Sunday, December 26, 2010
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.
- Howard Thurman, "The Work of Christmas"
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
We almost felt that somehow we were, you know, breaking through. I mean, after all, I've hesitated to ever do such an involved holiday program because we never quite knew who we'd get from week to week or how things would go.
Definitely a breakthrough for us.
In fact, decorating for the holiday before the afternoon of Christmas Eve was fabulous even though our minister our ADRE and a number of other core folks spend three hours assembling a fake tree. This was another breakthrough. We love this whole owning a building thing. Fabulous. Except that now we can't just call the people we rent from to fix things, but oh well, who cares. It's obviously a breakthrough.
So many breakthroughs for little Westside Unitarian Universalst Congregation.. So, so many.
I mean, you'd almost think that we'd be headed to the UUA General Assembly this year to accept some kind of honor for all of our breaking through. Almost. I mean, maybe it really is true. Maybe.....
Yep. It is true.
Westiside Unitarian Universalist Congregation, the little church on the hill that could, IS a 2011 Breakthrough Congregation. See y'all in Charlotte!
And, by the way, whoo hoo!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
A few years ago we tried to buy my husband a drum set for Father's Day. They were like 40 gabillion dollars. So we gave him a "drum set" card and I figured if he could justify spending a gabillion dollars on it, well then fine. Bah humbug or bah father bug or whatever.
But the boys just kept getting better and playing more amazing music. I mean, have you seen this cover of "Melt With You" it's better than Psycho Furs, but then I'm the mother and all but see?? It's good.
So he was left out of the party. Poor guy. This Thanksgiving my dear husband found an inexpensive drum set on Craig's List and went out at 7 at night to meet the young family who needed grocery money and was willing to sell their drum set. I think they even met in the WalMart parking lot--in Renton! The one place in our town that gets by far the most police calls each month. Yeah.
But the drum set is great. And he's a fabulous drummer. They sound amazing. They jam blues and jazz. They play pretty much anything the youngest--the music phenom--can play. So here I sit under the Christmas tree, listening to them.
I can see it now.....they'll play the cruise ship circuit. I'll be a lady of leisure. Or I'll be Julie from the Love Boat. It's my new calling....
Or maybe we'll just play with our little family band and we'll do the prelude on Christmas Eve at church and we'll continue to have great jam nights in our own little home choir loft-- at least as long as the oldest is home from college. And it will be a wonderful Christmas.
Friday, December 10, 2010
But it was time for what in the slang in my head I call "butt-day"; time to put in my hours at our little homeschool-school. Time to sit myself down and just be there as part of the cadre of parents who hang to keep the peace during lunch and PE.
Oh I didn't want to go. Yes it was supposed to be my day off from work but there had been paint trauma with the living room prior to the new carpet going on on my work day, so I was behind. And my kind of job never really allows for a personal leave day or anything--the work just sits in the corner and patiently waits for you. It's got those glow-y eyes, too.
So, I took myself up to school. After lecturing my youngest son about personal responsibility and discipline all morning, I felt guilty just thinking about blowing it off.
It was lovely up at school. There were babies riding in back packs, littles playing in the preschool room. Teens were clustered in little groups--some playing guitar, some studying. Some just hanging out.
There was a soup lunch that one of the kids had arranged, she's trying to raise enough money for a "Cheese of the World" package for Heifer. We had a bake sale for the Musical Theater class and a candy sale for the drama class. Lots of people were working and laughing and playing and getting ready.
I realized that my "butt-time" is coming to an end. This is our youngest son's last year at the little homeschool-school. Yes, the middle son may go through this school for his early college program next year, but it's not the same. That's just stopping in for paperwork and saying "hi". If you're a parent of a "Running Start" student, you don't have to do volunteer hours in the same way. After all, your kid isn't one exploding beans in the microwave, or getting a little too loud with the guitar in the hallway. So for me, these days are coming to an end.
The seasons of our lives do turn, one to the next. It's funny but the things that seem to be drudgery at the time, are often the things that I miss the most when they're gone.
I am blessed and lucky. Amen.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
And I'm sorry to family and friends who are on the other side of the aisle, but I have lost all compassion and faith for anyone who has ever voted for a Republican, ever. It's been nice knowing you and I wish you well in life, but buzz off. Now.
Here's the thing. I work hard. My husband works hard, get this--for the government--keeping planes safe and flying--he's gone every day for at least 12 hours and he often works at home, too. And yes there is no pay raise for the next two years so if he doesn't look for a job in industry that offers bonuses and actual cost of living increases I might just scream, but anyway.....we make a fine living. We're compensated pretty fairly for what we do. I work for a non-profit which by it's nature is lower paying than a business type job, but still, we are not wealthy but you'd think we'd be solidly middle class. And really, we are.
But here's the other thing: we're members of the screwed generation. Our parents graduated from high school, got jobs, worked. They had families and a nice house in the suburbs. They worked a fair day for fair pay. They had whole weekends off with two days in a row when they didn't have to work. It was rare that they had to go to work in the dark AND come home in the dark. They were able to pay for the medical procedures and services that they needed. They went on nice vacations, they had two cars each and then they retired at age 55. Nice.
And not happening for us. My parents never had high level bosses that made an obscene salary or benefits that were fit for royalty. Of course, we don't either! My boss drives a 15 year old car because she's a dear. But the wage disparity between the ruling class and the rest of us is grossly unfair.
"During the late 1980s and the late 1990s, the United States experienced two unprecedentedly long periods of sustained economic growth—the "seven fat years" and the " long boom." Yet from 1980 to 2005, more than 80 percent of total increase in Americans' income went to the top 1 percent." from New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.
And we feel it, don't we? The buying power of a regular paycheck seems to diminish every year. Groceries feel like a bigger hit, any home improvement projects need to be carefully planned, and furnishings are kept in service past a broken frame and a threadbare cushion. And if you're going to talk tuition to a four year institution, well, it's a huge hit. Huge.
Of course these people, these very wealthy people who give huge sums to politicians are pressuring the people in power. They don't want to have to budget for what they want. They don't want to choose between a crown for a broken tooth and carpeting. They want to continue to live a life of privilege. These are the wealthy who just bullied their way to a tax cut. A tax cut. During a time of war. Where is their patriotism? Where is their 40s style commitment to 70% taxes because it was the right and honorable thing to do--a privilege even--that's the way the wealthy viewed it then.
I am reminded of "The Good Earth" and "The Grapes of Wrath" and the lessons from the Great Teacher (that's what Unitarian Universalists often call Jesus of Nazereth). The money and gross privilege eventually becomes a target. And people who have nothing for their children eventually rise up.
I've had Pete Seeger songs running through my head all day. And while I find some gross problems with some of the power and money held by unions, it seems that working class folks banding together and saying "enough" is the only way to end the power and inequity wielded by the wealthy. I love the lyric I found in the original version of "Which Side Are You On" by Florence Reece
"Their children live in luxury, our children almost wild"
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Once there was a lovely little church on a lovely little hill filled with lovely people. In fact it was so lovely that lots of people wanted to be a part of the church. Now the minister always said “There’s always room for one more” and warmly welcomed each and every person—even a whole extra congregation-- into the church. But eventually it got so that one person’s knees were on the next person’s back during the services and the children had to have their Religious Education classes in the bathrooms!
The people decided that they needed to find a bigger building; they needed to find a home of their own.
So they searched and searched and finally they found a building that was just right. Of course it was also on a lovely little hill, but it was filled with lots of not-so-lovely stuff and it needed lots of lovely work.
Even though the people of the church loved each other very much, each one had a different idea about what was the very most important thing to fix up in the new church.
Two crazy ladies who spent all of their time on the top floor thought that every square inch in the new church should be for children’s classes. They could just hear the children laughing “hee hee hee, hee, hee hee!” and they spent lots of time fixing up rooms with bulletin boards and wee chairs for the children.
One man who always had a pun on the tip of his tongue just knew that the most important thing in the new church would be the pews, after all, if the lovely people didn’t have a place to sit during the services, what on earth would they all do? So he spent all his time fixing and sawing the pews……And the saw sounded just like this. shhhhrup-shhhhrup, shhhhhrup, shhhhhrup.
There was a whole crew of people who thought that without healing gardens, the whole church wouldn’t mean anything to the lovely people—not really anyway. And so they spent all of their time digging and planting and watering the lovely new gardens. The watering sounded just like this:Whoosh, whoosh whoosh whoosh.
Some people thought that the kitchen was really the heart of the whole lovely little church and so they scrubbed and scraped and washed and organized organized organized the whole thing to be just right for the coffee hour and soup lunches and all the times the lovely people would break bread together. As they organized it sounded like this……shdup shdup shdup shdup.
Now some people thought that dirty old paint was unappealing and so they decided to spend every spare moment that they had for weeks and weeks painting and painting and painting so that all the lovely people could look upon shiny clean walls and doors. And the painting sounded like this…….swish swoosh, swish swoosh, swish swoosh.
And there was even more going on! Some of the lovely people thought that fabulous music was the most important thing and so musicians practiced and the sound system was tuned and tuned again. And that sounded like this: la la la la la la laaaaaa.
And one person who must have really lived at the new church all the days and all the nights thought that clean dishes were the most important thing and so he trekked all over the whole city from hill to hill searching out the right parts to make the dishwasher work just right to clean all the dishes the lovely people would use. And that sounded like this: clomp clomp clomp clomp.
Now remember, the people of the lovely churched loved each other very much, but sometimes the new church was so noisy what with everyone working on what they thought was the most important that sometimes it was actually hard to hear yourself think in the new church! What with all the hee hee hee hee, and the shhhhrup-shhhhrup, shhhhhrup, shhhhhrup. And the Whoosh whoosh whoosh. And the shdup shdup shdup shdup. And the swish swoosh, swish swoosh, swish swoosh. And the la la la la la la laaaaaa. And the clomp clomp clomp clomp.
But finally, there came a morning. Well, not just any morning. It was THE morning. The morning that all the people would sit in the beautiful sanctuary and sing the opening hymn and worship all together in the lovely little church. Now believe me, there was a lot of noisy church leading up to this morning. What with all the hee hee hee hee and the la la la la la la laaaaa, and everything else. And everyone was worried about the part that they thought was the most important. Would the bulletin boards be just right? Would the sound be OK? Would the coffee brew just right?
But……as they sat down together and breathed for just a moment everyone realized something amazing.
It was all the most important thing. Each and every thing that had happened to get that church ready to open its doors was the very most important thing. It all mattered. How lovely.
And there was something else all the lovely people noticed. For the very first time. It was very very, quiet.
And everyone, each and every lovely person smiled.
The noisy church had become very, very quiet. And it had clearly become…. a church of peace. Amen.