Advent: Comfort

paul Feb 2012 10_837678809_8834739_2072075477_nAbraham Lincoln gives great comfort:

 

“In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all;

and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares.

The older have learned to ever expect it.

I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present distress.

Perfect relief is not possible, except with time.

You can not now realize that you will ever feel better. Is not this so?

And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again.

To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now.

I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it, to feel better at once.”
Abraham Lincoln

Advent: Open

IMG_0836On that day they will sing this song in the land of Judah:

“A strong city have we;
he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.
Open up the gates
to let in a nation that is just,
one that keeps faith.
A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace;
in peace, for its trust in you.”

Isaiah 26:1

 

“…speak my name to

the open skies

share your secret with me

so I can see…” ~ Casey Breves, Speak My Name

Advent: Journey

11201173_10153625849323810_4653240059729839108_n“The Sun will rise and set regardless.

What we choose to do with the light while it’s here is up to us.

Journey wisely.”
Alexandra Elle

5:5 Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height; look toward the east, and see your children gathered from west and east at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that God has remembered them.

5:6 For they went out from you on foot, led away by their enemies; but God will bring them back to you, carried in glory, as on a royal throne.

Baruch 5:5-6

 

Advent: Wait

IMG_6097If this photo by my friend Linda had sound you wouldn’t hear much other than the trains going by on Kentucky rails. You could wait all day, and listen to the birds if your hearing works that well for you, but trains on the far shore and birds by your side are probably all you would hear.

 

I believe in silence.

Growing up in Wellesley, Massachusetts, my playground was the small stone church where my father was minister. I remember riding my big wheel tricycle silently down the blue-carpeted center aisle and that the perfect refuge for hide-and-go-seek was under the altar cloth. Because no one thought I would actually hide there. But it’s the cool silence of that stone church that I remember the most. It was heady and gave me life. It was there that I could escape the scrutiny and expectations of being a child of color and the son of a preacher….

In the silence of my father’s church, beneath the sun-illumed stained glass, I could hear my own voice—it told me I was smart and helped me dream a life worth living. Outside the church, the deafening discord of society told me I was a subordinated person, and someone to be feared…

Our cacophonous world not only drowned out my inner voice, it told other people how they should feel about me and those who look like me. I’m sorry they saw me as a monster…

When I was twenty-five, I found the strength to rediscover my inner voice. It happened at the bedside of my dying father.He encouraged me to see my weaknesses and illuminate my strengths. For the first time since I was a child, I was able to hear the voice of my spirit. It told me what I value and how I ought to live my own life.

He helped me to recognize the noise of the world so I could learn to stop listening to it…

I believe in a silence that allows me to stop paying attention to the world around me and start listening to my own heart.

Most days I find it as I walk with my daughters in the woods behind our home. It’s the church of my adult life.

I tell them I believe there is a voice inside all of us that needs to be heard.

~ I’ve only given you parts of this essay named A Grace of Silence by Andrew Flewelling and can be heard in the authors voice or read in full at this link on the website This I Believe.

Advent: Prepare

wise people2

Trying to prepare these little nativity peg people was my favorite part of Advent last year.

Luke 3: 6

as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

 

Amen.

The above highlighted word prepare has a link to music by George Skaroulis.

Advent: Hope

linda shootPhoto about

HOPE

taken and shared by my friend Linda.

 

First Sunday of Advent

Reading 1 Jer 33:14-16

The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise
I made to the house of Israel and Judah.
In those days, in that time,
I will raise up for David a just shoot ;
he shall do what is right and just in the land.
In those days Judah shall be safe
and Jerusalem shall dwell secure;
this is what they shall call her:
“The LORD our justice.”
Amen.
( the video that is connected to the word hope above contains photography from Jim Crotty and music from Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma)

Advent: A Call to Renew Lost Sabbaths

1959461_10153074983048810_36322649183088841_n

“Emily’s Reel” by Yo-Yo Ma and friends are my companions this morning.

Many of us suffer from a wide range of blues at the holiday season – anything from grumpiness to a bit blue to downright depressed. One of the kind of nice things about being older is being able to predict these things. Pretty much as soon as the turkey is in the frig and hopefully starting to thaw, I know. It’s not the flu. These waves of strange emotion have a pattern and a reason. Same patterns, many reasons.

This year I am anticipating an easier season though.

Easier not in the sense that I can predict how sad I’ll be. The news is horribly grim near and far. But, I’ve let myself trust some friends of late in a Deaf bible study and it is having a grounding effect on me. I’m more willing to try my wings and more aware that being open to a shift in my relationship in God is the most wise path among various choices on my horizon.

Easier because I’m determined to not lose my sabbaths.

My “can do” attitude has been renewed of late.

Edgardo Ramerez~ photo by Elgardo Ramerez


 

All this was to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah:
“Until the land has retrieved its lost sabbaths,
during all the time it lies waste it shall have rest
while seventy years are fulfilled.”

2 Chronicles: Chapter 36

Here’s hoping….

 

 

Is What We (Who are Not Pumpkins) Need Here?

early novThis is the sunrise in Ripley Ohio today.

My stomach has been in knots for several days now – in no small part to the terrorist events in our world – far and near.

For me, my sadness is only in part about the bombings in Africa, and Beirut, and Paris – it’s about noise. Our world is so full of superficial noise. I don’t want that for my grandchildren.

That is not what I want for them. I want more than for them to know that Granny’s new favorite phrase in ASL is “my hear is your heart.” I want more than to teach them to say that to me in silence. I want more than to sing them to sleep. I want far more than to hear their squeaky little voices. I want them to trust the world beyond the front door…beyond the village borders.

I want them to trust the feeling of joy – but if I don’t – how can they? And I don’t.

As I get older I question joy, all….of….the….time.

1970850_10152469197688775_3579754846068571407_n

Every year at this time I have the same dilemma, one that is shared with the couple of weeks that come before Lent: how will I celebrate Advent this year?

“What do you need this year?” I ask myself – “Where are you hurting? What do you need to deepen? Question? Celebrate? Learn? Strategize?”

Don’t know about you, (you who do the Advent thing that is….) but it’s a matter of setting up routines. Likely, most people fall into the comfort of old routine – pull out or make the wreath, gather a prayer book, set aside a few extra minutes.

But of all church seasons….Advent means the most to me because it is about quiet. I love quiet as a way of life more, and more, and more….every day.

Neurotic am I though….part and parcel of not coming into the world as a pumpkin in a patch or a set of shoes on a store shelf – I worry.

So, every year at this time ruminations are about what routine will be set forth in a week or so for the next month of preparations for……drumroll…

the

                                                          holidays.

This year I’m going to try and write.

My prayers, unless they go in a different direction…will be about abandon. The process of finding work, making friends, committing to a bit of a career shift, and enjoying the luxury and privilege of yet another educational gig – it has softened me. I hadn’t realized how lonely and bitter I’d become because…well,

because I’m not a pumpkin or a shoe.

So, that’s that….here are the flagship words that sit by my desk and tempt me to walk out the door as I do these days….

“What We Need is Here” ~ Wendell Berry

Geese appear high over us,

pass, and the sky closes Abandon,

as in love or sleep, holds

them to their way, clear

in the ancient faith; what we need

is here. And we pray, not

for new earth or heaven, but to be

quiet in heart, and in eye,

clear. What we need is here.

Lord have mercy.

End of the Semester Insomnia Rambling Thoughts

grad“In truth,

who we are is fiercer than anything we know.”

~ Nancy Collier

The good thing is this – it’s only four times a year or so. I’ve been through much worse… I’ve struggled with insomnia – really scary amounts of it at a few points in time, for around 14 years now. Before that it was the “normal” kind. Worried about a test, up all night with the baby, excited to marry the man of my dreams…. But – by and large, I’ve got routines and interventions in place that have these all nighters narrowed down to four times a year or so. And the great thing is – it’s not really any longer a gigantic big deal.

It’s kind of like going to the dentist. It’s a little bit like getting ready for a birthday party.

It sometimes reminds me of childbirth.

It’s no worse than waiting on an oil change.

It’s like meeting a new gynecologist for the first time and finding out that he is old, ugly and short.

Oh well. C’est la vie, right?

No – these quarterly lay awake all night episodes have a scientific link – it happens with every season change. Go ahead and roll your eyes if you need to about Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s a thing. It’s on my chart and lands me a half-dozen or so check ups a year to be sure that my GrandPlansToSleep a solid 8 most nights of the year has fallen off course.

And, yes – it’s all in my head.

Which happens to contain my brain.

Which creates (and doesn’t create) chemicals that lead to a decent day after day and night after night… Yet….in the end….my hope is this: I never want a Dark Night of the Soul episode…ever…again. Literally. I can’t control that I suppose, but I dread the idea that the night may become my enemy at some point again. Night is for sleep. I’d rather wrestle demons in the day time, thank you very much. long range kitchen color plan So…last night I never did fall asleep.

I tried every single trick, of which I have honed to approximately a dozen. No luck. Oh well. Instead, I got sleepy watching “Madmen” for the first time with the volume too low to hear and my glasses off. (trick #8) Oh my goodness – that looks like an awesome series. Note to self.

And then, I got sleepy enough that my muscles started to twitch and my mind settled while listening to Kate Rusby on Pandora. (trick #2) No luck. She broke out into a fiddle reel and I got wound up about needing a passport if I’m ever going to Ireland.

So, I broke my CardinalRule of stay horizontal until 5 a.m. and brewed some coffee at 4:00. But…. at those several points when I tried to pray (trick #1, #7 & #12) they all kept landing back on hearing words like “you deserve this” and “don’t give up” and “just keep moving.” Motivational poster sayings. I HATE motivational poster sayings. So I became annoyed and woke right back up…

What brought me peace and lead to the decision to break my lay still until 5 a.m. rule was that for just a moment – I had a teeny, tiny little moment of: “you are enough.”

My nanosecond of real calm doesn’t change the fact that I have a crap pile of life to untangle…but for a moment as I was en route to dozing to a Celtic tune – I let myself be strong. So, if you too are experiencing your quarterly Spring to Summer Serotonin Spiritual Review – feel free to skip straight to giving yourself an A+ and consider this quote by Nancy Collier. I feel pretty certain that she is a Deaf woman who I quoted in a paper…she could also be someone else – it’s a sticky note quote on my desk that I just noticed…maybe she is Kate Rusby’s lead fiddle player, and is blind…who knows. At any rate…

“In truth,

who we are is

fiercer

than anything we know.”

~ Nancy Collier

About Loud Dishwashers and Quiet Strength

handsigns_K“Nothing strengthens authority as much as silence.” Leonardo da Vinci

 

Well now, I hope that da Vinci is right, because the world around me seems to believe and behave otherwise. If I had time this morning, I would figure out what the sound level of my dishwasher is right now. At the moment, my house is silent other than

1: the dishwasher – a noisy one. Very noisy.

2: my dog Paul and the clinking of his dog tag on my feet. and

3: the pleasant chatter of NPR news which I’ve got at a low-level to keep me company and on task.

I’m pretty sure that I can also hear our dog Lennon chomping on some breakfast as well.

Probably this sound mix seems relaxing to some, boring, or maybe annoying as crap to others. My youngest son LOVES noise – he makes a lot of it, and feels anxious if he’s not surrounded by a clashing mix of various people and media streams. Oh, I think that most of us like the IDEA of silence – and maybe even envy those of us who are quiet and highly sensitive souls. I’ll let you research the statistics yourself, and they certainly are out there. Our world is getting louder. Commercials, radios, classrooms, churches, grocery stores. You name it. All of the day to day places we go to have been proven (in first world type of settings) to be really, really loud anymore. So with that in mind, indulge me as I start sharing some tough crap I’m up against of late.

I can’t be the authority of everything I want to control and change – and I can’t perfectly manage my sound environment – after all, I’m not cloistered and I’ve not yet taken a vow of silence. But I LOVE what Da Vinci says, and I want to switch his quote up to something more personal:

“Nothing can, nor has ever strengthened my authority better than silence.”

And, on the flip side – lore has it that the reason VanGogh cut his ear off is not because he1959461_10153074983048810_36322649183088841_n was insane, it was because he had tinnitus – sound that is not sound. It’s fake noise that is created by the brain of someone who is hard of hearing or deaf. It can be related to a lot of things – injury, stress, a reaction to environmental sound, tight jaw muscles, and from what I can tell – it always involves an out of the norm auditory system or event.

I still don’t know why it is true, but I found out a year ago that my hearing status, for now in one ear, is permanently out of the normal range. That may not sound (pun intended) like a big deal, but it really is. It’s a very big deal for me. What I’m up against isn’t as clear as the typical getting older and starting to hear less clearly.

Strangely enough, it is the symptoms that come with what ever is going on in my auditory system that is, I have to say, kind of maddening at times. And what I have going on isn’t even in the ball park of what many hard of hearing and Deaf folks go through. Thankfully, this isn’t my first unexpected life rodeo ride, so for the most part, it’s not too hard to take in stride. world has ended many times I read this morning that one way to deal with tangled feelings from our past is to accept our limitations as deeply and quickly as we can when these limitations become clear. I agree for the most part – I’m a fan of facing the truth, even when it sucks.

So, in a few weeks if at my 6 month hearing test the truth is that my hearing status is the same mild and mysterious scenario, my body is still going to keep telling me: things just are not right. If the ENT is dismissive and says again, “we don’t know what’s going on, there is nothing we can do yet, come back in another six months,” how should I respond?

The discomfort of constant ear pressure and the annoyance of mild tinnitus that I deal with 24/7, again, is nothing compared to many others. I am getting to know a lot of great people who have profoundly difficult symptoms such as frequent vertigo or severe tinnitus. Many of them can’t work, and many of them work anyway…how, I’m not yet sure.

I do know this:

I adore American Sign Language (ASL). It’s not just fun (which it is), it’s not just cute (which it can be) it IS – well, it is indescribably in written word. Because it’s not – it’s not English, and it isn’t written. It is something that we DO and SEE.

It is the BEST language ever, and I would say the same if my hearing was top notch. It conveys feeling, thought, time, time, space, story, history, and details in a way that no other language will ever be able to do.

So, “God willing, if the creek don’t flood,” hopefully between now and mid-April,  I will have the courage to face this ongoing physical limitation by allowing myself to reflect on these difficult questions and not feel ashamed of the resulting fears and anxieties that are about as normal as normal can be.

I’m out of time and brain juice to figure out a way to transition what I’m saying to a recommendation to read these two articles from a friend – so I’ll just add them as a Post Script here. They are all about the topic of this blog: grace.

Take care, and be warm, Kate

10429303_10153075073858810_8420602525960782671_nStaying open to Grace: http://wp.me/p3gSTz-T2

When ‘Happily Ever After’ Meets Life’s Hardships: http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/when-happily-ever-after-meets-lifes-hardships/

A Super Duper Beautiful poem: http://youtu.be/9GdawG7CBNo