone in authority had fallen victim to an obsessive and slavish regard for the “laws of men” at the expense of love, justice, mercy, and compassion.  I believe that this person suffered from mental illness, but our bishop, to whom we had appealed, would not protect us.

After the ordination/first Mass weekend, we left the parish in solidarity with a staff member who had been unjustly terminated after decades of service.

Ten summers ago, Trinity was transitioning from 9th to 10th grade, which meant that she was in the middle of a two year sequence to prepare for the sacrament of confirmation.  In order to continue, we joined a parish near her school, so that she would already know some of the other students in her confirmation class. The circumstances surrounding our departure from our former parish had been soul-crushing for all of us, but she was in the most vulnerable position. She considered not being confirmed at all.  In the end, she did decide to request confirmation, which involved writing a personal letter to the very bishop who had refused us his protection.   The parish confirmation director told me the letter was honest and powerfully expressed Trinity’s feelings about what had happened.

I’m sure it did. I never saw it. I think that Trinity wanted to spare me any additional pain.

“The Summons” became a painful reminder of what we had all lost. Whenever it came up at Mass during the first six years, I would cry through it, unable to sing. Gradually, as some healing occurred, I found that I could sing it again, especially once Trinity had graduated from college and was singing with the choir at Holy Family.

I thought I was finally over attaching pain to hymn.

Until yesterday.

I was thinking  – it’s ten years. Trinity is beside me, she is strong spiritually, and she is singing this beautiful song of mission which we both love.

And I started crying. Not enough that I wasn’t able to still sing, albeit tremulously and missing a phrase here and there.

Some tears of loss and pain. Some tears of gratitude.

And some tears right now, while writing this…

A big thank you!

I’m grateful to everyone who has been visiting Top of JC’s Mind over these past couple of weeks. Since I did my 500(ish) followers and SoCS posts, I have received many encouraging compliments, likes, and follows.

It is so heart-warming and affirming that I have been trying to get a post or reblog out every day, even if it is short, as this one will be. It’s a busy week, as we try to fit in appointments, family visits, shopping, packing, and move-in for T in the one week between the end of her summer internship and the start of the semester.

It’s finally starting to sink in that this is the last year of grad school for both E and T. The end of the journey of having one or both daughters in formal schooling which began in 1991.

Wow! That looks like such a long time when it is written down.

Maybe I should take a rest…

SoCS: Top of JC’s Mind

…because, seriously, when the prompt is “mind”, how could I not?

I started Top of JC’s Mind almost two years ago because several people told me that I should start a blog. I had originally planned to call it Top of My Mind, but that was already taken, so I put my initials in the title instead.

I know that I couldn’t contain myself to a single topic, so I set out to write about whatever is on the top of my mind, but that isn’t quite true.

You see, the top of my mind is a pretty crowded space. If I wrote about everything that was on the top of my mind in any given day, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else.

So, I write only a bit of what is at the top of my mind – and those bits have been distributed differently than I originally envisioned.

I had thought that I would write a lot about fracking – or anti-fracking, really – because I spent many moons writing commentary on it as part of the anti-fracking grassroots in New York State. And there is some writing in that vein, along with climate change and other environmental themes, but, with the (mostly) ban in place, that has slowed down, perhaps much to the relief of readers, as well as fracktivists.

I also thought that I would post more poetry than I do. The reason is that I am trying to publish in literary journals, nearly all of whom will only consider work that is not previously published. And, for the most part, that means that if they can google it, they won’t accept it, even if it is only out on my little blog with a dozen views. Consequently, I don’t put too many of my poems here unless they have appeared elsewhere first. Generally, the rights revert back to me after publication.

I have written more about family and personal experiences than I intended, largely due to circumstances. A year ago, our elders, Nana, Paco, and Grandma, all ran into health challenges and the top, middle, and bottom of my mind were all pretty much filled up with care-taking and concern. Then, there are the more fun family things to post, like spending five weeks in Hawai’i with my daughter E.

I do want to get back to posting more about topics, such as feminism, politics, and religion/ethics. The life of the mind is important to me. I just wish there was a more direct and faster way to get my thoughts onto the (computer) page.

Although that would be overwhelming.

No one needs that much Top of JC’s Mind.

Except for me, of course, for whom there is no escape…
*****
This post is part of Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday.  This week’s prompt is “mind.” Join us!  Find out how here:  http://lindaghill.com/2015/08/21/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-august-2215/

SoCS badge 2015

the return of lawn mowing

I just got in from mowing the lawn for the first time since the f(l)ight of the bumblebee.

I’m happy to report that I am unscathed, although I did give a wide berth to the one bumblebee that I saw.

And had an adrenaline rush every time anything flew near me, even if it was a startled moth or butterfly.

And did not go anywhere near the shed under which the bumblebees had nested.

But I did get the front lawn done, although, in an ideal world, I would have waited until afternoon, as the grass was still a tiny damp.

I am happy to report that I had a good reason for getting it out of the way this morning. This afternoon, B and I head to Albany to help our daughter T pack her things after her wildly successful summer internship with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Natural Heritage program.  She loved it and it confirmed that she had chosen the right major and career path for her master’s degree.

Now it will be back to the classroom at SUNY-Environmental Science and Forestry for her final year.  We are so excited and happy for her!

Wish her luck!

A (Fitbit) walk to the farmers’ market

I wrote recently about my newly acquired Fitbit. I have decided to stick with my low, but attainable, goal; I’d rather make my goal and overachieve than always be struggling to make a high goal and feeling badly when I couldn’t do it most days.

I am getting most of my daily steps in by walking while I telephone my mother in the morning and by taking a walk in the evening with B.

Today, my morning call was short and my evening walk may not happen because I have a poetry meeting, so I decided to walk to the farmers’ market this morning. I wanted to buy some apricots and lettuce. I grabbed a cloth bag and a little purse with just my essentials, as my pocketbook is too heavy to lug around on walks.

As often happens at the farmers’ market, I bought more than I intended to. There weren’t any apricots, but there were lovely prune plums and some early apples, which I knew that T, who will be home for the coming week between her internship and new semester, would enjoy. And I didn’t want to run short of carrots and maybe a fresh tomato would be a good addition to the salad I am planning for dinner tonight. Oh, and look at that lovely selection of summer squashes, picked nice and small the way I like them!

The next thing I knew, I had a hefty amount in my bag to carry home. About halfway there, my Fitbit vibrated to let me know I had reached 5,000 steps. I had to shift my bag from arm to arm as I walked, relying more on my left side as my right arm has been weakened by some orthopedic problems.

When I got home, I weighed my bag and found it was eight pounds.

I want brownie points for the extra calories I burned carrying it home!

(And I will resist the urge to indulge in any actual brownies.)

Fitbit – getting started

When I was visiting my daughter E in Honolulu, her workplace started a new fitness program and gave them all new Fitbits. E already had a Fitbit Flex, which she offered to me and I gratefully accepted.

I waited to set it up until I had gotten through the jet lag and backlog of stuff I needed to deal with, so I’ve only been using it for a week and a half. Given that I haven’t been diligent about exercise for months and months, I decided to start with a modest step count, 5,000/day, only half of the default value of 10,000 steps.

In order to make my goal, I went back to walking while I talked with my mother on the phone every weekday morning. Coupled with evening walks with B and running errands, I have been making my step count, including one especially active day when I made it to 10,649!

Today has the potential to be the first day I don’t make my 5,000 step goal. I seem to have pulled a muscle in my thigh, genuflecting at church this morning. I went for a short walk with B, trying to stretch it out, but it just seemed to hurt more, so I came home and iced it.

I’ll have to see what becomes of my goal today and this week. I don’t want to make my leg heal more slowly by pushing too much.

Leave it to me to have a liturgical injury…

Evening update:  I did manage to get 5,000 steps in, albeit more slowly and over a greater time span. I’ll have to see how sore my leg is tomorrow to ascertain if I can make my goal or need to declare a rest day.

poet-tree

my poem on the poet-tree

When I was visiting Beth in Honolulu this summer, we would walk up the hill in Kaimuki to go to the big Saturday morning farmers’ market at Kapi’olani Community College. There is always a huge array of fruits, vegetables, baked goods, jams, pickles, etc., as well as lots of prepared foods and beverages to enjoy there.  (Also, lots and lots of people, as it is listed in the tour guides and some of the bus tours bring people there.)

We would walk home through campus and pass by their poet-tree, which is a world community poetry project. Visitors are invited to write a poem and leave it in a jar. Then, the poems are sorted into geographic regions, sealed in plastic, and affixed to the poet-tree, which has pegs for different countries or regions.

On the last weekend of my visit, I brought a poem to contribute to the project. E sent me this photo over the weekend, showing it on display! The poem itself is one I wrote several years ago. and, as often happens, there is a bit of poetic license. I realize it is a hard to read in the photo, so here it is:

Two Trees

A pair of gum trees
Reaching tall in the courtyard
Bark flashing streaks:
       grey, red-brown, green, vibrant orange
A paint-by-number from childhood come to life.
Transplanted into Hawaiian soil
You grow at a prodigious rate
As do my own daughters
Also transplanted there.

(Note:  The trees are rainbow eucalyptus.)

Discovering Dyslexia

This is my comment on this post:  https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/the-journey-of-a-thousand-books-sets-sail/ from Rowena of Beyond the Flow. I thought readers here would appreciate it, too.

The most compelling reading story in my family is my niece Skye. She was struggling with reading and her school was not being very helpful. My sister finally took her to a specialist for evaluation and they discovered that she had a form of inherited dyslexia. My sister was perplexed, as she didn’t know of anyone in our family who was affected. When she told my parents about the diagnosis, my father recognized that Skye had the same problems that he did. At the age of 80, he discovered that the reading difficulties that he had worked around his whole life, without telling anyone about it, were caused by dyslexia! Skye’s older brother with the help of his parents started raising funds for the organization that was aiding Skye to help her access the world of books and Skye took on the project when she was older. It became known as The Paco Project. There is a video on the site telling the story of Skye and her grandfather, whom we call Paco.

As Skye was in her high school years, she became an advocate for dyslexic students in New York City, where she lives, and for other kids who were being marginalized for other reasons. As its final project, The Paco Project raised $25,000 to help NYC kids who needed help with reading. In a few weeks, Skye will start college. She will be studying Early Childhood Education, with an eye to spotting potential reading problems in pre-schoolers, so that they always have the tools they need to succeed. We are all so proud of her and my dad for what they have done to help others.