Monthly Archives: September 2015
I spent most of the weekend outside. Winter is coming. There aren’t that many lovely weekends left in the year. Last weekend was definitely one of them. It was warm, dry, there was a good breeze. The evenings cooled off, but didn’t get cold. Perfect weather for being outdoors.
Saturday was the community equinox ritual we often attend. I’ve blogged about it in the past. (Autumn, Darkness, Harvest, Balance – Wow I’ve been doing this for a long time!) I had Orion along so there is the additional piece about pushing him on uneven ground. I used to have to be sure I had someone else there who I could count on to help. Not so much this year. I made all the trips from the car (Orion, Pot luck cooler, Pot luck crock pot, Lawn chair and blankets) all by myself.
It was good to catch up with some old friends. It was also nice to have a community willing to share a dessert – so I could have a bite rather than throwing out most of a piece. The buffet table is still a challenge for me, but I have found that if I fill one plate (with an eye for both Orion and I) and then split it into two at the table I do better.
We were there most of the afternoon and late into the evening. Sat around the fire talking, watched the dancers and listened to the drummers in the background. The moon was high, the night was clear and the wooded grove a pleasant cathedral.
Sunday Karina took me off to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. We didn’t get there for the first cannon, that’s about the time she picked me up. We didn’t stay to the last cannon (hoping that leaving 5 min. early would help get out of the parking lot.) But we spent much of the day wandering around the festival.
The last time I was at the Ren Faire I was with a friend who was looking at knee replacement surgery. Neither one of us was moving very far or very fast. We took all day to circle the grounds one time through. We traveled from one bench to the next. This time was a very different story. We did sit down a few times to eat, grab a drink, or see a show. Mostly we were on our feet, back and forth across the entire park.
We had another beautiful day, warm with a breeze. We saw friends working at the festival as well as running into a few just visiting. Karina ate, and I nibbled off of what she got, so I didn’t struggle much with the food. The highlight of the day was visiting with the Morris Dancers. These guys are all friends of my daughters from when she was a waitress. They are a warm and welcoming bunch. They brought us up on the stage for one dance, and Karina even joined them in another.
We watched the full moon rising on our way home. It was huge on the horizon (as the harvest moon often is). When my Ex dropped off Orion he made me go outside again. The eclipse was happening so even though I was exhausted I got to see that as well.
I was tired enough to go to bed when Orion did. I ached. My ankles were a little swollen. BUT I got to do BOTH things this weekend. My ankles still look like ankles. I didn’t feel like if I sat down I was never going to get up again. I didn’t worry about walking or getting anything done all week. Life is so different this side of the bariatric journey. I am exceptionally grateful for good tired.
I’ve been struggling for some time with the concept of forgiveness. It sounds like such a simple thing. But as is so often the case, simple doesn’t mean easy.
Part of my resistance to the notion of forgiveness is that I find it patronizing. I’ve heard all too often the phrase, “I forgive you.” used much the same way a Southern woman might say, “Bless your heart.” It sounds nice, but it really isn’t.
It seems there are a lot of moving parts to forgiveness. There is the part about letting go. Forgive and forget. But isn’t that a good way to leave yourself open to continued abuse. A one time thing is great to let go of, but if you let go, really forget, isn’t every time a one time thing? If you don’t forget have you really forgiven? Waiting for the other shoe to drop hardly seems like the appropriate state of mind to associate with forgiveness.
Forgiveness makes sense when someone does something to me, without any intent or understanding of the impact of their actions. A bad photograph that cuts me out of the picture, or a comment on someone’s own life that I read as a judgement on mine are not necessarily meant to hurt. If I examine my own reaction and recognize that what I’m reacting to was never there in the first place forgiveness comes easily. But who am I actually forgiving? The offender, who never really offended, or myself for over reacting?
There is a piece of forgiveness that is about acceptance. Many of the things we found “offensive” in childhood become different when our perspective changes. Sometimes we develop an understanding that whoever needs forgiving was really doing the best they could do at the time. We forgive them for not being perfect and we accept responsibility for our own feelings. That was then, this is now, accept and move forward. This kind of process often requires distance, time and a shift in our own perspective. The question arises again, who am I actually forgiving?
There’s another kind of acceptance that goes with forgiveness. The kind that acknowledges nothing I do is going to change the way things are. This often goes with families, where the option for abandoning the relationship is not acceptable. The great-aunt who’s always going to pinch your cheek, the cousin that can’t ever remember your name are always going to be who they are. Of course so is the molester, always going to be who they are. Sometimes the better option is to let go of the relationship. Is forgiveness here simply a forgiveness of ourselves for not being able to “fix” someone else?
That goes back to the arrogance, the patronizing that I often associate with forgiveness. Is forgiveness really something we do for ourselves? Is it a way to sooth our own tendencies towards judgement and arrogance? Is it a means to move past those things and try to experience the world in the moment?
I don’t have a handle on forgiveness. I admire people who seem to embody it, who can use forgiveness to move past a bad situation and let go of blame. I recognize that there can be healing that goes with forgiveness, sometimes on both sides. I guess I have to keep practicing.
Labor Day is a celebration given to us by the labor unions. Regardless of your feelings about unions (it’s complicated), they did give us a 40 hour work week, child labor laws, minimum wage, workplace safety regulations, and a national holiday. We celebrated with my parents and that means parades and picnics. You can’t have a parade without political representation. The local union puts on the picnic.
Talking to people it strikes me to question how spirituality impacts our political outlook. Given the hoopla about Kim Davis this seems a particularly topical point to ponder.
It’s clear to me that our beliefs are foundational to how we view political questions. They impact how we prioritize issues. They impact our personal behaviors. It’s also clear to me that our beliefs shouldn’t ever simply be our politics.
The difference for me is that belief is about acceptance and politics about understanding. Beliefs are personal, politics impact the larger community and therefore must take the necessities of others into account. Thing is, in America, where the political dialog is rated primarily on entertainment rather than information, it’s easy to get lazy.
Our founding fathers originally only gave the right to vote to male landowners. The thought was these people had proven a stability and educational level necessary to understand the political issues. The sexism and racism offend me. Even the idea that people with money and education inherently understand the needs of the masses without those benefits is appalling. Still, the notion that people at least make an effort at understanding the issues has some appeal.
We expect our legislators to at least understand. The fact is that the issues are so complicated, and bills are so full of “extras”, that many of them are voting on the recommendations of their staffs. We’ve heard several times in the past few years “I haven’t read the bill”. (Go ahead and google it if you’re interested.) How is the American public supposed to make good choices when the issues seem daunting even to our elected officials?
Back to the parade. We rode on a political float for the local state representative to congress. (Yes I’ve met him and can support his work, even if he’s not MY congressman.) I’ve blogged before about small town parades and how the people throw candy from the floats. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “No candy, no vote!”
This is not high school. It is illegal to buy and sell votes in this country. It may seem that candy is a small thing compared to some of the wheeling and dealing that appears to go on behind the scenes, but in public it still counts. This is clearly a lack of understanding of the process on the part of the voters. It also points to a failure of the system. Integrity is only questioned when it stands tall.
Here we come back around to spirituality. Spiritual integrity is what Kim Davis is trying to cling to. Unfortunately, integrity doesn’t have a leg to stand on when you’ve already compromised yourself. If you don’t believe in something you don’t take a job where it’s demanded. Or if the job rules change, as they did in this case, you quit and find a job you CAN perform. She’s not being persecuted for her beliefs, as is often claimed, but for failure to perform the job.
Wearing a hajib to work probably won’t interfere with getting the work done. It seems reasonable to allow that kind of accommodation. Transferring someone in an organization to a place they don’t have to do work that compromises their values, like being drafted as a contentious objector, makes sense when it’s possible. Looking for a job you can do as a vegetarian and animal rights activist at the slaughterhouse is probably not appropriate.
But these are big issues. There are small places where we all compromise our spirituality to get along. I drive places I could walk to. I don’t recycle everything I could. I’m not currently managing a compost pile. I spend too much time indoors with the air conditioner and heater rather than outside in nature. I’ll purchase things made in ways I object to because they are less costly. I don’t always honor my body or take time to be grateful for my life.
We could all stand to do better both at honoring our spirit and understanding the complicated issues in the world around us.