Monthly Archives: February 2013
I have always struggled with the notion of community. Maybe it comes from not often having a sense of belonging. Even in my birth family there have been times when I felt very much unwanted. This is not my imagination, I’ve been explicitly told as much. Sometimes it’s been useful and appropriate, like when my sister and I, as young adults, effectively kicked each other out of our parents house. Other times it’s been rather hurtful.
There are organizations that I’ve belonged to that function to some degree like communities. Some that I’ve paid dues to and others that I have earned the right through study and initiation. Alumni organizations are kind of like that, as are Wiccan traditions and other magical orders. Even with membership I have certainly been at events where I was rather unwanted. I really do try to avoid making people uncomfortable.
Unfortunately when dealing with communities (or any group of people) there is politics. Sometimes showing up is necessary to maintain any kind of respect within the community. After all they have a harder time talking trash about you when you are present to refute the accusations.
Apparently on a political level I am often perceived as a threat. Maybe it’s because I’m a smart and verbal woman. Maybe it’s because I call it like I see it if someone asks for my opinion. Maybe it’s because if someone sets up a game I’m likely to play, although I am usually much less invested in the results. My general philosophy of community is that people are going to say stuff and as long as I continue to be present and consistent eventually whatever trash talk is in the gossip stream will fade.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve got less interest and patience for this kind of high school “mean girls” nonsense. I am looking for a different way to be in community and to interact with community. Sometimes this means standing up and saying “you’re not funny.” Sometimes this means participating in support of organizations that I don’t really belong to. Sometimes this means taking a step back and re-evaluating the culture of community and how I would like to fit in.
So this weekend Orion and I went out in support of a community organization that we don’t belong to. Walker Church is that kind of community organization. Their influence reaches far beyond their membership. As an organization they have always been active in social justice issues in the larger community. They have supported the arts and small voices that also work on a local community level. They promote local and sustainable food for all people. They have been open and inclusive to people of all faiths.
When Walker Church burned in a lightning strike ignited fire it was a blow to the congregation. The loss of the church building was also a great loss to the larger community. As they hold fundraising events to support the construction of a new building Orion and I felt a joyful obligation to show up in support.
We danced to country two step music from the Cactus Blossoms. Then we sang along with Gospel Machine. We had to leave during the bluegrass of the Roe Family Singers. The night started before we got there and continued for hours after we left but it felt good to contribute to a community whose mission I believe in. We were welcomed and we had fun, even if I don’t really belong.
So here I’ve been in sunny San Jose. The weather has been delightful all weekend. Today there is a slight chill in the air. It’s 45 this morning. The natives are reaching for their winter coats. I’ve put on a sweater and am happy to be outside. It’s all relative. I understand back home the high is predicted at 32 with snow and winds gusting to 40 mph. How could I complain?
I’ve been attending Pantheacon. This is a large convention (2300 ish) of Pagans (definition still to be determined) from mostly the Bay area, but actually from all over the country. I’ve visited with people from New Hampshire, DC, New Orleans, Portland and Wisconsin. Even those coming from California come all the way up and down the coast. It’s quite the event.
The thing about Pantheacon is that it really is a convention. Sure there are vendors and hospitality suites but it is really go – go – go to attend the workshops and other events. There are at least 10 choices in any given session and inevitably more than one of them is appealing. There isn’t a lot of time to just hang out and talk and get to know folks. Even the post session schmooze is limited as the crew doesn’t have much time to clean up and set up between events.
This makes things a little hard for my midwestern sensibilities. Anyone who’s heard of the “Minnesota goodbye” understands that it takes us awhile to move from one thing to the next. When you add my physical challenges to the mix I’m probably skipping as many sessions as I’m attending. Oh Well. I’ve been doing this long enough to understand that I have to take care of myself first.
I have managed to do quite a bit. I’m talking about my book Manifest Divinity. I even got to finally meet my publisher face to face!
I’ve been talking to the Pagan News Collective about journalism and contributing to their work. I’ve talked with a lot of other authors both those working with publishers and those who are self published.
There is a great deal of diversity at this convention. I think they work hard to achieve it. There was a panel on privilege. There was a session called Women of Color Caucus. Some of the women who contributed to the anthology Shades of Faith conspired to put on a ritual that included elements from each of their diverse practices.
It was beautiful and affirming, and you can see these are amazing and powerful women!
I’m always eager to learn new things and meet new people. This has been a great trip to recharge and inspire me. I promised my publisher I’d get him a proposal for my next book SOON. I have a list of several books I want to get from the authors I’ve meet. (I just didn’t want to try and pack them home on the plane!) My next reviews on LisaSpiral Reads will probably include a few of those author’s works.
In the meantime I’ll enjoy the sunshine and try to figure out how I can get on the plane in sandals and off in a winter coat. Especially since I didn’t pack one!
You all thought I was going to write about gun legislation didn’t you. I’m not. I’m trying to look at packing as a metaphor. It seems like a better approach than looking upon it as a chore.
We use the term baggage a lot to talk about all the “stuff” we carry with us through life. I suspect the reference is effective in part because so many people tend to over pack. In the era of weighed checked luggage where we pay $25 + per bag, that overpacking issue gets tackled head on.
I think about the ways people have packed in the past. Traveling by ship with steamer trunks is a little different than flying with a carry on tote. On the other side of it we’re going the distance for a weekend when back then it could be a month or more before even arriving at your destination. I look at old movies and watch actors skip down the road swinging those old suitcases. I’ve seen those suitcases in thrift stores. They’re tiny. They’re heavy!
Of course the actor has an empty suitcase, if it’s not a piece of plastic painted to look like one. But even back in those days most people had the clothes on their backs, one set to wash and one for church on Sunday. There were no shoes in those suitcases. If there were books it was probably just one small Bible. Jewelry for common people wasn’t particularly abundant either. I wonder how often they changed their underwear?
Those small suitcases (and this goes for carry on bags) are an issue as well. I’m not a small girl. I’m 5’10” and grossly overweight. For any one piece of clothing I get into my bag my daughter (5’8″ and fit) or my son (weighing under 100 lbs) can pack 2 or 3 of the same. Either of them can wear vintage clothing (although with my daughter it’s tougher for the height and shoulders). It speaks to that old fashioned luggage, people were smaller. I’m lucky if I can wear a vintage hat. ($25 to check that hatbox Ma’am.)
Then there is the issue of seasonal travel. The Twin Cities in Minnesota has the largest temperature range for its population density in the world. Any time of year the “average” temperatures give or take 20 degrees. It’s hard to pack one outfit that’s reasonable for both 75 degrees and 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Temps in that entire range are common any day in 6 months out of the year, and possible in all of them. (Well maybe our highest temperature ever in January was 69 degrees but our lowest in July was 24!) When traveling to multiple climate zones (or a crazy place like Minnesota) layers are essential and that means less room in the luggage. A sweater takes up a lot more space than a swimsuit!
I’ve done enough traveling that I do pack well and can travel lightly. I have trouble lifting or carrying a bag that weighs as much as that 50 lbs excess baggage limit. Still I’m often amazed at what I choose to include on any given trip. How much of my “good intentions” packing (sure I’ll work on that project while I’m away) do I ever really get to do? Other than reading on the plane, do I find myself reading in hotel rooms? How much of what I run to Target to grab before I go would be just as easy to pick up once I arrive?
I’m still reaching for the metaphor. I’m not sure what packing says about me, about us. I do feel better about doing it. Packing as a meditation……….
Thanks for listening.
My blogging friend Kathy at Lake Superior Spirit occasionally delights us with whimsical photography. She’s been taking photos of things like Santas and Snowmen. She says I could do it to. All it takes is finding something colorful or that will stand out against the white at going for it. So I indulged myself in a day of whimsy.
Whimsy is important for spiritual work. It’s so easy to get to taking ourselves too seriously. The silly and absurd help snap us out of that in the most gentle and joyful way.
I found it really interesting to note that most of the things in my house that are colorful are textiles, which I hesitate to drag out into the snow. I also noticed that my fall back for almost anything is my kitchen.
There is something magical about the whimsical. It not only kicks us out of our seriousness, but also opens us up to the possible.
If Kathy’s Santas and Snowmen can march through the north woods, If a pink hippopotamus can frolic in a frozen pond, then what other magical sights await us?
When you take a close look at the prayer on my prayer beads you’ll see that one of the repeating lines is I find joy and awe in the world around me. Followed on the next bead by I am amazed.
I need the reminder to look for the amazing, the wondrous and the whimsical. When I do look I find it all around me.